"No Honor in Nazareth"-Matthew 13:53-58

Introduction:  The town people were astonished at His teaching and could not figure out where Jesus gained such wisdom and the ability to do mighty works.  All they could see was an ordinary carpenter's son.  Our personal perceptions of reality can hinder the present reality and keep us from experiencing all the Lord desires to do among us.  Jesus could not do many mighty works in His hometown because of the people's unbelief.  "Jesus is just a local kid who grew up among us" was the common thought among the people in His old neighborhood.  Jesus summed up the situation in the following words, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household."

Scripture: Matthew 13:53-58

Matthew 13:53  “And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there,  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?  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? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?"  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." And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”

The Message of this Passage:  

R.C. Sproul wrote; “The one place we might expect Jesus to receive a warm welcome is in Nazareth, the town in which He was raised (Matt. 2:19–23). The people of Nazareth (Jesus’ ‘hometown,’ 13:54) are amazed at the wisdom and power of the carpenter’s son. This is due to their familiarity with Jesus and His upbringing. They know His family well, and apparently no one in His clan is all that remarkable. Lacking a formal education, Jesus should not be able to teach with the authority that He conveys. Yet Mary’s son is unafraid to instruct with boldness (vv. 55–56). We would therefore expect the people in Nazareth to experience awe when in the presence of Jesus, whose teaching demonstrates that He is the Holy One of God. But as verse 57 makes clear, their questions arise from contempt and offense. Basically they are saying, ‘Who does this carpenter think He is? He is no scribe and comes from a family of no special import. How can He possibly act as if He has the right to do what He is doing?’

Like the Pharisees before them (12:22–32), the citizens of Nazareth acknowledge the good work that Jesus is doing and yet fail to discern the source of His authority. For them, familiarity has bred contempt, and they will do whatever they can to deny the obvious. Once more, as John Calvin comments, we find sinners unwilling to believe in what God has sent. ‘It is not mere ignorance that hinders men, but that, of their own accord, they search after grounds of offense, to prevent them from following the path to which God invites.’ 

Western society is blessed to be steeped in the teaching of Scripture and the person and work of Christ. However, we must take care that this blessing of familiarity does not motivate contempt in us for the things of God. Even if we do not consciously disregard the Lord, failing to marvel at the Father’s grace — because we hear of it every week — is a subtle and powerful form of contempt. Take time to meditate on the greatness of our God and His love for us.   From Ligonier Ministry by R.C. Sproul

Answering Interpretive Questions:

  • What is the relationship between belief and action? Explain.

  • What determines the value of a belief? Explain.

  • What determines the importance of a belief? Explain.

  • Why are the most serious beliefs those related to God?  

  • If the people of Nazareth were amazed at Jesus’ wisdom and miracles, why did they question their origin?

  • Why does a prophet usually receive honor everywhere except his hometown and household?

  • Why should the familiarity the people of Nazareth had with Jesus strengthened the reasons for them to believe His claims?

Grant SchweisthalMatthew