Manifesto – Part 5

old wooden window

Luke 4 vs 28-30. “… But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”

It is important to read the entire passage quoted above. Why was the crowd so mad with Jesus?

The story of the gentile widow of Zarephath is told in 1 Kings 17 vs 8-16. The prophet Elijah’s demand of her to bake him a cake of bread first, before she baked for her son and herself was seemingly outrageous. But she did it. Why? It was a time of famine and she had nothing left after baking for Elijah. But on the other hand she was so poor she had nothing left to lose. If she did what he asked and he really was from Israel’s God, she would be safe. If he was a fraud, she and her son would die of starvation anyway. She trusted the prophet’s word and was blessed by God with provision for the rest of the famine.

This story served to drive home to Jesus’s listeners in Nazareth that they were in fact poor and not rich toward God. But they thought of themselves the other way round – as rich toward God and needing nothing.

To make matters worse Jesus referred to Naaman, also a non-Jew. His story is told in 2 Kings 5 vs 9-14. He also at first was outraged by what the prophet told him to do to be rid of his leprosy. But finally he submitted to what was to him a most humiliating exercise – to bathe in the river Jordan. He was cured. The very fact of his disease with its threat of a humiliating death made him do what he would not normally have done.

So Jesus’s hearers were very angry. First they are told they are spiritually poor and without resources to get to God, then they are told to embrace this carpenter’s son from their very community to experience the “year of the Lord’s favour”. They had enough. They not only rejected him but tried to kill him.

So it is with many in our world today. The Gospel message is scandalous. It tells us we are sinners and unacceptable to God, when the whole world tells us how unique, special and wonderful we are and we have all these amazing human rights to prove it.

Then the Gospel tells us we must abandon all our previous thinking and turn to Jesus the Son of God. Suddenly all our choices are taken away and we are left with one way to God – Jesus of Nazareth. This is a big decision. Without the Holy Spirit’s help we would never do it.

As we know this attempt on Jesus’s life would not be the last. He would eventually die on the Cross. Unknown to his enemies this was exactly why He came and through His death and resurrection he opened a doorway back to God for us.

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