“And he could do no mighty work there.” (Mark 6:5)
Nazareth disappointed Jesus.
This city, interwoven with the actual identification of Jesus the Nazarene, sold him out, ridiculed him, treated him with awful disdain. The ones who had known him best treated him the worst. “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary…” (Mark 6:2-3).
Rather than hang on his every word, beg him to stay awhile and illuminate their minds with truth, the people of Nazareth slammed the door and shoved the Savior out.
This obscure town had popped into view thirty-three years earlier when “the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph” (Luke 1:27). The plot thickened: “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth” (Luke 2:4-6). “And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth” (Luke 2:39). It would be in this humble town of Nazareth where “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
Unfortunately, when Jesus returned to his hometown, familiarity fathered contempt and became a barrier to Christ performing any miracles. The Scriptures reveal this tragic consequence: “And he could do no mighty work there…and he marveled because of their unbelief” (Mark 6:5-6) The Miracle Worker kept his healing hands by his side because of their unbelief. The people of Nazareth considered Jesus to be the carpenter, the ordinary son of Mary. Their blinded eyes refused to recognize the Messiah in their midst.
In turn, their hardened hearts became enraged. Luke tells us, “And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so they could throw him down the cliff” (Luke 4:29). Contempt had morphed into murderous intent. But make no mistake. Though their unbelief caused Christ to do no miracles in Nazareth, he was still supremely in charge and undeniably God. “But passing through their midst, he went away” (Luke 4:30). No angry mob could thwart his plan or make a mockery of his will. He had come to die for the sins of the world, and he would do it in his good time, not theirs.
The people of Nazareth grieved Jesus by their outspoken unbelief. May our familiarity with Jesus the Nazarene never lead us in that direction. Instead, as we become more and more familiar with Jesus, may it produce the resolve to love him with a greater intensity than ever before.
Elizabeth A Mitchell