14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marvelled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb,‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your home town as well.” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his home town. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up anddrove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 Butpassing through their midst, he went away.
Rejected at Home
I once sat dejected in the living room of an elder who was recounting with his wife a list of offences that I had committed since being a pre-teen in my home church. I had made numerous mistakes and it seemed that they had not missed any. My behaviour had not improved over the years as much as I would like, but the elder and his wife asserted with total confidence that I should never be involved in ministry and that I should only ever sit as a silent observer in church forever. I was so shamed in that situation that I made some broad concessions and that meeting is one of the main reasons that I find it harder to think of preaching or teaching in my own home town or church. I was glad to fly away from England at age 23 with the thought of never returning.
I am a human who has sin and Jesus saves me from its clutches daily. However, even Jesus himself found his own home town difficult to negotiate. His own people had narrow, limited expectations for him and they had prejudiced and nationilistic views of the world. When Jesus spoke the truth of scripture to them, they rejected him. Because of this incident, I feel like he understands the kind of rejection that I faced at the hands of an elder. However, his rejection was exceedingly more significant. His rejection signifies a rejection of the Messiah by those he was sent to save. His rejection was the rejection of salvation in favour of a cherished myth concerning national identity. And he walked away. He just up and left.
Jesus comes to us with situations and truths that are hard to endure and we have a chance to respond favourably or with anger. Some of us fear whether we will be well cared for by God and so we balk at his truth. Others surrender to the Master because they have nowhere else to turn. When he is forced out, we leave with him. Where he sets up residence we call home. We can not force Jesus to fit into the world that we have created – we need somehow to follow him to where he lives. When we arrive we find we are living in another world.
The other elders in my home church in England did write me a letter repairing a lot of the hurt that I carried forward from the incident I mentioned earlier. I think that I can say that the elder who acted on his own did not represent the grace and love that most of the elders exhibited. However, I did learn that there is nowhere on earth that is home like living in the presence of Jesus wherever he may call us.
As I remember rejection and judgment in my home town church growing up, I feel an emotional connection with your rejection in Nazareth. I know that your rejection was significant, but I feel empathy for your plight because of my limited experience. You know what we endure. You have endured it to. And more. May we turn to you and Your Holy Spirit as comforters because you know what it is to be an outcast.
- What was Jesus reading?
- What did he claim?
- Why does he quote, “Physician, heal thyself?”
- Have you found yourself prejudged by those who have known your past?
- How does Jesus’ rejection in his home town affect you?