"Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith." (NIV)
Reflection by Kenneth L. Samuel
Have you ever wondered if the Amazing Grace could ever be amazed? What could possibly cause Emanuel, God with us, to ever be astounded, taken aback, startled or amazed?
What amazed Christ was something that is all too familiar to most of us. It is the contempt that we often harbor for that which is familiar. According to Mark's gospel, the Good News message, the mighty works of deliverance and the healing miracles of Jesus did not reach a formidable roadblock until he came to his hometown of Nazareth. There, the people who knew intimate details about his parents, his siblings, his upbringing and his occupation, questioned the validity of his work and the wisdom of his words. Jesus' "homies" doubted and disrespected him because they could not reconcile what they knew about him with what God was doing through him. They were oblivious to any notion that the everlasting goodness of Almighty God could be brought to them in the life of someone they lived with closely.
This is more than contempt for the familiar. This is a sign of self-loathing. It is the understated but undeniable conviction that the best of life cannot possibly be found among one's own people and community.
The best spouse for us couldn't possibly be the one we actually married...could it? The social, educational and economic resources we desperately need for growth and development could not possibly exist in our own neighborhood...could they? The exciting, life-changing movement of God couldn't possibly take place through the people who attend our church week after week...could it? God couldn't possibly be working to transform the world through our motley crew of family and friends...could God? Surely the face of God can only be seen through that which is mysterious, exotic and other-worldly...right?
Dorothy left her home on a magical journey to the land of Oz, only to discover that her true heart's desire was with her at her home all the time. And God is amazed that we and Dorothy continue to miss so many hometown miracles because we keep looking past God in us, trying to find God; we keep missing God in the reflections of who we are and where we are. Amazing.
Dear God, you have deposited so much heavenly treasure in so many earthen vessels. We pray that the details of the vessels will not make us miss your deposit. Amen.
About the Author
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.