The Nazareth Effect

By Marc Lawson

March 9, 2016 Posts No comments

nazwellA man asked me this question:” Why do I see greater results when I’m praying for a healing or  miracle for a  complete stranger,a person I meet on outreach ,than when I pray for my wife or son?” I’m not saying it always happens, but often enough to make one ask.Clearly ,when I pray for my family I sometimes seem to get less results.”This is an interesting question.

When a person loves God, has made family the #1 priority and prays for a healing at home ,it’s normal to expect them to get healed.And many times they are. But sometimes they don’t and it seems inequitable. When we serve God we expect our family to be “covered”. Of course a dad wants them healed before a person on an outreach and while it’s exciting to pray and get spectacular results, it’s frustrating to come home when your wife is  fighting sickness and pray and get..not so much. It’s a great question and while I wouldn’t call this answer doctrine its more of a scriptural observation,which I call the “Nazareth Effect”. This is a term I use to describe  the unbelief  which is tied to familiarity which we all encounter when people close to us like our wife or close friends need and ask for a healing. Why is it difficult to see breakthrough with people we know so well? How is it so difficult at times to prophesy to close friends who we know intimately?

We see an insight in  Mt 13:54-58 : When He had come to His own country, 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 this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? “Where then did this Man get all these things”?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “ A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Jesus had a difficult time breaking through this “Nazareth effect” of familiarity. There is an old saying,”familiarity breeds contempt”. It says “they were astonished” and wondered where He got “such wisdom” and “how was He doing these mighty works?” They had only seen him as Joseph the carpenter’s boy. Much like David’s brothers when he showed up to kill Goliath, they  saw David as a keeper of the flock and couldn’t visualize him in a different role. It’s one thing to have a hard time seeing someone in another role,it’s another to question “where did he get these things?” and t be offended,which means they weren’t just confused,they were vehemently opposed!


Over 80 times in Scripture Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of man.This description revealed Jesus as God Himself who became fully man,flesh and blood, so he could be tempted in all things as we are but without sinning. He had to be fully man to be the lamb of God. He was raised in a city known by the saying,”Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” God shows us where we come from is less important than Who is in us! When Jesus returned to his hometown after being gone a while, those in Nazareth only saw Him through the lenses of his former identity;this is “the carpenter’s son”. Many times family and the familiar can hold people back from stepping into their future. I believe this close proximity limits people from being able to see the divine among the familiar.  Sometimes close relationships create a loyalty to “what is”, so that we miss ”what can be” . George Bailey could never get out of Bedford Falls in the classic Christmas movie,”It’s a Wonderful Life”,due to this pull toward the familiar. Familiarity creates comfort,comfort  spawns routine and routine is hard to disrupt.

This kind of familiarity can limit the potential of people called to greatness and significance by “pigeon-holing” them in  a view that sees them only in a familiar status quo role. And Jesus had to get out of Nazareth to see that role Father had for Him. Another area we see here is there is an expiration date many times on relationships we have. If those around us are highly aspirational and inspirational ,this propels us upward and onward. If they become analytical,critical and discouraging,it may be time to get out of Nazareth.

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