January 31, 2016
Introduction: The scripture continues with where we left off last week. Jesus has just sat down indicating he is going to discuss the scripture he has just read from Isaiah. What we need to realize is that the scripture he read was certainly positive and seems like something the people could take heart from. What fascinates me is what is not said from the scripture. The passage from Isaiah 58:6 (page 677) is preceded by verses one through three, which are especially telling and read: “Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. . . . Why do you fast but do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice? Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.”
I) I believe, though I did not find this in commentaries, that the quote was shortened to just these few verses from Isaiah 61: 1 – 2 and then Isaiah 58: 6 in order to make it more adaptable to the length of Luke’s Gospel. In so doing I think the writer missed Jesus’ real rebuke of the people and why it was so important that he proclaimed he had come to give sight to the spiritually blind and release of the prisoners from not their cells, but their sins!
II) Undoubtedly, the people who have known Jesus during his formative years, did not appreciate someone telling them they had missed the mark. Of course who better to say that than someone who knew them perhaps all too well! Their righteous anger had to be seething as they heard Jesus use their own dismissal against them, because after all they too knew this Jesus and how dare he come home to be so dismissive of their innate goodness. It should come as no surprise then that they would want to throw him off a high hill to be rid of this upstart!
III) At the climax of this story it looks as if this home grown preacher would be thrown to his death and that would be that. Jesus simply turns around and walks right through their midst as if they were not even there! We now might ask just what did happen? Tempting to just call this a miracle. I do not think this was necessarily some event that there is no human explanation for its taking place. Instead, I believe that once the people had led him up to the top of the hill, cooler heads prevailed. Some must have recognized the truth in what Jesus had said about them, that they were not all that different from those Isaiah described, and so instead of angrily healing him over perhaps to his death, they simply let him pass as an admittance of their own short comings.