Closed Hearts to a Wide Open God

This Sunday we”ll continue in Luke’s gospel, reading chapter 4:14-30.

Many scholars believe Luke’s gospel intentionally reverses Mark’s order of Jesus’ return home and his ministry in Capernaum in order to provide a sort of overview of what will characterize Jesus’ ministry all through the story.  It’s sort of a microcosm of the whole thing.

In the text we’ll read, Jesus is the Homeboy who returns to the neighborhood after generating quite a bit of interest in his ministry while in the larger town of Capernaum in Galilee. As he goes to church with his old friends and neighbors, he is offered the customary honor of being the reader of the Scriptures that day.  The Synagogue of that time was structured in a very similar way to our present day order of any given church service – with songs, prayers, the reading of the Torah and a short talk on how it should be applied to a person’s life.  If a rabbi or honored guest was in town, he was asked to read the Torah for the group, and share any insights he may have.

So, Jesus is handed a scroll (a seemingly random affair which held such huge significance), and he reads from Isaiah 61.  He hands back the scroll, sits in the chair of honor, and with everyone waiting in rapt silence, announces that the prophecy he just read is being fulfilled at that moment.

Cut to pandemonium: Everyone is marching Jesus out of the synagogue toward a cliff outside of town…brandishing pitchforks and baseball bats, crying out for Jesus’ death.

So what happened?  Why did the people of Jesus’ own home town react like this toward him?  As you read it, and consider the place, the people (including their racial heritage)  and the implications of Jesus’ words…what do you think made them so mad?  In wanting to follow Jesus, how would we avoid doing what the fine religious folks of Nazareth did?

Stuff to chew on….see you Sunday.

2 thoughts on “Closed Hearts to a Wide Open God

  1. An interesting tradition. What would we do if we implemented it at Eastgate, and somebody gets up and reads Matthew 24:27 and then looks up and says, “That’s me. Zap! I’m back!”

  2. Could the issue here be anything within the church, be it corporate or individually, practice or preaching, that rocks the boat?

    In Acts 4: 19, Peter and John answered, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than God, you judge.” What were Peter and John doing that was dramatically different than what Christ was doing, and to whom? Isn’t this the beginning of “church”?

    In 2 Timothy 4:3-4, what does Paul tell Timothy,
    “For the time will come when they will not ENDURE sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” They will not endure sound doctrine? In Luke it does not sound like much of anything other than that what was previously known (traditions) was endured.

    1 Peter 4:17. “The time has come for judgement to begin at the house of God, and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

    I remember the stories you told about your past and who you were. How did those former friends accept you when after you accepted Christ? I also remember you telling about going back for a reunion, and the looks you got when you told old friends you were now a pastor. How many of us have a story similar to that? How many old friends have rejected us when Christ changed our hearts? What about those we previously attended other churches or demoninations with? How do they treat us now? How do we treat them?

    I wonder are the people, the places, the time, the traditions really that different. Or is Christ the difference regardless of time?

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