Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household."Mark 6:4(NASB)
The ministry of Jesus began to widen as news of His amazing miracles and healings began to be spread abroad. Although He was resisted by the scribes and Pharisees in Judah, He received a more positive reception around the Galilee. As time passed however, hostility towards the Lord Jesus started to develop and increasingly His message and ministry was rejected, causing Him to begin teaching His faithful followers through parables.
Although He continued to perform many mighty miracles and preach to the large crowds that followed Him, it was a small group of faithful disciples who were the target audience of His parabolic teachings, for He would explain the meaning of the parables to His disciples when they were alone together. Faith in God and believing in Jesus Christ Whom He sent was the important issue.
During His early ministry, there are many examples where Jesus stated that a miracle occurred because of someone's faith. It was because of her faith in Jesus that the woman with an issue of blood was healed. It was by faith that blind Bartimaeus received his sight, and when Jesus saw the faith of the four men bringing their sick friend to Him, He healed the paralytic man.
Perhaps the most heart-breaking rejection the Lord Jesus experienced was in Nazareth - the place where He grew up as a child. He had lived there with His family, served the local community with His carpentry skills, and attended the Jewish synagogue throughout His early life, but had to experience terrible rejection on two occasions because the people of His hometown did not recognise the Prophet that was in their midst - they did not have faith in Jesus.
The first time He was rejected by the people of Nazareth was early in His ministry when He found it necessary to relocate to Capernaum. He stood up in the synagogue, read a passage from Isaiah, and told the people, "today this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears." This enraged the townsfolk, causing them attempt to kill Him. The second time He was rejected by the people of Nazareth was in this passage, when Jesus interrupted His preaching itinerary to once again visit His hometown during His Galilean ministry.
When the Sabbath came, He attended the synagogue as before, and began to teach. It was normal practice for rabbis to expound the Scriptures and many who heard Him were astonished because of His wise and gracious words. However, people did not want to hear what this 'upstart' from their village had to say, and questioned His authority, "Where did this man get these things?" they asked with doubt in their hearts, "What is this wisdom given to Him, and how are these miracles performed by His hands?"
The local people had known Jesus since childhood and had not forgotten that He was 'the son of Joseph - the carpenter'. However on this second visit, their lack of faith was exposed more fully and their hostility started to percolate. Instead of honouring this prophet of God, they sneered, "isn't this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren't His sisters here with us?"
They recognised Who Jesus was, but instead of honouring Him as a famous Rabbi who was graciously visiting His hometown with His disciples, they reverted back to branding Him as 'the carpenter'. But the insults crescendoed when they disparagingly called Him 'the son of Mary', thus rejecting His virgin birth and Messianic claims.
This was a deliberate slur on the characters of both Jesus and His mother as it implied that He was as an illegitimate son and a charlatan. The people of Nazareth did not even allow Him the courtesy He deserved, of being identified with His deceased step-father, Joseph the carpenter. No doubt with sadness in His soul, Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honour, except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household."
Jesus was the Prophet who was greater than Moses, the King who was greater than David, but He was despised and rejected by those He came to save. He came to His hometown but his family, childhood friends, and neighbours, spurned Him and treated His with unashamed contempt. No wonder Mark recorded the serious lack of faith that was displayed in Nazareth that day. And so we read that Jesus was not able to do any miracles there because of their lack of faith - except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.
Heavenly Father, what a lesson we can learn from the people of Nazareth who refused to recognise the Lord Jesus, the King of Glory Who had grown up in their village and visited them, to give them the words of eternal life - but they refused to listen and allowed doubt to cast the shadow of unbelief in their heart and a cloud of rejection over their town. Help me not to fall into the trap of ignoring those whom You are preparing for a great work of ministry in Your eternal plan. Thank You that although He was despised and rejected by His own people, You graciously have brought Gentiles into Your family and equipped us to be used in Your service. Fulfil now O Lord, Your Word in each member of Christ's Body and equip each one of us to carry out the work that You have prepared for us to do. Keep us from devaluing the service of others, but rather may we remember to give encouragement to Your people and allow faith to blossom in our heart. Thank You that Jesus did not give up on Israel despite rejecting Him, and that the day is coming when that nation will recognise their Lord and their God - heaven's greatest Prophet, High Priest, and King. AMEN.