By Ken Asel
A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 13:53-58
53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place. 54 He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? 55 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? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.” 58 And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.
Jesus had spent the day teaching in a certain town. There is no mention of disagreement with the religious authorities or the people there. After his lessons to the crowd were completed, the Lord moved on, presumably to a nearby town — his hometown. There Jesus encounters hostilities. “Where did this man get this wisdom and deeds of power?” The crowd continues its criticism along the line of “Who does this Jesus think he is?” Many were familiar with the Lord, and for awhile went along with him. Now they think Jesus is no cleverer than they are.
Matthew tells us our savior persisted in his message, perhaps teaching much of what he had already said to the nearby village earlier in the day. In the first town, his listeners were astounded with what they had heard. The Lord’s wisdom was unlike anything they had ever experienced. They had never heard preaching like this!
This second group believe they are most familiar with Jesus, knowing him well — or so they think. Rather than being proud of him, they express what can only be termed as jealousy. This scene reminds me of Herod’s taunting of the Lord in Jesus Christ Superstar: “Prove to me that You’re no fool / Walk across my swimming pool.”
Today, we are entering an important time in Church history, a time in which we must not presume we have Jesus “down pat,” but demonstrate great wisdom and courage, and learn from our mistakes in order that we may embrace and model what God needs from this generation of Christians. We are being called to do justice, have strong character, and be willing to offer healing, compassion, and God’s Word through Christ’s example, thriving on love rather than envy.
(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest from the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie and he have been married for 30 years and reside on the Front Range.
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Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Long Island
The Diocese of Hanuato’o (Anglican Church of Melanesia)