Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’—meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.
“Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. And many in Israel had leprosy in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”
When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious.Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.
Luke 4:21-30 New Living Translation (NLT)
Luke presents us an interesting contrast. Yesterday we looked at the presentation of Jesus at the temple because it was February 2 – 40 days after Jesus was born. In the passage that directly follows Jesus’ presentation, we hear about how Jesus’ family went to Jerusalem when he was 12 years old. As the family leaves, they believe Jesus is with the caravan and about 3 days out, find out that Jesus is not with them. They go back to Jerusalem and find Jesus teaching in the temple (which is the picture above.) The men in the temple are amazed at the wisdom of young Jesus.
So, let’s contrast that with today’s passage. Jesus has returned to his hometown of Nazareth and as is his custom he goes to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus is selected to read one of the sacred texts, which is from the prophet Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
After that, Jesus sits down and begins to teach and Luke records this: “The scripture you’ve just heard has been fufilled this very day.” At this the people are amazed, because this is Jesus’ hometown – a reaction very similar to what Jesus received in Jerusalem as a boy. But then the people ask, “How could this be? Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” After all Joseph was a simple tradesman. How could have Joseph raised such a graceful man?
But then it all goes south. Jesus continues teaching, knowing the hearts of the people. Jesus teaches some very hard words – the people aren’t ready to accept him. The jump up in the middle of the teaching and take him to the edge of a hill intending to throw him off, but Jesus passes through the crowd and goes his way.
This story gives us insight to proclaiming the Good News even in our hometown – even when there is opposition. For many of us pastors, we don’t preach in the town in which we grew up, but for our congregations – especially in my context here in Eldred, they live in the same town they grew up. Most of my congregation has lived in Eldred their entire life. The people know them. In some ways, that makes it easier, because the relationship is already built, but in otherways, it makes it harder because let’s face it, we all have reputations – sometimes good, somtimes bad.
People were judging the teaching based on who they thought Jesus was, not who He really was. They thought he was simply Joseph’s son – not the Son of God. It’s important to remind us here that we need to be careful of our reputation. People will judge us on who they think we are.
Jesus does not go easy on the crowd for their judgement. That’s important for us to remember – even though the crowd might be resistant to our message, we need to continue to proclaim it with love – which I believe is the way that Jesus presented the Good News.
As I mentioned in my sermon last week, the most important thing in proclaiming the gospel is to make sure that the Holy Spirit has filled us with His power. Without His power in our life, we will never be able to proclaim with boldness nor proclaim in spite of opposition.