The Mystery Of Christ

Familiarity breeds contempt.

You may or may not have ever heard it said, but this proverb dates back to at least the fifth century. It’s something my pastor says often and for a long time I didn’t understand what it meant. While it’s not a Bible verse, it is a powerful principle for us to understand within the body of Christ.

Matthew 13:53-58 says,

“When Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 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 these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”

Jesus could not do many mighty works in His own hometown, among His own relatives, because unbelief was rooted in their familiarity.

They recognized that Jesus had uncommon wisdom and had to have heard about the miracle-working rabbi, but instead of being amazed, they were offended. They thought they knew Him and expected Him to be what they’d always known. Offense will always keep us from receiving! If you find yourself in a place that you’re demanding explanations, it’s possible that there’s offense that needs to be addressed.

They asked, “Where did He get this wisdom?” and “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” Essentially, they were saying, “Who does this man think He is? We know He’s just a lowly carpenter. Here’s His whole family and there’s nothing remarkable about them.” However, they didn’t know Him, and that attitude blocked their miracles.

We see a similar response from the crowds in John 7:40-44 which says,

“When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So, there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.”

His people didn’t receive Him because He didn’t come the way they expected. He didn’t come on a chariot with a mighty army of angels to overthrow the Roman occupation. He didn’t come in a blaze of glory to smite His enemies. John 1:11 tells us,

“He came to His own people, and they did not receive Him.”

That’s still true today. Even when they reject Him, Israel is His. Even when they are faithless, He remains faithful.

God could have sent a fully grown man, but He hid the greatest treasure in the most unlikely place. He planted the Messiah in a town in the middle of nowhere, in a time that information didn’t spread easily, to minister for only three years in a radius of less than 100 miles. Isaiah 53:2 tells us,

“He grew up like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.”

He came with an unremarkable face. He came with the calloused hands of a carpenter and the tanned face of a middle eastern laborer. He forgave adulterers, called tax collectors, and loved sinners.

They missed the King because He came in humility, looking just like them.

It’s easy for us to say that we wouldn’t have been offended if we’d lived when Jesus walked the earth, but is it true?

There’s danger within the body of Christ even now, of becoming so “familiar” with Jesus that we don’t allow Him to do anything outside of our expectations. We expect people to dress and act a certain way. We expect the preacher to operate a certain way. We expect service to flow a certain way.

We can actually become so familiar with the process of religion that we miss Jesus.

Do we recognize when He walks into the room, or do we shut down when something happens differently than we’ve known? Do we take offense at the work He does in our brother in Christ because it doesn’t look the way we expect? When is the last time you were uncomfortable in church? When is the last time God did something that made you marvel?

We can never become familiar with the King of kings. Paul prayed that we would know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19). He knows us and we will spend eternity getting to know Him. We will never grow to a point that we know everything about God, so there should never be a time we don’t live in childlike wonder.

If you feel like you know everything there is to know, you’ll be offended by the body of Christ and the Lord Himself.

This week, I want to ask you, like I’ve been asking myself:

Are you still in awe of Him?

Does He make you marvel?

When’s the last time God did something that you didn’t expect or allow?

Is your prayer “I’ll follow you” or “Be with me”?

Are you led by the Holy Spirit, or do you try to fit Him into the comfortable world you’ve created?

Have you sold everything for the treasure hidden in the field?

It’s Jesus and He’s worth it all. He’s beyond our expectations and understanding. He isn’t comfortable. He’s God.

Familiarity breeds contempt, but if we live with childlike wonder, our hearts will be open to receive what God has for us— in ways we don’t understand; in places we don’t expect; and from people we wouldn’t have chosen. When we live in awe and humility, we’ll honor the work He does in the people around us and love the people He loves.

God’s mystery is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3) and we get to spend our lives discovering more of Him!

1 Comment

john schilling - October 19th, 2023 at 10:14am

Well, you did it again!

Great wisdom in the Word.

I loved it.