My son will turn two in September. He likes to play in the mud, wrestle, and chase our family’s dogs with a toy shovel, laughing as he swings it.
Recently, the boy’s grandmother showed up at our home with the gift of a children’s T-ball set. As I put the stand together, and placed the ball on top, the boy made his way over to pick up the toy baseball bat that accompanied the set. “He’s a natural!” I thought to myself. “Wowww!” he said, as he lifted the bat into the air. Then, without hesitation, he made his way over to the tee, but instead of swinging the bat, he used it as if it were a pool cue to gently push the ball from its place.
Over the next several minutes, an epic battle of wills played out before my wife’s eyes. I was determined to teach our son how to properly swing a baseball bat. It shouldn’t have been that hard (he swings a toy shovel just fine), but he was determined to cling to his belief that the baseball bat was in fact a pool cue.
Fast forward several weeks, and know this, the battle resumes every time we set up the tee. For some reason, my son is convinced he understands this toy and he refuses to accept the possibility he might be wrong.
Have you ever fallen into this trap? The trap of being so sure of something that you miss the obvious? Two thousand years ago, the Pharisees were so sure they understood Scripture that they missed the Messiah, and likewise, the people from Jesus’ hometown were so sure they knew him that they rejected his wisdom and power.
Jesus went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
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. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
Jesus came to the people of Nazareth with the very wisdom of God. He taught with authority, he healed the sick, and yet he was rejected. In fact, his audience was offended by him.
The people of Nazareth were so sure they knew Jesus that they refused to accept the possibility that he might be more than a carpenter, that he might be the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior of the world.
In many ways we are like the people of Nazareth. We have grown up with Jesus. We have heard about his wisdom. We have heard about the miracles he performed. How he silenced the wind and waves, healed the sick, and gave sight to the blind. Just as the people of Nazareth fell into the trap of viewing Jesus as a simple carpenter, we are in danger of seeing Jesus as a simple miracle worker. Someone who can bless our lives with health and wealth, but is not the Jesus of the Bible.
The Jesus of the Bible challenges our thoughts, reveals to us our sin, and awakens us to our need for a Savior. In the Bible, and nowhere else, we are given the hard honest truth about our sin, but we are also told about the gracious and merciful will of our Heavenly Father. Jesus said, “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life” (John 6:40).
In this promise we are brought to the cross, and in the cross we see the real Jesus. The Jesus who laid down his life, not to shower us with material possessions, but to bless us with treasure in heaven and the hope of eternity.