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Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The reading is from Gospel of Mark 6:1-6.

Jesus, reading from the prophet Isaiah in his home town of Nazareth, to fulfill the prophecy about himself by Greg Olson

The Rejection at Nazareth – Mark 6:1-6

He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.

When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.

They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!

Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?

And are not his sisters here with us?”

And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”

So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.

He was amazed at their lack of faith.

This episode has been placed near the end of the Galilean ministry in the gospel of Mark.

The town of Nazareth

Although the Greek word πατρίδα (patrida) means country, region or native land in

  • Καὶ ἐξῆλθε ἐκεῖθεν καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς τὴν πατρίδα ἑαυτοῦ· καὶ ἀκολουθοῦσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ. (Mark 6:1)
  • He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. (Mark 6:1)

it irrefutably refers to Nazareth, because

  • It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. (Mark 1:9)
  • He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’” And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. (Luke 4:23-24)
  • He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read (Luke 4:1)

So, Jesus returned to his home town of Nazareth where everyone knew him well, saw him grow. And then as it was his custom he went to the synagogue where he was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus spoke about the text being fulfilled at that very moment.

Nazareth is the largest town in the North District of Israel. In the New Testament, the town is described as the childhood home of Jesus, and as such is a center of Christian pilgrimage, with many shrines commemorating biblical events.

According to the Gospel of Luke, Nazareth was the home village of Mary. It was here she was told by Angel Gabriel that she would bear Jesus as her son.

The hometown of Joseph was Bethlehem. In the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph and Mary resettled in Nazareth after fleeing to Egypt from their home in Bethlehem.

  • When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. (Mathew 2:19-23)

The carpenter’s son

No gospel other than Mark calls Jesus a carpenter.

  • Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (Mark 6:3)

Some witnesses like Matthew have “the carpenter’s son” as in

  • Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? (Matthew 13:55),

Mark calls Jesus “son of Mary” contrary to Jewish custom, which calls a man the son of his father. So, this expression may reflect Mark’s own faith that God is the Father of Jesus

  • The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ [the Son of God]. (Mark 1:1)
  • And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)
  • Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38)
  • “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32)
  • he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)

A saying that finds parallels in other literatures, especially Jewish and Greek, but without reference to a prophet is

  • Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4)

Comparing himself to previous Hebrew prophets whom the people rejected, Jesus intimates his own eventual rejection by the nation especially in view of the dishonor his own relatives had shown him.

  • When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:21)

And now invective vituperation from his townspeople as well.

According to Mark, Jesus’ power could not take effect because of people’s lack of faith in him.

  • So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. (Mark 6:5)

This episode is found in Luke and Matthew also.

The Rejection at Nazareth – Luke 4:16-30

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.m
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.

He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”

He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’”

And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.

Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land.

It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephathp in the land of Sidon.

Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury.

They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.

But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Luke like Matthew has used the Marcan source but has transposed this incident to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. In doing so, Luke turns the initial admiration by the people of Nazareth

  • And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” (Luke 4:22)

and subsequent rejection of Jesus

  • When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. (Luke 4:28–29)

into a foreshadowing of the whole future ministry of Jesus. Moreover, the rejection of Jesus in his own hometown hints at the greater rejection of him by Israel.

  • Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. (Acts 13:46).

 Son and Servant of Yahweh

Jesus had the practice of regularly attending synagogue.

  • He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. (Luke 4:16-17a)

This practice was carried on by the early Christians by the practice of meeting in the temple.

  • Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47)
  • Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. (Acts 3:1)
  • Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon’s portico. (Acts 5:12)

Jesus stood up to read

  • and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor” (Luke 4:17-18a)

This episode in Luke focuses on the heavenly message identifying Jesus as Son and as Servant of Yahweh, through the allusion to

  • Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased. Upon him I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1)

The relationship of Jesus to the Father has already been announced in the infancy narrative

  • He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, (Luke 1:32)
  • And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)
  • And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)

It occurs here at the beginning of Jesus’ Galilean ministry and reappears in

  • Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” (Luke 9:35)

before another major section of Luke’s gospel, the travel narrative (Luke 9:51–
19:27). Elsewhere in Luke’s writings (Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38), this incident will be interpreted as a type of anointing of Jesus.

As this incident develops, Jesus is portrayed as a prophet whose ministry is compared to that of the prophets Elijah and Elisha.

Prophetic anointings are known in first-century Palestinian Judaism from the Qumran literature that speaks of prophets as God’s anointed ones.

Glad tidings to the poor

More than any other gospel writer Luke is concerned with Jesus’ attitude toward the economically and socially poor

  • And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. (Luke 6:20)
  • But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. (Luke 6:24)
  • The Parable of the Rich Fool. (Luke 12:16–21)
  • Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”(Luke 14:12–14)
  • The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. (Luke 16:19–26)
  • The episode of Zacchaeus the Tax Collector (Luke 19:1-10)

At times, the poor in Luke’s gospel are associated with the downtrodden, the oppressed and afflicted, the forgotten and the neglected

  • “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)
  • And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. (Luke 6:20–22)
  • And he said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. (Luke 7:22)

and it is they, the poor, who accept Jesus’ message of salvation.

The Rejection at Nazareth – Matthew 13:54-58

He came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue.

They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?

Is he not the carpenter’s son?

Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?

Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?”

And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.”

And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.

The above passage in Matthew is the beginning of the narrative part of the fourth book of the gospel.

After the Sermon on the Mount the crowds are in admiring astonishment at Jesus’ teaching

  • When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, (Matthew 7:28)

In the verse,

  • He came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? (Matthew 13:54)

the astonishment is of those who take offense at him. Familiarity with his background and family leads them to regard him as pretentious.

Matthew has modified his Marcan source namely Matthew 6:1–6. In his gospel, Jesus is not the carpenter but the carpenter’s son

  • Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? (Matthew 13:55),

The phrase “and among his own kin” found in Mark

  • Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4)

is omitted in

  • And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” (Matthew 13:57)

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