Jesus went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works 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 offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.

And he went about among the villages teaching. – Mark 6:1-6

dlb-phoenix-desert-botanical-garden-04818

The crown of thorns atop a cactus plant in the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ. Photo taken January 2017

I have chosen not to go back for any of my high school reunions. Distance as well as reputation have played into that decision. It is a long distance from Houston, Texas to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. More than that, however, is the matter of reputation, history, and infamy I have in my own mind about going back to my high school roots. Even though I missed seeing and being with Rush Limbaugh on at least one occasion (he was a 1969 graduate of Central High School, as was I), I’m not too sorry that I did not go.

To that extent, I can identify with Jesus’ comment, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown.” Jesus’ reaction to this experience didn’t have to do with his own ego. Nor was he dealing with huge distances of travel. But his dismissal by his family and friends amounted to a denial of his true identity. He was not just a blowhard kid coming home looking for adulation, and saying I told you so. He was not there to prove anything to anyone.

Jesus has nothing to prove to anyone. He will not spend his time or energy making a case for himself. Even though he desires deeply that the people in his home town (as well as all people everywhere) know him and believe in him. Jesus’ teaching or even his defense is never about justifying himself or just looking good in others’ eyes. He wishes people to believe in him for their justification, and their eternal well-being.

Dismissal of Jesus as just someone who wants to make a good impression, or a self-absorbed blowhard, leads to great loss. When we put Jesus outside of any equation the answer will be profoundly unsatisfactory. No miracles – or a very few – are experienced there. Worse yet, Jesus goes on to other places and teaches other people: a great loss to those he loves.

Don’t dismiss Jesus: he is not just the carpenter’s son. He is the Son of God. He brings life, wholeness, hope, and salvation.

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