Would you recognize Jesus? (Luke 4:16-30)
The episode of this text took place early in the recorded life of Jesus. He had just begun the ministry of God's word, which brings salvation. He continued the work of John the Baptist, as is written in Mark 1:14-15.
It is said that "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of Gold is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel."
Jesus had then begun calling disciples to assist in this work, telling two of them to follow him. He would make them "fishers of men," because of their profession as fishermen (Mark 1:16-17).
But now Jesus had decided to visit Nazareth, where he had grown up. He wanted to afford his previous acquaintances with this crucial invitation to enter into God's kingdom by way of the gospel of that kingdom, as he had offered to the Galileans. He, however, went alone.
What was his opening remark, which he spoke to them? It is the same statement the people of God today rightfully proclaim. It is this: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath appointed me to preach the gospel to the poor..." (Luke 4:18)
Should this be strange? Indeed not! The resurrected Lord Jesus had breathed upon his disciples this same spirit, and authorized them to preach the remission of sins (John 20-: 22-23). And in so many of his teachings, by way of parables, he stressed the gospel of the kingdom. Not only that, but he established the first priority of life to be to "seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33)
Was his message received? Quite the opposite. At first, they wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth. Just as, dear reader, you may note that the words you are now reading are actual quotes from the holy scriptures. For this reason they are likewise gracious. Why, then, did they not avail themselves of this gracious offer? The answer is twofold.
First, was this not Joseph's son, whom they all knew? There is a saying that familiarity breeds contempt. And second, Jesus implied that the work of the Holy Spirit had led Elijah and Elisha outside the borders of their beloved homeland. There these prophets performed the works of God, instead of concentrating their efforts within the borders of Israel.
The end result was tragic. They cast him out!
Dear reader, how would you have reacted, had you been in that assembly? Would you have inquired further about the word of salvation Jesus brought to them? Or would you be offended at his humble demeanor, at the people with whom he associated like the son of Joseph, whom they all knew? Or of his lack of titles, diplomas and credentials seemingly so necessary to speak authoritatively?
But there is another assembly, in Acts 13:38, where you might place yourself instead. It was there that the Apostle Paul pronounced basically the same message. This you can own personally. "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man (Jesus) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.