Matthew 13:53-58; Rejected in his Hometown

People are usually glad for reflected glory from a native son (daughter). The town we live in is proud of its Olympic gymnast. The town next door is proud of the national championships of its high school marching band. The next town over is the hometown of Forrest Tucker and Joanne Worley. Talk about reflected glory!

But Jesus hometown stumbled over him, was offended by him. Perhaps they saw him not as bearing glory, but infamy. Back in 11:6, Jesus said:

And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Matthew 11:6, ESV)

Well, Nazareth failed that test.

Perhaps they had as low an opinion of themselves as did Nathanael. They would have been proud to be the home of the region’s best carpenter, most likely, but not someone who seemed to be claiming to be the messiah. They knew his family (and a good-sized family it was) and they knew his background and training. Why was he being so uppity?

Seems to me they have a very particular version of the scandal of particularity. People want God to be general and nebulous. They have trouble accepting God at work in a particular situation or a particular individual. In Nazareth this is amplified by the fact that they know Jesus so well.

Like the Nazarenes, some modern church members “stumble” over Jesus with less justification than the bewildered disciples in Gethsemane. Jesus’ claims and demands appear excessive to secularists in a world come of age. While including God as a necessary principle in their worldview, they are offended by the claim that the Creative Force of the Universe chose to do something unique and unrepeatable in the life and death of one ancient carpenter. Matthew will not countenance this evasion. Those who are confronted by Jesus must make a decision not only about him but also about his heavenly Father.

Douglas R. A. Hare, Matthew, Interpretation, a Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1993), 163.

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