Have you ever heard of the Lullaby Effect? Research shows that lullabies have a soothing, calming and relaxing effect on babies when sung by a familiar voice. When a baby hears the lullaby anxiety and stress melt away. The same thing happens to adults too. When we hear or see something over and over it can trigger the lullaby effect in us – it becomes common place, we relax and cease to think critically or to be on the alert. That is why we say “familiarity breeds contempt.”
The people of Nazareth were impacted by the lullaby effect with regard to Jesus.
Mark 6 records that when Jesus went back to his hometown of Nazareth, the people from that small town where shocked and astonished at how Jesus was teaching. They all knew Jesus from the time he was skipping stones on the local creek. That they all knew he was nothing special is reflected by their indignant questions (Mark 6:2-3):
Where did this man get these things?
What is the wisdom given to him?
How are such mighty works done by his hands?
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?
They were too familiar with Jesus, the little kid, the local boy that worked in the stone quarry nearby (carpenters back then worked more with stones than wood). They were familiar with Jesus and they held Jesus in contempt. He was just the kid from down the street.
If you are new to belief in Jesus you are likely not at risk of the spiritual lullaby effect – yet. But if you have been walking with Jesus for decades it’s something you need to attend to. How? Read scripture with fresh eyes. Put yourself in the situation, imagine the scene, the time of day, the sweaty smell of the crowds, the noise and dust of the markets, the social stigma attached to various outcast people. Then as we see the grace that Jesus gave to other people – including you and me - it becomes amazing and we can be the ones that are astonished!