The Scandal of Jesus in Nazareth


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In a small, isolated village perched on the limestone hills of the southern Lebanon mountain range, .

He taught in the synagogue. On a Sabbath day. Everything as it should be. Except for one thing…

How Jesus taught.

The people of Nazareth knew Jesus as a craftsman, a carpenter. A man who knew stone, brick and wood.  Who framed houses, windows and roofs.

They knew him as the son of Mary, brother of James, Joses, Judas, Simon and a handful of sisters–all long-time residents of Nazareth.

And they knew him as a rumored illegitimate child.

That’s why, in spite of his wisdom and performance of miracles, they could not swallow the fact that this ordinary, blue-collar man from Nazareth postured as God.

How dare he teach with such wisdom. How dare he exalt himself above them. And how dare he proclaim he was the Messiah.

Jesus’ response to this ferocious skepticism–his refusal to do miracles in Nazareth–is reminiscent of his teaching on :

He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

In other words, in the face of flagrant doubt, it’s pointless to perform miracles. We see this again in  when a group of Pharisees seek an astronomical sign and Jesus refuses.

What astonished Jesus about the unbelief he encountered in Nazareth was not his inability to do miracles. It was that for people who claimed to know him so well, they knew him so little.

And missing from this encounter in Nazareth is the astonishment over a conquered storm. The drop-dead serious confession of Jesus as Christ.

Abundant is the familiarity that creates contempt. That snubs authority. That rejects reality. But breeds the .

**Part of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark series.** You can start reading a PDF version of  right now.

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