Have you ever been misunderstood in the neighborhood?
Have you ever been MISUNDERSTOOD? Would you agree that being MISUNDERSTOOD is emotionally painful? One of the hardest burdens to bear is being misunderstood by people who are the closest to you. All of us, at some point or another, have experienced looking into the eyes of another person and realizing that they simply don’t see us the way we see ourselves, and probably never will. This must have been how Jesus felt in our text.
It is suggested that our text takes place when Jesus was around 30 years of age. Scholars suspect that Joseph, the husband to Mary, had died early in the life of parenting. Consequently, Jesus felt the need to stay close to His Mom and His siblings to make sure that all was well before He left to go do ministry. I think it’s important for me to point out how Jesus made His family His first order of business. His family was His First Ministry. We ought to be careful not to ever sacrifice our family on the altar of our ministry or career. Because at the end of the day, all we have is family! When things appeared to be stable and well at home, Jesus stopped doing carpentry and informed His mother Mary, that the time had come for Him to be about His “Father’s Business!”
Love & Mercy
The Bible tells us that as Jesus launched His ministry, the entire region felt the impact of His ministry. The Bible suggest that the region was reverberating with the teaching, preaching ministry of Jesus. With the ministry of love, compassion, mercy, and justice for people, Jesus was drawing a crowd no matter where He went. He had become popular all throughout the surrounding region. In-fact, by the time we get to this text, we will come to see how Jesus had already performed many miracles in His ministry.
In Mark 1:23, He healed a man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue. Mark 1:30, He healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law after leaving the synagogue from a fever. Mark 1:32, they brought unto Him ALL who were sick and oppressed and He healed them. Mark 1:40, Jesus cleansed a man of leprosy. Mark 2:3, He healed a paralytic whose friends tore the roof off all to get their friend to Jesus. Mark 3:1, Jesus healed a man with a withered hand. In Mark 4:39, He speaks to the wind and the sea and says, “peace be still,” and the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. In Mark 5, He heals a woman who had been sick for 12 years with an issue of blood who touched the hem of His garment. In that same chapter, He raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead.
Clearly you can understand why people were excited and charged about His ministry and why He was drawing such large crowds of people. Jesus had a ministry that made people whole. A ministry that liberated them from things that were oppressing them. Our text tells us that when Jesus preached and taught, they were amazed because no one had ever spoken or taught like Him. His teaching and preaching were so powerful. He taught as one with authority. His preaching and teaching were so saturated with love and grace that it had a way of lifting the burden of legalism off those who had heard Him.
So, with the combination of His liberating preaching and teaching, and His compassion and mercy, it no doubt made people come from all over just to hear Him. He had this kind of gravitational pull, this kind of magnetic messianic attraction that would just draw people. You can imagine that as Jesus ministered in other places and people felt the power of His ministry, that somewhere in His sub-conscious, He was thinking about His own HOMETOWN. So there came a time in Jesus’ ministry that He decided to go back to His HOMETOWN and do ministry. I guess Jesus thought about how it didn’t make sense to be a blessing to everybody else everywhere and the people He grew up with were not getting the benefit of what God had given Him.
Jesus, A Rabbi in his home town
So, the text tells us that Jesus decided He would go back home. It’s important to note that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but He was reared in Nazareth. Jesus makes His way back to Nazareth. Let’s be clear. Jesus is not going to Nazareth just to have a personal, private meeting, fellowship or reunion with the family. He’s not coming as a son to His mother or a brother to His siblings. When Jesus comes to Nazareth on this occasion, He comes as a visiting Rabbi. The evidence of that is the fact that He is accompanied by His Disciples. When He left home, He had no disciples but now He has disciples, which means He is a Rabbi.
When He comes as a Rabbi, I imagine that His desire is to seek to avail to the people of His HOMETOWN the full impact of the ministry that His Father has given Him. Jesus wanted to be a blessing to those in His own HOMETOWN. He gets there right before the Sabbath. When the Sabbath came, Jesus does what the custom was and that was to go to church on the Sabbath. Jesus goes to church on the Sabbath! Now, if Jesus goes to church, then what should we do on the Sabbath? Jesus goes to church!
Now, the custom in the synagogue was that the present Rabbi of the Synagogue would extend an invitation to the visiting Rabbi to come and address the congregation if the visiting Rabbi so desires. I can only imagine that they were elated to have their HOMETOWN Boy back home. So, the Rabbi welcomed Jesus to come and address the congregation. Verse 2 tells us that Jesus began to teach in the synagogue and as they heard Him, they were amazed. They wanted to know where He got His insight from. They had never heard anything like it before. They asked, “Where did He get this wisdom from?” In their minds, Jesus was saying things that was way beyond His years. They were saying that Jesus was too young to be speaking with that kind of wisdom. The wisdom that He is espousing comes with time and experience.
Then someone said, “We heard He has been doing miracles.” The word is out! The evidence is everywhere that He is a “Miracle Worker.”
Here is a man who is teaching God’s Word like you have never heard it before. Speaking with wisdom like someone who is beyond his years. And they know He’s a man who has done many miracles. Up to this point, it’s going well for Jesus. It appears that the hometown is anticipating that something great is about to take place. If He did it everywhere else, surely it’s about to happen here. They couldn’t wait to hear what revelation knowledge He was going to unravel or what miracle He would perform in their hometown. Everything was looking good. People were sitting with tip toe anticipation waiting for Jesus to make His next move.
A Change In The Atmosphere
And then all of a sudden, things started going south! The comments that were being made by people that were in the audience was changing the atmosphere. The atmosphere prior to the comments was ripe for miracles and breakthroughs. But suddenly, somebody started pouring water on what God is trying to do in their midst.
Listen, if God is going to move and work, it’s always best to have the right atmosphere. The kind of atmosphere that makes believing easy. The kind of atmosphere that causes people to exercise their faith. Faith is important if you’re going to have access to the power of God. Faith is the master key that unlocks the door to the unlimited power of an omnipotent God. If you want access, you have to have Faith. Without Faith, it is impossible to please God.
Anything is possible when the atmosphere is right. May I suggest that the atmosphere is determined by attitude! And people have attitudes! People have good and bad attitudes. So, when you bring your attitude, it either adds to the atmosphere that makes anything possible or it undermines and short-circuits an atmosphere that makes things impossible. The problem with power is never with God; God has the power! The problem with power is our attitude and our Faith. If you have the Faith, God has the power.
Nothing but a Carpenter
Jesus here in our text, is setting the atmosphere for something to happen. But somebody is getting ready to hijack the atmosphere with some comments. Look at verse 3. Jesus is preaching. They are amazed. But somebody said, “Ain’t that the carpenter? Ain’t that Mary’s Boy? Ain’t those His brothers? And He has some sisters who live here with us?” And then the Bible says, “that they were offended by Him”. Let me ask y’all. How do you go from amazed and astonished to offended and ostracized and it’s the same person preaching and teaching? This must have had something to do with attitude.
Somebody said, “Hold up, wait a minute! Don’t get it twisted! Don’t get so excited about Him!” “Isn’t He the carpenter?” He ain’t nothing but a carpenter! A carpenter is a craftsman. A carpenter didn’t have much status. A carpenter was a blue-collar laborer. A carpenter was just a common man. Nothing special about a carpenter. All He was to them was a handyman. Everything was going well until somebody cautioned the crowd not to be all enamored about Him because He’s just a carpenter. He ain’t nobody special! He’s just a carpenter.
Please hear me! Sometimes you can miss out on your miracle, when you attempt to judge people by superficial standards like, what they do for employment; what neighborhood they live in; what income bracket they’re in; the kind of car they drive; what zip code they live in; how many college degrees they have; where did they go to school; how connected they are; what’s their following like on social media; what color is their skin; or what’s their gender.
Consequently, we will downplay the inherent work of their human personality based on superficial accoutrements which has nothing to do with their personal value. God sent Jesus to bless them, and they missed their blessing because they judged Him on superficial characteristics. Here, Jesus is trying to set them free and they are judging Him based on a superficial standard; “Ain’t that the carpenter?”
Don’t Miss Your Blessing
Hear me today! Sometimes you will miss your blessing because your blessing won’t come in the package that you desire it to come in. Here you are thirsty, and God sends you water, but you don’t like the container it comes in! Maybe you deserve to die of thirst! Here you are upset because what you desired came in a CAN and not CRYSTAL! You’re upset because it’s a WOMAN and not a MAN. Because they were BLACK and not WHITE or because they’re WHITE and not BLACK. Or because they are an EX-CON or EX-FELON and not a LAW-ABIDING CITIZEN.
