Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Luke 4:20-30

Can you imagine having furniture
made by the Son of God?
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.

Jesus returned to Nazareth, the town in which he grew up. Perhaps some who traveled between towns had heard their native son expound on the Scriptures. At the least, many would have heard that Jesus of Nazareth was an in demand speaker in the region. I imagine the men listening to the sermon were feeling pride as Jesus read the passage from Isaiah with authority and were excited to hear his sermon. Everyone was abuzz with the gracious words with which he spoke. They speak with pride to one another, "Isn't this Joseph's son?" "Yes, I bought a table from them a decade ago. It is so sturdy! I would recognize Yeshua bar Joseph anywhere." "How could one not trained as a rabbi speak so eloquently? I imagine the conversation I had with him before his bar mitvah played a part."

Then it sinks in. Jesus isn't just explaining that this is a Messianic passage soon to be fulfilled; he is actually applying it to himself! He isn't even a rabbi, just a carpenter's son! People there had known him since before he was potty trained. They watched him learn to walk and listened as he learned to speak Aramaic. No way was he the Messiah.

Jesus knew their thoughts and hearts. Most were thinking the equivalent of, "Yeah right! Prove it!" This mirrors Satan's temptation of Jesus - give us signs and wonders and we'll follow you. But Jesus sought faith in his word, not in signs and miracles. The people felt slighted that Jesus had performed ministry in Capernaum; why not here for his friends and neighbors? But Jesus would not be a mere carnival side show for the locals. His miracles were done only in the will of God and for the furtherance of God's kingdom. He reminded the crowd that many Old Testament prophets were often only revered after their death. Elijah and Elisha both had ministries among even among foreigners as many in Israel rejected the God of Abraham.

Amazement turned to fury. Blasphemy! Mob mentality took over as the crowd forced Jesus to the brink of the cliff just outside of town. Jesus simply walked calmly through the crowd and continued his ministry elsewhere.

"I pray that the commission of Jesus Christ may be fulfilled this day to all the broken-hearted ones to whom the word of this message shall come. I hope there are none here who claim a right to healing; for, if so, the Lord will not listen to them. He will do as he wills with his own; for it is written, 'He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy.' The men of Nazareth claimed it in the synagogue that day, because he had lived among them, and so Jesus did not speak of healing them... His healing work is not of debt, but of grace; not granted to presumptuous demands, but frankly bestowed as a free gift." 
- C.H. Spurgeon

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