November 10, 2021

November 10, 2021

November 10, 2021

Bernice Howard
Laity, First UMC, Maryville
Smoky Mountain District

Luke 4:16-30 (NIV)

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.

Food for thought …

Right after returning from the wilderness where the devil had tempted him, Jesus returned to Galilee and started teaching in the synagogues. Everyone praised him! He was starting to be noticed. Perhaps he was becoming quite a local celebrity. Word of mouth may have spread his fame, after all, everyone was praising him. Word likely spread, even to Nazareth, where he grew up. Hometown boy makes good!
On the Sabbath he read from the Scroll of Isaiah. He sat down after he read. All eyes were on him … and he said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  Then we are told in vs. 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.”
The people were amazed at his gracious words! Wow! They must have been thrilled! Isn’t this Joseph’s son?! Isn’t this our local, hometown son? Perhaps they were thinking that soon Nazareth would be “on the map.” A tourist destination, a worship center could be built here – in little Nazareth! Jesus will make us famous. He will do many good things for us. Miracles and healings like the ones in Galilee and beyond will occur here! We are truly blessed.
But did Jesus know their thoughts? Did he discern things they may not have even put into thought yet? He possibly knew where their thoughts would take them, because his very next words seemed to condemn them, and they became furious!  They drove him out of town and took him to the brow of that hill, planning to throw him off the cliff! But Jesus walked right through the crowd and went on his way to Capernaum, Galilee, and all the synagogues in Judea, where he taught and performed many healings.
Jesus likely did not do what the Nazarenes expected and wanted. He spoke hard truths, not giving privileged access to them. He seems to set up that reading from Isaiah about Elijah as some type of lesson for the Nazarenes. Maybe it was a lesson about possessiveness. We may veer into possessiveness, too. When we are possessive of our own interpretation of God’s Word, are we 100% sure of our interpretation of the meaning of a verse or passage?
Are we jealous when Jesus is claimed by those others who don’t come from our viewpoint? Are we possessive of the Body of Christ, His Church, deciding who should be privileged to be selected to follow Jesus, to answer his call to serve? Are we so certain that we and those like us (those from our “hometown”) are the rightful recipients and those outsiders, sinners of “that type,” could never be called to serve by Jesus? He’s ours!
Let’s make sure we tread lightly on those areas where we start feeling possessive of Jesus! Jesus loves all people. Jesus seeks all people. Jesus welcomes all people. 
Jesus offers love, forgiveness, and peace to all. He told us to do likewise.
Truth is – God is love!


Help us to be love, too, God! In Jesus name we pray. Amen.