Maybe you’re upset because now that you have moved out of the neighborhood, you have a white-collar job, pockets fat, drivin good and livin good, you start developing amnesia and forget where you came from. And God has the nerve to send your blessing in the package of someone who is from where you use to be from, and you dismiss them because they don’t meet your standard. You need to be careful because you might be missing your blessing based on superficial things.
Jesus didn’t come in the package they liked. He’s just a carpenter! He can’t be anything special because He has no status. He has no education. He was born on the wrong side of the tracks. You might want to consider that you might need to stop telling God HOW to bless you and just ask Him TO bless you. If you can trust God to SAVE YOU then you ought to Trust God to BLESS YOU. And if you would just let God decide HOW and WHO, then you won’t miss your blessing!
Character Beats Career, Cash & Charisma
You might miss your blessing if you base it on superficial criteria like career, cash flow or charisma. Sometimes your blessing is not wrapped in a prestigious career or a six-figure cash flow. If you have to choose between career, cash flow, and character, then maybe you’re connecting down, instead of connecting up. Character beats career, cash and charisma all day long!
Have you ever received a gift that was perfectly wrapped? I mean the presentation was absolutely impeccable. I mean to the point that you felt bad about tearing up the wrapper to get to the gift. But then after unwrapping it, you discover that what was on the inside wasn’t what you wanted. But then on the other hand, you have received some gifts that looked like they were just haphazardly put together, with no real care or presentation about it. But when you tore open the wrapping on the outside, you discovered that on the inside was exactly what you wanted all along! Be careful not to focus more on the Wrapping than you do on the Content!
A Miracle Birth
He’s just a carpenter! That was the first douse of doubt and cynicism on the atmosphere. Then somebody else said, not only is He just a carpenter, but ain’t that Mary’s Son? Notice, they didn’t say, “Ain’t that Joseph’s son?!” Nope! They said, “Ain’t that Mary’s Son?” Now, He was Mary’s Son, but you know how people can be? They don’t say it, but they say it! You kinda get a sneaky suspicion that they are really asking something else. If you remember, Jesus was born under suspicious circumstances. When Joseph and Mary were about to get married, they were engaged to be married when the Holy Ghost tapped her on the shoulders by way of an Angel and told her that she would become pregnant and have a Baby Boy and his name would be called Jesus.
Mary then asked, “How will this happen, seeing as though I’m still a virgin and I haven’t been with a man!” The Angel says to her, “You won’t need a man for this! This will happen by the Holy Spirit.” Then Mary’s response was, “Then be it unto me, according to your word.” The Bible said that when Joseph heard that she was pregnant, he decided to privately put her away. Because Joseph was a “Man of God,” the Angel decided to also visit him so that Joseph would know that there was no funny business going on; that this was of God. So, Joseph knew and Mary knew that this was of God. Everybody else however, had to take their word for what they said had happened. When they tried to explain the pregnancy, they were always asked, “So who is the Father?” And they would respond, “The Holy Ghost!” Well, you know how that was received! The Holy Ghost? Yeah okay, if you say so! Because in the back of their minds, it’s the notion of “Momma’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe.” Somebody asked, did you hear her say that the Father is the Holy Ghost? I don’t know who she’s calling the Holy Ghost. Does he live in our neighborhood?
A Cloud of Suspicion
What I’m trying to get you to see is that Jesus was born under a cloud of suspicion and periodically, you hear them poking at Him about the cloud of suspicion under which He was born. Joseph was not His Daddy. Jesus was born to a single Mother! The Savior came through a single Mother. Please allow me to say it again. Jesus was born to a single Mother! They asked, “Isn’t that Mary’s Son?” He can’t be all of that! Certainly, God can’t use Him to do anything great! Especially given the circumstances to which He was born. It’s bad enough that He was born in the projects, in a barn in Bethlehem. Everybody knows that that’s not His Daddy. And nobody seems to know who His Daddy is! All this boy is, is a carpenter! And He gonna walk up in here with some disciples acting like He’s somebody, when everybody knows He ain’t nobody.
