3 February 2013

Luke 4:22-40

"Truly I tell you that, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown." (v. 24)


You can almost hear the disdain of the congregants assembled in the synagogue hearing Jesus quote those great words of Isaiah. "Is not this Joseph's son?" they ask each other (v. 22). At first they were amazed at the words and now they begin to reconcile in their minds what they hearing and what they know from their experience and it doesn't seem to match up. They believe Jesus to be an ordinary carpenter's son from Nazareth, not a polished teacher and expositor of the Torah (the Jewish law). Jesus though is not fazed by their questions and presents them with a proverb about not been honoured in your home territory.

As Jesus continues to explain himself, the people in the synagogue increasingly get angry and the tension mounts. Luke's Gospel spares us the minor detail here, but somehow Jesus was not only driven out of the synagogue but out of the town as well. He was driven to the top of the hill where the aim was "to hurl him off the cliff" (v. 29), but due to their anger and frustration he is able to go through the crowd and on his way. Was this miraculous? It could have been; on the other hand, the frenzy could have been so great the centre of attention got lost in the hullabaloo.

Jesus then moves onto Capernaum and instantly proves the earlier proverb correct. The people cannot get enough of his teaching and were mesmerised by him. Even as the accounts progress and a man possessed by an evil spirit tries to stop proceedings (verse 34), Jesus deals with the situation swiftly and promptly, ensuring his status and awe by the crowd is increased still further. The passage ends with people asking the question, 'What is this teaching?' (verse 36). They are so amazed they can't comprehend what they are hearing or seeing.

To Ponder

  • Are we often quick to judge situations before we consider all the facts or hear both sides of the story? How can we act differently?
  • How would we have reacted in the synagogue to Jesus' revelation, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (v. 21)?
  • Is it true that a person cannot be celebrated in their home town? What about gold post boxes? 

Bible notes author

The Revd Andrew Pottage

Andrew Pottage is a Methodist presbyter currently working in the North East Somerset and Bath Circuit. He is interested in mission, leadership and the future development of the ministry generally.