|Luke 4:16-31||Read Online|
He came to Nazareth… But He passed right through the crowd and went on His way.
Nobody meant to stare, but all of them did. As the tall young man walked quietly to His accustomed seat in the Sabbath-day assembly, every eye was on Him. Even though He’d been absent for several months, every man in the room had heard the stories.
Jesus, the town carpenter’s son, had been going from synagogue to synagogue throughout Galilee, and everywhere people were saying wonderful things about His wisdom and teachings. There were even accounts of miracles and healings.
In spite of their pressing curiosity, however, habit prevailed and the morning service began as it always did. But when it came time for the Scripture to be read by a lay reader, a silent thrill went through the room. Jesus rose to His feet, signaling His willingness to be that man. He was quickly handed the scroll with the writings of Isaiah.
As had happened in all the other towns, the first reaction to His words was a marveling at their graciousness. Although everyone present knew the passage from memory, somehow the prophecy of Isaiah had a new freshness and power when Jesus spoke it. They even felt for a moment the compelling rightness of His claim, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.”
But then other thoughts entered their minds, overshadowing that initial tug on their hearts. “What’s the matter with us? This is Jesus. We know Him. We know His family. We taught Him these words. If there’s anything special about Him now, certainly we deserve a demonstration of His power more than anyone.”
Yet instead of drawing them back to their first response, Jesus’ next words only made things worse. “I’m not surprised,” He essentially told them. “A prophet is never honored at home. And don’t forget, God deliberately chose outsiders to receive His miracles in the olden days. Why should you expect to get preferential treatment now?”
As His words sank in, their smoldering indignation blazed quickly into a fiery rage. Lunging toward Him, they drove him out of the synagogue and on to a high cliff. They fully intended to hurl this blasphemer to His death. But it wasn’t yet His time to die. Supernaturally, He passed through the crowd and continued on His way.
What impressed me about this incident in the early ministry of Christ was His composure in the face of both the worship and the wrath of the people who knew Him best. Our normal human propensity is either to deliberately pursue the affirmation of our family and friends or minimize the chance of painful rejection by avoiding those who can hurt us the most. But neither of these seemed to concern Jesus.
Instead, from the time He walked into Nazareth until the time He left, Jesus exhibited what William Kinsley has described as “undaunted courage, restful content, childlike trust, and holy, all-conquering calm.” Setting His will to follow the path His Father had laid out for Him, it mattered not where that path took Him—nor what He encountered on its way.
Can we learn to walk this way? We can—but only by knowing what Jesus knew, which is that our acceptance by the Father makes all human praise or rejection insignificant by comparison. As we mentally back away from our immediate circumstances and choose to see the events of our lives as small pieces of a far grander picture, we too can experience a divine contentment which comes from the assurance that God is sovereign and does all things well.
- Why do you think the men in the synagogue transitioned so quickly from appreciation to anger? Have you ever experienced something your heart is drawn to, but your mind can talk you out of? How much should we trust our reasoning?
- In the week preceding His crucifixion, Jesus again faced people who went from worshiping Him to condemning Him to death (see Matthew 21:9 and 27:22). Are there challenges you’ve encountered earlier in your life that give you strength to walk through the circumstances you’re dealing with now?
- Life brings highs and lows, and to some extent they always affect us. Oswald Chambers wrote, “If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; if He has made it bitter, drink it in communion with Him.” How is your relationship with God making a difference in some of the specific highs or lows of your life right now?