And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
A few days ago I had compared the Pharisees with gangsters (see Gangsters, Inc. https://youtu.be/zRyFlbOfwXk), and if you ever needed proof, today’s reading should provide sufficient evidence of this. So enraged were the leaders of the synagogue at something that Jesus said, they drove him out of town to the edge of a cliff to throw him off it. Scripture is written in such a matter-of-fact manner, we often miss the intensity of what is happening.
So, picture this. You have a bunch of religious leaders, allegedly holy guys, who get mad at Jesus, and try to kill him by pushing him off a cliff. This cliff is out of town. How do they get Jesus there? Well, since there was no way he was going to walk with them willingly, they undoubtedly manhandled him, pushing him and shoving him until they got to the cliff, where he made his escape. I now want to point out something really important.
Moments before this happened, they were praising Jesus. He had entered the temple and was given the scroll of the prophet Isaiah to read. He opened to the section where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then rolling up the scroll, he gave it to the attendant, and with every eye fixed on him, he declared, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Now, Scripture says that “all spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth” (Luke 4:24-30). And, then Jesus suddenly took off on them! Why? Why didn’t he just bask in the praise? Because they were saying: “Isn’t this Joseph’s son”. What amazed them was this was the local carpenter’s son!
Jesus didn’t want them to be awed that he was the carpenter’s son. He wanted them to know that he was Jesus, the Son of God. And he was prepared to anger them so that they rectified their thoughts about him. Now, he wants US to know that he is the Son of God. I don’t know how many of you have noticed, but I have started appending the word Lord whenever I speak of Jesus. Because that is who he is. Consequently, if we acknowledge that, then we had better listen to what he says. And obey.
Or let us stop pretending that we believe he is Lord. Jesus was not interested in maintaining a status quo. Neither am I. You are either for our Lord. Or you are not.
God bless you.