Too Close For Comfort.
Matthew 9:27-34, 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6
“Then they scoffed, ‘He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers — James, Joseph,Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?’ And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.” – Matthew 13:55-57 NLT
Jesus was on a roll. The crowds keeping coming and the miracles just kept happening. The woman with a 12-year old health problem was healed just by touching His robe. Jairus, the synagogue leader, had his recently deceased daughter brought back to life by a word and a touch from Jesus. Two blind men received their sight. A man possessed by a demon and, as a result, mute, was given back his freedom and the ability to speak. The crowds were amazed, saying, “Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!” (Matthew 9:32 NLT). But the Pharisees, increasingly desperate to discredit Jesus, attributed His power to Satan.
After all these events, Jesus returned to Nazareth, His hometown. It was quite a journey away from Capernaum, but news regarding all of Jesus exploits had preceded Him. Upon arrival, He made His way to the local synagogue where He taught. His neighbors were amazed at what they heard and wondered among themselves, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” (Matthew 13:34 NLT). Their problem was that they had known Jesus since He was a little boy. They knew His family. He was intimately familiar to them. His reputation for performing miracles, His growing fame, and His “sudden” increase in intelligence and wisdom didn’t seem to gel with their memory of the common carpenter’s son they had grown used to. They had grown too close for comfort. “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers — James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” (Matthew 13:55-56 NLT). They thought they knew all there was to know about Jesus. But their intimacy had produced a certain spiritual incapacity. They couldn’t see past their own preconceptions. They had become as blind as the two men who had begged Jesus, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matthew 9:27 NLT). But unlike those two desperate men, the people of Nazareth couldn’t see their own need or recognize their own Savior. Their preconceived notions of who Jesus was kept them from seeing Jesus the Messiah. Rather than be drawn to Him, they were offended by Him. And their reaction to Him diminished their experience of Him. Matthew tells us Jesus did “few miracles there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58 NLT).
They were so close, yet so far. They thought they knew Jesus, but they really didn’t know Him at all. And the same could be said for so many who call themselves Christ-followers today. Raised on a steady diet of Bible stories and simplistic images of Jesus that seem to come straight out of a children’s picture Bible, far too many Christians today have an incomplete and one-dimensional view of Jesus. They know about Him. But they fail to recognize His power and see Him for who He really is. When Jesus does not comfortably fit into their preconceived notions of who He is and how He should act, they begin to doubt. And in doing so, they limit His power in their lives. And so He does only a few miracles there because of their unbelief. Familiarity really does breed contempt. Just when we think we have Jesus figured out, we run the danger of missing out on His power in our lives. He cannot and will not be boxed in by our desire for familiarity and easy explicability. The people of Nazareth thought they knew Him, but they ended up too close for comfort. They would miss out on His power. They wouldn’t get to witness His miracles. Their blind would remain so. The sick among them would never feel His healing touch. Their ears would no longer hear His words of wisdom. All because they thought they knew Him.
Father, it is so easy to become so familiar with Jesus that we miss out on the power He offers. Don’t let the stories of His life become old and so familiar that we miss out on who He really is. Don’t allow us to put Him in a box and attempt to limit Him by our own ability to explain Him. May Jesus continue to be revolutionary in our lives. May we continue to be surprised by His power, blown away by His grace, transformed by His presence, and shocked by His love for us. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men