"A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child."
On the day that Jesus spoke in the Synagogue of his hometown, imagine if the people responded with “is that what you really see?” instead of “Who do you think you are?”
What would have happened if they asked him, “show us?”
Instead, when they went from being astounded at Jesus, to offended with him. They said, “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:3). They cited their familiarity with Jesus as a way of disarming his authority. When I’ve read this story in the past, I scoff at the crowd's familiarity with Jesus and their lack of faith.
“How could they have NOT known? How could they have not seen? Jesus was their family and friend, and more than anyone they should have supported him.”
And then I would think to myself,
"If it had been me, I would have reacted differently."
But would have I?
I have a tendency to keep people at arm’s length. That’s why social media is immediately so attractive to me. I can be personal without being close, honest without revealing everything, and I can pick and choose what I display to be my “real life.” (Honesty alert… although, a bit late… and a little ironic). I’m the kind of person who has no trouble sharing my darkest moments, but I’m also the kind of person that won’t let anyone close enough to walk through those moments with me. The first thing I do when I feel shame, failure, pain, and embarrassment is drive those closest to me away.
If I were in the crowd that day listening to the boy next door talk about life and faith in a way that made me feel exposed and challenged, I would have been offended with the rest of them.
Mark goes on to say that Jesus said:
“A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.” Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their stubbornness.” (Mark 6:4-6 MSG).
Where vulnerability bridges a divide, pride rips it open even wider. We talk a lot about the results of the people’s stubbornness and unbelief, but not much about the functionality of it. It’s not a black and white, “where there is no faith, God can’t work.” I’ve heard stories about people getting healed and having encounters with the Divine, who don’t even know Jesus. It wasn’t a lack of faith that stopped Jesus from doing much among them, but rather a lack of openness. Pride shuts down the miraculous. It leaves no room for wonder. It doesn’t disarm God; it blinds us to the miracle right in front of our eyes.
Sometimes we’re so caught up in our institutions and our issues that we are the ones who are most blind to God’s presence. And to his prophetic voice. Sometimes, we can be the least likely to recognize Jesus among us. It’s our pride – our inability to be vulnerable, teachable, surprised and changed - that disengages the miraculous in our lives. The challenge in this story is to embrace familiarity, listen and see, push through the vulnerable, and into the place of deep oneness with God.
If we see Jesus, really see him, we’ll see that he is not just our hero or prophet, but our savior and friend too, who knows us, sees us and loves us. Completely. And in that space of vulnerability, healing dwells.