He left that place and came to his home town, 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 honour, except in their home town, 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.
(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
Because we are slowly reading through Mark's Gospel today's passage really hits us as being very different to all that we have read so far in his Gospel. Jesus has been welcomed throughout the area and huge crowds have mobbed him, so much that he has to take refuge from them on occasion. He is virtually mobbed by those who are sick, but always he responds to their need. Yet now when he returns with his disciples to Nazareth, the town where he has lived and worshipped with his family for some twenty-five or more years after he and Mary and Joseph returned from Egypt, things are different.
First, as a preacher he goes to the synagogue, where it was the custom for him to teach. At first the people are astonished, but whereas such amazement has until now been greeted with great acclaim by many, theirs is filled with contempt. Jesus is known by them all as a working man - a carpenter who would have made the ordinary things of life for them for years. What could he know of the things of God? The result is that Jesus can do no good work here, though he does heal a few people.
Where people's hearts are hardened, God will not change them, for we are not puppets, but have free will! However, God does keep on trying to attract our attention when we refuse to listen to Him. He doesn't give up. Equally, we need to be careful that we don't make false judgements about other people - those we think of as being beneath our notice, perhaps. For today God frequently speaks to us through the poor and the despised in our world.
Lord Jesus Christ,
may our hearts not become hardened
to Your message of love,
or to the needs of others.
May we see beyond the surface
that others present
and not make snap judgements
for we know You can speak to us
in many different ways.