Matthew 13:51-58

“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place. He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? 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? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.”

And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:51-58

As we come to the conclusion of this chapter we are confronted with reactions to Jesus’ teaching. These reactions teach us something about ourselves.

First there is the wonderful naivete of the disciples. “YES, we understood everything you said!”

Receptivity matters in our spirituality. There truly is a sense where we can open ourselves up or close ourselves off. Often that comes down to doing something on our part. It may or may not be a difficult thing to do. We may or may not do it. But honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness are core to our spiritual growth. The eagerness of the disciples at this point, their awareness that they understand something, their lack of awareness of not knowing what they don’t know – all of that flows through us as well.

What is old and what is new? Jesus meets us where we are in the stories he tells and the deeds he does. He meets us in our imaginations, in our ideas, in how we see the world. In that we discover deep, enduring principles that are rooted in creation itself. Principles we might have forgotten long the way – old ideas that spring forth and seem new once pointed out to us. And we discover new ideas, some of which are subtle but dangerous, others are fresh and hopeful.

The key, the trick, is telling the difference.

For example, we often run into Jesus challenging our “tribal” thinking. The deeper reality is that all human beings spring forth from the same loving creator. The new idea is that some tribes are better than others. The sneaky and dangerous idea is that we have the capacity to accurately separate and judge between the tribes. The new idea is that ours is obviously the top tribe. The treasure that Jesus puts before us is imagining a world, not divided by tribe, but united in the common purpose of alleviating suffering, establishing justice, caring for the marginalized, sharing out of abundance, and enjoying life with God and others.

Is this a pipe dream or a potential reality?

The folks from Jesus’ hometown just can’t see it. Jesus is standing right there in front of them and they can’t see him. Their eyes are blinded. They see his physical family. It is inconceivable to them that Jesus is anything more than a kid from the neighborhood. But he HAS gotten under their skins. They “take offense” at him which implies a reaction much deeper than ignoring him or laughing him off. Thus their reaction tells us much more about them – their inability to adjust their eyes to the new and the old – than about Jesus. Jesus is going to keep doing his thing whether they climb on board or not. This truly is a matter of winning hearts and minds.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, how strange that we so often miss seeing what is right in front of our own eyes. We miss seeing you because we don’t expect to see you. We hold ideas so close that we come away closed off to new ideas which hold promise and hope for our lives. You tasted rejection but you persevered. May we do the same. Keep working in us and through us, that we might know life in your kingdom and align our lives to yours. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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