Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Unbelief Reduces Jesus to a Homeboy

In Matthew 13:54-58 we see that Jesus visits his hometown of Nazareth. He is invited to speak in the local synagogue, and there he speaks with great wisdom. He may also have demonstrated “miraculous powers,” since the response of the people is to be amazed and ask "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?"

What did Jesus talk about? I think it’s safe to assume that he talked about the Kingdom of God. I once heard Rick Warren speak on TV – guess what he talked about? If you’re thinking “the purpose-driven life” you are correct. I like Rick Warren, but Jesus was far more purpose-driven than he is. All of what Jesus says and does is about the Kingdom of God. Jesus proclaims the good news of the Kingdom. And Jesus demonstrates, in healing, deliverance, and dead-raising, the power and authority he has as the Real King.

Jesus speaks “wisdom,” and Jesus acts in “miraculous power.” Both cause jaws to drop in awe and wonder. When the wisdom-words of Jesus get into the deep soil of a human heart they produce a crop with yields of 30, 60, even a hundred times the original seed. At a time when some of Jesus’ disciples were leaving him Peter looked at Jesus and said, “Lord, where else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” I’ve been a follower of Jesus for 36 years. At this point in my life I can say that I am getting more out of the Bible and the words of Jesus than I ever have before. And yet I think I am probably still scratching the surfaces of the depths of Jesus’ wisdom. It all makes me feel that when Hebrews describes the word of God as living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating deep into joints and marrow, soul and spirit, I am now experiencing this great truth. (Hebrews 4:12)

Jesus has “miraculous powers.” I know this, personally, and I want to see more. One empirical fact about myself is this: the very moment that I prayed and confessed that Jesus was my Savior and Lord and that I was going to follow him all the days of my life was the very moment that I ceased doing drugs (which was my daily habit). If that were my only experience of the miraculous power of Jesus it would still be enough to cause me to worship him now and forevermore. But I know there’s more to come!

We must now embrace the wisdom of Jesus and his miraculous powers. It is instructive for us that the people who thought they knew him best, his own townsfolk, “took offense” at him and refused to “honor” him. Which means, for me, took offense at his proclamation and demonstration. Jesus was their homeboy. Then, in a turn of events, Jesus now was “amazed,” and Matthew 13:58 reads, “and he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

The people of Nazareth went from astonishment to skeptical questioning to taking offense at Christ. They ended up with nothing from him. Let’s never let unbelief and non-faith limit what Jesus chooses to do in our lives.