Day 52: Hometown Prophet?

Luke 4:22-30 :

All testified about him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, and they said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

He said to them, “Doubtless you will tell me this parable, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done at Capernaum, do also here in your hometown.’” He said, “Most certainly I tell you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But truly I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land. Elijah was sent to none of them, except to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. There were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed, except Naaman, the Syrian.”

They were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things. They rose up, threw him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill that their city was built on, that they might throw him off the cliff. But he, passing through their midst, went his way.

Jesus was not honored in His hometown and He was not afraid to speak up about it. This is one of those interesting passages where Jesus doesn’t refrain from saying something that might upset people. In fact, it appears that He took the opportunity to rebuke them publicly.

Evidently, the people in his hometown were saying that Jesus wasn’t necessarily God’s son but was actually Joseph’s son. This contradicted the things that Jesus was preaching about Himself. Jesus took the opportunity to tell them how utterly wrong the were by comparing them to other hometown people who refused to pay attention to prophets.

In Elijah’s case, a widow living far away was chosen to benefit from the presence of the prophet. Jesus makes it clear that the people were being rebuked through God’s actions because He didn’t send Elijah to live with anyone in Israel. The same goes for Elisha when only the Syrian officer Naaman had enough faith to be healed. Basically, Jesus accuses the people of His hometown of being worse than Gentiles.

I am told by some who have studied the time and area of Israel, that there was a very strong zealot movement in the region. People were very proud of being Jewish and many at the time were willing to physically attack those who would oppose Israel. They saw it as a work of God and there was strong public favor for those who would take physical action against Rome. Because these people did not recognize that Jesus was the Messiah, they were quick to turn their anger toward Him when He accused Israel of faithlessness, which, of course, proves the point.

It is interesting that they were able to throw Him out of the city, but that God would not allow them to throw him off the cliff. Jesus was threatened with death by the people of His own hometown. This is one of the many sufferings that Jesus had to bear just because He was who He was. Things like this remind us that Jesus really can relate to injustice in the world because He faced injustice from those who should have given Him comfort. He knows what it is like for you to suffer in a place that should be giving you comfort instead. When we feel injustice we can go to Jesus knowing that He completely understands and can give us strength to walk on as He did.