I remember with great anticipation returning to my hometown after being away at college for a few months. The excitement to be with family and friends, wondering if they would see any change or growth in me. I had become more independent while away and been exposed to new ways of thinking, would anyone notice? I felt both apprehension and anticipation on the trek home.
In Luke 4:16-30, Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth. I am sure he experiences some of those same emotions. While he had been away he had been baptized by John and received the Holy spirit. He had also spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by the devil. I’m sure he was excited to go back to his home and see his family and friends. He had been ministering in Galilee and everything was going well for him. In Luke 4:15 we read that “He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.” I am sure everyone was eager to see him and hear him preach when he returned home.
On the Sabbath day in his home town of Nazareth, Jesus went to the synagogue to pray. He was handed the scroll of Isaiah, he unrolled it and began to read…
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
Jesus was quoting this from Isaiah 61:1-2. After reading the scroll, he rolled it back up and handed it back to the attendant. Then he said,
“The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day.”
The crowd listening to Jesus was amazed. They knew him as Joseph’s son who had worked as a carpenter. How could he be saying these things? They questioned what they heard and who he claimed to be. How could this ordinary boy claim those things? The people were skeptical. Instead of easing their doubts, Jesus challenges them. The peoples skepticism and confusion soon turns to anger.
The Nazareth people were offended when Jesus told them that God loves Israel, but He also loves the rest of the world. The people were deeply enraged that God would have mercy on people who they did not like or agree with. It made them furious.
When they heard this, the people in the synagogue where furious. Jumping up, the mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.
The people were not willing to hear that God wanted to love and save all people. Jesus was there to speak the truth, not to gain a following. Miraculously, Jesus passes through the crowd and goes on his way.
Jesus did not get the hometown welcome that he initially might have desired. But, more importantly he did not care about the popularity and thoughts that the people had about him. He cared what God thought about him.
Jesus experienced rejection. He knows the feeling. He goes on in His life to experience rejection to the point of death. But He did this so that we may have life. We get to ask for His forgiveness for when we have rejected Him and He forgives us.