‘Who does He think He is?’  (Proper 9B )


William Scott “Scotty” Bowman holds the record for most wins in the Canadian National Hockey League 

Mark 6, vv 1- 5


After Jesus healed Jairus’ daughter at a place called Capernaeum –   a short distance from his hometown of Nazareth, a stone’s throw from where he had lived most of his life – it was only natural that he was inclined to go home.

He and his friends climbed the hills to Nazareth, and on the Sabbath day, Jesus began to teach in the synagogue there.  There seem to have been two reactions to his teaching.  Some people were astonished by his wisdom and by his amazing powers; others were angry and jealous and resentful that one of their own had apparently had risen so far above them.

Nazareth was just a small village, and its people were hill people.  They were probably all related, and they certainly all knew each other very well.  Rather than rejoicing in this representative of their own village who was clearly so special, some of them “took offence”.



It does not take much for some people to take offence.  There are those who take offence not because they have been harmed in any way, but because they feel threatened.  And some people feel threatened when other people have better fortune than they do themselves.


One family who won the lottery a few years ago really did intend to continue in their old jobs and their old home, because they genuinely did not want the lottery win to make any difference to them.

To start with, most of their friends and neighbours rejoiced in their good fortune, although others deeply resented them.  However, before long, the mutterings spread.  Things were said like, “Why should they take up one of our houses when they can afford to live anywhere?  Why should they be allowed to work in this factory when they’ve got all that money and there are other people who are unemployed?”

In the end, life became so unbearable for the lottery winners that they were forced to move away into a different area.




Some people feel threatened if someone they know well has the courage to move away and seek a better life.  Those that are left behind can begin to feel inferior, although they themselves could with a little effort follow a similar path.  For example, there have been families in the past where working-class parents have been deeply upset if their children choose higher education.

Or, there have been youngsters who have moved away from this rural South West of Scotland, away from the farm or the fishing, to the Central Belt or down South to the big cities, and it sometimes appears as if they have abandoned their heritage.

It can be especially true, perhaps, within ones own kith and kin.  The one person who failed to rejoice when the prodigal son came home again, was the prodigal’s brother. Rather than rejoicing, the elder brother took offence.  He interpreted the event of his younger brother’s homecoming as threatening to himself, and showed a deep jealousy and resentment.

And this is exactly what happened to Jesus in his own village.  “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon.  Aren’t his sisters living here?” said the villagers.  “Who does he think he is?”  And so they rejected him.




The problem is, anger and resentment and jealousy cause disharmony within a person. They are underlying currents, which act as blocks to God’s love and healing power.  So Jesus found that even he was unable to perform many miracles in his own country among his own kin.

It’s well known that a prophet is without honour in his own country.  It’s also well known in medical circles that you shouldn’t treat your own.  You may be married to a doctor, but he or she will not usually be your GP.  Golfers are well aware that it is tantamount to instant divorce to attempt to teach your spouse to play golf.  And driving instructors rarely instruct their spouse in the art of driving.  Prophets are indeed without honour in their own country.

Yet it’s interesting to note that Jesus was able to heal a few sick people in his home territory.

When the chips are really down and people are desperate, they will turn to anyone who offers hope.  And Jesus was able to work with even a tiny amount of faith like that, faith no bigger than a mustard seed.  God can work within anyone who has an open mind.


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Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

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