ATP Blog #23
We all like to hear someone say, ‘Welcome home!’ It also feels good, when going on a trip, to be almost home. Yet, as a Christian, we often find that home is not always as welcoming. Whether it be the parents’ place, or the hometown, being a part of the family of God will often alienate the natural family. This presents a problem, since our North American culture puts a very high value on blood family. Our verses for today give us somewhat of an indication why this is.
Going Home “After the two days [in Samaria], He departed from there, and went to Galilee.” Jesus and His disciples had just finished sharing the gospel with the people of Sychar in Samaria, and now were ready to head back home. Most of the disciples were born and raised in Galilee. Jesus was from Nazareth (North-Central), the fishermen were from Bethsaida and Capernaum, and others were from Cana.
Welcome Home “Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.” This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah (53:3), “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” I can personally attest that when people get to know you in a certain setting, then see you in a very different one, they can be resistant to the change. The people of Nazareth knew Jesus as the son of Joe and Mary, brother to James and Jude, and as a carpenter. It was strange for them to see Him as a travelling preacher, never mind the claim to being the Messiah. Matthew describes an incident in Nazareth that demonstrates this clearly:
Matthew 13:53-58 “And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 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? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 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.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”
Walk Away Notice that Jesus did not contest their unbelief and struggle, but rather presented the truth, then walked away. Our objection to this is, ‘You can’t walk away from family!’ Yet, we see that Jesus prioritized the family of God over birth family. We are so concerned about offending our family that we are appalled at Jesus’ reaction in Matthew 12:46-50, “While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”” We find out that later, after He rose from the dead, that two of Jesus’ birth brothers would become Christ-followers.
Take Home What are we to learn from Jesus’ example here? “When He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast.” It would seem that some of Jesus’ neighbours accepted His presence and miracles, but struggled with who He claimed to be. We need to remember that the family of God is more important for us than our birth family. Evangelism should extend to them, as we cannot help but share the gospel, especially with those we love, because you cannot love someone without wanting them to be saved from destruction. Yet there are times to temporarily walk away, especially when our relatives or neighbours reject Christ. It is our responsibility to share Christ with all, to be His hands and feet, but it is not our job to push or convict. Search through the gospels … there are many times when Jesus Christ just walked away, allowing people to reject His message, and to face the consequences. Do notice, though, that He never walked away angry; perhaps sad or disappointed, but never vengeful. Let us learn this principle … bring it home, to where the ‘rubber meets the road.’