I wonder about Jesus’ early life. Nothing in the Bible gives us much about what he was like as a young person so the pushback he gets from the hometown folks in today’s reading is interesting to me. What exactly did he do as a child that would elicit that kind of negative response to his preaching and teaching when he goes back to his hometown?
Over the centuries there have been many writings found from the time during and immediately following Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. There were a lot more people writing about Jesus than Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It’s just that these were the authors, along with Paul and some others that wrote New Testament books, that were deemed to be the most accurate representations of what the life and ministry of Jesus was all about. Putting a contemporary look to that, look at everyone writing a blog these days. Some of them are quite good. Many, if not most, are less than accurate about many things and aren’t worthy of reading. So it was in Jesus’ day. Every once in a while you might see some conspiracy theory about the ‘church’ hiding books of the Bible. That’s not how it worked. The good stuff made it in the Bible. The not so good stuff didn’t.
Still and all, it would be interesting to have more details about his early life. After hearing about all the deeds of power, like his healing miracles, why would they respond to his teaching, “3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.” I’ve generally seen this offense as related to something Jesus did in his earlier life. Kind of like if I were to go back to the church where I grew up in Lexington. How seriously would people I went to high school with take me? I’m not sure how seriously I would take me, with that kind of backdrop. But that would imply Jesus did some theologically shady things back in the day and I don’t think that was accurate. Me, yes. Jesus? Not so much.
I was doing some reading about this text earlier this week and I ran across something I hadn’t heard before. I generally talk about the idea of all the Jewish people who were under Roman occupation really hating living underneath the boot of a regime that gives them someone like Herod. More about him in a minute. But that kind of generalization is a mistake in almost any instance. Even under the most heavy regime there will be people who like it, for whatever reason. A sense of security and safety if they follow all the rules, perhaps? As it happens, Nazareth is located about four miles from one such place. While Nazareth has no religious or political influence, it is near Sepphoris which enraged the rest of Galilee when it refused to join in the rebellion against Rome.
That being the case, it is entirely possible that the people in Nazareth didn’t want Jesus shaking things up too much. They may well have had a sense of security and safety that even under Roman rule, they didn’t want changed. Along comes Jesus, who is after all a game changer, and their safe and secure life is put at risk.
If they acknowledge the truth that Jesus is Lord, instead of Rome being in charge, they’re going to be in big trouble. Instead of living in the truth, they choose safety and security and kick Jesus to the curb. Jesus challenges Roman authority and is kicked to the curb. He pays a price for telling the truth.
Mark echoes this same theme again in the story about what happened to John. This is the same John the Baptist who had announced way back in the first chapter that Jesus was on his way. Just as John had proclaimed the truth of who Jesus was, he proclaimed the truth that King Herod’s marriage to his wife Herodias was not right. This didn’t set well with Herodias because it challenged her safe and secure position of being married to the king and living a comfortable life. Not wanting any challenges to her safe and secure life, she conspired with her daughter to have John executed. John pays a price for telling the truth.
His hometown kicked Jesus to the curb for speaking the truth but ultimately, Jesus was executed for telling the truth. The Jewish leadership and the Roman authority were threatened by the message Jesus was bringing. They didn’t want to hear the truth that God was indeed in charge, not them. They didn’t want to hear the truth that Jesus forgave sins. They didn’t want to hear the truth that in Jesus, eternal life was promised. They wanted their life and power safe and secure and were willing to execute Jesus on the cross to keep themselves safe and secure.
That’s was the truth 2,000 years ago and something that is very much the truth today. We have the choice to live our safe and secure lives or we can take a chance and speak the truth about Jesus. Not everyone wants to hear what the man who went to the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and three days later returned in a grand resurrection, assuring us of eternal life, has to say. Not everyone wants to hear of forgiveness and redemption. Not everyone wants to hear of loving God and loving their neighbor.
But imagine for a moment what the world would look like if more of us left our safe and secure faith and shared the messages of faith that Jesus did? I’m not talking about getting a bullhorn and yelling at people on a street corner with a message of hell and damnation. That might be kind of fun but probably not effective. I’ve thought about doing that here on occasion but decided very few of you would get much out of it. I’m not talking about yelling in righteous indignation at other people because they are horrible people for reason X, Y, and Z. Some people apparently enjoy that but I don’t think that is effective either. I’ve never thought about doing that here, not even on occasion.
I’m talking about being safe and secure enough in our faith that we’re able to tell others what Jesus has done for us. I’m talking about being safe and secure enough in our faith that we’re able to tell others what Jesus means to us. I’m talking about being safe and secure enough in our faith that we Bring Christ’s Love to Life. All this not for our own sake but for the sake of the world around us.