More than a Carpenter 1.28.2021
Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.
Jesus has returned to his hometown, Nazareth. He has been out and about, teaching, healing, miraculously feeding people, and casting out demons. His reputation has grown and the people in the home village want to know what he is up to. They know him, or think they do anyway, as "Joseph the carpenter's son," or "Mary's boy come home," or "that brother of those other 'normal' kids" in the family. The people wonder what the big deal is, and they want him to prove to them that he is really the wonder-worker people are saying he is. Precisely therein lies the problem.
Bo Giertz, in a short devotion on this incident, highlights that this need to "prove" is the essential nature of unbelief. Unbelievers do not have to deny God's existence, but set themselves up as superior by demanding that the Lord meet their standard before they will believe. In other words, "prove to me, God, to my satisfaction, that you are who you say you are." The statement basically insists "I am in charge here. Dance to my rhythm or get lost."
Jesus (and the Father, for that matter), will have nothing to do with this. He is who he says he is. His word is enough for that. If you can't trust the word, then trust what he has done. All the way back throughout scripture, scripture records what God has done. Jesus will eventually say "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus). A childlike faith that is simply about love, reverence, obedience, and childlike trust is what is needed and will be blessed when and whenever God -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- chooses. God is not a Pez dispenser who responds to whatever request is made or demanded. He is the Lord, not you or me.
This will remain a problem in Jesus' ministry as the Pharisees demand signs and proof that he is who he says he is. Eventually, even on the cross, one of the thieves beside him will demand, "If you are the Son of God, get us out of here." And Jesus does not respond to that man on the cross at all; as far as we know, he died in his unbelief. The other thief, who simply asked to be remembered when Jesus came into his kingdom, received the word we all eventually want to hear, "Today you will be with me in paradise."
So the people of Nazareth, astonished at his teaching but unbelieving all the way, get no sign and get very few mighty acts. Indeed, the only thing they are promised is the sign of Jonah -- death and resurrection which will happen at the appointed time. St. Paul might as well have been writing a commentary on this statement of Jesus in his letter to the Corinthians where he writes:
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:22-25)
So dear friends, take Jesus at his word. No need to prove anything. God does not lie. Jesus is Lord. "Do not disbelieve, but believe." (John 20:27b)
Remember Whose you are,