FAMILIARITY breeds CONTEMPT and UNBELIEF: But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house." Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching. (Mark 6:4-6)
“A prophet is not without honor except in his own country” is a maxim still repeated and still true today. Not only was Jesus rejected by the people of the town and the wider circle of relatives there, but also by His own family (3:31). Perhaps others were jealous of Jesus’ popularity and huge following. Their envy even took the form of violence against Christ (see Luke 4:29).
The Nazarenes themselves were a despised people. A popular attitude was: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Yet these social outcasts looked down on the Lord Jesus. What a commentary on the pride and unbelief of the human heart! Unbelief largely hindered the work of the Savior in Nazareth. He healed a few sick people, but that was all. The unbelief of the people amazed Him. J. G. Miller warns:
Such unbelief as this has immense consequences for evil. It closes the channels of grace and mercy, so that only a trickle gets through to human lives in need.
It says that Jesus ‘could not’ do mighty miracles in his home town. The point was not that Jesus was suddenly lacking in ability to do miracles—He did perform a few there. Rather Jesus found contempt and hardness of heart in the people, which are the opposites of receptivity and faith. Under such circumstances, further disclosure of God’s presence in His Messiah was denied. Only here does Mark speak of Jesus as having ‘marveled’. Resistance to Him was tragically astounding.
This rejection of Jesus serves as an object lesson for us, as we also experience rejection of our mission to spread the gospel (6:10, 11). Believers today can expect to face the world’s rejection as they deliver the message of salvation in Christ. At the same time, let us not become too familiar with God and His teachings that our faith turns into contempt and unbelief like the people in Jesus’ hometown!
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." (Heb 3:12-15)