Is it weird to think that Jesus had a hometown? In Matthew 13:53-58, we read about him going back home to Nazareth. To us, we know who Jesus is - He is fully God and fully man, our Savior and the Perfect One who paid the penalty for our sins. But can you imagine how the residents of Nazareth might have felt? When they looked at Him, they saw the lowly carpenter’s son. They saw a poor family. And they saw a kid that they watched grow up before their very eyes.
I have some sympathy for the Nazarenes. It probably felt very odd to see Jesus teaching in the synagogue with such authority and wisdom. Can’t you hear the whispering of verses 55 and 56? I think they were probably in utter disbelief at what was happening. Likely they had heard the tales of Jesus’ works and miracles, and now they were seeing Him before their very eyes - the same boy they saw grow up in their village. They had such trouble believing in Him and so they rejected Him in the same way that the Israelites rejected the prophets in the Old Testament.
Perhaps the Nazarenes were looking for a political Savior. Maybe they were looking for a Messiah to come and deliver them from Rome. I doubt that they expected their deliverer to come from their very own city, and from this particular family! We’re reminded yet again that God does things in unconventional ways.
What’s the result of their rejection of Christ? Matthew tells us that Jesus “did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). We’re reminded again that God works in unconventional ways - often in ways that we would not expect. And we are reminded again that the truth of the gospel brings division. Christ predicted that families would be divided because of His message; we see this division come into His own hometown, where He is rejected and treated without honor. Many Christians today live this reality because their families are not believers. Think of the international students who come to faith on college campuses only to go to home and share this with their parents and face total rejection because of their conversion. At some point in our lives, the gospel will bring some kind of opposition into all of our lives - but the good news is that we stand firm on the promise that He never leaves and never abandons us, even if we are rejected by the people closest to us because of our faith.
Matthew 13:53-58 (ESV):
53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54 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? 55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.