Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
Jesus taught in his hometown of Nazareth. This was one of the most anticipated opportunities for Jesus. News of his speaking engagement rapidly spread, and all came to hear him at their local synagogue.
When Jesus showed up on the Sabbath in the synagogue, as a guest rabbi he was asked to recite the reading of the day. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4)
The home crowd loved it. Little Jesus had made them proud. How amazing it was!“He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. [Jesus said,] ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.'” “All spoke well of him,” the text says, “and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.” (Luke 4)
Then the bombshell. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” He then offered two illustrations of prophets who were not welcomed and how those of other nations were blessed by these famous prophets. First prophet: Elijah. Jesus said, “I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.” In other words, God sent one of his prophets to a non-Jewish widow who fed and housed him.
Second prophet: Elisha. Jesus went on to say, “And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed-only Naaman the Syrian.” God didn’t bless any Jewish lepers with healing, but he did heal a non-Jew. The people were livid. They rose up, drove Jesus out of town, and took him to the edge of a hill to throw him off the cliff. Miraculously, he slipped through the crowd and went on his way.
Just point out God’s blessing on non-Jewish nations and watch the holy huddle squirm! I’ll never forget when I introduced our Muslim friend as a follower of Jesus to a group of Palestinian Christian youths in Bethlehem. The shock and gasps around the room were amazing! Talk about squirming! But as we processed this together, they came to understand for the first time ever that Jesus is not a Christian, nor is he owned by Christians. He is the light of the world. Not the Western world. The whole world. Not the Christian world. The whole world.