“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[g] 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.” Luke 4.22-30
You might think that Jesus was a hometown hero. Maybe when he walked on the streets of Nazareth people would shout his praises, they would welcome him in bars and offer him free lunches in the local cafe. Maybe they would even name the local synagogue in his name. But this wasn’t the case. Because they knew him they thought they “knew” him. Because they were familiar with his father Joseph, they had already made up their minds about the son as well.
Jesus has just made a self-proclamation from the book of Isaiah that he is the Messiah. And some, “spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.” But then, they decide they knew this young man. They knew him as a kid, a teenager, they knew his family. And since nothing spectacular came from Nazareth, apparently nothing or nobody ever would.
Jesus read their thoughts and offered a rebuke. He told them, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” Then he gave examples from the days of Elijah and Elisha and how many people who were sick and had leprosy were not healed. “Yet not one of them was cleansed — only Naamam the Syrian.” When the peopled heard this, and understanding Jesus’ words as a rebuke against them, they decided to end the life of this “hometown hero.” “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.” Welcome home Jesus. But as Scripture tells us, “He walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”
It’s shocking how Jesus was treated in his own hometown. But it’s no more shocking than how he was treated at his arrest that led to the cross, or how he is treated by much of modern culture and society. He who is loved and revered by billions is hated and shown disdain by an equal number.
Jesus’ life and ministry though transformational is also polarizing. Why? Because he speaks truth, he points out sin, he reads the human heart and defines the soul of men and women. Either you humble yourself, accept him as God and Messiah, or reject him as a false prophet, a renegade rabbi who led millions astray.
I’ve chosen to follow this man from Galilee, this boy from Nazareth, this king from Bethlehem. I’ve chosen to make him Lord of my life, to put my whole trust in his word, and to submit fully to his will for my life. Will you?
“O Lord God, although you were rejected as the hometown hero, and crucified upon a cross, you overcame the very sin that put you in the grave for three days by rising again. And you are alive today. You are seated in the heavens next to God the Father. And your Spirit is alive within me! Wooing me to yourself, coursing through my veins and in my soul. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with your power and love. Help me be all you have called and created me to be, by your grace and for your glory. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen