Jesus Comes Home

Holy Eucharist, Haiti, April 4, 2010

Ezekiel 2:1-5

Psalm 123

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Mark 6:1-13

Last Sunday we witnessed the healing power of faith. While Jesus walked the earth, it was possible to touch his clothing and be healed. We cannot do that now, but it explains why people in the first century spent so much time and effort looking for the cross and the cup from which he drank.

Today’s lesson follows up on last week. We see Jesus visiting his home, which we assume was Nazareth. Matthew says much the same as Mark while Luke writes, “And he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up.” RSV Luke also includes Jesus reading a passage from Isaiah and at the end he says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” RSV

On Shabbat he started to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They asked, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom he has been given? What are these miracles worked through him?Isn’t he just the carpenter? the son of Miryam? the brother of Ya‘akov and Yosi and Y’hudah and Shim‘on? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. CJB In English, the names above are Mary, James, Joses [or Joseph], Judas, and Simon.

There is so much we do not know about Jesus’ family. We know the five boys and probably their birth order, but we can only guess that there were two or more sisters. We cannot be sure that the men and women listed were children of Mary, mother of Jesus. The Roman Catholic position has merit. Adelphos is the Greek word used for brother, but it means blood relative, cousins, and those united in a cause. There are other points in favor of their position and I don’t want to say that it is wrong.

But, I will say, along with most Protestants, I think the evidence favors blood relationships. Greek usage within the Bible and outside has adelphos almost always used for blood relatives and adelphotes mostly used for brotherhood of believers.

Back to the drama.

Remember that Jesus was ‘about’ thirty when he began his ministry. For his neighbors to say that he could not have so much learning seems unjust. If all he did was attend synagogue every Saturday for thirty years, I’m thinking he might have picked up a few things.

Still, if he had been building chairs and tables a few months ago and was now curing the sick and preaching the Good News, they had a right to wonder what had gotten into him.

However, the passage in Matthew where Jesus read Isaiah tells us he had some education not generally available in a small village. My belief is that when Jesus was twenty or so, he left James in charge of the family (assuming Joseph’s death) and Jesus found a rabbi of his liking. I do not reject the idea of Jesus being so in touch with God that he was taught by the Ultimate Rabbi. I still prefer the first idea because God sent his son to earth as a human, so would want him to be taught by humans. I’m sure his brain would score off the IQ chart in either case.

Again, we do not know.

But Yeshua said to them. “The only place people don’t respect a prophet is in his home town, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” CJB If someone from your hometown became a major movie or music star, became a Heisman trophy winner, or was elected US President, you might remember him when he was a snot-nosed kid, but there would be pride in knowing him.

Why are prophets rejected?

There are two types of prophets, those who tell the truth and those who tell lies. The liar is generally accepted because he tells people what they want to hear. The prophet who says there is no global warming is popular because that message means we don’t have to change our ways. The one who claims he has the key to wealth is always tempting to follow.

The truth is always more difficult, frighting, filled with uncertainties, and hard to see through the haze of newness. For about a decade when European ships sailed along the coast of Africa, they came to a point of land where the waves were might and frightful. Everyone said to sail beyond that point was certain. One brave captain guided his ship of fearful men around what turned out to be a small peninsula, little more than a spit, with good surfing waves but nothing dangerous. He returned with wealth few dreamed of.

Today’s scientific prophets of global warming see the record in Antarctic ice; the thawing of the permafrost by the millions of acres as they release CO2; the destruction of thousands of square miles of forests, releasing CO2 but also reducing the earth’s ability to turn it into oxygen; the plunder of the oceans and robbing most of the earth’s ability to maintain the balance we had decades ago. Most people simply can’t or won’t accept their message.

The same is true of God’s prophets. Most were ignored and/or killed, including Jesus. Like Jesus, most prophets of the truth become famous and/or accepted after the fact, again, like Jesus.

He—Jesus—summoned the twelve, and began to send them out in twos, giving them power over evil spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the road except a staff—no satchel, no bread and no money in their pockets. They were to wear sandals and not to take more than one coatPhillips

Just for the record, the word chiton is Greek for tunic, with is equivalent to a shirt. For whatever reason, Phillips decided to follow the KJV.

If I am going to walk the countryside for a few weeks, I would like the security of a little food and money. And since I have been known to dribble a little salsa on my shirt when eating tacos, a second shirt/tunic would be nice.

Why so little?

And what was Jesus doing while they were gone?

Several things are going on here. Jesus has shown them how to heal and teach. Now they must practice. They must also learn to trust God to provide their needs. As Matthew puts it in 10:15, You received without paying, give without payRSV They always found someone who would take them into their home, feed, and care for them. They accepted no money but were paid in provisions.

Do remember this was not a job, it was a short-term mission. For three years Jesus led them without any money of his own and without paying them anything. Others provided for their needs. Judas was their faithful treasurer—except for the last day. Jesus never wondered about his next meal, he was busy training the Twelve and doing the business of a prophet. 

What did Jesus do while the Twelve were away. He may have found a quiet place where he could talk with God and recharge himself. He may have done some more healing and teaching. Whatever it was, it was God’s will.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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