5And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6And he was amazed at their unbelief.
If you are standing on a street corner trying to hand out one-hundred-dollar bills and no one trusts you, you are going to have a lot left over at the end of the day.
Jesus is in Nazareth – though Mark tells us that he came to his people, his father’s place. So, yes, Jesus is in Nazareth, but the story is a parable about all God’s people. (Not “the Jews” mind you, but you and I, all who consider themselves God’s people.) Jesus has come to the place of his father. He is there in the power of the Spirit. He is proclaiming that God’s day of new creation, the reign of God, is at hand. And they say “3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?”
It is not a puzzled inquiry. It is a rejection. “We know this guy. He’s a carpenter. What’s he doing talking like this? Who does he think he is?” They are words designed to cut this uppity peon down to size. “You are no better than us, Jesus.”
And he could do no mighty work there.
Jesus has a fistful of one-thousand-dollar bills and no takers.
Why is it so hard for us to receive the gifts of God? Is there something intrinsic to religious life that closes us off to the life of the Spirit? Do we spend so much time going to the golf club for lunch that we think we are golfers and never go out to play the game? Do we hang out in the faculty lounge and think that we are scholars and have no reason to study anymore? Are we “Republicans in name only” (or Democrats, or pick-your party/organization) and think we need never donate our time and money? Do I give to the World Wildlife Fund and have their little sticker on my car, and think that makes me an environmentalist, without ever setting foot in the woods or taking thought for my carbon footprint?
We are like this in many ways.
And when our kids come home and challenge our lifestyle we say things like “Who do you think you are? This is what paid for your college education?”
“Who do you think you are Jesus. You are no different than we are. You are a common laborer. Don’t imagine that you are worthy of greater honor than us.” Of course, in our time, it comes out more like: “That’s all very well and good, Jesus, but we live in the real world.”
Does it break the heart of God when he sends prophets and teachers to those who name themselves as God’s people and they want none of it? “I like my religion my way, thank you.”
And Jesus has his fistful of one-hundred-thousand-dollar bills and no takers.