I grew up in a small town of a couple thousand people. Everyone there knew everyone else. If you were out goofing around and doing something you shouldn’t—your parents knew about it before you got back home. All twelve grades were in one school building. Like I said, it was a small town.
After I graduated college, I got married and we moved away. The town began to grow. People from the city began moving there for the reasons they always move to smaller towns, it was less expensive, there was less crime, and just a better overall quality of life. The cotton fields were plowed up and replaced by subdivisions, shopping centers, and fast-food places. As the song goes, “they paved paradise and they put up a parking lot.”
When I would go back home for a visit, people would complain about new taxes, the new zoning law, or the new mayor. I listened but I have to admit I wasn’t very sympathetic—things change and you have to change with them. As someone observed, the only constant in life is change. Sitting around and pining for the good ol’ days is the quickest way to get left behind.
When my father was in his final weeks of life, my mother wanted to get a burial plot in the town cemetery which was right across the road from where they lived. But the cemetery was filling up and the people now running things weren’t sure whether they could sell her a plot or not. They weren’t sure—that was the answer they gave and kept giving her.
On one of my trips there I decided I would go to City Hall and get this straightened out. I had a friend from high school who worked there, and I thought that might help me some. It didn’t. It wasn’t my friend’s fault, she did everything she could, but the answer was still—we’re not sure at this time if we have any plots to sell or not.
I was more upset about it than my mother was. She and Dad had been living there for thirty years, raised their family, paid their taxes, and now the people running things couldn’t even dignify her with a “yes” or a “no” in regard to a burial place for Dad. I felt my parents were being betrayed by people who were supposed to be public servants. But I had nothing to work with. None of the officials had grown up there or knew anyone in our family. We ended up having to bury my dad in the city all of these people had moved away from.
I wonder if this wasn’t something of what Jesus felt when he was rejected by His home church at Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6). The difference was, and this made it much worse, He did know the people there and they knew Him and His family (v. 3). And they took offense at Him precisely because they did know them.
Whatever else He was, Jesus was completely human. He wasn’t a Messianic machine with no feelings, He possessed all the vulnerabilities that fully loving people leaves you with. And the people He grew up around heard Him speak, said some nice things, and then proceeded to take some shots at His mother (“Mary’s son” as opposed to Joseph and Mary’s son), His siblings, and Him (“the carpenter”). Church going folks who had rubbed elbows with Jesus growing up refused to believe that God could have anything special to do with Him. Christ knew betrayal long before Judas ever thought of selling Him out.
It was their loss of course and that’s where it gets scary. Mark makes it a point to tell us there wasn’t much the Son of God could do there because there wasn’t much they believed He could do. In other words, there wasn’t a lot for even Jesus to work with.
What was that Jesus said on another occasion . . . something about According to your faith let it be done to you?
May we who are so familiar with Jesus, who rub elbows with Him, never set boundaries You haven’t set. Help us to be open, honest, and accepting as we learn from You. Open our eyes to see Your glory wherever it might be.