Matthew, Mark, and Luke all talk about different parts of how this story occurred almost in sequence. So let’s first read about what they say about Jesus’ visit back to his hometown.
Matthew 4:13 and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:
15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
[a]By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the [b]Gentiles—
16 “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light,
And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a Light dawned.”
Jesus fulfilled Scriptural prophecy from Isaiah as He did so. If you look at the ministry of Jesus in terms of his overall movements, you’ll see that this is Jesus’ early ministry in the Galilee area but He hadn’t yet begun His 3 ministry tours into the area. You’ll notice if you look at some of the different maps charting Jesus ministry, they’re slightly different than the harmony parallelization that I’m using.
I’ve noticed in particular the parallel harmonization may be slightly out of order because of the passages in John which may match up the Jesus meeting with the Samaritan at the well before his reentry into the Galilean area. Thus, it’s good to keep in mind that all of what I’m going through may not be in perfect order depending on who you talk to, but the lessons are still excellent.
The Galilee and Samaria areas were seen by the Jews in Judea as repulsive and unclean, mostly because when the Assyrians invaded almost a thousand years earlier and deported many of the Israelites they also imported many foreigners to that area. Thus, the intermingling of blood of the Israelites and the foreigners and the mix of customs that was brought in were unclean. Thus, the prophecy is also in part because the Israelites were seen as wayward and contemptible but such was Jesus ministry to the poor and sick not to those who needed healing.
Matthew 15:54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense (skandalizō) at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” 58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Mark 6:1 Jesus went out from there and *came into [a]His hometown; and His disciples *followed Him. 2 When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such [b]miracles as these performed by His hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of [c]James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense (skandalizō) at Him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in [d]his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” 5 And He could do no [e]miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.
The Matthew and Mark passages on Jesus visit are very similar like much of the synoptic gospel writing.
If you’re curious as to why this passage is in Matthew 15 rather than in Matthew 4 I believe it is generally held that the historical narratives from this area aren’t necessarily in chronological order (which seems obvious at this point) but stories are told in a way to make certain points about the character of Jesus and His ministry. That is why it may seem like there are contradictions with Jesus and a certain order or events. Wintery Knight has good posts on scholarly explication of details like this.
- Jesus enters another town and immediately goes to the synagogue to do His Father’s will. His ministry.
- Jesus again performs teaching, and back it up with miracles much like in the previous post on the synagogue exorcism.
- The part I find most interesting here is that Jesus did perform miracles and the people were amazed. BUT after they realized He was part of the family there and thought He was ordinary they were “skandalizō” at Him. After that, He could do no more miracles.
G4624 — σκανδαλίζω — skandalizō — skan-dal-id’-zo
To “scandalize”; from G4625; to entrap, that is, trip up (figuratively stumble [transitively] or entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure): – (make to) offend.
- The word for miracle is dunamis, and the word for lack of faith is apistia (pistis being one of the fruits of the Spirit) which we are familiar with.
- Jesus condemns their unbelief by comparing Himself to the prophets.
Those people who saw the teaching and miracles were able to believe, and thus more miracles could be done. But once our belief is limited for reasons such as these, then even Jesus’ ability was limited.
This parallel is not unexpected. I’ve stated before that the difference between masculine men and nice guys is but an issue of mindset. From the mind our actions flow, and from our actions our mind becomes. Thus it is important to cultivate a proper mindset in terms of our beliefs and interactions with others. This is why it is important to keep delving deep into the Scriptures because what you believe becomes your reality.
Luke 4:16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the [a]book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the [b]book and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed,
19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
Luke starts off by telling us some of details of Jesus’ return to His hometown which included a reading of the Scripture. We can learn a lot from the interactions between Jesus and the people.
20 And He closed the [c]book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your [d]hearing.”
Jesus then proclaims that He is the fulfillment to this Word in Scripture. This is the second fulfillment of Scripture including the one in Matthew.
22 And all were [e]speaking well of Him, and wondering at the [f]gracious (charis) words which [g]were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
If you remember back to Joy, grace, forgiveness, and charisma, charis is the root word of all of these Christian concepts:
G5485 — χάρις — charis — khar’-ece
From G5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): – acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy)
They are able to hear the gracious nature of the Truth, but their minds are limited because they are not focused on Spiritual things but on earthly things. Thus, they begin to doubt rather than examine and explore the spiritual implications.
