Discipleship Minute – Luke #8

Read Luke 4:16-30.

I haven’t been back to my hometown of West Monroe, Louisiana for several years. Each time we go, though, it seems like a different place. After being baptized by His cousin John and experiencing temptation in the desert, Jesus went back to His hometown of Nazareth. He already gained a reputation as a healer, teacher, and a worker of miracles. People in Nazareth were probably interested in seeing what would happen when Jesus stood up to read from the Scripture in the synagogue in that service. Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah which described the work of the Messiah. The Messiah, Jesus said, would preach the good news, proclaim release to captives, and give sight to the blind. Not only that, He continued, God’s favor was going to be proclaimed. What happened next startled the assembled group. Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled!

You might think that this would have been a time of rejoicing, much like when the gospel is proclaimed today. But, no. As we have noted before, Jesus’s message collided strongly with the preconceived notions about what the Messiah was to be and do. In this instance, Jesus did this in two distinct ways. First, Jesus did not proclaim a rebellion against the Romans. He made no move toward restoring the political liberty of the nation of Israel. Second, His message of redemption and God’s favor included the Gentiles as well. This is why Jesus illustrated His point with two illustration from Hebrew history of foreigners receiving God’s blessing. The people of the town were so outraged that they were willing to push Jesus off the cliff. They did not like their preconceived notions challenged.

People will not always respond in a positive manner toward the gospel. We see this in the New Testament record as well as our personal experience. The warm reaction that we expect may not come. But, we are not responsible for the reaction. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. We are simply to plant, water, and harvest whether we are at home or abroad.

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