54 He came to his home town 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? 55Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ 57And they took offence at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.’ 58And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief (Matt 13:54-58)
The concept of home in this day and age is one of the few lasting ideals still left untouched. The ideal Home is that place where are feelings and emotions are at ease, and comfort is truly available when it is needed. For good, or for bad, home is the place where our identity and character are first shaped and is usually the one place where we can find ourselves when we have been tossed about by life’s whims and fancies. When all else is in doubt, I have an assurance that home awaits and there a peace and assurance that can restore even the most weary traveler back to themselves.
Home is that place which we have given our hearts and minds over to, for protection and care and when I can’t find a friend or “family” in the midst of my travels, I can come back home, and find my heart and sense of mind so I can continue my journey. And thus, the adage first coined centuries ago by the Roman playwright Pliny still holds true, “home IS where the heart is”.
So strong is this ideal, that even those areas to which we were not raised and have no familial ties to, yet still find as a source of shaping and connection, we still call….home. If our primary home is not available, then we can always come to this place and it will serve as a ….second home…..providing those same functions and same support mechanisms that we could find AT HOME.
As I stand here today, however, I have come to the realization that the key reason why we can call a place or house a home (as ‘Big Luther’ would say), is that comfort-ability. The homes in our lives are tagged as such because we find peace and stability there. They are homes because safety and protection and affirmation can all be found there, and there are assurances that they will always be places of refuge for us. For, who would call a place a home, that does not afford these mental and emotional safe places? If I can’t find rest, or my heart, or my mind or even get back to who I think I am, than it is not a place worthy of the title home……..
If all those things be true- If home is all these things of comfort and stability, of peace and assurance, of affirmation and celebration- then our text for today should be truly disturbing. If home is the comfort zone and the sure fire place of recognition and stability that we say it is, then our text forces us to come with a tragically different reality about home and the pitfalls of returning there. This text highlights for us that while home and the places and people that remind us of it, are central to our being…..they also pose problems if you are not careful. Home can be all those things we want it to be, but if we examine our text closely, there are some inherent problems that come with going back home.
For Jesus, who has spent days and nights teaching and healing the many crowds that have come to see him, has finally come back home. He has returned to the place of his rearing and of his shaping, the place where everyone has known him and his family. And when he gets to the town, the bible says he begins to teach in the synagogue. It is not recorded exactly what he taught, but whatever it was, it ‘sho nuff‘ amazed and astounded the people. For they recognized this Jesus; but they didn’t know that he had such wisdom or such power. He was still Mary and Joseph’s son, and his brothers were still James and Simon and Joseph and Judas, but who knew that Jesus or the family of meager means and little influence had a son with such gifts and abilities. Where had he been that he got all this power and education? How could he teach like that? They got so confused, that they even asked, “Where did this man get all this from?”
As Jesus continues to teach in the midst of these questions, verse 57 reports that the people “took offense”. Jesus, undeterred by their desires to question his credentials, continues to teach and in doing so, offends the people in his hometown. The second problem that you will have is that people in you comfortable places will “TAKE OFFENSE”.
Now, what you need to realize is that this phase “take offense” is a matter of choice. There is a difference between taking offense and being offended. When you are offended, that means an act of aggression or assault is taken against you, but when you take offense……YOU choose to believe that an action is designed to harm you in some sort of way. The people in Jesus’ hometown, the Bible reports, “take offense”. They choose to believe, that his teaching, his wisdom and his power are all designed for some deception…..and truth be told, you may go back to those places and spaces that you have since left and try to do good and better your home and all you find is that folk get upset when try to help them. They get frustrated and believe that you are trying to mess them up….. they take offense with your actions and your attempts at change.
They take offense at your education and your speech. They take offense at your character and your boldness. They take offense at your tenacity and confidence. They take offense because it is easier to choose this, than to listen to what is being done (or to participate in it). Jesus, who is the master of the winds and waves. Jesus, who heals the sick and raises the dead. Jesus, who feeds the hungry and finds the lost is teaching in front of them and rather than listen…..they question and “take offense”. These are problems you yourself may find if you go back home but there is a solution to your problems.
This solution is found in the midst of the problems at home. For you see, you can’t face your problems at home until you go there. The only way to know that there are problems is to show up. Fear is what often keeps us from challenging the comforts and peace of our safety nets. So instead of facing the issues there, we simply avoid them. It is not that you give up on ever going back home, and like some in the world, decide to reject their past and build a new future. But instead, look to our text and see that even Jesus, faces the problems in his home and addresses their questions, their offense and their blindness with a simple statement:
“Prophets are not without honor….except in their own country and in their own house”
Jesus first remains who he always has been. He was a prophet before he stepped foot in Capernaum, and he still declares himself to be one….in the face of this questioning and offense. And just like Jesus, you must learn to know who you are in the face of the questions and the darts and the arrows….even when they come from your homeboys. Like Jesus, you may have to teach in the places where everybody thought they knew you and you may have to let them know. In so doing, you bring a vision of truth back to the people who remain…..at home.