Here are a few thoughts on the visit of Jesus to his home town, after the beginning of his ministry, as recorded in Luke’s gospel chapter four.
There’s no mention of Mary. She is not the important figure of Scripture or of that age or any other age: Jesus Christ is. Let’s get this right, and worship the One who we should be worshipping.
It was “his custom” to enter the synagogue on the Sabbath (verse 16). This continued throughout his ministry, and carried over into the ministries of the apostles. Jesus never rejected his heritage or his tradition or his nation. Note that on another occasion, when he wept over Jerusalem, he said “You will not see me until you say blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39). There was a time limit on Jesus’ judgment of the city of Jerusalem-it was not a permanent rejection.
Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah (verse 17). He never rejected what we call the Old Testament. Instead he was the fulfillment of it (Matthew 5:17). That’s why he read the passage from Isaiah and then told the people that he was the fulfillment of it. Rejecting the Old Testament is a huge mistake. Instead we should be learning from it.
Isaiah’s writing-hundreds of years before Jesus, was about the coming of the Messiah. Christianity is rooted in Judaism. If anyone tries to tell you that Christianity is a latecomer in the history of religion, just tell them that the story of Jesus Christ and his lineage goes all the way back the creation of the world. Jesus was no ordinary man. His future was foretold centuries before his time.
When reading Jesus left out the part of the prophecy which concerned the judgment. At that time he hadn’t come to judge the world. That part is still future. Here’s what Isaiah went on to write:
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God (Isaiah 61:2).
Jesus had total confidence and command of the moment. He had no doubts about who he was, and no reluctance to fulfil his mission.
People in the synagogue spoke well of him when he announced his mission of healing, deliverance, favor and the preaching of good news to the poor. It’s almost a comical scene here, when you realize how quickly the congregation went from praise to vitriol when their toes were trodden on. Once Jesus made clear that he hadn’t come to benefit or enrich the people of Nazareth, they immediately turned against him.
Why hadn’t Jesus come to benefit them? Because he knew what was in their hearts. He knew their attitudes and that they were only looking for gain. He knew that they were only seeing him as that snotty little kid who had roamed their streets for thirty years, apparently being a nonce, a nothing. How could he possibly be the Messiah?
When Jesus drew attention to the fact that only one poor widow had been helped in Elijah’s time, and only one person with leprosy in Elisha’s time, and that both of them were Gentiles-one the commander of a foreign army-they took offence, quickly revealing their true motives and their total lack of humility. They were out for what they could get, and the one who they thought should be providing it had just turned them down.
What are my motives for following Jesus? What are yours?
Jesus was no woke warrior. He wasn’t afraid to tell things exactly as they were. He was no man-pleaser. He didn’t hold back. He said what needed to be said, and he had no time for lip-service or for self-serving, arrogant people.
Jesus’ time to die had not yet come, as he knew, and he almost magically escaped their intentions to push him over the cliff.