08 April 2020

Luke 4:14-30 Jesus Tested by His Hometown

Luke 4:14-30

After his testing in the wilderness, Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth and began teaching there (4:14-16). He reveals himself to be the Messiah by the reading of Isaiah 61 (4:17-21). Jesus' message seems well received in verse 22, "All testified about him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, and they said, 'Isn’t this Joseph’s son?'" This makes Jesus' reaction seem strange in the next verse. He rebukes them, telling them how they will mock him on the cross "Physician, heal yourself!" and what they will ask of him once they hear of the miracles he performs elsewhere, "Whatever we have heard done at Capernaum, do also here in your hometown" (4:23). He then tells them to whom he is called, how he will teach all over Israel and do miracles even for foreigners. He cites how this was even the case for the prophets of old (4:24-27). This enrages the people of Nazareth (4:28) and they attempt to kill Jesus (4:29) but Jesus just walks right through the crowd and departs (4:30).

Why does this enrage them so? Just before they were ready to accept him as the Messiah, and now they want to kill him. The clue is in what Jesus said to them: that he will do miracles elsewhere and even for foreigners. In Jesus's time, it was believed that the Messiah would come to set Israel free by wiping out all the foreigners. Everyone in Israel would be saved, everyone else would be gone. John the Baptist warned that this was not at all the case, that the Messiah would judge based on their pure hearts and the good works they produced, not their nationality (Luke 3:7-18). The people of Nazareth, Jesus's hometown, wanted him to give them special treatment, to help them even if God's plan was for him to go elsewhere. Recall that in Luke 4:5-8, this was the second test given to Jesus. Just like in his testing in the wilderness, Jesus affirms that he will follow God's plan, no matter where it leads him. So now, the only question left is what is he about to do in Capernaum?

Until next time,
Peace be with you.

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