He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 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.
“Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” What was true in Jesus’ time is also true today, where an expert is anybody with a briefcase who is more than 50 miles from home. I find this true in the church, where we will often invite people from the other side of the world, often at great trouble and expense, ignoring the hometown preacher who might actually be better at breaking God’s word than the imported guy.
I, of course, have first hand evidence of this. I spent the first fifteen years after my conversion in Dubai, and although I have traveled around the world and preached in over a thousand parishes — literally — I have never preached in my own hometown parish. This is NOT an indictment of anybody. It is just stating a fact of life to encourage those of us who might feel offended at being ignored by those close to us not to take it personally.
As another matter of fact, there are very few of my relatives who follow these reflections, or attend my retreats, or join any of the programs that I conduct. The question is: why? One answer, of course, is that what is close to us is never quite valued. That, perhaps accounts, for the trouble in a lot of marriages. The other answer, more true for us than for Jesus, is those close to us get to see us as we are, warts and all.
Our children will see us snapping at our wives. Our close friends will see those occasional outbursts of petulance or anger or whatever. And because people — that is ALL of us — are judgmental, they instantly believe us to be like everybody else, no matter than these aberrations occur once in a blue moon. They believe we are hypocrites. And, sometimes, we start believing that we are.
If we are in Christian ministry, this will assuredly happen to us. Let it not stop us from doing what we are doing. We are bringing people to a knowledge of Jesus and salvation, and this is something the enemy will try to stop. Without attempting to justify our failings, let us keep going. As Paul said, “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
As for being ignored by hometown people. There is a saying in India (where I am living at present) that home grown chickens are not valued. It’s just the way it is.