The Wrong Miracle

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. …

Luke 4:16ff (ESV)

“I suppose some will call it a miracle. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I can’t explain it.”

“Soon after Joseph and Mary’s son moved out of town, we heard things about him. You know, news of what he did in Cana, Capernaum – those places. Amazing things! Marvelous things! But funny… it sure didn’t sound like stories of our Jesus. He hadn’t done any miracles for us when he lived here. At least, none that we could verify with our own eyes. But we hoped the next time he came to town, he’d do for us what he had reportedly done elsewhere.”

“And one Sabbath it seemed like we were about to get our wish.”

“That day we were all gathered together in the synagogue, and among all those familiar faces was the one we had waited to see: Jesus, the son of Joseph. We thought, ‘He’s back! Good! Maybe we’ll witness a miracle!’ Seeing him there raised our expectations high… too high, I think.”

“After the prayers, the synagogue ruler honored Jesus by calling him up to the platform. He then opened the ark, took out a scroll, and handed it to him to read. Jesus quickly found his way to the inside where he read:”

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

  to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me

  to proclaim liberty to the captives

    and recovering of sight to the blind,

  to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 1

“I smiled, recognizing the scroll as Isaiah’s… one of my favorites. And this passage he read is from the best part of the book.”

“After Jesus handed the scroll back to the servant, he sat down, looked at us, and said what at the time seemed the most exciting and encouraging words I have ever heard.”

… “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:21 (ESV)

“‘Wow!’, I thought. ‘The year of the Lord’s favor is here at last? This is great news!’ And from the voices I heard going around the room, I wasn’t alone in my excitement. All those miracle reports: the healings, the deliverances from demons, that’s what they all meant! If those people in Capernaum had experienced the grace of God, surely we would, too! He continued speaking.”

“Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well. 2

‘Ah!’, we thought. “He’d knows what we want! We are going to see some signs!’ But what Jesus said next changed all that. After we had honored him with the platform and given him our full attention, he all but spat in our faces! He said:”

“Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 3

“As you can imagine, the place was in an instant uproar! What an insult, using our synagogue platform to put us in the same lot as those idolators from hundreds of years ago. We’re nothing like them! And to top it off, implying a Syrian was better than we are! We, of all people, deserve God’s grace!”

“Quickly, the ruler had the servants lay hands on Jesus. They brought him out of the building and led him to the edge of the cliff. We were going to dash this imposter on the rocks below. But as we got there (and this is where it gets crazy) he somehow managed to escape our grasp.”

“How he did it is beyond me. We had him firmly in hand. He was completely surrounded by the crowd. His fate was sealed. There was no way he could have gotten away. And yet, somehow he just calmly walked through us! He didn’t struggle or make a mad dash for freedom. He just passed through us like we weren’t even there!”

“It’s baffling! I’ve been going over the events in my mind for the past few weeks and only now, as I’ve been relating it to you, has it occurred to me: we did see a miracle! We all wanted to see a sign and we saw it. It just wasn’t the one we were looking for.”

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