JP66: Astonished and Offended: Breaking Free from Bad Bias

February 9, 2024

Biased lending practices played a significant role in the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. Lenders, driven by bias, issued mortgages to unqualified borrowers. These biased decisions led to a housing market collapse, financial institutions' failures, and a severe economic downturn.

Bad financial bias can lead to bankruptcy, but years ago, the bias of Jesus’ hometown put His neighbors at risk of bankruptcy of a different kind as we discover in gospel writer Matthew’s record of the occasion.

“And 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.” (Mt 13:53–58)

Breaking free from spiritual bias begins when we pursue the authentic Jesus.

Trust His Divine Works

Teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath was a ministry pattern of Jesus, so it was not remarkable for Jesus to be opposed by religious leaders.  

Notably, the people who knew Jesus from birth to adulthood also rejected His teachings.

Witnessing Jesus grow up as a carpenter’s son, they questioned His source of knowledge and spiritual mind, asking, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?"

Watching Him closely as a resident of Nazareth, they wondered about His claims.  Instead of acknowledging the works Jesus did as proof that He was God's Son, they looked to social and cultural means to diminish His credentials.  

The bias of tradition held that they were to look for a political messiah who would deliver the Jewish people from Roman occupation.  

The bias of reason maintained that nothing good could come out of Nazareth.  (See John 1:46)

The bias of experience claimed that Jesus’ ordinary family and occupation were not in keeping with royal pedigree.

Breaking free from bias calls us to receive Jesus as He is, not a Jesus of our own making.  The humble Jesus we find in Nazareth is worthy of our trust not because he built furniture, but because only He can rebuild broken lives.

Embrace His Humble Way

As a carpenter's son, Jesus followed in Joseph's footsteps.  His occupation says a lot about Jesus' desire to live as fully God and man in ways that help us relate to Him.  Though Jesus was divinely conceived, He was also a blue-collar worker with a real mom, dad, brothers, and sisters.  

Acknowledging Jesus' humble pedigree doesn't mean we must give up intellectual curiosity.  It suggests that we can hold two truths in tension - That Jesus was God and man - a man who can relate and a God who is mighty to save.  

In His humility, Jesus chose not to force himself on those who knew Him best.  While He desired to do mighty things for the community, their lack of belief prevented them from the intended blessing.

This is the biggest reason to break free from spiritual bias - Jesus wants to do mighty works in us. Yet, tradition, reason, and experience can dig a canyon of unbelief unless we embrace the humble works and way of Jesus.

You may not be at risk for financial bankruptcy, which is confined to this life only, but spiritual bankruptcy has eternal consequences.  Is it time to break free from bad bias?

Prayer: Jesus, you are worthy of our praise and adoration.  You pursue us with love and humility even though you are our King.  Provide us with a willingness to trust your divine works and humble way.  Keep us from bias that restrains us from finding you and your eternal plan to reconcile us with the Father.

Questions for Application

1. What bias do you bring to the topic of spiritual things?

2. Has any bias created a Jesus that fits your desires?

3. How do you find Jesus humbly pursuing you right now?  How would He have you respond?

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