This was first posted on February 16, 2010.
In Mark 6, Jesus is teaching in the synagogue in his hometown. The people are amazed at his teaching and wisdom. Matthew 13 tells us that his neighbors also were amazed at his miracles. They asked how Jesus got all this wisdom and power. After all, this was the same man who had grown up in their town. They knew his family. He had played with their children. Jesus had probably done work for them. They knew Jesus, or at least they thought they did. He was one of them. They were comfortable with this neighbor.
According to the text, thinking that they had Jesus all figured out caused a lack of faith in them. They couldn't believe that this small town boy could do the miracles he was doing or teach with the wisdom he was showing. Even with the evidence staring them in the face, their familiarity with Jesus blinded them to what God was doing. Consequently, Jesus did not do many miracles in his hometown.
How easy is it for us to become comfortable with Jesus? Growing up, I heard the stories. I saw the flannel graph pictures. I became familiar with this soft spoken. gentle, fair-haired Savior who seemed to float serenely through first century Palestine ( except for the time that he really got ticked off at the money changers in the Temple). I was a Christian. I had asked Jesus to come into my heart, and since I had my "get out of hell free" card, I grew complacent in the relationship. I prayed, and asked forgiveness when I sinned, but the relationship was not really a close one. I had my image of Christ, and didn't really expect him to ask much more of me than being a good boy and "worshipping" him when the church doors were open. I'm afraid that the image many churchgoers have of Jesus is not very different from that.
In the past couple of years, I've begun to learn to see Jesus more as he is. Through a few authors, particularly N. T. Wright and Dallas Willard, I have seen a different side of the Savior. Jesus the King has stepped into my path and shown himself to be exactly who the Gospels say he is. He is the Christ, the Anointed One of God. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is God incarnate. His Kingdom is now, not just in the future. Along with that, he is my brother and friend, and he calls me to follow and obey him out of love and gratitude for what he has done for me on the cross.
Jesus also calls me into a relationship with him, a relationship that is in many ways like those with other humans, but is so much better. That relationship is one where I am learning to not think that I have him all figured out, but rather to be open to anything he might do. In the Gospels, Jesus didn't fit into any one's preconceived notions, and he dealt with different people in different ways. So it is in my life. I am learning to expect the unexpected.
May we never say, "We have Jesus figured out. We know how he does things, and we know how he doesn't work."
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