Parenting offers many examples. My brother-in-law’s four year old twins still think he can do no wrong, that he is the smartest, strongest, fastest person to walk the planet. In contrast, my ten and twelve year old daughters are now faster than me, can do many things better than me, and would rather look something up on Google than dare think their old man could be smart enough to answer a question.
Who does Jesus think he is anyway? We know his mother, his father, his brothers and sisters! Why does he think he knows more than us? Does he think he’s better than us?
Then Jesus offers a powerful, if not sardonic, one-liner: “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and his own house.” In other words, Jesus is saying, “Look, I know I’m a prophet. And I know many people from all over are extremely impressed by what I know and do. But this is what always happens in someone’s hometown and family: lack of credibility, jealousy, ultimately lack of faith.”
It’s this “lack of faith” that I find most interesting here: “And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.” We could understand this line in two ways: First, Jesus was punishing them by choosing not to perform mighty deeds because they lacked faith. I think we usually understand this passage this way. But a second way might actually have merit: Jesus could only perform mighty deeds if others showed great faith! I don’t know for sure which is the case, and I don’t intend to limit Jesus so much as suggest that we have a significant role to play in doing God’s work. The “mighty deeds” of Jesus almost always involve great faith and participation from others: for example, raising Lazarus from the dead, healing the woman who was bleeding and touched Jesus’ garment, healing the paralytic lowered through the roof by his friends, and Peter’s walking on water.
What “mighty deeds” can we help Jesus to accomplish today? Will we be able to accept and have faith in the ways Jesus works through a prophet in our own family or hometown in order to accomplish these mighty deeds?
Jesus, help us to be humble, to listen to others, to have faith, and to be open to discovering new and deeper ways to participate in helping you build the Reign of God. Amen.
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