The things Jesus taught brought very strong responses during his life on earth. His teaching still does. Jesus challenges people. He challenges me.
Check out this account of Jesus in his hometown teaching in the synagogue.
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, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:The custom of the time was a teacher would stand to read Scripture and then sit to teach on what they read. Jesus sat down and said
"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, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor." (Luke 4:16-19)
"Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."The immediate response from the people.
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.I have been journaling through a book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story. In his reflection on the 38th passage outlined in this book the author Whitney T. Kuniholm writes "...as you'll see in the rest of our journey through the Bible, Jesus made many more jaw-dropping statements about what he came to do. A person who said what Jesus said and did what Jesus did demands a response."
Follow closely the response by the people to Jesus and his teachings in this passage.
He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. (Luke 4:15)The opinion of the people changed from praise to rejection. This change took place seemingly out of the blue. They drove him out of the city to the edge of a cliff. Their rejection was deep enough to move them to try and kill Jesus. A clear foreshadowing of the rejection by the people a few years later in the shouts of the crowd before Pilate "Crucify Him" (Luke 23:21) and ultimately on a hill at a cross outside the city.
... All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. (Luke 4:22)
... All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 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. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way. (Luke 4:28-30)
In this account what seems to change their view is not that Jesus is claiming to be the Anointed One, the Messiah, but that he is pointing out that God's acceptance and favor goes beyond the nation of Israel to the Gentile people. And not just gentiles but a Gentile woman (Luke 4:25-26, 1 Kings 17:1-16) and a Gentile leper (Luke 4:27, 2 Kings 5:1-14). Those who were considered at the bottom of society. This is what seems to trigger the rage in the people. They simply rejected his teaching that God would place his favor on others outside their culture and beyond their borders.
Jesus' ministry would extend beyond the culture he was born into. Jesus came to provide a way for anyone, Jew or Gentile, man or women, healthy or sick, rich or poor, to be free from sin and death, to see the truth of life, and find acceptance before God. Acceptance not based on national borders. He came to bring healing beyond his own race and culture, beyond Israel. He came for all people.
In reading this account I am personally reminded not to exclude people from God's master plan. I am reminded to never separate myself from others along national, cultural, economic, racial, societal, or other lines. God's plan of salvation through Christ acknowledges none of these lines. God's Kingdom is without man made borders. God's Kingdom is open to all people, from all nations, with access through one gate, the Messiah, Jesus.
It is so important not to let our culture or national pride blind us in anyway from the work of God in our time.
| More on the Essential Jesus journey. |
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