He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’” And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.( Luke 4:16-30)
It’s a sober thought but one which is true. More than 2,021 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth returned to his home town to preach. People came to hear him because of all that they heard about the miracles he performed. But instead of miracles, Jesus delivered a sharp rebuke and his hometown people rose up against him.
They did not like his message. As a result, they turned from it. Fast forward 2,021 years and it’s the same story. The same reaction. Even the same anger.
After Jesus had read the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah, Jesus said, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
The Word of God is not meant just to be heard but to be incarnated. Jesus, the Word of God in the flesh, was the fulfillment of all Scriptural prophecies: He was the one anointed by the Spirit who was announcing and delivering the Good News to the poor, freedom to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, release to the oppressed, and a year of Jubilee. But that enfleshment was too much for many of his listeners.
Is it that much different today?
Many resist, because they don’t want their lives to change. Those in Nazareth recognized that Jesus was speaking with “gracious words” but they couldn’t harmonize that with the fact that he was the supposed son of Joseph the carpenter.
His enfleshment of the word of God was a scandal to them, they didn’t think that one of their own could be the Messiah, they didn’t want to get shaken out of their own habits to examine whether it was true and if so to follow him, and therefore they sought to reject the message by killing the messenger.
Today as it was then, Jesus wants his word to be fulfilled in us as we hear it. He wants us to receive that seed on good soil, be transformed by it, and bear great fruit. He wants to give us true metanoia — the renewal and transformation of our minds — so that we may think as he thinks. He wants to help us know nothing but him Crucified and love him, as we come to know him personally at the depth at which he desires through denying ourselves, picking up our Cross and following him from the inside out.
He wants to fill us with all of the power and wisdom that comes from such a communion. And he wants to make us his Nazareth, his home, where he wishes continuously to amaze us by his word and fulfill it in and thorough us.
Still too many reject the transformation that is required. Why? Lots of reasons. But, to me, the primary reason is that it does not “fit” with their lifestyles. Sure, going to Church is a good thing. But leaving Church, enflamed with His words, is something else. In truth, there are those supposed followers of Christ who go to Church but betray their time in Church by living a lie to the faith that is required.
There are too many in the United States who prefer to dwell in anger. Lashing out against those who do not agree with them. Wrapping the flag of the United States around them proclaiming individual freedom but desiring to stifle the freedom of those whose opinions or views are contra to theirs. Stifling others comes in many disguises. Angry words, disparagement and diminution of others, online rants and rages, outright belligerence.
How can we justify any of that and call ourselves Christian?
Allow me to repeat these words. “Today Jesus wants his word to be fulfilled in us as we hear it. He wants us to receive that seed on good soil, be transformed by it, and bear great fruit. He wants us to up our Cross and following him from the inside out.”
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires. Your Holy Spirit brings us grace, truth, life, and freedom. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your will.”
Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those oppressed by sin and evil (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free from the worst tyranny possible – the tyranny of slavery to sin and the fear of death, and the destruction of both body and soul. God’s power alone can save us from emptiness and poverty of spirit, from confusion and error, and from the fear of death and hopelessness. The Gospel of salvation is “good news” for us today. Do you know the joy and freedom of the Gospel?