DUNCAN/Jesus, the Christ: Son of David, Son of Abraham
Please turn to Matthew 13:53-58. When we come to this passage, we come to a turning point in Matthew’s presentation of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is at this point that the indifference which had characterized some who had heard the Lord Jesus turns into open opposition to His gospel preaching. There had always been some who were indifferent and even hostile to what the Lord Jesus was teaching and preaching. Now, however, the crowds in general are befuddled and opposed to what Jesus is saying. We will see three things from this passage. First, even people for whom Jesus perform miracles reject Him as Messiah and Savior. Second, familiarity breeds contempt. And third, unbelief is a poison.
I. Even People for Whom Jesus Perform Miracles Reject Him as Messiah and Savior
First of all, in verses 53 through the first part of verse 57, we see the response of the people in Jesus’ hometown to Jesus’ preaching and deeds. There are some people who will not believe in Christ despite the clearest evidence that He is the Messiah, that He is the only way to God, that He is the purveyor of the gospel of salvation. After Jesus has finished preaching His parables, He goes to Nazareth and begins to preach in the synagogue on the Lord’s Day. As He speaks, the people are amazed at His teaching. They are absolutely struck with wonderment. They are struck with amazement at the way this man teaches and what He does. However, they do not believe in Him. They are in fact, we are told in this passage, offended by Him. In verse 57 we are told they are offended by what the Lord Jesus says.
There are some hearts which are so hard that even the good Word of the kingdom of heaven falls on that heart and it has absolutely no impact. The heart is not moved at all. The heart may be impressed by Jesus’ message, its content, and its delivery. The heart may be impressed by the miracles that Jesus does, but the heart does not embrace Him, the heart does not believe Him. Eventually the very people who respond to Jesus by being offended by Him and who eventually run Him out of their town testify by their own admission of His power of preaching and His power of miracles that He was who He claimed to be, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. There are some people who will not believe in Christ despite the very clearest of evidence. That reminds us, my friends, that we ourselves must be careful in our response to the gospel. It is not a lack of truthfulness, proof, or evidence that keeps us away from Christ and keeps us from embracing Him. It is something far more serious. Jesus shows that to us in verses 57-58.
II. Familiarity Breeds Contempt
The second thing I would like you to see in this passage is in the second half of verse 57. Here Jesus responds to the people in Nazareth and what they’ve said about Him. He says in verse 57, “A prophet is not without honor except in His hometown and in His own household.” Not only does this passage teach us that some people will not believe in Christ despite the clearest evidence, but this passage teaches us that in spiritual things, as in other things, familiarity often breeds contempt. These people had grown up with Christ. They were amazed at what He was saying in the synagogue, they were amazed at the miracles that they had seen and heard about, but their hearts were unmoved.
Matthew gives us two reasons in this passage why their hearts were unmoved. First of all, it was because of their familiarity with Christ. They knew Him, they knew His family, they knew His father who was now apparently already dead, they knew His mother who was still living; they knew His brothers and sisters and that was a stumbling block for them. His humble origins, an uneducated carpenter’s Son, was for them a sufficient reason to reject His claims, to reject His preaching and to not draw the obvious implication of the miracles that He was doing. Jesus responds with a proverb against them. He says to them in verse 57, “A prophet is not without honor except in His hometown or in His own household.” Jesus’ words indicate that not only His townspeople, His own hometown folks, but even some of His own family at that time, were not believing in Him as Lord and Savior. They were not believing Him as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. His claims were not being received even by those in His own hometown and by some in His family. We must not be complacent about what is familiar to us.
III. Unbelief is a Poison
In verse 58, Jesus teaches us a third thing. Here Matthew says, “And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” Here we learn that unbelief is a deadly spiritual poison. It’s not only that we learn in this passage that some people will refuse to believe in Christ no matter how clear the teaching or the evidence. It’s not only true that in spiritual things familiarity breeds contempt, but it is also true that unbelief is a deadly spiritual poison. You may recall, I said there were two reasons why these people rejected Jesus’ teaching in Nazareth. The first was that they were overfamiliar with Him, and their familiarity bred contempt. But this is the second, and really the more profound reason they rejected Him: because their hearts were captured by unbelief. That is their basic problem. Jesus’ claims or His exposition of Scripture. It’s that their hearts were hardened.
We need to understand that the people of Nazareth were not doubting that Jesus could do miracles. They believed that He could do miracles. They were doubting that He was the Messiah. Faith is not faith that Jesus can do miraculous and supernatural things in Your life. Faith is that you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of sinners, and you receive and trust in Him alone for Your salvation as He is offered in the gospel. It is not something intellectual that keeps us off from Christ. It is something moral and spiritual. That means that the only place that we can go when we are struggling for belief in Christ is to our knees. To beg of God to open our eyes that we might be embraced by the love of God in Christ. May the Lord meet you there if you don’t know Him. And if you do know Him, may you be reminded afresh that His grace first reached out to you.