Yesterday versus Today

He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He made a real hit, 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. (Mark 6:1-6)

To form a perception beforehand as a result of previously held or known information is not always the smartest thing we can do in life. Some of us have a tendency to gravitate toward what we "know" about a person, forming an opinion of that person based on the small number of facts we have already ascertained, but neglecting to dig any deeper or try any harder to get to know much about them. The problem with this is the limitation in what it is we know about that individual. We likely have some facts, but we really don't get beyond those "facts" to consider the "rest of the story". Jesus found himself in that predicament on this day. He returns to his hometown - the folks who should know him best are all gathered around. He spends time teaching on the Sabbath - probably preaching a good lesson to boot. We even hear that he "made a real hit" with his friends and associates - impressing everyone who heard his teaching. Just as quickly as they were "impressed" by what they heard, they become just as "unimpressed" with him because they recount what it is they "know" about him. They belittle his ability to teach because he was merely a carpenter in their eyes - a commoner of the times, not a revered religious leader. The truth be told, we do the same type of 'belittling' of each other because we have limited knowledge of someone's past behavior, responses, or the like. They could be changed people today, but we continue to base our "impression" of them on what it is we "know" about their past.

What does this do? It causes us to "trip over what LITTLE we know" about the individual - never getting any further in the relationship. The issue is not the other person - it is us. We are the ones tripping and it is over what "little" we actually know. We base our judgments on a fraction of the evidence - what we immediately see. The term "preconceive" is really made up of two roots. "Pre" speaks to us of something occurring "before" or "prior to". "Conceive" speaks to us of "forming". We are "forming" opinions prior to getting the whole truth. We sometimes do this with ourselves! We look in the mirror, remember the old self, and forget about the many new "facets" of beauty God has already worked out in our lives. We see what our mind tells us to see. This is often true in our relationships with others - we see what our mind tells us we are seeing. If we have been hurt in the past, we find it difficult to not recall the hurt today. The part of this passage I want us to see this morning is the "little" they knew about Jesus and how this "little" caused them to not be able to get beyond that point. They knew "of" his family. They knew "of" his past job - a carpenter. They knew "of" his upbringing - under Mary's watchful eye. Yet, they really did not know Jesus - the Son of God.

What we find when we look deeper than what we know "of" somebody's background, reputation, or past performance might actually surprise us. If we get beyond that immediate knowledge, we might actually find ourselves face-to-face with someone who really blesses our lives. When we focus on what know of an individual, we are linking what we perceive with the actual identity of the individual. Identity is an evolving thing - we come from certain backgrounds, but we are always evolving as we are exposed to new things. Sure, we have the background of those things we are known for - our reputation does indeed precede us. Yet, if we begin to allow Jesus to be our mirror instead of that shiny piece of glass in our bathroom, I wonder how differently we might just see ourselves and others. When we allow Jesus to reflect back what he sees in us and those around us, we might just find the "little" we know "of" another is really not how that individual is today. It would be a shame to stop at what we know "of" an individual and ourselves when what we are today is not the same as what we were then! Just sayin!

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