By Tyson Thorne

June 19, 2019

John 12 Large

John has shown his ability to be a great author. The way he weaves the conversation with Nicodemus is masterful. His juxtaposition of the conversation with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman provokes thoughtful contemplation. So it's curious that we find an apparent contradiction, or a narrative that requires more explanation at the very least. After two days in Samaria, Jesus went on to Galilee where he apparently received a warm welcome, not only from friends but from those who saw the miracles he performed in Jerusalem. So why does Jesus say "a prophet has no honor in his own country"? (4.43-45)

Mark chapter six and Luke 4 tells the whole story. Before we get there, however, allow me to explain Jesus' words. They are close to the adage "familiarity breeds contempt." When I read the Mark passage in high school it explained to me a mystery I had been trying to unravel for some time. I had noticed on many occasions fellow students and friends reach great spiritual heights while on a church retreat, only to return to business as usual a week or two later. I wondered how such a thing could happen.

I suspected it had something to do with expectations — that their closest friends and family treated them as they were rather than as the person they had briefly become. Why couldn't their friends and family accept them as the new creation? Because it was unexpected, perhaps. Or perhaps they didn't want to believe the change was real. Something similar happened to Jesus.

Upon returning to his home town Jesus was greeted as a kind of celebrity for his miracles in Jerusalem, but as soon as he tried to preach God's truth to them they turned cold. "Who is this," they questioned, "but the boy we saw grow up? He is Joseph's son." They couldn't accept that one of their own was their superior. He was too common. Too familiar. They wanted to put him back in the box of "neighbor" rather than accept him as Messiah. Their response is what I call "The Prophet Principle". A prophet has no honor in his own country.

Unlike my friends, however, Jesus was stronger. He didn't permit others to put him in a box. He was completely committed to the role God had given him. We see in Mark and Luke that he didn't perform any miracles there, not because of their expectations but because they were undeserving. It is an important lesson for every believer. We too must be stronger than the expectations of others. We too must accept who we are in Christ without reservation. Our behavior shouldn't be different among some friends than it is with others. We must be consistent, godly and holy until our family and friends accept the new creation we truly are.

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