The vertical linearity is out of whack

Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” Reference: Matthew 13:57

When I was a kid, one of the US armed forces had this commercial in which a young man named Joey is home visiting on leave. The family is sitting around watching TV when the TV starts to go haywire. Joey says he’ll take a look at it, but the family is skeptical: “Joey can’t fix nuthin’!” is what I remember. But Joey calmly goes up to the TV and looks at the controls and says, “the vertical linearity is out of whack.” Everyone is amazed at the confidence and skills that Joey has received in the military.

He came to his hometown and began to teach the people​​ in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.” And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:54-58).

Jesus didn’t get the honor he deserved as a prophet either. There’s a criticism of his parentage–they don’t come right out and say it, but they seem to be implying that he was illegitimate, and he is compared to the rest of his family, which they thought of as just an ordinary family. Of course, James would go on to become one of the most important leaders of the church, too; and Mary has been blessed and venerated by billions, so they were wrong about this, too. If they had asked their question in sincerity (Where did this man get his wisdom and great power?), they could have received the wisdom and power he had for them, but their hearts were hard.

It would be easy to leave things here, and just criticize those stupid people of Nazareth, but it’s better, though harder, to ask in what ways our wrong beliefs or disbelief hinder the work of Jesus in our own lives and the lives of those whom we love. I was accused yesterday by someone of “not acting Christian” towards him, and he was right: I couldn’t believe that good could come of a particular situation, and my attitudes and emotions got in the way of the love I would prefer I would have shown. Still, I know that in some sense I have enough faith that God can work in this situation, and I need to live this out today.

Are there ways you can recognize anew the power of Jesus today? And honor him as who he truly is?

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