Reflections on Matthew 13:53-58

Jesus had lived with them for 30 years; those are three complete decades!

They knew him ‘very well’, so they thought.

The town was Nazareth. A small town that had nothing exciting.

Jesus was coming there for the second time, and perhaps the last time.

He came with his disciples as it was the custom of Rabbis. The first time He was in town, they tried to kill him.

In the Synagogue, as it was the practice, he was invited to speak.

In those days, an itinerant Rabbi would be permitted to speak after which the congregants would field questions.

Thus Jesus went on and gave teachings. Mark 6 record this account.

After teaching, the people who thought they ‘knew him better’, as a carpenter, responded.

“Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom is given to Him and such miracles as these performed by His hands?”

They didn’t ask Jesus these questions, they asked each other. They would rather hear the views of their buddies than the truth from the Lord. There was a time to question the speaker, but they ignored Him and would prefer opinion over truth. This is pure subjectivity; overlook the source of truth even when it is standing right in front of you.

Their first two questions attacked the reservoir and the quality of His wisdom. “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him?” Now they were left with only two sources: either God or Satan. And they were too prejudiced to admit God as a source of this Man’s teaching, so their implicit inference is Satan.

Ancient cultures were not like ours here in Kenya, or any other part of the World, where you begin as a shop floor worker and scale your way up to the corporate position. It just didn’t work that way. Your progressions had to do with your heritage, the family you were born into, not your skills and abilities. So if you were from a labour class, you were a labour class. If you were from the upper class, you were top class. That’s just the way it stayed. Rabbis didn’t come from the labour class. Rabbis proceeded from a high class.

So, at first, they are shocked by Jesus’ teaching, but then they back away and say, “Pause for a minute, pause for a minute! This fellow is just a carpenter.” A carpenter could not become a Rabbi! It didn’t work that way. It was against all cultural dictates.

To make matters worse, He was called the son of Mary. In Jewish culture, a person was known by the name of the father, e.g. Son of David, Son of Samuel……etc. Thus they showed their utter contempt by referring to Him as the son of Mary. It was a way of discrediting Him.

So they held that since He was one of their own from Nazareth, He could not possibly be what He declared to be in His teaching. How could He be anything more than an unpretentious carpenter in a remote town?

It was erroneous to take Jesus in this manner.

People questioning the Person of Christ did not begin today with Bart Ehrman, Atheists in Kenya, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennet, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Michael Shermer, Lawrence Krauss, Barbara Forrest, Richard Carrier etc.

It started a long time ago; when he was still physically walking on earth. And it began with people from his hometown of Nazareth.

The first people to dismiss you come from your household.

The first people to embrace you come from afar.

Church history is replete with those denying the person of Christ. Even though there were no misgivings about the striking things Christ taught and the fact that He worked miracles, His own hometown chose to dishonour Him. Maybe some were jealous of His recognition. Others thought that one that lacked family reputation to be undeserving of the honour that the rest of Galilee placed on Christ.

Who is Jesus to you? A carpenter, Son of Mary, an impostor or Saviour? Your answer determines every other choice you make in life.

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