Getting to Know Jesus
jg in nj
based on Mark 6:1-13
Leonard Bernstein is famous as a conductor and an arranger of music. But it
wasn’t always so. In fact, someone once asked his father why he didn’t
support and encourage his son’s musical genius during his son’s younger
years. His father replied, “Well, I didn’t know he was going to turn out to
be Leonard Bernstein!”
Maybe that’s the way it was in Nazareth when Jesus returned there early in
his ministry. They didn’t know he was going to turn out to be Jesus Christ,
the savior of the world. Jesus must been feeling like Rodney Dangerfield - he
was getting no respect.
He went to the synagogue in Nazareth, and spoke with knowledge and wisdom. But
the people didn’t want to hear it from him. In fact, the people of his
hometown were offended. He had stepped way beyond their expectations of him.
Can you hear them? “Hey, who does he think he is? We know who he is. We
know his mother’s name. We know his brothers. And hey, his sisters are right
here with us. He thinks he’s a rabbi – a learned teacher. Has he forgotten
that he’s a carpenter, for Pete’s sake.
Mark tells us that Jesus could do no miracles there. Nothing. Except that he
healed some people. But apparently, no one noticed.
These hometown folks had their preconceived notions as to who Jesus was and
what he could do – or should do – and what he couldn’t do – and so
that’s all that they saw. They framed their own reality.
There’s an old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Ralph Waldo
Emerson, in one of his essays, wondered why we save our best behavior for the
people we hardly know – the new people we meet and want to impress, and we
give our worst behavior to the people who are closest to us & who we know
Emerson noted that when we meet someone new – or especially when we fall in
love with someone new – we assume they are perfect, and try to impress them
with our own best behavior. On the other hand, we know the flaws and
shortcomings of our close friends and especially our family members, and have no
motivation to impress them.
Maybe that’s why companies and businesses – and even churches –
sometimes find that people pay more attention to “outside consultants” than
to insiders. They bring in “experts” who are from other places in to teach
their people. And so, in Nazareth – Jesus’s hometown, he was not considered
an expert. In fact they saw him as nobody special – and they weren’t open to
And you know, sometimes, in our churches today – Jesus becomes kind of a
hometown guy. We know who his mother was. We know where he was born – where he
died. We know a lot of stories about him. After a while – after some years of
hearing about him, we’re pretty sure we know who Jesus is. And I wonder if we
don’t limit Jesus in ways that are similar to the people of Nazareth.
Do we, as members of the body of Christ, think we have him figured out? Do we
think we know all about him? Do we really expect him to do miracles? Do we
really expect him to have awesome power and love? Or is he just a nice guy we
Knowing about Jesus isn’t really what’s important. It’s much more
important to know Jesus than just to know about him. Knowing his mother’s name
or his birthplace or family member’s names or his occupation or other
biographical stuff – that is superficial information. And in the big picture,
it doesn’t really matter. Perhaps that’s why none of the four gospels is
really a biography of Jesus. They tell us much less – Mark begins with
Jesus’s baptism by John the Baptist. And yet they tell us much more – they
tell us why Jesus came and how much he loves us.
We don’t need to know all the facts and detail. Someone who’s an expert
on Bible trivia isn’t any farther ahead on the journey to heaven. But we do
need to know Jesus. To trust Jesus. To put our faith in Jesus and to turn our
lives over to Jesus. We do need to have a relationship with Jesus – to talk to
him in prayer, to listen to him in his word, and in our hearts.
The people in Nazareth – in Jesus’ hometown – they didn’t know Jesus
– they only knew some details about him. If they had known him, they would
have seen him heal the sick. Perhaps they too, might have been healed.
We come to church – not just to learn about Jesus – but to worship Jesus
– and to get to know this savior who lives in our hearts, who loves the whole
world, who cares for us, and who sends us out to tell others. As we get to know
Jesus, we may find that he is a great and mighty power, and at the same time, a
most gentle and caring friend who abides with us always.
Let’s pray. Oh Jesus, you are so amazing. You love us so much that you died
for us. Please open our hearts that we might always seek to stay close to you.
Open our ears that we might hear you speak. Open our eyes that we might see your
miracles and the mighty works you do right in our midst. And open our mouths
that we might be bold to tell others. Thank you Lord Jesus, for entering our
lives and for all that you do. Amen.