A Surprising Need for Freedom

When Jesus addressed the people of Nazareth in the synagogue he received an unusual reaction. Understandably, they were surprised when he applied a prophetic declaration from Isaiah to himself and in so doing indicated that he was their Messiah. They revealed surprise and wonder, because Jesus had grown up among them. Some of them knew him when he was a boy, even though he had been born while his parents were away at Bethlehem and had been gone several years. They had seen him and understood him to be a good son of Mary and Joseph the carpenter. But now he claimed to be the Messiah! They had heard what Jesus had already done in other parts of Galilee, particularly Capernaum so they expected he would do the same and possibly more for his hometown. Instead he shocked them with statements taken from the Old Testament that demonstrated that prophets were never honored where they had grown up, among their family and friends. Elijah stayed with a widow from the foreign city of Sidon during the three and half year drought and famine, not among one of the many widows that were in Israel. Elisha healed a leper from the foreign and historic enemy, Syria, rather than a leper from Israel. In so doing, Jesus uncovered a secret issue of pride in their hearts and it provoked them to anger and rage. These people were not naturally violent people; they were not criminals or gang members. Rather they were normal, up-standing, church-going people, who were so angry that they tried to murder Jesus by pushing him off a cliff! This episode from Jesus’ life reveals what may be hidden in the human heart. A murderous rage can emerge when an uncomfortable truth is revealed; a truth that had been denied to others and even to themselves, but could not do so any longer. What was hiding in the hearts of the apparently upstanding people of Nazareth, could also hide in anyone of us. Jesus came and sent his Spirit to address such issues in our lives so that we might be set free. The questions is for us, will we acknowledge our need for freedom and let him accomplish his surgery upon us?

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