Matthew 13:47-58 (ESV)

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” 53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

After Jesus finished teaching his disciples through parables, he returned to his hometown of Nazareth, where he spoke in the local synagogue. The synagogue was the place where Jewish instruction took place, and when a visiting teacher came to town, especially one from that very region, he was customarily invited to speak. When Jesus taught, the people of Nazareth were astonished. They were amazed by his wisdom and the miracles they had heard he performed. The people were confused as to how the son of a carpenter had more insight than the wisest men they ever heard. They couldn’t figure out the source of this supernatural power. As they discussed where Jesus’ ability came from, they began to ask questions: What was the source of his skill? Wasn’t this just the local carpenter’s son? Weren’t his parents and brothers and sisters living in their community? What was going on here? They didn’t take offense at his wise teaching or his wondrous works. Their problem with Jesus was that they thought he was an ordinary villager, a man just like them.

The people of Nazareth wondered what Jesus was thinking. What right did he have to teach and perform miracles (vv. 54-57)? Jesus responded by saying, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” In other words, when people are familiar with a person, they often can’t see past the fact that he is one of them. What about us? Do we reject God’s gifts because they come through avenues that are too familiar to us? When we are looking for the spectacular, we can fail to see God moving right in our midst. What if a young man or woman you knew as a child became your spiritual leader in the church? Would that bother you? Could you receive instruction from someone you watched grow up? That’s what stumbled the people of Jesus’ hometown. If you are failing to accept someone because he or she just doesn’t seem “special” enough to you, acknowledge the foolishness in that thinking. Let’s not be like the people of Nazareth who missed out on Jesus because they couldn’t see past their image of the carpenter’s boy. Instead, choose to listen to the Lord through whatever vessels he desires to employ in your life today. God uses ordinary people with ordinary lives to accomplish extraordinary things.