“Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.” (Mark 6:4-5 NRSV)
Nazareth: It’s a place of throw-away remarks and snarky comments that hurt others and shut down real conversation. They feel threatened by those who don’t look and act like them. They don’t accept change well. They have answers, but no questions. They are so sure of themselves that they don’t need input from anyone else. They lack love. Outsiders wonder if they love to hate. They enter worship with their prejudices intact, feeling pious and sanctified, but a mask of self-righteousness in place.
Capernaum: They have serious concerns and few answers. They engage with others in thought-filled questions and conversation. They are easily hurt by Nazarenes. They hate sin but try to reach out in love to the sinner. They enter worship with a sense of relief and so many questions. Their behavior in church matches their actions in the world.
Why would Jesus bother? How many Nazarenes did he run into during his short ministry on earth? How many from Capernaum supported him? Despite the crowds that followed him, he was outnumbered from the beginning. And we all know how that ended.
I suggest that many of us have been in Nazareth at least for a little while. I’ve been guilty of stupid snarky comments that brought laughs from many but hurt others. I suggest that we have all made statements that hurt.
But, dare we remain in Capernaum?
I’ve had people visit me in my office with serious questions about serious issues of our day. While some are celebrating a recent Supreme Court decision, they sit in my office with a broken heart. They have read the Bible with intentionality and prayer. These are conversations that occur in Capernaum.
I’ve become engaged in serious conversations around the issues of gun control, sexuality, undocumented workers, the economy and health care. I’ve learned from many about their point of view stated in a calm voice from a thoughtful and thought-filled point of view. I like to spend time with people from Capernaum. Especially with those whose opinion differs from mine.
Our world is as broken today as it was in the first century when Jesus walked the earth. And Jesus spent time with Nazarenes and Capurnaums and he does today. He spends time with the broken down and brokenhearted. He joins us on the road to Emmaus while we wrestle with the issues and search for meaning.
Speak the truth in love. Not at the top of your voice, but as if Jesus is standing next to you.
Which he is.
All glory and honor be to God.