And You are

When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Do we mimic Jesus’ encounter with the people from His native region by failing to recollect His reality and how very important and essential He is to us?

Of course, very few people would say they hate Jesus. Where they fail is in seeing the reality of Jesus. Like the people of His native village, the world wants Jesus to be who they want Him to be. They neither expect nor want God to walk among them, to enter into their lives, or to challenge them to go His way.

The gospel shows us that the people of Jesus’ native place expected a carpenter. They pigeonholed Jesus. When He upset their apple cart and challenged them to see differently, they were offended rather than changed.

What do we expect to find when we meet Jesus? Was He only a man, a philosopher who said nice and helpful things that we can choose to accept or ignore? Is He the god of our own making who exists merely to confirm and accept whatever we wish confirmed and accepted? Is He the god of magic blessings and cures? Is He a ‘plumber,’ on call in case of emergency? Do we keep Him safely on a refrigerator magnet, the bookshelf, or the Rolodex just in case? Is He the god of unchallenging love?

Jesus upset the expectations of those in His native place and He should upset our expectations.

The most challenging aspect of being a Christian is whether we will pigeonhole Jesus or if we will accept Him in the fullness of His godhead. If He is a mere shadow of what He truly is then He is not God. He had worked as a carpenter – and that is all His community members saw – that one side. As a result of their expectations they took offense and limited Him.

Jesus proclaimed marvelous words and a life affirming philosophy – but He is not just a philosopher. He healed and is there in a pinch, but He is more than an on-call fixer. He is never a god of our making. His message of love and way of love is always a challenge. It is a challenge to complacency and to our expectations.

Will we limit Him in our lives? Will we fail to recognize Him and how important He is? Will He be more important than anything to us? Will he offend us or will we be set free by His reality? Accepting Him and taking up His challenges sets us free. It makes us amazing in Jesus’ eyes.