Gospel Lesson for Sunday, February 3, 2019
21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’” 24 And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. 25 But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30 But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
In this story Jesus actually becomes angry first. Their question about being his father’s son is dismissive. It was intended to put him in his place. He is a Jewish man and that is all. Being a Jew assumes that God is on their side. They are the heirs of covenant with Abraham and God is their God and no one else’s.
Jesus counteracts with three stories of non-Jews being helped by God. He is announcing God’s day “today,” in which the Son of Man comes to broaden the span of God’s reign. He tells his family and neighbors that God is not just for them and maybe not even for them. (Diplomacy was not Jesus’ strong suit.)
If this story was picked up and put in a modern-day Christian church setting, Jesus’ message may need to be the same. He might site stories of God helping a Muslim, a Taliban, or a non-church attender. His warning is the same: no one group owns God; God embraces all. Jesus did not switch the ownership of God from Jews to Christians that day in his hometown.
Peace to you, Keith