The Great Divide

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).

Catch 22.

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.

2 thoughts on “The Great Divide

  1. Why is it that any time someone doesn’t believe the Bible and verbalizes their disbelief , those that do believe the Bible automatically accuse those that don’t of being angry and violent because of biblical conviction? When in fact the non believer Is just voicing their freedom of speech in knowing a book of fiction and refusing to be fed a line of garbage about a god that is supposed to love everyone regardless of what they’ve done in their life but casts them into hell fire for their sins. That’s not loving everyone regardless of the sins they have done. It’s moliputation to get people to act the way you want them to.

    1. Dear Alice,
      If I may I’d like to respond to your comments in two ways:
      First, the “angry, violent” reaction I referenced in my blog was towards Jesus from those who in fact did not believe in him. The anger was not on Jesus’ part nor should it come from any of his followers.
      Second, God indeed does love everyone. Jesus death on the cross for our sins is proof of his love.
      But God’s love is similar to the love of a parent who loves their child too much to allow them to play with their toys in the middle of the freeway.
      If people insist on ignoring God’s warnings of the destructiveness of sin, and find a way to play in the freeway anyway, who is to blame if they are run over by a semi truck? Not God.
      Hell is the choice of those who reject the love of God through Jesus Christ, and choose sin over salvation.
      Alice, I pray you receive his amazing love for you!

      Alec Rowlands
      Founder & President of Church Awakening
      Senior Pastor of Westgate Chapel in Edmonds, WA

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