Isn’t this just like us? How are you going to teach the young people when you have three children by three different men and you ain’t never been married? How can you be called to preach with all the drugs and death and prostitution you have dealt in our neighborhood/community? How can you be on the Diaconate Ministry or the Council of Elders with your roaming eye and your proclivity to pornography. There is no way God can use somebody like you because of the suspicion of cloud hoovering over your life. If the truth be told, none of us should be or could be used of God if we told the whole truth and nothing but the truth about ourselves. And I don’t mean the sanitized version, but the real naked truth. It’s a wonder we ain’t all dead! If people around you knew you like you knew you, there wouldn’t be anybody around you. But look at how God is using you in spite of your Past! In spite of your Neighborhood! In spite of your Failures! In spite of your Record! In spite of your Choices! In spite of your Mistakes.
The Least Likely Candidate
God has a proclivity for choosing persons to do His work that ordinarily we wouldn’t choose or believe that God could use! In Judges 3:31, God used a man by the name of Shamgar, whose life was reduced to one sentence in the entire Bible; who had been passed over and doomed to oblivion. Who used an unlikely and unusual tool to defeat 600 Philistines whose heroic actions led to peace in Israel for a season. In Esther 4;14 God used a woman by the name of Esther, whose birth name was Hadassah, from the tribe of Benjamin, whom the odds were stacked against and yet she became Queen “for just such a time as this” and saved her people from what could have been the first Holocaust. She had been sovereignly put in place by God for the very purpose of messing up the plans of the enemy.
In 1 Samuel chapter 16, The prophet Samuel was given instructions by God to go to Jesse’s house and there He would instruct him who he was to anoint to be the next king of Israel. The Bible tells us Jesse had all seven of his likely sons to pass by Samuel but none of them had been chosen. Samuel asked Jesse, are these all of your boys? Jesse said no. My youngest boy can’t be the one though, he’s out tending my sheep. He doesn’t have what my other sons have. When David comes in, the Bible says, “then the Lord said, rise and anoint him; he is the one.”
Gideon brings Deliverance to Israel
In Judges chapter 6, God sent an unknown man by the name of Gideon to bring deliverance to Israel from the Midianites. Gideon expressed his doubt about how God could use somebody like him and that there were more qualified persons He could use. God called him a mighty man of valour and used him to bring deliverance and victory to His people. In Acts chapter 9, around verse 11, the Lord told Ananias, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he will be praying. For in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight. Lord, Ananias answered, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name. But the Lord said to Ananias, Go! This man is my chosen instrument….” All I’m trying to get you to see is that God has a proclivity for choosing persons to do His work that ordinarily we wouldn’t choose or believe that God could use.
Be the Salt & Light
Because of your past, people will call you a lot of things! But you don’t have to be what people call you! The only thing you have to be is what and who God says you are, whether you know who your father is or not. Regardless to what your Momma was; Regardless to whether you lived in the projects or not. If you are saved, if you know God, you are twice born, blood bought child of the living God. You are the royal priesthood, a peculiar people, a holy nation. You are the salt of the earth. You’re the light of the world. You are somebody! You ought to be careful how you treat people; because you don’t know who their Daddy is! God is their Father! Jesus is their Savior and the Holy Spirit is their Power. God is trying to set the people free in our text and they would rather hold on to gossip than the TRUTH of God’s Word.
Somebody asked, “Isn’t that Mary’s Son?” Now the atmosphere starts to dissipate because of the negative criticism. Then somebody asked, are those His brothers and sisters? In essence they are saying, we know who He is because we know His family. They are from around here. As a matter of fact, He grew up around here. He’s not anybody special. I’m not sure as to why you all are making such a big deal about Him. Here’s the problem. They thought they knew Him, but they really didn’t. He came from common settings, but they didn’t know that God can take what’s common and bring something uncommon out of it. It looked natural, but they didn’t know what was moving among them was supernatural. God was in their midst and they missed Him because they had become too familiar.
