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, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“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,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And 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. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They 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. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
I admit, I had a hard time understanding the narrative of this story. Why was Jesus so harsh with the people of Nazareth when they were so complimentary? And why did they try to throw Him off a cliff? He didn’t say anything THAT mean.But with a little help I think I understand what was going on a little better.
See, while the people of Nazareth were impressed with Jesus’s reading and His eloquent speech, they expressed doubts about His claim to be the Messiah. (“Is this not Joseph’s son?”) And His response was essentially, “You would ask for a sign, but even if I gave it to you, you wouldn’t believe. But beware, if I have to take my ministries elsewhere, great harm may befall you” (as it did the people of Elijah and Elisha). So partially they were defensive about His warning of rejection, and partially they were upset that Jesus was healing the Gentiles in Galilee over them, God’s chosen people. So defensive and upset that they tried to throw Him off a cliff. Very reasonably guys. Bravo.
But it’s the reading Jesus did from Isaiah that is so important here. (Side note, I gather the quote is a bit of an Isaiah hodge-podge. I wonder if Jesus read it that way, or if Luke abbreviated assuming we would know the full passage?) Jesus tells us that:
1. He is going to bring the Good News to the poor. He is a Savior for everyone, especially those who need Him the most!
2. He is going to free the captives from the prison of sin.
3. He is going to give sight to those who have lost sight of God. We will all be free of sin and doubt! True freedom is in knowing God and trusting in Him. And Jesus will show us the way.
4. He declares the “year of the Lord’s favor,” better known as the Year of Jubilee. The Year of Jubilee is when the Jews are told to forgive all debts, no matter the size, no matter the manner of the debt. But this time, it will be God who forgives our debts. How amazing is that? God is going to forgive EVERY SINGLE DEBT we’ve ever had to Him! That is why we don’t have to sacrifice animals to earn forgiveness anymore. We are debt-free!
Imagine you woke up one morning, and you just started getting phone calls. The mortgage company calls, telling you somebody’s finished paying for your house. They’ve paid for your car. They finished off your student loans. They paid all your credit cards. Your hospital bills are taken care of. And on top of that, your credit score is now a perfect 850! That’s what Jesus did! He paid all of our debts so we can have a perfect credit score with God.
All of this Jesus does for us. He is so amazing! Let’s try not to repay Him with doubt and requests for proof, yeah? Let’s just accept His gift and invite Him inside, rather than throwing him off a cliff.