the dangers of living in nazareth

I greet the day this morning with a burning heart.  This weekend’s outreach was like pushing against a mountain.  I am not sure it moved, but I know I got stronger for the effort.  And sometimes that is the point.

Light reluctantly trickles in my window in the cool of the wee hours as I fall on my face before Him.

“Papa, what was going on there?  Teach me about the mountain I faced off with.  A few were healed, but no one really wanted You Jesus!  What was that!!?!”

Well, Beloved, you were visiting Nazareth.

The answer comes in the Scripture.

Mark 6:4-6 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.

I peer deep into this story found in Matthew 13, Mark 6 and Luke 4.  Each gospel shares a slightly different account. Each reveals similar dangers of a life lived in Nazareth.  As I cry out for revival in my adopted home, it becomes a caution to guard my own heart, lest I inadvertently settle too close to Nazareth’s borders.

For if I hope to be a part of bringing revival anywhere, it must first become reality in my own life.

How dangerous it is to live in Nazareth!

There is the stark danger of familiarity.  Does the Jesus I think I know keep me from seeing Jesus as He truly is? Do I see only Jesus the carpenter and miss Jesus the Christ, the Anointed One, the very Son of God?  Religious constructs so often familiarize and formula-ize the holy, reducing Jesus to a mere carpenter’s son and revival to mathematical equation.

There is the danger of offense.  Blessed am I when I am not offended by any way Jesus chooses to show up or manifest His Presence.  But DO I stumble about when He comes in a way OTHER than my expectation?

In Nazareth, Jesus is dishonored.  But what does that really mean?  I dig into some word meanings and find it is talking about not knowing the value of something.  It would be like using 100 dollar bills to start a fire with because you didn’t know what they were worth.    Do I truly value Jesus for WHO He is, seeing His extreme worth? Or do I value my ideas, dreams, reputation, goals, ministry, success, comfort or anything above Him?  This convicts me.

Jesus was unable to do any works of power in Nazareth.  Why?  Nazareth dwellers actively disbelieved and distrusted Him.  Not out of ignorance but out of refusal.  There is a world of difference between the two. He healed a few sick people but was limited by the overall lack of faith.  They reduced Him to their own understanding and in so doing limited Who He truly was from being released in their midst. Do I do the same?

Ultimately it is in Nazareth that the religious understanding is enraged and seeks to kill Jesus for suggesting God is bigger and other than its understanding of Him.  It seeks to kill revival before it starts.

Yes, I visited Nazareth this weekend.  I did not get taken to a cliff edge to be thrown off or anything that dramatic.  But I did learn more about that which is opposing a move of God here.

One of our revival students asks this morning as I share.  “So how do we go after the root?”

My only reply is go after it in our own hearts.  The only answer I have is to BECOME the change I am called to bring and walk in such love, humility, grace and power I have something to give away.  To be so filled with Jesus He overflows my very being.

The first person who needs to live in revival looks back at me each morning from my mirror. Only then will Nazareth be challenged with something other than what it thinks it knows.

I wake feeling like this weekend was a bit of a bummer to be honest.  Then I look to Him Who reminds me it is not only what He does through me that matters.  Often it is the lessons on this unpaved road into His heart that are far more important.

So Jesus, please challenge Nazareth.  And please first challenge it in me.