The Gospel Of Luke

Luke 4:23-30 (CEV)

23 Jesus answered: You will certainly want to tell me this saying, “Doctor, first make yourself well.” You will tell me to do the same things here in my own hometown that you heard I did in Capernaum. 24 But you can be sure that no prophets are liked by the people of their own hometown.

25 Once during the time of Elijah there was no rain for three and a half years, and people everywhere were starving. There were many widows in Israel, 26 but Elijah was sent only to a widow in the town of Zarephath near the city of Sidon.27 During the time of the prophet Elisha, many men in Israel had leprosy. But no one was healed, except Naaman who lived in Syria.

28 When the people in the meeting place heard Jesus say this, they became so angry 29 that they got up and threw him out of town. They dragged him to the edge of the cliff on which the town was built, because they wanted to throw him down from there. 30 But Jesus slipped through the crowd and got away.

Not (Just) For You

Have you ever lived with an incredible baker? The kind whose creations destroy any hope you ever had of self-restraint?

Have you ever come home from your day to the amazing aroma of their latest creation, and followed the mouth-wateringly tempting aroma from the door to the kitchen, dropping coat, boots, keys, bag randomly along the way in your quest for just one taste, only to find them sitting over the cooling delights … with a wooden spoon in one hand, a book in the other, and a sign reading “Keep Off. For Tomorrow’s Bake Sale. Yes, I counted them.”

When your hand reaches involuntarily forward to “just have a crumb” they wave you away with the wooden spoon saying, “you can have one tomorrowif you get to the bake sale early enough … don’t forget your change!”

“It’s so unfair,” you mutter to yourself as you sulk over to the couch and flip on the TV. “I worked hard for the money to buy the ingredients they used. Those are rightfully my treats! Who do they think they are?!?!?” You carefully avoid thinking about the wonderful cause the bake sale is supporting. You carefully avoid thinking of all the awesome things your baking wonder has made for you this week, including the ones they offered you from the container beside the fridge, because you want to wallow. You want to be mad. Because those ones smell so good!

This is sort of how the people in the synagogue that day feel about Jesus’ words.

He comes in and tells them that he’s the Messiah they’ve all been waiting for. He’s already disappointed them by telling them it’s not going to go down the way they want it to and now he’s saying they’ll be lucky if they get any of the good that he’s come to bring! It’s not fair! If this guy is the Messiah “for real-zees” then he should be their Messiah first and foremost. Whatever “superpowers” he’s got should be for them first. And if not for them, than at least for the Jewish people! But Jesus is sitting here telling them about the prophets Elijah and Elisha going to the foreigners – the outsiders and linking himself with these prophets of old as if that’s his plan, too! And what’s the point in the Jews having a Messiah if the Messiah isn’t even for them?!?

In the midst of their great sulk, they’re missing all the good. They’re missing the “freedom for the captives.” They’re missing the “sight for the blind.” They’re missing the container beside the fridge full of goodies that has been there available for them for years, because all they can see is that right now Jesus wants to give this all away to some undeserving other.

All they can see is that it’s not fair.

So they do what any mature, reasonable, rational human being would do if they thought something that was rightfully theirs was going to be stolen away from them: they try to destroy it first! “If I can’t have it, than neither can anyone else!”

And somehow Jesus stands with his back to a cliff and an angry mob in front of him and just walks away. He doesn’t say anything, doesn’t smite them, doesn’t lock them up. He just heads out to start doing what he said he had come to do.

Journal Questions:

  1. Have you ever felt like you had a right to something?
  2. Have you ever felt like you had earned a place on a team, or a position at work, or an accolade for a job well done, only to see it go to someone else?
  3. Can you relate to the people in this story?
  4. How did it make you feel?
  5. Have you ever felt like you had no right to something? That you had donenothing to earn your place on the team, your position at work, the accolade you received for a job well done?
  6. Can you relate to the unseen other in this story?
  7. Unless you are Jewish, you are the other in this story. How does that change how you hear this story?