Tuesday, May 15, 2018

An Unwelcome Message

"All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this" (Luke 4:28).

After Jesus began to preach, the people in Nazareth started questioning His words. He was claiming to be the Messiah, but they remembered Him as Joseph’s son, a young carpenter who grew up in their midst. They wanted to see proof. Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’ I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his hometown” (Luke 4:23–24).

As if to alienate them further, Jesus went on to tell the people that the new kingdom was going to go to the Gentiles. It was going to go wherever people believed the Word. But it was not going to go to faithless Israel unless they repented and accepted this “hometown prophet.”

He said, “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. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon” (Luke 4:25–26).

Jesus was saying that true belief is not smug, but reaches out. The local Israelites of Elijah’s day had rejected the words of the prophets, and so the prophet went to the Gentiles. This message infuriated the crowd. The people in the synagogue got up out of their seats and drove Jesus out of town. They “took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff” (v. 29). They who had invited Him to preach were now conspiring to murder Him.

Jesus eluded their grasp, however, and “walked right through the crowd and went on his way” (v. 30). Outside His hometown, in Capernaum, He found an audience more prepared to listen to His message (v. 31). These people recognized that “his message had authority” (v. 32).

The people of Nazareth listened to Jesus until He said things they did not want to hear. Are there aspects of the Bible that you have refused to hear? When the Bible gives you “unwelcome news,” ask the Spirit of God to give you a welcoming heart. Examine your personal habits or opinions to see if a change is needed.