In case you can’t tell, I’m reading the gospel of Luke right now. And after the passage I posted yesterday, Luke 4:14-30 struck me.
It struck me because of how again, the Jewish people of the time reacted in a way we would find strange, and in a way we see Islamic people reacting on the news.
A little background. This story is early in the story of Jesus’s life as told by Luke. He has just started his preaching ministry, gathered his posse of disciples and been traveling around Northern Israel. He was really popular and decided to go visit his home town of Nazareth.
He comes home and it is Sabbath day, meaning the day everyone goes to church. So he goes to church. And when a traveling rabbi (teacher) visits your church back then you let him speak. They handed him a scroll of the book of Isaiah, don’t know if this was on purpose, or if Isaiah had just come up in the teaching rotation.
Jesus opens the scroll and reads this passage:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
This is a fairly famous passage acknowledged to refer to the Messiah. Then Jesus says “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Which is essentially saying “I’m the Messiah, this passage is talking about.”
At first people are a little skeptical. Isn’t this Jesus, the son of the carpenter? We sure haven’t seen him doing the stuff the Messiah is suppose to.
Jesus then kind of goes off on them. Telling them they wouldn’t believe him anyway because no prophet is accepted in his home town. That even in the time of Elijah and Elisha, the people didn’t believe them. To find someone willing to believe, God had to go to the gentiles, to the infidels, to perform his miracles.
This really pissed off the people who heard this. I’m not sure if it was because he was claiming to be the Messiah. If he was claiming to be God, as some contend. Or if it was because he was insulting their faith. But it is the reaction that catches my attention.
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.
They got mad and started a riot and were going to kill him. Kill him because he said something they didn’t like. Because he insulted their religion. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
I guess the question is, what does it mean. For one it shows Jesus fully understands the world-view behind Muslim reaction to the Pope.
It also makes me wonder if we in the West are so steeped in our apathetic, comfortable, secular world-view that we don’t understand how a challenge to faith can make someone mad, much less mad enough to kill. Part of that is our Christian heritage that says you shouldn’t kill people for insulting you. Instead you should turn the other cheek.
And it makes me wonder if we will ultimately win in this conflict of world-views. Since there is very little passion for anything in our country, except the pursuit of comfort and pleasure, will we stand against a people so committed and passionate as to sacrifice their lives and kill to get what they believe is important.