Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian." When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
Why isno prophet honoured in his or her own country? Is the reason something like this: if I feel that I myself am nowhere, then anyone who is next to me must be next to nowhere, or next to nothing! So I despise that person as I secretly despise myself.
We know very well that people who despise themselves are capable of vast evil: ‘I am nothing and therefore I will reduce everything around me to nothing.’ Nazareth was a despised place. It was never even mentioned in the Old Testament, and when it was mentioned in the New, it was to ask, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). This may be why the inhabitants were capable of throwing Jesus over a cliff.
They liked him until he began to say things they didn’t like to hear. They liked him while he seemed to groom their egos, but as soon as he rubbed them the wrong way they tried to kill him. The individual ego is like a wounded animal, and just as dangerous. The corporate ego is still worse: the support of other angry people looks like moral support while being immoral. But the most poisonous of all egos is the religious ego. People do unspeakable horrors in the name of religion. Jesus was in the best position to see this, and warned his followers: “An hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God” (John 16:2). His early experience in his hometown had taught him that lesson. He teaches us how to have no illusions. We think ‘disillusioned’ is a bad word, but it’s a very good word – if you can then love from there.
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