Luke 4 – How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Luke 4 Bible with Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint

Today’s ChocolateEndangered Species Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint

Today’s PassageLuke 4

As Jesus Christ begins his ministry in his hometown of Nazareth, he’s about as popular as John the Baptist. Initially they’re amazed at the authority with which he speaks and comports himself, but their attitude sours as he continues to preach. Eventually they run him out of town, and he leaves for Capernaum. But what invoked the wrath of the masses? Let’s take a look.

He first gets their attention by identifying himself as the Messiah, the subject of Isaiah’s prophecies, while reading from the text in the synagogue. But he quickly kills his appeal as he tells them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well’” (23). He goes on to point out that of all the widows during the famine of Elijah’s day, Elijah only graced one with the divine providence of miraculous food (25-26), and of all the lepers in Israel, only Naaman the Syrian received healing (27). It’s almost as if Jesus wants to lose his audience, accusing them of wanting mere miracles from him. They seem at least amazed by his assertive demeanor, if not outright receptive to his message. What incited him to give a time on the people of his hometown?

Sometimes I ask questions for rhetorical effect. Sometimes, however, I ask questions I don’t know the answers to, and this is one of those times. Perhaps, possessed of preternatural dvine insight, he’s picking up on a gimmicky or self-interested fascination with miracles from the crowd. Luke doesn’t say one way or another. There are a lot of unknowns in this scene, and while I could speculate, I have to concede I don’t know what launches Jesus’ tirade.

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