Matthew 13:54-55a - And coming to His hometown He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? ...."
Not so long ago Pam and I attended a school reunion.
I'm not sure, but from what I've seen, at most reunions the very first thing they do is give you a badge with your name on it -- and a copy of your senior picture. They give badges so we can figure out who we're talking to when we lovingly say, "Oh, you haven't changed a bit." Often we're shocked to find out the fellow voted most likely to succeed, hasn't; the couple most likely to stay together, didn't; and the computer geek looks far more attractive since he made his first $20 million.
It's hard to get past the mental image we have of some people, isn't it?
That was certainly the situation Jesus encountered when He returned to Nazareth.
No, He wasn't there for a high school reunion. This was more the homecoming of a "local Boy who made good." Since Jesus' departure from Nazareth, stories had slowly filtered their way back to that little village. For example, they may have heard how Jesus had turned water into wine and had healed a nobleman's son.
Those were the kind of accomplishments that should have had the town roll out the red carpet, had the school band lead a parade down Main Street, and the church bells pealing out a ring of warm welcome. Jesus' return should have been celebrated with Nazareth's mayor making a speech and giving Him a gold-painted key to the city. On the main road, the city fathers should have put up signs saying, "Nazareth. Come See Jesus' Boyhood Home!"
None of those things happened.
What did happen was this: as was His custom, Jesus went to church -- to Synagogue -- and read Scripture: words of prophecy from Isaiah ... words He claimed referred to Him. It didn't take too long before Jesus' old friends rejected His claim to be the Messiah. It didn't take too long before those old friends shut Him off, shut Him down, and tried to shove Him off a cliff.
They couldn't see Jesus for who He really was. It is a problem people still have today.
Today we have people who hear Jesus say, "Do unto others," and they applaud Him as a great moralist. Others listen when He tells them to "love one another," and they shout the praises of a peacemaker. Some people admire His story-telling ability and acknowledge Him as a great teacher. Yet others point to Him as a philanthropist, a healer, and a homespun philosopher.
And although Jesus was all of those things, He was also the One -- the only -- the unique Son of God and heaven-sent Savior of the world. Any description of the Christ that leaves out the blood-bought title of "Savior" is incomplete, imperfect and inadequate. Calvary's cross and the empty tomb are the badges by which we can identify Him who carried our sins, died our death and, in resurrection victory, has given us forgiveness and eternal life.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, by the Holy Spirit's power we have been able to identify Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Now grant us the desire to share that truth with the many millions in this world who see only a second-rate Jesus. In the Savior's Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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