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Reading through the Gospels 40

Luke 4:16-30


Jesus returns to Nazareth, the town where he grew up. [Catechism] The Third Commandment is to keep the Sabbath. It is important that we have a set place and time to hear the Word. Something different happens when Pastor speaks the Word rather than my personal reading because I hear through vocal chords the voice of God. That is what the white cloth on a Pastor's neck symbolizes. On this day the people would hear through Jesus's vocal chords the Word! Now that is special!  On the Sabbath Jesus went to the synagogue and stood up to read the scroll of Isaiah. I can see an image in my mind of Jesus unrolling the scroll before people ready to listen. I ponder whether Jesus's parents, Mary and Joseph, and his siblings were in the crowd. I understand that women were there, but separated from the men. 


In verses 18 & 19, Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:1-2. Why just those two verses? Why did He choose them?

These verses say that

1. the "Spirit of the Lord is on Me" (Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, Note presences of the Holy Spirit of the Trinity)

2. and that He is "anointed to proclaim good news to the poor," (anointed to go about telling the poor in spirit the good news of salvation, which is His ministry)

3. and that He is "sent to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind" (Jesus is sent by God the Father, which seems important to me in recognizing the Trinity)

4. and to actually "set at liberty those who are oppressed" (He will do miracles)

5. and to "to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” (This is the year, the now, when Jesus will begin His ministry)

It helps me to break that down into sections as I did.

[Catechism] Second Article of the Creed; Jesus is our prophet who proclaims the Word of God. Jesus is called Messiah "Anointed One" because He has been anointed with the Holy Ghost without measure (Acts 10:38 and John 3:34). To anoint; to consecrate, to make sacred, to dedicate to service, aka to smear with oil in a ceremony; to hallow (honor); to ordain to office. The threefold office: Christ was appointed as Prophet, Priest, and King.  Here we see Jesus as the prophet who a) speaks for God b) divine inspiration c) chosen to speak for God d) foretells of what is to come e) revealed Himself by word and deed f) preached the Gospel g) still reveals Himself as son of God and redeemer.


Jesus rolls up the scroll and returns it and sits down and as he did so, everyone's eyes were fixed on Him.  Oh, I can relate to that burning feeling of the stare of eyes on your back, when I feel like everyone in the room is staring at me like their minds are racing about me like an overthinking brain. From His seated position, which is a humbled position, Jesus says "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” So that's why he chose those two verses! I imagine being one of the people who had heard this prophecy in the scripture read before, only to have it read by the person who it is about now many years later, and it coming true. I think my brain might have exploded. Really? This scripture foretelling the future is coming true before my very eyes all these years later? Do I believe that or not?


In verse 22, "All spoke well of Him" and marveled at how well Jesus spoke and wanted to confirm that He was Joseph's son who they had known from His youth growing up here. All would meaning everyone in the building. Jesus has that effect on people. They marvel at Him! I would think that Jesus's family would have spoken well of Him.


All is wonderful and happy and then Jesus flips the tone of the room. In verse 23, we have Jesus speaking to the , the "doubtless you." This seems to me to imply that the people were in two groups, that being those who believed and those that did not believe He was the Messiah. Or it is possible that everyone in the building, "you all," were doubtless. I wonder which proverb Jesus indicates that they will quote (is it in Scripture?), but He anticipates that they will quote the proverb, "Physician, heal yourself" and that they will want Jesus to do what He did in Capernaum, in his home town of Nazareth. Hmmm.  Jesus is God. Was He manifesting His divine powers of knowing their thoughts? Or merely anticipating what they would say as a man might do? I am seeing here that Jesus is fully God and fully man at the same time. 100% God and 100% man. It does not say whether He was using his divine powers or was merely anticipating as a man would do, so we leave this alone as an I-don't-know aka IDK as today's acronym.


In verses 24 through 27, Jesus keeps speaking. He's on a roll! The crowd has not replied.


