Many muse about what Jesus would preach and support if he walked with us as He did the early disciples. Arguments rise from both the secular community, who want Jesus to be a mascot for their preferred lifestyles, and by church leaders who believe they can bring people to their church through positive marketing and theological spin.
But Jesus has always refused to fit into man-made molds. In Luke 4, Jesus overcame the temptation to yield to Satan’s lies and supposed short-cuts to His destiny and purpose. He then returned to Galilee, “in the power of the Spirit”, where he taught in the synagogues and “was praised by all.” News spread, and he increased in popularity and favor.
When he came to Nazareth, where he grew up, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood to read. Turning to Isaiah, he read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because he anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind…” It was an encouraging message to those who felt oppressed and discarded. The listeners were thrilled and spoke well of Jesus, yet they expressed surprise that these gracious words came from the mouth of one of their own.
Jesus could have taken the opportunity to bask in the praises of those he grew up with; instead, He looked past the excitement on their faces and peered deep into their hearts. He knew their real priorities included wanting to ride the coattails of his popularity, and having their needs and selfish desires met. They weren’t looking for the Lord, they were looking for affirmation.
Jesus admonished the crowd for having the same attitudes as their forefathers who lacked faith and were therefore overlooked by God as He poured out blessings on the widow of Zarephath and Naaman of Syria.
The mood changed quickly. Those who considered Jesus a voice from God only moments before now considered Him their enemy because He had dared to hold up a spiritual mirror to reveal their true nature. They were “filled with rage,” and they drove Him outside the city and attempted to throw Him down a cliff. As it was not yet His time, he easily passed through the crowd and moved on to the next town.
The people of Nazareth could have examined their lives, repented, and joined the King of Glory in the greatest story of human history. Instead, they held onto their mindsets and missed the Kingdom of God.
When God puts the mirror in front of us today, how do we respond? Do we fall on our knees in repentance, find favor in the loving arms of God, and become transformed more into His likeness, or do we get angry and search out a message that affirms who we already are?