Are you too familiar with Jesus to really see him?
by Joel Settecase
Jesus returns to his hometown
Have you ever heard the expression, “Physician, heal thyself?” It is an ancient saying, and it is one Jesus expected the people in his hometown to quote to him when he came back to teach in their religious meeting house.
Today’s reading is Luke 4:16-30.
Basically, “Physician, heal thyself” is a way of saying, “Whoa there Chief, before you go around telling everybody how to fix what’s wrong with them, how about you work on your own problems?”
So when Jesus told his homeys from Nazareth that they would “surely” say that to him, he was predicting their eventual reaction: “Jesus, you’re a local boy. You’re a carpenter’s son. You’re a blue collar Joe, and there ain’t no way you’re a prophet–let alone the Messiah!”
Jesus followed up his prediction that they would say this with another oft-quoted aphorism: “Truly I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.” To them, Jesus would always be a local boy. They grew up with him. They knew him. They were familiar with him. They were too familiar, in fact, to ever recognize him as anything other than a local boy.
Taking Jesus for granted
As a result of the people’s lack of faith, the Nazarene folks failed to see Jesus as he truly is: the Son of God and the savior of the world. Their familiarity with him blinded them to his true identity. Because they thought they knew him, they failed to ever really get to know him.
So how much do you have in common with the Nazarenes? Perhaps more than you think.
Maybe you grew up in the Church, maybe not. Odds are, living in Plainfield, you were Catholic, but maybe not. Maybe you were Protestant or Orthodox. But even if you were none of the above, you probably have formed some idea about who Jesus is. In fact, every major religion has its own answer to the question, “Who was Jesus?” (Isn’t it amazing what a central figure he is, no matter what faith? Even Hinduism has an answer.) Living in the United States, there is no avoiding the person of Jesus in some way, shape or form.
The problem with living in a culture so saturated with Christianity is that we start to grow immune to the person of Christ. A little exposure to Jesus can be like a vaccination. A vaccination introduces a little bit of (dead) disease into the blood stream, so one’s white blood cells can identify it, destroy it, and adapt to prepare for a repeat infection. This results in immunity…