In verse 24, Jesus says that no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. (This was in the previous chronological reading of John 4:44 and Mark 6:1-6a, I suppose those notes should go with these verses) In John 4:44, we read that the reason Jesus left Nazareth is that a prophet has no honor in his hometown.  In the place where Jesus grew up, the people knew Him as a child and had grown accustom to His presence.  Sometimes those we are closest to are the ones that take us for granted and do not give the respect deserved. To gain respect from these people, they must see others respecting first. Famous people rarely become famous in their hometown, but rather they venture out, become famous, and then the hometown sees that popularity, is proud of it, and joins in supporting. I can imagine some saying "I always knew. . ." We know that the person has it in him/her, but we are helpless to help make it happen for them. The people in Nazareth probably knew about Jesus. (Also, Mark 6:1-6a and Matthew 13:54-58)


Once again the theme of Jesus as a prophet is evident because He compares Himself to two prophets. As an example, Jesus refers to the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 17 when there was a famine and many became widows because of the famine, but Elijah was sent to only one widow, Zarephath of Sidon. The drought announced by Elijah was a great threat to the northern kingdom of Israel and the reign of Ahab. Since Elijah was not safe from the perils of the drought, God sent him to Cherith and then to the Gentile city of Sidon. Neither of these places were in his home town region of Israel. Jesus gives a second example of a time when there were many lepers in Israel, but Elisha was only sent to one leper named Naaman the Syrian, and Syria was in Rome.


Elijah and Elisha were not sent to people in their own home towns, but were sent to help people who would accept their message from God. This leads to the thought that it is not anything that Jesus, Elijah, or Elisha did or could have done, but rather it was the problem of the hearts of the people in their hometowns rejecting them (and God). Why did they reject them I ponder. First, they were too close to them to be able to have a change of heart and believe the prophet was someone different than what they had previously known them. Second, their minds were not open to change. Third, they refused to see the truth that was right before their own eyes.  As a first hand witness, they rejected what should have been obvious to them. I consider a doctor who reads a lab test and choose not to believe the numbers before him and instead chooses to believe the test must be false (something that has happened to me!). The doctor rejects the truth that is right before his eyes.


In verse 28 through 30, after hearing all these things, all the people were angered (had wrath) and drove Jesus out of the synagogue to a hill where they intended to push Him off the cliff.  Now that is a bit of a dramatic response to someone merely speaking. Seriously, these church-going people were so angry that murder was the first thought on their mind. Now that's just plain wrong and reminds me that people are just sinners.  We are all sinners. This makes me thing Jesus's family was not present because all or everyone in the building responded this way. What flip-floppers! They went from marveling to murder! Jesus passed through their midst and got away. It sort of seems like Jesus moved between them like a ghost. He is Jesus, our all-powerful God, and so could have become transparent. I can imagine the crowds bewilderment when Jesus just disappeared.  [Catechism] Second Article of Creed; State of humiliation of Jesus, our Brother, who shared our very real human feelings and struggles. Jesus did not always manifest the divine powers, which is noted as he allowed Himself to be driven to the hill and cliff, but then his passing in their midst was His divine powers manifested. Also, I consider how Jesus must have felted tempted to fight back, become aggressive physically, or otherwise defend Himself, but He choose the path of peace. As man, Jesus was tempted which is also that state of humiliation.


I feel as if people today use the theme that Jesus was rejected, and so He knows how I feel, and that this should somehow make me feel better every time I am rejected.  It does not make me feel better. Knowing Jesus knows how I feel does not magically make my struggles and troubles go away. I still need to go through the troubles. Jesus never promised that my life would be easy. This is not some suddenly feel-good moment just because I should feel comforted that Jesus knows how I feel. Yes, I feel loved by Jesus that He knows how I feel, but my feelings are still there and they are still a trouble I need to work through. Such a cliché comment sounds good, but people should not try to put square pegs into round holes, as the saying goes. Some things sound like they fit because they use the same theme, but fitting they do not.  It is good to always remind myself that the Bible is not about me.  It is about Jesus and God's plan for salvation.  This story is about Scripture being fulfilled, Jesus beginning His ministry which is God's plan for salvation, that is, God's Will, and that Jesus could have died being pushed off a cliff, but it was not the right time for His death.  It is not about me. Folks need to stop making God's Word about us and need to keep the focus on Jesus. We also see in this story that people are rejecting God's plan of salvation, just as today people reject Jesus even after they hear. Faith comes by hearing. Faith is 100% a gift of God and 100% rejection by man. Faith is mine until I reject it.  These folks heard first hand and still did not believe and, therefore, rejected Jesus so violently they had plans to kill Him. Plans to kill Jesus were in God's plan of salvation, but not yet. Jesus had earthly work to do first. Rejection is a cross that I seem to have to bear very often. It does help to put things in focus that people are just sinners and it is sin that causes people to reject one another. The realization of sin gives me a place to put that blame that I know is true. It reminds me of how much I need this plan of salvation that is a gift from God and to thank Jesus for what He did. This journey of thought is much better as it puts the focus on Jesus and not on me. I always feel better when I am praising Jesus and putting Him above all things.



Copyright Cheryl Rutledge-Brennecke
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