Today we explore the limitation of Jesus’ power during his Rejection at Nazareth.
Jesus went home, to Nazareth, about 20 miles southwest of Capernaum. This town is estimated to have been about 400 people in all, and nearby enough to two other larger, Grecian cities that it would have been considered a backwater town. Considering the level of community and family involvement, it is likely that many of those who lived there, if not all, had known Jesus and his family. This is made more likely by the fact that they were probably the only or one of few carpenters in the town. Imagine a small town where everyone hangs out together at the only local diner, where the diner owners family would often hang out or work. You would know of them, if not a close bond.
Despite the previous encounter with Jesus’ family calling him crazy, he seems welcomed home until Friday night when he enters the Synagogue to teach. This is when it gets classic and interesting because these people don’t see a teacher or a man, they see a little carpenter boy.
“Where did he get these ideas? What are these miracles that are done through his hands?” Psh, I know you, Jesus, you pulled your sister’s hair when you were knee high, I know you aren’t smart enough or have the authority to do this. Where’s the trick?
“Isn’t this the carpenter?” You’re just a laborer! You were never trained to be a rabbi like those fancy city folk!
In fact, you are, “the son of Mary!” (This is a clearly derogatory statement because even if Jesus’ father had been dead, to reference a man as his mother’s son in Jewish culture was seen as insulting.)
I know your family Jesus, stop this soapbox hocus pocus right now!
Jesus’ response is classic. *facepalm* “I should have known no one here would believe me!”
The most fascinating thing occurs next. “He was not able to do a miracle there, except to lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.”
First of all, oh is that all? Just a wee little healing of the sick?
Second of all, did I hear correctly? Jesus was unable to perform miracles? Jesus the Messiah was limited in his power because of the disbelief of the people he was trying to help? Jesus, the perfect one, the guy so in tune with God that his sacrifice and message have lived on for 2000 years, wasn’t able to wield the authority of God on these people?
I think this is clear evidence of my understanding of spiritual authority, and Mark’s obvious message concerning Jesus’ authority. Jesus couldn’t work on these people because they never submitted the authority of their bodies or houses over to him, and thus to God. Their “unbelief” shielded them from Jesus healing powers. Do you think Jesus was embarrassed and confused as to why it wouldn’t work? Or do you think he was in the know the whole time and simply felt pity for these people? If this happened today, Jesus entire career would have been ruined. News would have spread like wildfire that Jesus wasn’t able to heal, and the entire world would have stopped believing because we only accept miracles under total control or its a farce.
If this happened today, Jesus entire career would have been ruined. News would have spread like wildfire that Jesus wasn’t able to heal, and the entire world would have stopped believing because we only accept miracles under total control or its a farce. I think this absolutely happened, and I think that it exists as a story which shows Jesus limitations as evidence that it really happened. Why would Mark, in attempting to show Gentiles the strength and authority of Jesus make up a story where he is shown to be limited in power?