Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Missing Christmas: Familiarity

Nazareth was too familiar with Jesus to think that he was special.

Luke 4:14-22  Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit's power. Reports about Him spread quickly through the whole region.  15  He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16  When He came to the village of Nazareth, His boyhood home, He went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures.  17  The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to Him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

18  "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, for He has anointed Me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,  19  and that the time of the LORD's favor has come. "

20  He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at Him intently.  21  Then He began to speak to them. "The Scripture you've just heard has been fulfilled this very day!"  22  Everyone spoke well of Him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from His lips. "How can this be?" they asked. "Isn't this Joseph's son?"

Nazareth was a crude, uncultured town that was quite a distance from Bethlehem. It wasn't know as a nice place to raise a family but that is where God decided that Jesus would grow up. Remember the words of Nathanael when he said: “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).

Jesus grew up in this rough town yet he did not sin, the devil must have been at work in this town, I don't think that he would leave Jesus alone for thirty years without trying to get him to sin. It seems to me that Jesus would have stood out as somebody special in the crude environment that he grew up in yet the people that knew him best completely missed him.

Since none of the people in his hometown figured it out he went to the temple one day and announced it to them. They were very familiar with the passage that he read from Isaiah, they knew that it was about the Messiah that they had been anxiously waiting for, they knew that Jesus was the only kid in town that never did anything wrong yet they missed out on Christmas.
Luke 4:22  Everyone spoke well of Him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from His lips. "How can this be?" they asked. "Isn't this Joseph's son?"
Luke 4:28-31  When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious.  29  Jumping up, they mobbed Him and forced Him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push Him over the cliff,  30  but He passed right through the crowd and went on His way.  31  Then Jesus went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught there in the synagogue every Sabbath day.
Despite having all of the facts about Jesus and having their own testimony of what they had seen and what they had heard for thirty years they still thought that killing Jesus was the best reaction to him. The people of Nazareth, who knew Him better than anyone, had no idea who He really was. Mark 6:6 says that even Jesus wondered at their unbelief.
They thought they knew Jesus
Acts 7:51-52  "You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That's what your ancestors did, and so do you!  52  Name one prophet your ancestors didn't persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One--the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered."
What was their problem? Familiarity. They knew him too well or they thought that they knew him. As Stephen said to the crowd before he was stoned, "You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth." Many people think that they know Jesus and they don't think that he is anybody special because they haven't really met Jesus.

It is sad to see this happen so often in the United States. There is so much access to information about Jesus that we might as well be in his hometown watching him grow up yet so many people in our country don't really know him.

I am reminded of Jesus warning that "when someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required." (Luke 12:48)