27: Rejection In Nazareth
The people in Nazareth's synagogue were speechless. Jesus, a man who had grown up in their town, had read aloud one of Isaiah's prophecies about the Messiah. Then He told the congregation that the prophecy had been fulfilled right then and there. What did He mean?
People began to whisper to each other. Some scoffed at Jesus. Others grew angry.
"He claims that He's the Messiah! Where does He get such an idea? He's no better than we are! He thinks He can bring us all those blessings of which Isaiah speaks. Is He going to perform all those miracles? Why doesn't He show us that He's the Messiah? Why doesn't He perform a miracle right now?"
Their hearts were full of pride and unbelief. Jesus could easily see this. He was surprised that the people of Nazareth reacted so strongly. When He began to speak again, there was sadness in His voice. He now spoke harsh words.
The Savior taught them that no prophet had ever been honored in His own land. Long ago, in days of the great drought and famine, where was the prophet Elijah sent by God to find refuge? There were many widows in Israel who could have taken care of him, but he did not go to them. Instead he went to a heathen woman in Zarephath. That woman was blessed by God.
Later, in the days of Elisha, there were many lepers in Israel. Not one of them went to the prophet to ask for healing. But Naaman the Syrian did! On that occasion, too, deliverance bypassed unbelieving Israel and was given to a Gentile instead.
When the people of Nazareth heard this, they jumped up, enraged. Did that carpenter think He could say whatever He pleased here? Were the Gentiles better than the Jews? Did they have more faith than the Jews? Did the carpenter mean to say that when the Messiah came, He would bypass the Jews? Away with Him if that was what He thought!
The people grabbed Jesus and dragged Him out of the synagogue. They pushed Him down the road that led out of the city.
Their wrath grew even greater when they saw Him walking before them silent and defenseless. Had they admired Him and been proud of Him?
Jesus was a deceiver, a blasphemer who dared to say that He was the Messiah! He must be punished. Never again would He be allowed to chastise them with His words. Never again would they listen to Him!
They pushed Him to the edge of the plateau on which the town was built. They wanted to throw Him over the cliff so that His body would be broken on the rocks.
The Savior could have easily destroyed His enemies in a flash. He could have called down fire from heaven to punish them for their unbelief. Instead, He let Himself be pushed ahead by those rough hands. He was as quiet and submissive as a lamb. Although they scorned and despised Him, He loved His enemies. Giving them time to reconsider, He waited as long as He could before reacting.
At the edge of the cliff He stood still and turned around. It was enough; His hour had not yet come. Suddenly all the people He looked at fell back in fear. Their hands hung limp at their sides. No more threatening, scornful language came from their lips.
Jesus walked right between them like a king, erect and majestic. He left Nazareth unhindered. A mysterious fear stayed behind with the people.
The people had seen a miracle after all—when they did not expect to see one. But the miracle had separated them from the Savior.