Despite great success teaching in Capernaum, Jesus’ home town take offense at his message and rejects him (Matthew 13:53 – 13:58)
After teaching the people using parables, Jesus left Capernaum and returned to his hometown. He began teaching people in their synagogue. The people were amazed. They asked,
“Where did this man get his wisdom and miraculous powers? Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother Mary? Aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters living here with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and his own home.”
Jesus did not do many miracles in his hometown because of the people’s lack of faith.
What the story means to us today
Don’t condemn God when things don’t go your way – blame lack of faith (or misunderstanding of God’s plan)
Jesus travels from Capernaum to his hometown. Word of his teachings and wondrous miracles preceded his arrival. Given his popularity in the region, we would expect Jesus’ reception in his hometown to be grand and joyous. But the people of his hometown reject Jesus. They certainly cannot discount the miracles Jesus has done. His fame was widespread. They do however, question his authority. Rather than accepting Jesus is the son of God, they are offended by his acts.
The rejection is heartbreaking to witness, but it is important to recognize the lesson here. The only thing standing in the way of the people’s salvation is their lack of faith. Rather than performing elaborate miracles to convince them, Jesus lets them make their own decision.
Sometimes when things go bad or we do not get what we want, we blame God. But God does not hinder our lives. Sometimes we may simply not understand what God has planned but more often, our lack of faith is the most dangerous, and harmful impediment.
Additional thoughts and considerations
Similar accounts of this story in the other gospels
Mark and Luke also contain accounts of Jesus’ rejection by his hometown. Mark 6:1 and Luke 4:16 tell a similar story which closely parallels this one, the primary difference being Luke says the people were so angered by Jesus’ ministry that they wanted to kill Jesus.
Where was Jesus’ hometown?
The verses in Matthew and Mark do not explicitly name Jesus’ home town. The town is named however, in Luke’s version of the story. Jesus’ hometown is generally understood to be Nazareth, a small town about 20 miles southwest of Capernaum.
Discounting apocryphal accounts of Jesus’ hometown
Apocryphal accounts of Jesus’ hometown and his childhood can be found in books that were not included as part of the Bible’s canonical set of works. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ hometown rejection is evidence of why such apocryphal childhood accounts were discounted by scholars. In the New Testament account presented here, the people in Jesus’ hometown clearly express amazement at what Jesus can do. This would not be the case if they had witnessed the miracles during Jesus’ youth as claimed by the apocryphal accounts of Jesus’ childhood. They would have already been familiar with Jesus’ abilities and not as easily impressed.
Jesus the carpenter
The verses in Matthew identify Jesus as “the carpenter’s son”, but not necessarily a carpenter himself (the verses in Mark point out that Jesus was a carpenter). However, children in ancient times often took up their parent’s trade. This would have been especially true in Jesus’ day.
When Jesus was a child, the city of Sepphoris, which lay only 4 miles from Nazareth, burned to the ground. The city was rebuilt by Herod Antipas. It is likely the demand for carpenters would have been great and Jesus would have accompanied his father to Sepphoris during the extensive construction efforts.
Matthew names Mary, Jesus’ mother, as well as his brothers Joseph, Simon, James, and Judas. The names however, were very common in Jesus’ day making further historical identification of Jesus’ family difficult.
53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”
58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.
The NET Bible
13:53 Now when Jesus finished these parables, he moved on from there. 13:54 Then he came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and miraculous powers? 13:55 Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother named Mary? And aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? 13:56 And aren’t all his sisters here with us? Where did he get all this?” 13:57 And so they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own house.” 13:58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006. Print.
New King James Version
53 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there.
54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” 57 So they were offended at Him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” 58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.
57 When Jesus finished telling these stories, he left there, returned to his hometown, and gave a lecture in the meetinghouse. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise, get such ability?” But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “We’ve known him since he was a kid; he’s the carpenter’s son. We know his mother, Mary. We know his brothers James and Joseph, Simon and Judas. All his sisters live here. Who does he think he is?” They got their noses all out of joint.
58 But Jesus said, “A prophet is taken for granted in his hometown and his family.” He didn’t do many miracles there because of their hostile indifference.
Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.
King James Version
53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. 54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. 58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009. Print.