All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” – Luke 4: 22
He came out of the wilderness of temptation victorious and arrived in his home town.
Yesterday, the gospel lesson in the Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer was from Luke 4 when Jesus visited Nazareth. He was given the honor of reading from Isaiah because the leadership in the synagogue and the community knew him and his family. They longed for him to do there as he did in Capernaum. He longed for them to believe who he was.
He announced the Spirit of the Lord was upon him. They responded with kindnesses regarding his words, and they were in agreement they knew his family; however, no signs of faith.
He referenced scriptural accounts of miracles that occurred through prophets who went to Gentiles, not Hebrews. They grew upset and tried to throw him off a cliff. He escaped from their clutches.
There’s something about familiarity being the enemy of faith.
What if they received who he was and his anointing? The gospel author, St. Mark, said he could do no mighty works there except lay his hands on a few and heal them.
We can be familiar with what God has done in the past, but not have faith in the present.
Jesus challenged their familiarity of him and his family. He, also, in a way, challenged their Hebrew lineage and legacy with the stories of Elijah and Elisha ministering to a Gentile widow (cursed by God because the husband died) and a Gentile general (an enemy of Israel).
God responds to faith. He can make children of Abraham out of stones, according to John the Baptist.
Jesus’ encounter with Nazareth tells us when familiarity is predominant, faith is not active and, perhaps, is irrelevant for those comfortable with simple familiarity with God.
Nothing significant will happen. Perhaps that’s okay with Nazareth. I don’t think that was okay with Jesus. Jesus wanted to bring heaven to earth.
Too often, I’ve observed up close my brothers and sisters in Christ found contentment in church-oriented familiarity with God. When a small group of fellow believers grow in their hunger for more of God and find Holy Spirit to be an empowering and refreshing reality in their faith and very existence, the larger collective who are content with mere familiarity rebel. Using methods of passive aggressive tactics or more direct opposition to discourage the hunger of the smaller group, the larger body usually gets its way.
Those who share this familiarity instead of a baptism in Holy Spirit like Jesus on this earth will be willing to defend the collective instead of believing the predominance of Jesus and his anointing in the church.
Again, nothing significant will happen among and through those who favor familiarity with Jesus instead of believing his name and anointing, and the anointing of Holy Spirit on those who pursue him as a love affair.
Which do you prefer?