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Something strange happens when people get together. You see it at sporting events when individuals who are by nature sensible and quiet, become part of a crowd that seems to have its own personality and they behave in a way they would never do in normal circumstances. The crowd in these verses begin by being ‘amazed at his (Jesus’) gracious words’ and yet a short time later they want to kill him. How did things change so quickly, was Jesus unwise, did he miscalculate his audience?
The reaction of the crowd would have surprised many but I’m sure Jesus was not surprised at all. We saw yesterday that Jesus was very familiar with the prophecy of Isaiah, he would have known that chapter 53 states that the Servant of the Lord would be “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). The crowd were expecting Jesus to do the things in his home town that he had done in Capernaum, (another example of Luke’s account being orderly but not chronological, since things have obviously happened in Capernaum that he hasn’t mentioned). Jesus uses two examples from the Old Testament, the widow of Zarephath and Naaman, where God had dealt with people who were not Jewish (gentiles) when there were needs in Israel. The implication is that God is now going to deal with gentiles. This was enough to send the crowd into a murderous frenzy, driving him out of town to the top of a cliff.
Scenes like this, where a helpless individual is set upon by a mob, have been played out countless times and the end is invariably the same. That Jesus’ life did not end by being pushed off a cliff in Nazareth tells us a few things; firstly, Jesus is in control, he’s not helpless. How he managed to walk through the crowd is not explained, perhaps this is the first miracle of Jesus recorded by Luke. Secondly, Jesus has a mission and it will it completed. He will not die at the hands of a mob in Nazareth but he will die a few short years later in front of another mob, one that will shout ‘away with him, crucify him!’ and will laugh as he dies. He will die in my place. He will die for you.
We thank you Lord that Jesus was rejected by men and women so that we might be reconciled to you. Thank you that he fulfilled his mission. That he could cry out; ‘it is finished!’ We pray that we would grasp something of the depth of your love for us and that we would be faithful to our mission to make Jesus known.