马太福音 13:53-58 耶稣说完了这些比喻，就离开那里， 来到自己的家乡，在会堂里教训人，甚至他们都希奇，说：“这人从哪里有这等智慧和异能呢？ 这不是木匠的儿子吗？他母亲不是叫马利亚吗？他弟兄们不是叫雅各、约西（有古卷：约瑟）、西门、犹大吗？ 他妹妹们不是都在我们这里吗？这人从哪里有这一切的事呢？” 他们就厌弃他（厌弃他：原文是因他跌倒）。耶稣对他们说：“大凡先知，除了本地本家之外，没有不被人尊敬的。” 耶稣因为他们不信，就在那里不多行异能了。
Matthew 13:53-58 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” 58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
I remember preaching in my home congregation the first time. It felt awkward. These were people who really knew me. There were my friends with whom I “ran around” when I was young. My cousins whom I played with. It was easier to preach to people I didn’t know than to people I did know. Of course, Jesus didn’t “run around” with the kids his age in the same way that I did when I was young. (“Lord, remember not the sins of my youth or my rebellious ways!”)
But it seems that even his siblings did not accept him or believe in him. We don’t often think of Jesus having brothers and sisters, because the Catholic traditions claimed that Mary didn’t have any other children. Later, after his resurrection, they did. James became the leader of the church in Jerusalem. Judas, or Jude, wrote the small book just before Revelation. The result was that Jesus did not spend much time in Nazareth because of their unbelief.
What’s the take away for us today? In a sense, you may have “grown up with Jesus” as well. You learned Bible stories in Sunday School and church and perhaps at home as well. The danger there is that you become so familiar with Jesus that you fail to see what’s so extraordinary about Jesus. Many confirmands stop learning about Jesus after they are confirmed because they think they know all that they need to know about Jesus. I pray that I will never become so familiar with Jesus that I stop being excited to sit at his feet and listen to his precious Word!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, every day you bring to me new treasures as you proclaim the gospel to my heart! I pray that I will never become so “familiar” with you and your Word that I stop being excited to sit at your feet and listen. I ask this in your name. Amen.
马太福音 14:1-12 那时，分封的王希律听见耶稣的名声， 就对臣仆说：“这是施洗的约翰从死里复活，所以这些异能从他里面发出来。” 起先，希律为他兄弟腓力的妻子希罗底的缘故，把约翰拿住，锁在监里。 因为约翰曾对他说：“你娶这妇人是不合理的。” 希律就想要杀他，只是怕百姓，因为他们以约翰为先知。 到了希律的生日，希罗底的女儿在众人面前跳舞，使希律欢喜。 希律就起誓，应许随她所求的给她。 女儿被母亲所使，就说：“请把施洗约翰的头放在盘子里，拿来给我。” 王便忧愁，但因他所起的誓，又因同席的人，就吩咐给她； 于是打发人去，在监里斩了约翰， 把头放在盘子里，拿来给了女子；女子拿去给她母亲。 约翰的门徒来，把尸首领去埋葬了，就去告诉耶稣。
为什么马太要记录这个故事呢?它能够帮助我们看到那个时代耶稣的生活、传道……和死亡的潜在文化背景。难道约翰做了什么该死的事? 答案是没有。那耶稣又做了什么该死的事吗? 没有人比耶稣过着更敬虔的生活。他的生活充满了善举。为什么他必须死呢? 我们是知道原因的。耶稣必须在神面前为我们的罪付上代价。无辜的神的儿子被交在彼拉多和希律这样的人手下，好叫他为我们受苦，为我们的罪死亡。
Matthew 14: 1-12: At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” 3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet. 6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
What a sad story! The brutality of it is almost too much to hear. It reminds us of the sins we see in the world. Power and corruption. Drinking and lewd behavior. Oaths taken carelessly. Personal “honor” elevated about what is right and wrong. No respect for human life. Disregard for marriage vows. Religion considered a nuisance. It seems that the world was not that different in Jesus’ day as it is in our day. Just another episode in Games of Thrones.
So why does Matthew record this story? It helps us see the underlying culture in which Jesus lived and preached … and died. What did John do to deserve death? Nothing. What did Jesus do to deserve death? Nothing. There was never a person who lived a more godly life than Jesus did. His life was filled with acts of kindness. Why did he have to die? We know the reason. Jesus had to answer for our sins before God. The innocent Son of God was handed over to men like Pilate and Herod so that he could suffer and die for us.
The story also gives us a warning. The Christian faith is no more acceptable in our culture today then it was in Jesus’ day. We will always be at odds with the world. There are many today who are dying for their faith. There were more Christian martyrs in the twentieth century than in the last two thousand years since Jesus rose. Is it worth it to believe in Jesus and to be unashamed of our faith? To coin an expression, “It’s worth dying for.”
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I am thankful for all those who have gone before me who have risked and gave their lives to proclaim the gospel. Make me strong in my generation to be unashamed of my faith and to be bold in proclaiming the good news of your salvation to the world. Amen.