Here is the Gospel lectionary reading for today....
Luke 4:16-30When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,because he has anointed meto bring good news to the poor.He has sent me to proclaim release to the captivesand recovery of sight to the blind,to let the oppressed go free,to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.'And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, 'Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.' All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, 'Is not this Joseph's son?' He said to them, 'Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, "Doctor, cure yourself!" And you will say, "Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum." ' And he said, 'Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's home town. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.' When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.There are several fascinating things going on in this passage. It all begins innocently enough with Jesus reading the Scripture in his hometown synagogue at Nazareth. This is something any adult Jewish male might do. But then the situation changes when Jesus tells his listeners that this Scripture is fulfilled in their hearing. The way that Jesus applied the Hebrew Scriptures personally to himself was something no one had ever seen or heard of before.
At first, everyone spoke well of Jesus and they were amazed at his words. But then there was an undercurrent of questioning that rose to the top. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" There is an edge to that question. It is as if the person said, "Who does this Jesus think he is, applying this Scripture to himself? Isn't he one of us?"
Jesus apparently knew what they were thinking. He knew they would want him to do a miracle to prove his right to say such things. He knew that his home town would reject him.
Then Jesus made them even more angry by reminding them of the times in the Hebrew Scriptures when the good news was taken, not to Israel, but to those outside Israel like the widow at Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian.
Jesus' audience quickly got the point. If they did not accept him, the message would go to the Gentiles. The people of Nazareth were so infuriated by this that they drove Jesus to the edge of a cliff, intending to push him off.
"But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way." How? Was he such a physically strong person that he was able to take on an angry mob and win? Or was divine protection at work in this situation? Luke does not tell us.
However, one thing that this passage makes clear, along with many other passages in the Gospels, is that Jesus did not simply strike the people of his time as being a "good teacher". Reactions to him were extreme. Either people thought he was a blasphemer (because of his implicit claim to divinity) or they were so attracted to him they were willing to give up everything to follow him.
This raises the question: what is our response to Jesus? Rejection, devotion, or something in between?