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Public figures often receive keys to cities, highlighted with parades and fanfare, especially when they give back to communities. And although philanthropic donations and community involvement are wonderful and can go a long way, the results are not always what was imagined. Because, unfortunately, sometimes those good works are merely bragging rights for the giver—and people may feel entitled to benefit from their hometown celebrity’s fame.
In Jesus’ hometown, He ministered to His former neighbors by reading from Isaiah 61. He clearly conveyed that Scripture pointed to Him. They most likely had already heard of His miraculous accomplishments in Capernaum with the Gentiles. His hometown community may have expected Jesus to do amazing things for them, too, while He was in town. They may have felt entitled.
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’” (Luke 4:23 NIV).
Jesus speaking of how the prophets Elijah and Elisha did miracles outside of their communities—along with the possible feeling of community entitlement—ignited their fury. They became like vigilantes, intending to throw Him off a cliff:
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 off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way (Luke 4:29-30).
Amazingly, Jesus just turned and walked right through their midst... (And in John 8:59, He repeated this: when the people picked up stones to throw at Him, He once again slipped away through the crowd unscathed.) Wow… How did He walk right through the crowd? Did their hearts change and so they just let Him leave? Did He distract them somehow? Did He transfigure Himself as told in Matthew 17? Scripture does not tell us.
Have you ever returned home after being gone for years to find that people you once knew really did not know you at all? It happened to me when I went home for my high school’s 50-year reunion. There were a lot of old people there—including me! An old classmate walked up and said, “You are Ernestine’s daughter.” (My mother, Ernestine, worked at the local dry cleaners, and a lot of people knew her). Another said he remembered me being an “L7” (another name for not being “cool,” a “square,” a hand gesture people used to make that looked like an L and a 7 together, to form a square). One girl walked up to me and said, “You went to school with my brother who passed away. I have pictures of you in his 5th-grade class photo.” These people recognized me, but they did not really know me.
Jesus’ hometown people did not really know Him either. They did not know His awesome love, incredible mercies, amazing grace, sweet kindness, powerful presence, infinite wisdom... They had not experienced the Jesus who loves us dearly—our Lord and Savior.
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we want to know you, not just know of you. Help us never to lose the desire to know more of you. Amen.
Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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