Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 93; 150, Leviticus 8:1-13, 30-36, Hebrews 12:1-14, Luke 4:16-30
How do you feel about high school reunions? Your answer probably depends on how much you enjoyed your high school experience. The older we get the less we are like our high school selves, but stepping into those locker-lined hallways and through those gymnasium doors shifts a part of our brain back into those teenage dynamics. Some part of us expects people to be like they were then, and they expect the same of us. When we know someone as a youth, we can have trouble seeing how they are different as adults. All of us are both victims and perpetrators of this phenomenon.
Jesus had the same problems. His ministry began with a big splash in Capernaum, and then he returned to his hometown of Nazareth. In Nazareth people wanted to see the signs he’d performed in Capernaum. Part of this might have been excitement over the hometown boy made good, but some of it was because they couldn’t imagine the son of Joseph the carpenter as the Messiah. Anticipating their doubt, Jesus told them: “no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.” After he got warmed up and started doing what prophets do – namely telling them what they needed to change – “all in the synagogue were filled with rage.” They drove him out of town and tried to push him off a cliff.
In the end, Jesus “passed through the midst of them and went on his way” as though they weren’t there. Now there’s a lesson in maturity. Jesus did not surrender to the outdated expectations of people who couldn’t see him in the present. It can be tempting to lower ourselves to expectations (“I cheated because I got tired of you accusing me of it!”) and blame others. Jesus knew what he was about, and also knew Nazareth would hold him back. At one point even his own family called him crazy, but he just kept doing what needed to be done. What only he could do. Don’t settle for the expectations the world places on you; graduate into the person God has prepared you to be.
Comfort: Other people may not see you for who you are, but God does.
Challenge: If you are tempted to blame someone else for your failings, spend some time in prayer about it.
Prayer: Thank you, loving God, for allowing me to grow into the gifts you have given me. Help me to see others as you see them, not through the lens of my preconceptions. Amen.
Discussion: Do you react maturely in the face of low expectations?
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