Jesus went on tour, preaching gigs by the sea and teaching stops in the synagogue.  In response, fishermen were leaving their boats and tax collectors were abandoning their booths, dirty lepers were begging for his touch and graveyard demoniacs were howling for his healing.  Even the religious zealots, church attorneys and sophisticated scribes couldn’t help themselves, all caught up in the standing room only crowds.

Still, when Jesus heads back to Nazareth, it’s anything but a homecoming. After such a welcoming reception all over Galilee, what does Jesus do that’s so offensive?

Mark 6:1-13 He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

What did Jesus do that was so offensive?

Congregational Responses:

He came back home a celebrity.
He didn’t have his preaching permit.
He was speaking above his social status.
He left a nobody and came home as the Son of God.

The cop can’t bypass a doughnut and the roofer can’t hang a shingle sober, the rapper can’t pull up his pants and the Mexican can’t be legal, the white man can’t vote Democratic and the black man can’t be president. And nothing good can ever come from Nazareth.

It is called profiling, the discriminatory policy of categorizing the behavior of an entire group based solely on a perception.  A misperception. Law enforcement, Transportation Security Administration and lawyers selecting juries do it, and so do our hometowns.

What did Jesus do that was so offensive?

There’s perhaps nothing more upsetting than people transcending our categories of them.  You’re just an illegitimate child, expected to be the wayward son of a teenage mother.  You’re just a rural peasant, expected to submit to your station in life. You’re just a sawdust laborer, expected to chalk a line and swing a hammer in Joseph’s wood shop.

The town expected a carpenter but Jesus showed up as the Christ.

Will Willimon was invited to guest preach in a downtown congregation full of people living in poverty.  Expecting to preach 30 minutes into the service, he didn’t stand up to speak until 1.5 hours in because of 6 hymns, lots of speaking and clapping…  He asked why the service was so long to the pastor who invited him?  The pastor answered, “Unemployment runs nearly 50% here. That means… everything they hear tells them, ‘You are a failure.  You are nobody.  You are nothing because you do not have a job, you do not have a fine car, you have no money.’  So I must gather them here, once a week, and get their heads straight.  I get them together, here, in the church, and through the hymns, the prayers, the preaching say, ‘That is a lie.  You are somebody.  You are royalty!  God has bought you with a price and loves you as his Chosen People.’  It takes me so long to get them straight because the world perverts them so terribly.”

Church, “God loves us the way we are,” says Leighton Ford, “but too much to leave us that way.” So go with authority to defy your profile, to shatter your stereotype, and to offend the world.