The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 
 "Is not this the carpenter's son?"

Scripture:  Matthew 13:54-58

54 and coming to his own country he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this  wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?" 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house." 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
Meditation: Are you critical towards your family and neighbors? No critics are more severe than kin and neighbors who have known you since childhood.  Jesus faced a severe testing when he returned to his home town, not simply as the carpenter's son, but now as a rabbi with disciples.  It was customary for Jesus to go weekly to the synagogue to worship and on occasion to read the scriptures and comment on them to the people.  His hometown folks listened with rapt attention on this occasion because they had heard about the miracles he had performed in other towns.  What sign would he do in his hometown?  Jesus startled them with a seeming rebuke that no prophet or servant of God can receive honor among his own people. The people of Nazareth took offense at him and refused to listen to what he had to say.  They despised his preaching because he was a workingman, a carpenter, a mere layman and they despised him because of his family.  How familiarity can breed mistaken contempt.  Jesus could do no mighty works in their midst because they were closed and disbelieving towards him.  If people have come together to hate and to refuse to understand, then they will see no other point of view than their own and they will refuse to love and accept others.  Do you easily take offense at others?

The word "gospel" literally means "good news". Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those oppressed by sin and evil (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free from the worst tyranny possible -- the tyranny of slavery to sin and the fear of death, and the destruction of both body and soul. God's power alone can save us from emptiness and poverty of spirit, from confusion and error, and from the fear of death and hopelessness. The gospel of salvation is "good news" for us today. Do you know the joy and freedom of the gospel?

"Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires. Your Spirit brings us grace, truth, life, and freedom. Fill me with the joy of the gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your will."


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(c) 2002 Don Schwager