The homeboy got invited to speak at the very synagogue he had spent time in as a boy. He would have been interrogated by the elders in that very building, regarding his understanding of the Scriptures, before his bar mitzvah.
He had been gone for some time.
Now he had come home.
Reports about his miracles and teaching had already made their way from Jerusalem and nearby Galilee. It had certainly piqued the curiosity of his relatives and neighbors, but familiarity with him prevented them from believing in him, and prevented him from doing any mighty works amongst them (Matthew 13:57).
The bind the people of Nazareth found themselves in when receiving the Son of Man back into their lives in Luke 4 reflects the challenge we all face every day.
When Jesus was given a chance to speak on the Sabbath, they chose Isaiah for him to read. He chose the place in the scroll from which to read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me…”
As thoroughly versed in Scripture as all present would have been, they likely could have recited the passage from memory. This would have been recognized by them all as a Messianic promise.
This was what they all lived for, hoped for.
In fact, even after he had poked them a little with, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” they still commented to each other on what a great speaker he was, how articulate and gracious his words (Luke 4:22).
So far so good.
The crowd that day was so familiar with the Isaiah passage that the words fell like welcome poetry on their soul. They were pleasing words, comforting words. Just hearing them brought a sense of well-being to them.
It’s like the chickens in the old Wendy’s commercial making fun of McDonalds, looking at a basket of Chicken McNuggets, and saying, “I don’t see anything here that offends me.”
But the mood in the synagogue changed dramatically and quickly that day when Jesus started pushing the application of Isaiah 61 in their lives.
It’s amazing how quickly the crowd went from “how gracious these words are coming out of his mouth” to being “filled with wrath,” driving him out of town to a nearby cliff, and trying to throw him to his death.
Why the instant change in the crowd?
Because it is one thing to read the Bible, it is something entirely different to have the Bible read us (Dr. Cheryl Johns…Pentecostal Theological Seminary). When the Bible reads us, there are only two responses. Violent and angry resistance or the response of a broken and contrite spirit in submission, surrender and repentance.
Nazareth missed their chance.
Let’s not miss ours.