Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. (Mark 6:1-6)
What is the one thing that the people of Nazareth stumbled over with respect to Jesus? It was his ordinariness. They knew him. He grew up with them. He played with their kids. They knew his family. He was the carpenter. He was homegrown. They knew where he came from. And now he is preaching with the authority of God. Who knew?
This was a stumbling block for the people of Nazareth, and it is a stumbling block for us today. We have this Platonic idea that holy = perfect. If it’s holy it ought to glow like it’s radioactive. It is not enough for the Bible to be the word of God, it has to be the perfect word of God. The views of divine inspiration of Scripture that are prevalent in much of evangelicalism nowadays would be very much at home in Islam or Mormonism. We expect Jesus to walk around with one of those goofy looking halo thingys around his head like an old-school Catholic holy card or an Orthodox icon. As a carpenter he should have been able to produce perfect chairs with zero defects that fit his customers’ bodies perfectly.
Because this is what the people of Nazareth were looking for, Jesus could do no mighty work there. Not that his supernatural powers had run out and were in need of recharging, or that he relied on faith to make the whole thing work (like Santa Claus relied on people’s Christmas spirit to make his sleigh fly in the movie “Elf”), but that he would not, in the face of abject unbelief, counter it with a show of power. “Oh yeah? Let me show you!!!!!”
The people of Nazareth wanted to see a work of power. But they could not see it because they could not recognize Jesus. They failed to recognize his power cloaked under weakness, under his being one of them.