Is Jesus too familiar to us and our students? [Time Out]

Topic / Time Out

Time Out quiet times for the youth worker's soulTime Out: Weekly quiet times for the youth worker’s soul.
(by Benjer McVeigh)

Have you ever known someone for a long time, but one day were blown away when you learned something new and unexpected about them? This can happen in good friendships, and I’ve found that it happens in marriage. We can become so familiar with a friend or a spouse that we think we know just about everything about him or her, and so we are surprised when we learn something new about that person. We may not even believe what we’ve heard, because it doesn’t match what we thought we knew.

This is what happened to Jesus when he returned to his hometown, to the place where people saw him grow up–and began to teach:

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. Mark 6:1-6

There is a danger in this passage for those of us who serve in any kind of ministry position that is easy to miss. For those who were in Jesus’ hometown, Jesus was… familiar. As we read accounts of Jesus’ life and witness people entirely miss the big picture of Jesus’ identity, we can make the mistake of assuming we wouldn’t commit the same error. Surely, were we in the same position as Jesus’ childhood friends and neighbors, we would not write him off as a small-town carpenter who had tasted a modicum of success as a rag-tag rabbi and had gotten too big for his britches. We would never have gotten so familiar with Jesus and what we thought we knew about him that we refused to see him for who he really was.

Or would we?

That being familiar with Jesus would cause us not to recognize him is a puzzling paradox. After all, isn’t one of the goals of walking with Jesus to become more familiar with him? To know his words, to know his heart? Why would being familiar with him become a detriment to our faith in him?

The problem is, when we become familiar with Jesus, we stop trying to know him.

I’m not sure those of us who serve in ministry are that different from Jesus’ hometown “friends” in Mark 6. They knew enough about Jesus to not care to find out anything more about him. To ask him questions. To be proved wrong. They knew enough, and that was enough. They weren’t willing to go any deeper with Jesus.

Today, take a minute to examine yourself and whether you are too familiar with Jesus. Do you know enough to be a good enough leader, so you don’t spend much time trying to know Jesus on a deeper level? Are you so dead-set on your opinions of Jesus that you refuse to be amazed by him? When was the last time you read the Gospels and were blown away by something you had never seen before?

To be familiar with Jesus is to not really know him. If this is where you’re at today, close your laptop, put down your phone, and open up the Bible to read about Jesus. You might be amazed at what you find.

Prayer for Reflection
God, please forgive me for being too familiar with you, and too familiar with your Son, Jesus. Though I know little about you, I have determined that what I know is enough, and I have stopped searching. Help me to see Jesus in a new light, not for information or to prepare for a lesson, but to be transformed through his death and resurrection, and through the power of your Spirit. Father, please reveal your Son to me today. Amen.

Benjer McVeigh is a youth pastor in Ogden, UT, where he works with students in grades 9-12 and their families at Washington Heights Church. You can read more from Benjer at or follow him on twitter.

Posted on June 25, 2012

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