I went to the synagogue on a Sabbath and Jesus was there. He had returned to Nazareth, but now was known for his healings and miracles. I watched him with a mother’s heart. I heard the comments and knew their expectations. Some were scoffers. Others brought a mean and bitter spirit. I thought, “O Jesus, what are you stepping into here at our synagogue where we used to worship in peace?”
The Synagogue Service
The service began. Jesus was handed the scroll. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me”. I could see and hear and feel that anointing. The text meant so much more as Jesus himself read it. “This is “his text”, I thought. He is proclaiming his ministry and what God had anointed him to do”.
As he finished those final words, “to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord”, he sat down and all eyes were upon him. I could never forget his opening words, “Today, this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing”. I could see the restlessness and feel the anger rising. Murmuring filled the synagogue. The crowd was divided, but as always, the scoffers were the outspoken ones.
Rejection and Challenge
Jesus sensed their rejection and faced the challenge. “You say, ‘Do here the miracles you did in Capernaum’”. I say that “no prophet is without honor except in his native place”. As the anger grew greater, I recalled Simeon’s words, “This child is a sign of contradiction, meant for the rise and fall of many in Israel”. I was seeing this before my eyes. Our friends and our neighbors were rising up against Jesus. Violence was breaking out. The people had become a mob. Suddenly, Jesus was grabbed and taken out of the synagogue. They were going to kill him, right before my eyes. However, his hour had not yet come and he slipped through their hands.
How I wept for Nazareth, my beloved village! The Savior of the world who would always be known as Jesus of Nazareth could work no miracle here. I faced the great power of evil which so grasps men’s hearts that they would try to kill the Man of Peace.
A Jerusalem Mob
I knew this was a foreshadowing. As Jesus would say, “No prophet dies except in Jerusalem”. I knew there would be another angry mob, other Jewish leaders, and even Roman soldiers. This time, Jesus would not slip away unnoticed. Oh, the sorrows of my heart, coming from every side. They flowed from the inevitable clash when God wants to enter the human heart which he created, but the heart is already owned by darkness.
O reader, Jesus wants to enter your heart. Do not reject him and cause me more sorrows. I will help you to repent and to cast out the evil that holds you as its prisoner. Do not wait. The longer evil controls you, the greater is its hold.
Comment: The confrontation at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30) was stark. The rejection was decisive. Jesus never returned there.