And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
(Matthew 13:53-58 ESV)
Yesterday Jesus wrapped up His seven parables about the kingdom of heaven. He had taught these principles to His disciples so that they could in turn teach them to others. Beginning with today’s passage and going through Matthew 16, Matthew records several incidents in the life of Jesus that prove the truth behind these parables.
The first of these incidents happened in Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth. Mary and Joseph settled there after returning from exile in Egypt [Matthew 2:23]. While in Nazareth Jesus taught in the synagogue. Synagogues did not have a dedicated teacher. Any noteworthy rabbi would be welcome to teach on any given day.
The people of Nazareth recognized Jesus, who had grown up amongst them. They knew he was the carpenter’s son and that his mother was Mary. They knew he had four brothers and at least two sisters. They even mention the brothers by name.
Here we see another passage in the Bible that clearly debunks Catholic belief that Mary remained a virgin her entire life. By the way, if she had, she would have been sinning [Genesis 1:28; 1 Corinthians 7:5].
Nazareth was a poor town. Nothing notable had ever happened there. No one noteworthy had ever came from there [John 1:46]. As such the people were astonished when they heard Jesus speak. They could not understand from where He got His wisdom and the power to do mighty works (miracles). Notice that the people did not dispute anything that Jesus said or deny anything that He did. They simply could not understand how the boy they had known many years before could be what He had become.
It’s hard for people we’ve known in the past to accept that we are different know. Anyone who is a Christian and who left behind a life of sin probably has experienced this. We’ve all experienced this with our moms, too. They always look at us as their children, not always as adults.
As a result, they took offense at Him. The Greek word for “offense” here is interesting. It is σκανδαλιζο (pronounced: skan-dal-id’-zo). This is the word from which we get our English word “scandalize”. It means “to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way upon which another may trip and fall”. These peoples’ earlier experience with Jesus was a stumbling block to them..
The people of Nazareth rejected Jesus not because of a lack of evidence but in spite of overwhelming evidence. They heard Him speak wisdom and recognized it as true. They knew of, and probably saw, Him perform miracles and didn’t deny them. Yet they could not believe because they were focused on who they previously understood Jesus to be. But that was irrelevant.
People still use irrelevant issues as excuses not to believe. They don’t like the traffic church causes on Sunday. They don’t like the way a pastor dresses. I once knew someone who refused to accept Christianity because he once saw his Christian neighbor at Walmart on a Sunday, a supposed day of rest.
As a result of their unbelief Jesus did not do many mighty works there. If people aren’t going to believe God’s word, they aren’t going to believe miracles [Luke 16:31].
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