He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He stole the show, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?”
But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. We’ve known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?” They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further.
Jesus told them, “A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.” Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their stubbornness. He left and made a circuit of the other villages, teaching.
Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions:
“Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple.
“And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave.
“If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.”
Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.
This passage highlights two things that I continue to learn from Jesus. The first is that some people will never understand what it is you’re doing or why you’re doing it and these will often be the people who you think should know better. The second is that there is no need to give yourself to people who don’t want to receive you.
It’s really hard to learn these lessons. There are certain people that you desperately want to support you and understand who you are and what you’re doing. But, these people are often the ones that will seemingly never understand. When Amy and I joined the staff of Cru after college they told us at new staff training that there would be some folks who would just never “get it.” They were right.
These days as I pastor a congregation consisting of multiple missional communities I am faced with the same dilemma. There are all kinds of people who simply “don’t get it.” One day I was having lunch with a friend at one of my favorite restaurants in Ypsilanti. A colleague of mine was there and approached our table. After introductions were made he asked, “So, how are your little groups going?” It took everything that I had not to roll my eyes. But, I smiled and said, “Our missional communities are doing well.”
He just doesn’t get it and probably never will.
I used to think that it was my job to make people understand these things. But, I’m learning from Jesus that I don’t have to. I can simply move forward with my calling and if they choose to not understand then they are missing out. I don’t have to give energy to them.
No, my energy needs to be given to those who want to understand and who want to get it. Giving myself to fruitless discussions and pointless arguments is a waste of the precious time and energy the Lord has given me.
What about you? How are you learning these lessons? Are you able to recognize the things of first importance? Take a moment today and consider who or what you’re giving yourself to. What do you need to focus your attention on? Who or what do you need to tune out?