There’s Something Special About You
Sometimes you can become so accustomed to handling holy things that they become dull in your hands. God has given you something holy to do and you’ll become too familiar with it. It has lost its impact, and you have lost your zeal all because you have become too familiar with it. You’ve forgotten how holy the assignment is. When you first started out, you were really excited about it. But instead of you becoming more excited about it, you’ve become so familiar that now it breeds contempt. And now you don’t serve with the same enthusiasm you used to serve with. They said, “He ain’t nobody special.” Listen to what they said. “These are His brothers and His sisters who live among us.” In other words, they are saying, “He’s from around here!” Well, let me just ask; where is here? Well, “HERE” is Nazareth! Well, Nazareth has a reputation based on the attitudes of people that don’t live in Nazareth. The people who don’t live in Nazareth had an attitude about the people who live in Nazareth. Nazareth was a “nowhere place” full of “nobody people,” which is where we get the proverbial saying from John 1:46, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth.”
So, everybody on the outside of Nazareth had the attitude that everybody in Nazareth were Nobody’s. It’s one thing for others to constantly suggest that you don’t matter, but it’s another thing when you start internalizing what they have been saying about you! It’s one thing for those on the outside to believe it, but it becomes particularly harmful when you start believing what they believe about you. When they say, “You’re Nobody” and you believe you’re nobody, then Houston, WE HAVE A PROBLEM! When you are constantly being reminded that you don’t count one way or another, that’s when the damage is really being done. They have taken the atmosphere that was on the outside and have now placed it on the inside! Which means, that if they don’t like you and want to do you harm, all we have to do is internalize their hatred for us and start hating ourselves, then they don’t have to do anything to us; we’ll do it to ourselves!
What I see in this text is that the people who are dismissive of Jesus are dismissive because they feel that Jesus is just like them. Here they are, a Nazarene. They have been told that they are nobody’s and they are watching Jesus, one of their very own. And because they have internalized what others think of them, they turn around and levy those same feelings on one of their own, Jesus. They are projecting their pain and insecurities on Jesus. They are saying to Jesus, “You are no better than us! And we are nobody’s!” They looked at Jesus and said, you are from Nazareth just like us. You’re nobody just like us. So why are you pretending to be somebody when you’re a nobody.
A Prophet Without Honor
Look at verse 4, “And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household. Their perspective of Jesus was based on three things. #1 was their VALUE of Him. They didn’t value the Prophet. They didn’t value the Man of God. Anything you value, you’ll take care of it. Their perspective was based on their value of Him. #2 was His VOICE among them. No one had ever spoken like Him. Those that heard Him were astonished. As He spoke, they wanted to know where He got that wisdom from. That was before the atmosphere shifted. That was before the negative comments. After the negative comments, His voice from their perspective, had no power. He had no voice. They started listening to other voices. “Isn’t he the carpenter?” Isn’t that Mary’s boy? They started listening to everybody else’s voice except God’s voice.
(Illustration) A colleague’s son was playing on a baseball team whose turn came to bat. My colleague’s son got a single and made his way to first base safely. The next batter gets a hit and made his way to first base while my colleague’s son gets caught between first and second base and was eventually tagged out. After the game, my colleague asked his son, “What happened on that play where you were tagged out?” The son explained to his father that he was trying to hear the voice of the coach, but said he couldn’t hear the coach’s voice because of the voices of everybody else. The problem with many of us is that we’re listening to everybody else’s voice but the coach. May I suggest that God’s voice is THE ONLY VOICE THAT MATTERS! Their perspective was based on their VALUE of Him, His VOICE among them and #3 His VISION for them. Jesus had a vision for His HOMETOWN to benefit from the move of God. Where there is no vision, the people perish. But it’s obvious they had their own vision. Listen, if the House has more than one vision then that’s DIVISION! No where will you ever read where God gives vision to a committee. God gives vision to the leader.
Listen, I’m through but I have to tell you, JESUS WAS FREE! Jesus was free from other people’s estimation of Him. He was free from other people’s evaluation of Him. He was free from other people’s expectation of Him. There is nothing more dangerous than to have someone who loves GOD and they are FREE. When they are free, you can’t manipulate them! They are FREE to do what God says in spite of what you want them to do.
The chaplain for Timothy Partners, Ltd., Pastor Anthony E. Moore is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and his lovely wife, First Lady, Cynthia A. Moore a native of Dallas, Texas. Pastor Moore has served Carolina Missionary Baptist Church since 1987 and has been proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ for over thirty years. His latest book is “One Moore Minute” a devotional series. No matter your age, the color of your skin, your circumstance, your economic plight in life, it’s a fact, that through the love of Jesus Christ – you can do all things.