As I read the Bible today, Holy Spirit, please build my vision for serving Jesus in whatever circumstances are mine today.
Read LUKE 4:14-30
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “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,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[a]
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
23 Jesus said to them, “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.’”
24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy[b] in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.’1
Jesus’ baptismal experience of receiving the Father’s love is the foundation for his ministry, which this scene formally inaugurates. Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth and in the synagogue he reads the key passage from Isaiah (vs 16–19).2 This functions as Jesus’ mission statement, summarizing his calling. Jesus’ ministry is about declaring that God’s good news is for all people – and this is the foundation for Luke’s universal theology and special concern for non-Jews.
Why are his synagogue hearers enraged by his message, to the point where they attempt to kill Jesus? It is not because he boldly says, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’ (v 21), though this is an audacious and controversial claim. It is when he brings home the true implications of the universal inclusiveness of his ministry by celebrating two examples of God welcoming and blessing foreigners (the Sidonian widow and Naaman the Syrian), in direct contrast to ‘many’ Jews (vs 25–27). What this audience cannot tolerate is the idea that God’s favor and blessings are for everyone.
This foundational sermon shows Jesus’ interest in the universal welcome for all people and sets the stage for the fulfillment of this welcome in the church’s ministry in Acts. It also reminds us that God is always wanting to welcome the outsider into his loving family. Who is the foreigner, the other? Who is ostracized or abandoned? These are the ones the Father is seeking.
Everyone should be welcome in the church, regardless of color, class, social status, political affiliation, or anything else. How can you welcome an apparent ‘outsider’ into God’s family today?
Lord Jesus, I am amazed that you would choose to love me! Help me to see others as you do and love them as you would.
1 Acts 10:34,35 2 Isa 61:1,2; 58:6
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