Read Mark 6:1-6
1 Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. 2 The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” 3 Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
4 Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” 5 And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. (NLT)
Many of us in clergy-type ministry know of the ‘visiting speaker’ syndrome. We get to speak at some other church and can get regarded as wise gurus, that much better than the local guy who they hear every week. We don’t get too carried away: we know that if we spoke week after week they would get used to us. Novelty value applies to preachers as well as toys and fashions. Conversely, familiarity can breed complacency if not contempt.
Jesus went back to his hometown of Nazareth and began to teach and do a few miracles (even with such lack of faith he still managed more miracles than any of us manage in a lifetime!). But the locals knew his background. They knew his family, his trade. Just an ordinary bloke. Who does he think he is pretending to be someone else? Messiahs aren’t local tradespeople. They are somehow special, above the rut of the human race. Some local with wood shavings on his hands doesn’t fit the bill. Familiarity is breeding faithlessness. And this is true even of his own family: their brother was simply their brother, no more and no less.
We may be tempted to think God only speaks through very special people. We don’t just have trouble recognising Messiahs when they come along: we can miss out on God’s other human messengers by over-familiarity. The person whose fears and foibles and fragility we know too well can be dismissed as being of no account. But God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We readily embrace the teaching of someone who gets on the Christian-book bestseller list, or the insights of some famous person who has come to Christ. But we may be more dismissive of those who are more familiar than famous. We may tend to long for the novel, the different, the glamorous guru who will make all things clear and all things right.
What we get instead is ordinary people, and once in history, a carpenter’s son.