Unwanted Prophets

When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was filled with anger. They rose up and ran him out of town. They led him to the crest of the hill on which their town had been built so that they could throw him off the cliff. (Luke 4:28, 29 CEB)

I see a correlation with how we respond to prophetically emphatic voices today. They rise up with a passionate emphasis on one image or aspect of the gospel. It sounds skewed because of the emphasis – it’s not the whole thing, just a part of which we need reminding. Though it is only an emphasis, it is the word if God. We don’t like the emphasis. It’s indicting and seemingly arrogant and disrespectful. So we get angry, lead them out, and try to throw them off a cliff. Or simply wish in some other way to silence their annoying and hostility-provoking voice.

Whole context:

Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been raised. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue as he normally did and stood up to read. The synagogue assistant gave him the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me . He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the synagogue assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed on him. He began to explain to them, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it.” Everyone was raving about Jesus, so impressed were they by the gracious words flowing from his lips. They said, “This is Joseph’s son, isn’t it?” Then Jesus said to them, “Undoubtedly, you will quote this saying to me: ‘Doctor, heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we’ve heard you did in Capernaum.’” He said, “I assure you that no prophet is welcome in the prophet’s hometown. And I can assure you that there were many widows in Israel during Elijah’s time, when it didn’t rain for three and a half years and there was a great food shortage in the land. Yet Elijah was sent to none of them but only to a widow in the city of Zarephath in the region of Sidon. There were also many persons with skin diseases in Israel during the time of the prophet Elisha, but none of them were cleansed. Instead, Naaman the Syrian was cleansed.” When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was filled with anger. They rose up and ran him out of town. They led him to the crest of the hill on which their town had been built so that they could throw him off the cliff. (Luke 4:16-29 CEB)

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2 Comments

  1. So, did they want to kill Jesus because in their eyes he was trying to be something they knew he could not be(isn’t this Joseph’s son?) or was it because Jesus refused to perform miracles like he did elsewhere. Maybe it’s both. I guess the people I grew up with in my home town would probably not be too receptive to a sermon from me today since they have not seen my struggle over the years to become more and more a Christ like in all I say and do.

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    1. Forgive my lack of reply, Terry. I haven’t reflected on why particularly they weren’t receptive, but I think you’re on to something. It seems that “a prophet” faces a certain insurmountable bias from “his hometown,” a tainted lens through which they view the messenger of God. Instead of receiving the message and the power from which the message comes, they look only at the vessel, a vessel they feel overly familiar with. There’s a certain deference required to accept the higher message. That deference is next to impossible with old fishing buddies.

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