Amongst the ministry that Jesus spread for place to place the reaction from his own home town was interesting and revealing. Jesus grew up in Nazareth and was well known to the people there. If anyone would have known him to be a good man it should have been the residents of his home town. And yet it was they who most vehemently rejected him.
The people were initially puzzled at the words he spoke and marvelled at the words coming from Jesus’ mouth. He spoke of great and marvellous things and they had heard of the mighty works he had already accomplished in Capernaum and so they were amazed. But like all the Jews, and maybe more so in their case, they were seeking a sign from him to prove who he was. Jesus said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Caper’na-um, do here also in your own country.'” (Verse 23)
So what were the people saying to him? They were saying that he had done all this wonderful stuff in other places, so do it here too! They said they had known him since he was just a child, so how come he could now do all this stuff? But Jesus told them, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country.” (Verse 24) Regardless of what he said or did the people would still think of him just as “Jesus, the carpenter’s son,” not as the Messiah. To that end then he quotes the examples of Elijah and Elisha who, although there was great need all across the land, were sent only to the two people to whom they were told to assist. Jesus likewise would go to the people he was to go to use the power he was given to back up and expand the ministry and message of the gospel. It was not for the purpose of proving who he was but to bear testimony to the words of the Gospel and of God. Basically he was saying that he had not been sent to assist them just as Elijah and Elisha had not been sent to assist the rest of the country in their times but only to those to whom they were sent.
The people he had grown up with could not see it that way and so they rejected him. They were incapable of recognising the power of God in Jesus. They did not have the capacity to believe and have the faith required to accept the truth at that time because Jesus was just “the kid from up the road.” Would they ever receive the message? Probably some would and did, but the time was not right. So often we too cannot and do not accept wisdom when it is given by someone close, but we do accept it from a stranger, and that is what Jesus was pointing out here. The people may have received the message at a later time when preached by the disciples of the Lord, but that has not been given for us to know.
When Jesus explained this to the people of Nazareth they were so incensed that they attempted to do him harm by forcing him to the brow of a hill near the town so that he might be cast headlong from it. But Jesus simply passed among them through their midst and escaped.
A good message we can take from this is that sometimes when we speak to those closest to us we may have little impact. But that does not mean they are lost. The message will be out there and they may hear it from others and their interest will be aroused. When the time is right they will get the message and ask questions. In the end it is the Lord’s work and he will have his word spoken to each person when it is right and by the best person to get the message through to them…and it may not necessarily be you…or me.