Chapter 4 of the gospel of Luke contains many famous passages: the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, the casting out of the demon in the man from Capernaum and the healing of Simon/Peter’s mother-in-law (which is one of my favorite scenes from the musical, “The Rock & The Rabbi”).
As I read through the chapter, the part that stuck out to me was where Jesus had just returned from 40 days in the wilderness, having been tempted three times by the Devil (see verses 1-13). Look at the passage from the NLT:
14 Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Soon he became well known throughout the surrounding country. 15 He taught in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. 16 When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. 17 The scroll containing the messages of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him, and he unrolled the scroll to the place where it says: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, 19 and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” 20 He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue stared at him intently. 21 Then he said, “This Scripture has come true today before your very eyes!” 22 All who were there spoke well of him and were amazed by the gracious words that fell from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
Jesus grew up in Galilee, in the village of Nazareth. But today – everything was different. Jesus, now super-charged with the power of the Holy Spirit, had been given the green light. He could now start his ministry years. His time finally had come.
Jesus went to the synagogue, “as usual”, to read the Scriptures. He read a passage from Isaiah (61:1-2). Imagine being one of the people Jesus grew up with. Perhaps you’d have seen him fall and scrape his knee. Perhaps you’d have played tag in the field with him. You’d surely have sat and listened to him as he taught from the Scriptures – he was well-known for that. But today, something was different.
Jesus goes on:
23 Then he said, “Probably you will quote me that proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself’ – meaning, ‘Why don’t you do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum?’ 24 But the truth is, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown. 25 “Certainly there were many widows in Israel who needed help in Elijah’s time, when there was no rain for three and a half years and hunger stalked the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a widow of Zarephath – a foreigner in the land of Sidon. 27 Or think of the prophet Elisha, who healed Naaman, a Syrian, rather than the many lepers in Israel who needed help.”
He called it. Jesus said, “no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.” And then it happened. The people who heard him, who just seconds before were “amazed by Jesus’ gracious words” were now so enraged they tried to kill him. Look:
28 When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. 29 Jumping up, they mobbed him and took him to the edge of the hill on which the city was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, 30 but he slipped away through the crowd and left them.
If you think about it, this was no surprise to Jesus. He was very easily able to slip away because his time had finally come. They clearly did not understand who Jesus was, as evidenced by the remark, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” They knew of his miracles – as Jesus mentioned his experience at Capernaum. They should have recognized him as divine and holy. They knew he was an extraordinary teacher with uncommon ability to explain the Scriptures. They should have recognized him as Messiah. But when confronted with the reality that this son of a carpenter may actually be who the nation of Israel had been longing for for centuries, they could not accept it. When they suddenly realized what he was saying, they rejected his message. They rejected him. They rejected grace and salvation.
Jesus had the power to wipe out the entire lot of them, along with their little village. But – the ministry of grace begins instead. His time had finally come.
What will you do with his message? What will you do with Jesus? Will you reject the salvation or will you accept that He is the only way to The Father?
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