Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Luke 4:16-20 -- On Change, Cliffs, and Dangerous Disappointment

"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him."
Luke 4:16-20

This is part of an interesting story about Jesus returning to where he grew up (Nazareth) and preaching to them, after they had heard of some of the miracles that he had done.  This is the beginning of the story, and so far things are good.  He quotes Isaiah, and then sits down, but when they all want to know more, and see more, he basically tells them that he didn't come there to prove himself to them... and what with one thing and another, they try to throw him off a cliff.  (Really.  Literal cliff.)

I was thinking about why Christ wouldn't have done miracles here, and what seems to make the most
sense is exactly what he says here, as he is quoting Isaiah.  He was sent to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to help captives, and the blind, and the bruised... people in need.  And here, in this place, perhaps were none of those, or at least that isn't what they were looking for.  It was a group of people that wanted "proof" of his divinity... who felt that they had watched him grow up and he couldn't be quite who he claimed to be, rather than humble and penitent faithful people pleading for his help.

We tend to do a similar thing as groups, I think.  I have been back to the area where I grew up many times, and sometimes it feels constricting, because everyone expects you to be who you used to be, rather than who you are.  It is natural to remember certain things about people, of course, but part of loving others is also giving them the room that they need to grow and change and become more than they have been.  Including, perhaps especially, the members of our own families.  Our parents and our children deserve the chance to be known for more than their mistakes, as do our siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, etc.  And as do all the people that we grew up with.  ... (This, of course, doesn't mean that we should put ourselves or others in harm's way in situations where there has been abuse.  Not all forgiveness needs to be face-to-face.  That's something to discuss with God.)

Today, as we live our lives, let's try not to be like Nazareth and pre-judge the people around us.  Let's listen to people, and allow them to change.  And let's also remember that God isn't always sent to us.  We can't expect the same miracles in our lives that other people get, because we aren't those people.  We can't look up to heaven and demand a million bucks because someone else got it, or expect to be cured because someone else was.  We all have our own challenges, and lessons, and miracles.  And they aren't going to come because we are just as good, or because we are better, than anyone else, or because we want God to prove himself to us.  Miracles come *after* we believe, and when we truly need them and ask for them... on God's terms, and with his timing, never ours.  Demanding miracles never works.  And let's also try to avoid throwing people off cliffs, even when they disappoint us. :)

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