No Prophet Is Recognized In His Own Country
March 4, 2013
How did his own people regard Jesus? This is a question which has intrigued many, but the Gospels do not give much attention to it. The Gospels are concerned about his mission, not about the personal reactions of his family and neighbours.
But occasionally we do get insights into the way his fellow Nazarenes looked at Jesus, and today’s passage is an instance of it.
When he made his debut in the synagogue in Nazareth, his neighbors and friends were full of admiration and praise for the eloquence of one of their own boys. But their admiration was tinged with a sense of entitlement. They said “we’ve heard of your doings in Capernaum. Do the same here in your home town.”
But Jesus didn’t pander to this sentiment. The miracles he worked were not to satisfy curiosity, or to stroke someone’s vanity. They were meant to dispose the recipient to the message of the Kingdom. They were meant to invite the recipient to a personal relationship with him as saviour. They were a call to discipleship.
The Nazarenes were reluctant to accept this. “Is this not Joseph’s son?” they asked. “Don’t we know his cousins and his family?” There must have been a slight envy too at the fame of this young rabbi. But one thing was certain, he could work no miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Perhaps, as is often the case, his relatives and friends would have liked to keep him for themselves alone. Perhaps they were resentful that Jesus sought out the poor and the dispossessed, the sick and the ailing, even Gentiles and Samaritans. When one has a sense of entitlement, one prides oneself on exclusivity.
“A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and among his own people.” Jesus knew the meaning of this popular saying and applied it to himself. His own mission would lead him away from his home town and even put him at variance with his own people. This has ever been the lot of the apostle and missionary. “He who would have God for his friend,” said Gandhi in a similar context, “must have the whole world for his family.”
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