23 And He said to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’”
Jesus responds by addressing their unbelief. Because they don’t believe Jesus claims that they will want and request signs to verify that He is speaking the Truth. But requesting signs are just a cover. If someone already has their mind made up on a topic, there is no way they will be convinced even if Jesus appeared in person to them.
This is a lesson that everyone must learn in terms of dealing with people and relationships.
24 And He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. 25 But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; 26 and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to [h]Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
Jesus continues that those who are open to the Truth and repentence will receive it, even the Gentiles and backs it up with examples from the Scriptures. Those who are not open to the Truth and repentance, even if they are the chosen people (Israelites), will not receive it.
28 And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; 29 and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, He went His way.
The Truth will always rile people up. When the Truth riles someone up in a good way, it is used as motivation to do good. However, when the Truth riles someone up in a bad way, it is used by that person as motivation to do what they want which is often evil.
For example, take the whole series on the socialization of men and women:
For example, if I criticism, mock insult, and generally berate my brothers in Christ to do what is right then it is as if we were encouraging each other in Christ. We take the criticism in stride to where we want to improve in on our walks. However, if someone rejects the truth then they will often take any of this criticism and attempt to throw in back in our face or do harm to us.
We see this many times in Scripture where Jesus is harsh with His disciples, but they take it on the chin and keep going because they want to learn and grow and become like Jesus. But the Pharisees who were already hard in their hearts take Jesus’ criticism and double down on wickeness instead of repenting. They eventually end up conspiring and hand Him over to be killed because they refused to accept the Truth of His Words and repent.
I see this all of the time in the Christian manosphere. Christian men turn to game because they think it can solve their woes instead of turning to God. What you end up with is embittered and inconsiderate men which do the exact opposite of what the Scripture teaches on how to treat their wives. And you have to wonder why they don’t realize this and repent and change.
This is the same exact concept of rebellious wives who are trying to become submissive wives. When they try to do it on their own they will inevitably fail.
The correct answer is always going to be repentence and the humility that comes with it. Then crying out to God to help you do the right thing in all situations even when it is hard. Blaming your wife or your husband will never get them to change because the only person you can change is yourself.
Note 1: men and women need to learn whose responsibility is what.
Note 2: Doing what is right does not guarantee that the other person will change. It is still their choice to rebel against Scripture or not.
The second lesson I think we learn from this passage is Jesus’ dealing with rejection. Obviously, none of us are in everyday positions where we rile people up and they want to throw us of a cliff. However, we will face rejection everyday as men from society, friends and family, and even women. Thus, Jesus portrays the correct answer here which is to express interest in helping others, but if they don’t want to accept then walk away and don’t let others affect you. You can only help those who want to change. You can only go ona date with women who are also interested in you.
The conclusions are thus,
- God does not require us to be perfect. For example, I often feel bad because I sin, but it is for the sinners and the sick that Jesus came. Accept His grace and walk into the forgiveness. But you still need to be working on changing because that’s what grace and repentence should lead to.
- It’s often easier to minister to those who don’t know us well because they have no preconceived notions of who we are.
- Words are often useless. Convincing people who have already made up in their mind what they believe almost never works. It is only actions that matter in terms of being a witness.
- Always bring back matters from the earthly to the Spiritual as Jesus does. Why be concerned about earthly things which pass away when we can be concerned about Spiritual things which are eternal?
- Don’t be afraid to call out unbelief or focus onto earthly things rather than Spiritual, especially among Christians. This is extremely important because we are to care about our relationships with others.
- Don’t have preconceived notions about those you talk to. They may surprise you when you minister to them.
- The Truth will always rile people up. The key is to find those who are willing to accept the Truth and be willing to change for the better. These are the people you want around you as friends because you can spur one another on to righteousness.
- When dealing with rejection shrug it off. In many cases, it’s not about you but about their acceptance or denail of the subjects at hand. However, remember that it is about you in the sense that you can continue on your journey to become a masculine man of God, so that should not deter you from continuing on to be more like Jesus.