All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’” “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown (Luke 4:22-24).
Yesterday, Pastor Anthony invited us to consider if we truly understood what Jesus meant by the word “salvation”. It’s a word so familiar, we Christians no longer see ourselves as part of it. Redemption might be for those not yet saved, but hardly for us. Today, I want to continue this train of thought because, well, that is what our text does.
Having heard his sermon, the people of Nazareth, where he had grown up, were impressed. He was obviously a good speaker with gracious words. But there was a problem. They all knew him. He had grown up among them. Some might even have hired him to do some construction. Several edifices in the neighbourhood could be attributed to him and his dad, Joseph.
So, the problem was this: how could this flesh and blood human whom they had seen grow up be more than just the son of Joseph? How on earth could he be the one to fulfill everything Isaiah had prophesied? How could he be the one bringing God’s salvation? They knew him so well, this ‘local boy made good’!
Luke has been hammering home that Jesus is more than just the son of Joseph. He is the Son of God. This is primary. But in Nazareth, folks don’t believe it. It just can’t be true.
I think we might have the same problem. We have domesticated Jesus.
I am not suggesting we do not believe he is the Son of God. We sing it often enough and regularly address him as God in our prayers. However, it doesn’t strike us as significant or meaningful. We view him as a kindly shepherd caring for his sheep. This is one of the biblical images and we do well to mediate on it. Jesus is kind and compassionate to the hurting, as he claims in Matthew 12:20.
But Luke has be telling us that Jesus is the “Son of God”. That’s a big deal! The first hint of this comes from Psalm 2 in which the kings of the earth are warned that they had better serve this Son of God or reap the consequences. Oddly, this phrase ‘son of God’ gets meshed with ‘son of Man.’ Daniel hears this about the son of Man, “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (7:14).
Mary drew out the implications in her song, “He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:51-53).
The folks in Nazareth recognized what Jesus was claiming. He was going to turn human culture upside down. He was claiming to be their forever king, worthy of their worship. But they wouldn’t believe it. Do we? When is the last time you fell down and worshipped Jesus? That is what folks in the Bible, who really get who he is, do. His neighbours didn’t want to do that. He was too domestic.
Have we done the same thing with Jesus? Is he just the guy we talk about on Sundays? Someone we might turn to him when we need some extra help? But the Son of God? Worthy of worship? In the business of upending the world? Not so much.
With many a knowing nudge and delighted smile, they turned to each other saying, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” The answer is No, no, a million times no! He is the Son of God. Are you with him?