Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
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.
Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth and is greeted coldly by his neighbors. Seeing him as an ordinary carpenter with no special training, they refuse to accept that Jesus' many wonderful words and works are from God. Rather than placing their trust in him, they take offence at (literally "stumble over") Jesus.
Amazed ... scoffed ... deeply offended (Mark 6:2, 3)
"[R]eturning as a Teacher (Rabbi) surrounded by His students," Jesus "began teaching in the synagogue," no doubt "speak[ing] about his person and mission, and the relation of both to OT fulfillment."402 Jesus was met by bitter skepticism from his neighbors. They asked, "Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?" (v. 2, NASB). "These things" ("these ideas" NET) probably refers to Jesus' proclamation regarding God's kingdom.403 To paraphrase Jesus' audience: "Where is he getting this stuff? Who taught it to him? How in the world is he able to do these things?" They were "greatly astounded"404 at what they now saw and heard, and very quickly their astonishment turned to hostility. The people who knew Jesus best really did not know him at all, seeing him as nothing more than "just a carpenter, the son of Mary" - likely meant as an insult, "for a man was not regarded as his mother's son in Jewish usage unless an insult was intended."405
Amazingly, the crowd saw Jesus as nothing more than "a local boy putting on airs," and so they openly questioned his training, skills, and ability.406 As one source puts it: "They felt that there was some hocus-pocus about it somehow and somewhere. They do not deny the wisdom of his words, nor the wonder of his works, but the townsmen knew Jesus and they had never suspected that he possessed such gifts and graces."407 Jesus was one of them and, to their knowledge, neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet (see Amos 7:14). "[T]hese people of Nazareth admit the wisdom and the works of power and yet become hostile because they cannot solve the mystery as to how their townsman obtained these gifts."408
Despite his God-given, powerful, and successful ministry abroad, when Jesus returned home he was met with disrespect and disbelief, and his neighbors took offense at him.409 Jesus "was amazed at their unbelief" (v. 6). As one paraphrase renders it: "He couldn't get over their stubbornness" (The Message). Jesus "marvelled at the faith of the Roman centurion where one would not expect faith (Matthew 8:10; Luke 7:9). Here he marvels at the lack of faith where he had a right to expect it, not merely among the Jews, but in his own home town, among his kinspeople, even in his own home."410
Couldn't do any miracles (Mark 6:5)
While Jesus certainly could have supernaturally "suppress[ed] the people's rebellious stand, he respected their own responsibility for their attitudes and actions."411 As a result of their lack of faith, Jesus chose to limit his miraculous activities among them - a limitation having to do more with his purpose than his power.412 "That Jesus is 'unable' to do works because of their unbelief presumes a limitation not of his power but of his mission: to heal without morally directed faith would be to act like the pagan magicians of antiquity."413 What's more, the blindness of the townspeople was but a foretaste of what all true disciples of Jesus - both then and now - can and should expect.414
Baptist by Birth
Lowell Streiker, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, tells a humorous story which illustrates the wrong way to make decisions.
While preaching at a small Methodist church in Georgia he asked for a show of hands to indicate who was a Methodist. Everyone raised their hands except for one little old lady.
When asked why she did not raise her hand, the elderly lady said that she was a Baptist. When pressed to explain her decision to become a Baptist, the lady said that she really did not know except that she was following the tradition established by her grandparents and repeated by her parents.
Reverend Streiker gently corrected the lady: "Ma'am, that's really not a good reason to be a Baptist. Suppose your mother and your father, and your grandmother and your grandfather had been morons, what would you have been?"
To which the sweet little old lady replied: "I guess I'd have been a Methodist."415
How could Jesus' friends, neighbors and family members miss his true identity? Answer: Because they relied on faulty, traditional reasoning. They refused to believe that God could or would choose a fatherless common carpenter to deliver Israel. They were looking for royal robes and military might and, while the reports of Jesus' miracles were impressive enough, simply healing the sick and teaching the multitudes was not enough to make him king. Simply put, they rejected Jesus because he did not meet their expectations.
??? As followers of Christ, how can we expect to be treated by others? How should we respond?