Gracious Words

 

I’m continuing directly from yesterday in Luke chapter 4.  Remember, everyone listening was familiar with Isaiah 61.  They were waiting for Messiah to come, and Messiah was coming to take vengeance for Israel against all those foreigners, outsiders, people who had been enemies of the people of God.  Jesus announced to them He was Messiah –  “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  Except in His announcement He left out the part about taking vengeance.  He’s here to bring Good News to the poor, lift up the oppressed, give sight to the blind, and declare the year of the Lords favor, but no vengeance.  

At first this was very well received by those listening – And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”  This was Jesus homecoming.  They had heard He had been preaching and performing miracles, but this was the first time He had returned home.  They knew Him – since He was about that tall!!  Wow…is the Messiah really from our hometown??

And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.   It’s about to get real up in here!  Jesus lets them know He’s not there to perform miracles or put on a show.  He’s not there to be a magic genie in a bottle – rub three times and see something crazy.   No – He’s about to bring Truth.  Truth that no one wants to hear from the little brat that used to annoy them when He was a little boy.  

But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.   Ouch!  Not only is He not seeking vengeance, He’s pointing out to them that their greatest prophet, during their time of greatest need, helped none of their own widows.  Instead – He was sent by God to a foreigner.  “Then the word of the Lord came to him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.”” 1 Kings‬ ‭17:8-9‬ ‭ESV.  Read this whole story in 1 Kings, I’m not getting into detail.  The point is, as Jesus says, Israel had many if it’s own widows, but God did not send Elijah to any if them.  He sent His prophet to a foreign widow, from one if those groups of people Jesus’ audience might be wanting Messiah to take vengeance on.  
 
And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.  Being a leper was about the worst thing that could happen to a person.  Read Leviticus chapters 13-14 (that’s right – 2 whole chapters!) about what it meant to be a leper.  It meant being completely outcast and estranged from society, having no contact, living alone and completely destitute.  It’s really bizarre to me to read about the treatment of lepers in the Old Testament law.  The lack of grace or mercy is stunning.   Again, Israel had plenty of lepers, ostracized by society and even Gods word.  But who did God choose to have His prophet cleanse in the Jordan River?  Naaman, a Syrian general.  Syria at the time was THE great military power in the world.  The people of Israel feared Syrians.  The Israeli king at the time, when he received the request from the Syrian king to help his general, was distraught, thinking the king was simply inventing a reason to attack Israel and go to war.  After all – who could heal a leper?  No one but God.  And God chose to have Elisha heal this leper, Naaman the Syrian, over all the lepers of Israel.  

When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away. The Messiah not taking vengeance was one thing.  But to claim to be Messiah of Israel and point out the truth about God – that He takes special care of the foreigners and downtrodden, sometimes even before Gods chosen people.  That He doesn’t play favorites like we think He should.  THAT was just too much!!   They force Jesus to the edge of town to throw the hometown boy over a cliff!  But passing through their midst, he went away.   Poof, He’s gone!!   It’s been said before, I’ll say it again.  If Jesus had wanted to get away from the cross, He could have.  That mob had no power to hold Him.  Pilate and Caiaphas had no power to crucify Him.  That’s why He was sweating blood in Gethsamane the night before.  His temptation was to do just as He did here – just pass through their midst and be gone.  Instead, He chose the torture and humiliation of the cross, to do the will of His Father from the beginning of creation.  

When Jesus comes again, what will He say to make US try to throw Him over a cliff?  What foreigners do we want vengeance on?  What sinners are we standing in judgement on?   When He comes again, He will still be Jesus.  He will come to turn our world upside down.  What if he goes straight to the Muslims to save them.  The Hindus?  Confucionists?  Atheists?  Then who next?  It won’t be us.  After all – “And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭5:31-32‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  We know that all of us are sick and need a doctor.  But – we do have groups of people that we look at and think…”they really have it wrong.  I might be screwed up, but at least I’m not ___”.   Fill in the blank.  That’s who Jesus will go to when He comes again.,.
And…who’s to say He’s not already here?

“And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭4:22-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/luk.4.22-30.esv

John Lewis

Advertisements

One thought on “Gracious Words

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s