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Jesus Is Surprised

Jesus left there and went to his hometown,…And he was amazed at their lack of faith.  Mark 6:1a, 6a

I once was pastor of a church in Wall Lake, Iowa.  Now Wall Lake is just a little place, as was the church, but they were proud of the fact that Wall Lake is the hometown of singer Andy Williams.

Towns make big deals of famous people who were born or lived there or had any connection.  As a boy growing up in North Carolina, I knew of a town in Pennsylvania, where I’ve never been. But instantly, Donora, Pa. came to mind just now.  The reason for that—it was the home of baseball legend, Stan Musial.  Some towns even become famous—Plains, Georgia—home of President Jimmy Carter.

So when Jesus came home to Nazareth (pop.=500-2000), one could easily imagine that the local headlines would herald: “Local Boy Makes Good–Comes Home For A Visit” And what a home coming it should have been.

It follows some great success, remarkable demonstrations of Jesus’ power—the healing of the man of Gadera (demons), the woman cured of bleeding, the raising of Jairus daughter.  He comes accompanied by his “disciples.”  He has followers, an entourage.  He is in fact recognized as a rabbi, an honored teacher.

He made his big début in the local synagogue and he “wows” the people. Many who heard him were amazed/astonished at his teaching and the wonders.  They have heard about him.  And then the surprise—Jesus is not welcome here—they took offense at him. The literal word is “scandal.”  No ticker-tape parade for him.

There are, no doubt, lots of explanations for it but what it all “boils down to” is a lack of faith.  And Jesus is surprised—amazed, astonished.  In Jesus’ eyes unbelief is amazing.  We should not be surprised at faith but the lack of it.  God signs are everywhere—creation, works of grace, the life of Jesus and perhaps unexpectedly in His people—a community, the church.

We may be surprised at unbelief but it should not deter us.  Jesus’ response was “to get on with it.”  His work did not depend on acceptance, praise, recognition.  Neither should we.

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