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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 the best.

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 anything new.

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 sing about?

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.