They took offense at him is putting it mildly. In Luke’s account of Jesus’ hometown sermon, the Son of God almost gets thrown off a cliff after talking about ending poverty, rooting out oppression, and reforming the criminal justice system. We could be forgiven for imagining this prophetic message being similarly received from many of our pulpits—if we forgot that Jesus was simply reading the Scripture. What really infuriates the crowd is Jesus’ assertion that he is fulfilling these world-altering promises of God right here and now. Mark does not tell us what Jesus said in his version of the story, only that the congregation “stumbled over” the fact that Jesus was the one speaking. They knew where he grew up. They knew his mother and the rumors about who was and wasn’t his father. They knew that Jesus was not one of the boys chosen to learn under a prominent rabbi, but had worked alongside his father in the sweat and sawdust just like their sons.
The people can’t believe that God could inhabit their fellow Nazarene, and so they close themselves to wonderfully impossible works God might have done there. How often do we do the same thing? How often do we long for some sort of miraculous intervention coming from outside of the boring and brutal details of the places we live, while missing the God who still becomes flesh before us? How often do we look to that pastor or podcast, hoping to glean expert insight while avoiding the Spirit that still speaks in every breath?
The incarnation of Christ shows us that God can inhabit and transform our ordinary lives, but all too often we miss out on the healing and liberation in progress all around us because we’re looking somewhere else.
Where are you looking for God’s presence in your life? How might you be missing God in the ordinary?
Jesus, fully divine and fully human, open me to the ways you inhabit the boring and brutal details of my life. Amen.