Today’s Reading: Luke 4:16-30; Matthew 13:53-58; Psalm 14 & 46
When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.
Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone (Luke 4:13-15).
After 40 days of being tempted by the devil in the wilderness (4:2), Jesus returns home – not worn out and beat up by the devil’s attempts to destroy him but rather “filled by the Holy Spirit’s power.” I love this! With the same love, God strengthens us through the power of the Holy Spirit as we go through difficult times. At the end of our trial, we are often stronger than we were before the hard times appeared.
By this time, word has spread throughout the region about Jesus and everyone seems pleased with what he is teaching in their synagogues. He is in his homeland, but now it is time to return to the village where he grew up – Nazareth. It is time to go home.
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’ – meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his hometown. Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner – a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”
When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious (Luke 4:16-28).
Jesus was revealing to them that he was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. Jesus knew their hearts and their struggle to see him as anything but the son of a local carpenter. They had watched him grow up, watched him play in the streets with the other kids. They were excited that he had come home and amazed at what a good teacher of the Law he had become, but they did not see him as the promised Messiah.
Jesus laid out his calling for everyone. He was anointed by the Spirit to bring good news to the poor. He was sent to proclaim that captives would be released, the blind would see and those who were oppressed would be set free! The time of the Lord’s favor had come, but Nazareth was not going to experience all that God had for them because they would not accept all of who Jesus was.
I know several people who grew up in the church but who still struggle to fully believe in Jesus. My heart aches for them to have faith – to fully accept Jesus for who He is! They spent so much time in the presence of the Church without taking the time to truly seek God. When eyes are focused on religion, we miss out on seeing God Himself revealed.
The village of Nazareth was going to miss out on all of the miracles because they wanted to define Jesus one way instead of listening to what he was trying to teach them. How much do we miss out on when we decide to define Jesus from our own perspective and make him who we want him to be?
This is who Jesus wants to be in our lives today if we will just stop trying to contain Him in a box and truly allow Him to be Lord:
He wants to bring good news into the areas of our faith where we are lacking, where we are poor.
He wants to set us free from the bondage of sin and from the oppression of this world.
He wants to open our eyes today and allow us to truly see Him.
He wants us to stop deciding we already understand him and daily open up to what He wants to reveal to us today.
He wants to open the eyes of our heart so that we can truly see Him.
Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions (Ps. 119:18).
Lord, we are sometimes so blind to what you are showing us. Will you open our eyes to your truth today? Will you help us to truly see you?