Gospel: Luke 4:21-30
21Then [Jesus] began to say to [all in the synagogue in Nazareth,] “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’ ” 24And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. 25But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
So what happened? “All spoke well of him and were amazed…” So far, so good. Did things start to devolve when they realized he was just a local boy from a poor family? Maybe.
But there were a couple of things that really made them mad. For one thing, they had heard about his teaching and works in other parts of the Galilee. They assumed he would definitely do such great things in his home town.
But, what really pushed them over the edge was when he talked about Elijah and Elisha healing Gentile people even though there were many widows and lepers in Israel at that time. And they had the nerve to heal and provide for foreigners! The people of Nazareth got his point, that the Jewish people were not the only ones God loved. Jesus’ words pushed them over the edge, so they tried to push him off a cliff.
One of my seminary professors used to say that whenever you draw a line in the sand, you’ll find Jesus on the other side of it. Especially in Luke’s gospel, we find Jesus spending time with the outsiders, with those others wouldn’t want to be caught dead with.
Can we ask God to expand our hearts to include the excluded, to bring the outsiders in, to care for those that others want to ignore? That is our calling as the people of God—to the be hands and feet of Christ in our world today, sharing God’s great love with all.