Do we want a miracle or the Messiah? Monday, 3rd week of Lent – Luke 4:24-30
Jesus is in Nazareth; He has triumphed over the devil in the desert and is now in the synagogue of His hometown. He has begun His public ministry and delivered His inaugural address in His own home town when ironically He seems to pick a fight with the congregation. The question is, did they throw the first punch when they called Him, “Joseph’s son,” as if to say our familiarity of you and your family leads us to diminish your teaching and work. Did familiarity breed contempt?
Jesus was not the son of Joseph, He was the Son of God (Luke 3:38) but while the reader of the Gospel passage already knows this, the people of Jesus’ hometown perhaps had no clue. For them this was “our boy”. There must have been a demand from the people of His hometown to replicate the miracles He had performed in Capernaum. Was there some rivalry between the two towns as some have suggested? That we will never know. What we do know is that Jesus did not see His ministry as merely being limited to His hometown, His people or only to Israel.
To make His point clear He alludes to two famous prophets; Elijah and Elisha. Of all the stories about these two famous prophets, He picks the ones about prophetic ministry to people who were not part of the people of Israel; ministry done on behalf of those who are not part of the hometown crowd.
When presenting Jesus in His Gospel, Luke is clear that Jesus’ ministry is available to all. In Luke’s Gospel there is an emphasis on salvation for both the Jew and the Gentile (e.g., Luke 2:31-32; 3:6). And here in Jesus’ initial proclamation of Good News; He makes it clear that He will not be a prophet who serves only the special interests of his hometown but rather a messenger of Good News for the whole world and especially the vulnerable.
The reaction of the crowd is one of rejection. They would rather have a miracle than a Messiah. They had “itchy ears” and had got used to preachers that gave them the truths from tales rather than a trail of truth. The truth that Jesus gave the people of Nazareth was the evidence from scripture and that was that God’s preferential love was for all and especially the underprivileged; people like the widow of Zerepahath or Naaman the Syrian.
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