This section is bracketed by questions about Jesus' identity. In the first story, Jesus returns to Nazareth. Now a relatively famous rabbi and miracle man, he experiences an unexpectedly icy reception from his hometown. One might assume that those with whom he grew up might have known him best. And yet the people of Nazareth, not unlike his family in other passages, cannot reconcile the boy they knew with the man Jesus has become. Strikingly, their lack of faith limits the number of miracles Jesus performs, thus creating something of a self-perpetuating loop of doubt and cynicism.
Jesus' statement at the end of this story is profound - "a prophet is not without honor except in his home town and in his home." This may particularly be a challenge in our spiritual lives; it is difficult to return to old relationships and be recognized as a new creation in Christ.
While the people of his hometown cannot decipher his identity, the final story of this section includes the first recognition by the disciples of Jesus' divinity. We are told that, after assisting Peter in the water and stepping into the boat, "those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God.'"
This is not the first time Jesus calms a storm, and while walking on water is a neat trick, I don't believe we are to assume that Jesus walking on water is the impetus for the disciples to finally "get it." Instead, I believe the disciples begin treating Jesus as God not because Jesus walked on water, but because Peter did.
Throughout Scripture, there are many holy men (prophets, judges, etc) who God equips and uses to accomplish miraculous deeds. When Jesus walks on water, or calms the sea, the possibility remains that God is equipping him for those tasks, just as God equipped Moses to perform the 10 plagues. But when Peter walks on the water, it is Jesus equipping him to do so. They finally recognize Jesus as the Son of God when he does what only God can do; he uses the weak things of this world to confound the strong, broken people to make others whole, and imperfect servants to display his power. It is the power of Christ in Peter that makes the disciples worship Jesus.
Have you ever had that the experience of returning home a changed person, and realizing that those closest to you could not accept or reconcile themselves to your new identity?
Have you had the experience of being honored outside of your home, but not inside, by those for whom you care the most? How are you called to be faithful to those loved ones, and where do you need to make room for others to be Christ's witnesses to them?
When did you first recognize that Jesus was the Son of God? What led to that realization?
Knowing that it is the best testimony you can give for the gospel, how can you witness to the "Christ-in-you" today?
Ok, put the Bible down and go do it!