No Hometown Hero

Luke 4:22-24, 28,29
And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
And He said to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.'”
And He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown.
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And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things;
and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff.

This is how every priest, preacher, prophet, and shepherd dreams his ministry would begin, with enraged listeners rushing him to the top of the nearest cliff to heave him over. This scenario would be a little less incomprehensible had it occurred among strangers, but in your home town, among your own family? Those with whom you grew up? What a bizarre response from the congregation!

Here Jesus comes back to Nazareth to start His ministry and begins reading from Isaiah and somehow some of the things He says angers the crowd. Just prior they were quite impressed. They initially flattered Him. He had not yet said anything to them though that challenged their lifestyle, their behavior, their mindset, their practices. He just quoted a fabulous verse from Isaiah, the promise of the culmination of prophetic history, and He told them it was completed in that very hour! That would have got their attention.

But He knew what was in their hearts. It isn’t revealed in the text what exactly that was. We aren’t shown just what got Him riled up, what initiated the verbal attack, though the hints are there with the references to their wondering how He could speak so graciously, and their knowing He was merely Joseph’s son. But sternly upbraids them Jesus does in verses 23 and following. “Physician, heal yourself.” “You think you’re better than we are, we know you, we’ve known you since you were in diapers, you want to heal us? Heal yourself!”

There is a related saying, “familiarity breeds contempt,” and some of this may have come into play in Nazareth. But in speaking before family and friends the tendency of many may be to tone down, moderate, not offend. But Jesus was not about to coddle. He was not on this earth to mince words. He was going to speak the whole truth in love. To His family, to strangers, to royalty, to everybody. They were all just His creatures. All in need of healing. All in need of His love and needing to hear the words that would bring salvation to the broken soul. He couldn’t afford to mince word, their eternity hung in the balance.

Jesus knew He was going to be a rock of stumbling, that people would take offense at the things He was going to have to say. People were doing things that, should He say it, were not Godly. Just read the Scriptures. All throughout the Old Testament, His own people never failed to do the wrong thing. Now He finally came to Earth, to walk among them to show them how it is done, to tell them how it is done. Of course these things are not going to be easy to hear. That’s why He so often said “he who has ears to hear.” To everyone else the Gospel was offensive. He preached the word anyway. It didn’t mean He hated the sinner, far from it. No one felt compassion like Jesus. But even though strangers or family did not understand and took offense at His message He still told them God’s message per chance they might be saved. And some did come around. James, His brother became the leader of the Jerusalem Church. But for now they were quite puzzled.

Shortly after, His family came to Him, still not understanding Him or his objective, thinking He had lost His senses, Mark 3:20, 21 but He told His listeners, “whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:31-35 So He continued day after day to speak the words the world needed to hear. He never minced words. He spoke directly when it was required, in parables when needed, the Scribes and Pharisees understood His barbs and jabs perfectly clearly. The poor understood the power of His miracles more than words could show. The hypocrites remained confused by His parables. But sadly He was never able to go back home. He had another Home waiting, in Glory. Where He is going to receive many, many of His mothers and sisters and brothers. And they won’t be misunderstanding anything He will be saying in that Hometown.

[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]

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