Do you have preconceived ideas about people? Suppose Jesus came to your hometown. You have known him since childhood. You have heard of his teaching and miracles from the “grapevine” (a.k.a gossip). Do you question his wisdom or his ability to do miracles? Are you biased by what you recall or are you open to what God will teach you through Him?
Matthew shows us our mindset about how we react to those who have lived amongst us, moved away and have returned. You may be a new missionary either online or in person and find yourself in a similar situation. We are not Jesus, but like Jesus much has changed since we accepted Christ. The hometown has known us all our lives and in a small town, news travels. Everyone knows our ‘life story.’ This is the situation in Nazareth. People come to the synagogue and hear Jesus teach and react with astonishment. Do you react similarly as them or do you react differently?
As the Nazarenes listened they were astonished and perhaps whispered to one another; where did he get all of this wisdom and miraculous powers? He attended the synagogue school same as me and I can’t teach like this or do miracles. The Nazarenes were much like us. We live in a certain place and the town gossip has traveled from house to house and all “know” who we were but not who we are now. Remember Nathanael? He reveals our mindset: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Jesus was the person who moved away, and has returned just like you. “How will they receive me?” This is your first question, and was the question the Nazarenes asked about Jesus.
What evidence do others feel they need to see to believe you are truly changed? What evidence did the Nazarenes and the Pharisees feel they needed to believe Jesus was the Son of God? Do others feel you need to “perform” for them the changes that have happened? Like the Nazarenes who were astonished so are your fellow townspeople. Think of when a popular movie star says they got “saved.” Do you question their words? Will you be “watching” to see if they are “truly saved?”
Humanly speaking, more often than not, we form opinions beforehand without adequate evidence and this will happen with you. People are much like Nathanael and it is only when they come face to face with the Messiah they either recognize Jesus as the Son of God or like the Nazarenes deny Him. They will be watching you and it will be your fruit that they will examine. Your lifestyle speaks volumes just as it did with Jesus. It was because of their unbelief Jesus could not do many miracles there as He had done elsewhere.
Ponder this question: Do you have preconceived ideas about those God brings your way? Do you question their stories of salvation? Does their life match their words? Jesus said by your fruits you will be known.
Can you relate? Where are you?