Notes from Luke 4 that I find incredible.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit…
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.
Someone handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He found this and read it, “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.”
He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.
He must have read it with great intention OR the power of the Spirit was on him like he said because all of the eyes around him were “fixed upon him”. He told them that today…that day this scripture was fulfilled in their hearing.
All spoke well of him and were amazed at his gracious words and then they asked, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
THEN JESUS TOOK OFF…
Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician , heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard you did in Capernum'”
“I tell you the truth,” he kept talking
“no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” more talking
THEN he tells them about a widow and Elijah and THEY GET FURIOUS.
Here’s what he said. “I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. YET (my caps) Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.”
Israel was where his own people were and and likely where it would have been expected that he would go if he was to encounter something miraculous.
Jesus pointed out that he didn’t go there.
He also said another prophet named Elisha didn’t go there either – only this time it was to heal someone with leprosy. He said not one of the Israelites were cleansed but only Naaman the Syrian.
All of which got Jesus in some really big trouble at church among his hometown folks.
At the time I read these verses I was teaching in a Christian school – my daughter went into inpatient treatment for a mental illness. I was devout but asking a lot of questions. I noticed a book on a shelf at the hospital written by a Jewish mystic. As I read some of it I remember the author talking about how God will come to those willing to receive the work of the Spirit. Shortly after reading that I came upon this story in Luke 4.
Since that time I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus and faith; about a decade. I have come to believe that Jesus – the Holy Spirit – God , will come to the places where the recipient will be willing to receive the work, the Divine intervention, if you will. I have come to believe that the work might just not be where we in the Christian part of America would expect it to be. In church or a formal place. It might just be out away from there, in a place where a prophet needs to be fed and a widow is open to feed him/her. It might just be someone who is ill with something and just wants to get better.
Somehow this portion of Luke’s gospel gave me the courage to go – out – beyond – the routine and the normal places where a work of God might be expected. And when I went – I found God in some pretty interesting places. Among LGBT friends…lots of them. Among a poor young woman who was one of 9 kids who had all lived in multiple foster homes her entire life and was now trying to understand normal. Her faith was like a child. I found God’s life in the face of my Catholic friends, my Mormon friends, and my Buddhist friends. None of it made any sense in my life before Luke 4 came into the picture but it does now. God is no longer The Bible for me. God is now a great mystery, an ever-flowing stream of Spiritual life and Jesus, well… wow, Jesus is still all of that to me.