Nazareth, April 28th 1839,
Painted by David Roberts (1796-1864),
engraved by Louis Haghe (1806-85),
plate 28 from Volume I of 'The Holy Land',
Published in 1842
© Christian Art Today
A prophet is only despised in his own country
Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Reflection on the Watercolour on Paper
French novelist and member of the Académie Française wrote: ‘It is baffling to record that, for a period of thirty years, the Son of Man did not appear to be anything other than a man'. His fellow citizens of Nazareth, therefore must have been excited to see Jesus again after He started His ministry. Jesus for 30 years ate with them, played with them, fixed tables for them as carpenter... yet when Jesus comes back on his tour of Galilee visiting Nazareth, they reject Him! How strange. He is surrounded by people who have known him all his life, who saw him grow from childhood to adulthood, who regard him as one of their own. But they don’t accept Him anymore as one of theirs…
Jesus says in today’s reading: ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’. This shows that His rejection was not limited to Jesus’ fellow townspeople of Nazareth. No, even his own family and his wider circle of relatives rejected Him. Their hearts were hardened during the time He was away. I guess they were very sceptical. Yes that word, ‘scepticism’. Very much prevalent in our 21st century. Scepticism works on the assumption that knowledge or faith requires adequate evidence. When Jesus said He was the Son of God and the Messiah, they simply didn’t believe him. They wanted proof. Scepticism set deep into their hearts…
Today’s artwork is a lovely view of Nazareth as it looked like in 1839. The colour palette is made up of beige, greys and browns, conveying the heat and harsh, dry landscape. Roberts was a Scottish painter, especially known for a prolific series of detailed views of Egypt and the Holy Land which he did between 1838 and 1840.
Two thousand years ago, the town of Nazareth was sceptical towards Jesus. Now, similar scepticism reigns towards religion by many… We should all be sceptical of scepticism!
Share this Gospel Reading
Did you like this Gospel reading and art reflection?
Join in the discussion about this artwork & Gospel reading
Readings related to Mark 6:1-6
Join our community
In addition to receiving our Daily Gospel Reading and Art Reflection, signing up for a free membership allows you to: