In our age os social media we have so often come to judge people, for the better or for the worse, based on a few snapshots of their lives. We are able to a a few glimpses (and only the ones that they want us to) and we believe that we know the person. And though the things we know may all be true, such an incomplete picture could never allow us to know the person. For to truly know someone we must know all of them. To only know half of their story is to not really know them at all.
In the first few verses of Mark 6 there is a story of Jesus going back home. I am currently living in the town I grew up in and it's a bitter-sweet thing. I wonder if the same was true for Jesus. His journey back home was one that happened right after calming a storm, casting out demons, and healing a people. We are able to know from other places in Scripture that these things took their toll on Jesus. We often see Him tired and seeking a desolate place to be with His Father after such events. I have to wonder if Jesus went home to seek a similar refreshing. But when He got there refreshment was no longer on the menu.
As Jesus did everywhere He went to sought out the people of God on the Lord's day. Which could lead me on a rabbit trail, but I'll save that for another time. And while He was there He began to teach. He spoke as no one that they had ever heard. But these were the people who had seen Jesus grow up. This was His home town. The place where He learned how to handle an axe. The place where He wrestled with the things that boys turning into men struggle with*. As Jesus preached Mark tells us that the people had these questions, "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?" (v3)
In response to this Jesus marveled at their unbelief. But if you read the question they had, all the answers to their questions was a resounding "Yes". Jesus was the local carpenter that they had gone to for their new table, and back to to have it fixed after years of use. Jesus was the son of Mary. He was the older brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon. He has sisters who where there, possibly in ear-shot of the question being asked. The things that these people knew about Jesus were all 100% true. Each thing these people knew was true, but they couldn't see that though what they knew was 100% true, they did not know all of the story. They saw half the picture and painted it as a whole.
Often in my own head and heart I feel the accusations of half stories. The memory and accusations of my sins are often brought center stage in my thoughts. Things that I did or said, or things that I didn't do or say. And each one of these accusations is 100% true. Each sin that comes to mind is 100% true. They truly were part of my story, but they are not my story.
Jesus was able to hear the accusations that He was only half of His own story and yet stand firm in who His Father in Heaven had told Him He was I often do not. Jesus knew that His identity was not based upon what other thought or said of Him, it was based on all of who He was. And who He was was rooted in His Father.
I can, and I assume you can as well, often forget that who we are is anchored in what God says about us. We are quick to believe that He can speak galaxies into being, and yet when He speaks that we are accepted we feel the need to prove it. He has called us beloved, and yet we so often look back at the way that others have spoken something else. We hear a half story, and allow that to be our narrative. As if our story is one that never comes to a resolve.
But in reading this I also wondered where I would have been. Had I been there, as one who had grown up around Jesus. As one who had seen Him around town. What would I have done. If I am honest I would have asked the same questions, and Jesus would have marveled at me. As much as I wish it were not true. I would have believed the half truths just like everyone else. Because so often I do that very same thing. So do you.
When we take the parts of Jesus that we like and ignore the rest we are no different from the crowds asking what this carpenter thinks He's doing in the pulpit. We try and make Jesus like us. And in doing so we forget that though He took on our likeness, He is, and will always be, so much more. When we take an honest look at ourselves we can feel the convicting cut of the truth that so often we desire to have Jesus simply be the carpenter to remodel ourselves instead of the God who came to call us to die to ourselves. As St. Augustine once penned, "“If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”
Let us stop trusting ourselves and slapping a Jesus sticker on the end of it all. May we all give up our half stories, both those we write for ourselves and those that we write for Him who came to finish our story.
*I do not think that in any way Jesus sinned in this process like the rest of us. But Scripture does say that He had to learn things. How to chop a tree, how to handle tools, ect. He also had every temptation of a young man who is full of hormones coming into fruition.