Good Morning!I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! We continue today with our study of Luke:
14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ 23He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.” ’ 24And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. 25But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27There were also many lepers* in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ 28When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
Jesus returned from the desert to the region of Galilee, and preached in the synagogues there, and was admired by all who heard him. Much of Jesus’ ministry was in the triangle between Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorazim, in the upper Galilee region. But here, Luke tells us of a return to his home town of Nazareth. There, he goes to the synagogue, and reads from the book of Isaiah, the passage about the Lord’s anointed – bringing good news to the poor, release to those imprisoned, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. This reading did not surprise his audience, it was the prescribed reading for that day – there are specific schedules of reading for each day in the Jewish faith, so that the entire scriptures are read in a specified time frame. The reading is done every day in the synagogue, not just on the Sabbath. It was what Jesus said next that surprised them – they expected the usual message – wait for the coming of the Messiah. But that was not what Jesus said! Instead, he made a startling claim – on that very day that scripture was fulfilled in their presence!
The “Anointed one” is the Hebrew “Messiah” or the Greek “Christ” – Jesus was right there making a claim, an audacious claim – he was the anointed one! He fulfilled the scripture! At first, they spoke well of him, and were amazed at his words. But then, they began to look at one another, saying, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” And then he answered them – even the things they were thinking but not saying – that he should prove himself by performing miracles as he had done in Capernaum – but he said, “no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.” And he gave examples from scripture of prophets who ministered to those outsiders, foreigners, rather than to their home towns. Then the people of Nazareth were enraged! They got up, took him out of the town and up the hill, intending to throw him off the cliff. But he simply walked through the crowd and went on his way. We went to this hill, looked off the cliff, when we traveled to Israel – the path was rocky, with outcroppings of stone, and bordered by wild-flowers.
Are there those to whom we do not listen because they are too close, too real? Are there those whom we should recognize in our midst? Nazareth did not know the Messiah had grown up in their midst!