The fourth chapter of Luke describes a scene infamously used by preachers everywhere. Jesus came to the temple in Nazareth as was His habit. He came to speak and was handed the scroll containing Isaiah 61:1-2:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
He said that the scripture was being fulfilled at that very moment. The text announces the mission of the Messiah and by reading it in their hearing, he implied that he was Messiah. They were not inclined to believe that was true. He knew they were looking for miraculous signs like he performed in Capernaum. Then they attempted to become familiar with Him.
Jesus quoted an old proverb: “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
“Truly I tell you,” He continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”
This truth remains inviolate and I reflect on it often. I sometimes wonder if my fortune would have been different if I had departed from my home town.
Jesus went on to share historic truth declaring that though there were many widows in Israel, Elijah was sent to a gentile woman. And though there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha but only Naaman the Syrian was cleansed. The implication was that this crowd in Nazareth would miss a blessing because they are out-of-sync with the move of God.
This infuriated the crowd. They forced him out of town and soon reached a cliff where they would have thrown him to his death, but he slipped through the crowd and left. They led him out of town, if they didn’t carry him, but he eluded them all and walked away. I frequently re-tell this story to young people as a way of illustrating the sheer power and restraint [read mercy] of our Lord.
Dear reader, I have encountered many scrapes, fiery interactions and insults but, I’ve never been taken captive by a crowd for the purpose of being violently lynched. If I had, I would be hard pressed to continue with my ministry under that kind of duress.
This is not the worst, nor would it be the last time people would show extreme malice to our Savior. Yet, in spite of all of this, he continued steadfast to die for us. He didn’t quit or return evil for evil.
The last few years have been pivotal as we have seen extraordinary upheaval as a result of the COVID pandemic. So many have experienced so much isolation creating so much desperation and chaos. We must show the kind of resolve that Christ showed even as we plead with the Holy Spirit to assist us