The train tracks were less than a half mile away. On the north and the south of our neighborhood were major thoroughfares. This means that coming and going the trains would sound their horn loudly as they neared these intersections. When we first moved in, I thought it would keep me awake at night and drive me insane. Six years later, before we moved away, I was sleeping like a baby and not noticing the trains unless someone pointed them out.
When Jesus, who was known all around the nation for healing the sick, raising the dead and demonstrating the power of God, taught in His hometown, we read that in that place he could “only do a few miracles”.
Like a train passing in the distance, God stood among humans and they slept through it. The filter of familiarity sapped the power of the moment and those humans missed the opportunity of a lifetime. Their dad walked right by and they kept plowing their fields and tending their sheep. They never knew.
Familiarity is a filter we all wear in multiple arenas of our lives. The exact opposite is the infant who takes in everything he sees with curiosity and rapt attention because he is seeing everything for the first time. We can walk by, sleep through and take for granted the most significant people and moments of our lives.
The words, “I love you,” become a salutation instead of a passionate declaration. Driving a car becomes a chore instead of the adventure it was on the first day of drivers’ education. And God, living among His people, becomes a habit that we engage by attending religious services on the appropriate day of the week.
By the time Jesus stepped into the human race, men and women were so familiar with earth and the religious systems and laws of their day they sleepwalked through them. He had to start His first sermon by repeating the phrase, “You have heard it said…” over and over again as He re-awakened them to the fact that God was among His people.