Jesus left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is 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?” And they took offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.
The scene of today’s gospel was set at the time that having spent some time in Galilee to preach and work miracles, Jesus paid a visit to his home town Nazareth before he was leaving Galilee. However, the visit met with disappointments. Among the audience listening to his teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath, some might hear about his working of miracles in the adjacent villages and town, and some were hearing his preaching for the first time. Although many of them were astonished about his wisdom and learning, they knew him nothing more than a local carpenter.
The astonishment was soon replaced by shutting their eyes to the truth and refusing to believe that he could be what others thought and said he was. In their eyes, Jesus was their neighbor and therefore they knew him better. Not only they knew him better, they also knew his mother and his relatives. He could not be the Messiah or anyone extraordinary because he had not studied to be a rabbi. In modern language, they were prejudice against Jesus.
What happened in Nazareth was a foretaste of the later reaction of the Scribes and Pharisees to Jesus’ claim to be promised Messiah. What the people in Nazareth tried to do with Jesus, the religious authorities and leaders in Jerusalem succeeded in doing.
It is hard to understand the irritating opposition of the Nazarites on this occasion and of the Pharisees in Jerusalem later. The people of Nazareth heard nothing about Jesus but his wonderful teachings and miraculous works. Why? It is the human nature of envy, which roots in our pride, laid hold of their hearts and minds. Their minds were fueled with the question why should a carpenter be given this great privilege and honour, instead of their sons who had studied with rabbis. Later the minds of the Pharisees were also fuelled by the same question. Their intellects prevented them from seeing the truth. That is also a kind of pride and envy.
Had all the opposition to Christ and his teaching caused by human pride and envy ended with the Nazarites and Pharisees? If we look around and look at among ourselves, we find that it is far from it. Pride and envy are still among us. Over the past 2000 years of Christianity, there have been proud men and women, who are high in their own esteem. They would not have Christ to reign over them and they have tried to prevent his reign over even those who are gladly and proudly Christ’s subject. Not content with dethorning Christ in their own hearts and minds, they have devoted all their energy to abolish Christ and his Church. Such people are still among us.
Through today’s gospel, let us renew our loyalty to Christ today. He humbled himself so that we might be raised to the standing of sons and daughters of God. Amen.