Summary: We have an unchanging God who brings in change and itbis the churched who resist it most - in our lives, in our thinking and in our wiorship

People don’t like Change


We all know the old adage “Familiarity breeds contempt” - a saying that goes back as far as Publius the Syrian, in 2 BC.

And as we see in our Gospel reading this morning, this happened to Jesus when he went back to his hometown of Nazareth.

I didn’t grow up with anyone who went on to be famous. Though I missed being a contemporary of the rock group "Genesis" at Charterhouse by one term.

But I wonder how I would have responded if one of my friends had gone on to become famous

You could imagine the Nazareth Times that Sunday:

The front-page story: “Local Boy Makes Good” – followed by a report on the miracles that Jesus had been performing.

So WHY was there a problem when Jesus came to Nazareth.

After all he preached a short sermon.

Look how Luke records Jesus going to the Synagogue when he got home::

….on the Sabbath day Jesus went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour."

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 1and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."(Lk 4:16-21)

Jesus preached eight words of sermon and finished. And St Luke records:

"All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips." (Lk 4:22)

Perhaps that’s the length of sermon I need to preach if I want to be popular!

So what was in Jesus’ teaching that generated so much heat?

It wasn’t his eight word sermon:

"TODAY is the Scripture fulfilled." (Luke 4:21)

though paradoxically you might have thought it was.

Jesus was tapping into the mood of the day.

The passage that Jesus had just been reading - was a well-known Messianic passage - from the book of Isaiah - Isaiah 61:1-2.

Let me remind you of the background:

The Jews were second class citizens in their own country.

They were longing for a Messiah – God anointed one – in the mould of Judas Maccabees - who would deliver them from the oppression of the Romans.

Judas Maccabees had, you may recall had, in 166 BC delivered the Jews from the yoke of a foreign power - Antiochus IV, a particularly despicable Syrian monarch.

So anyone who promised the Jews that they were going to have a deliverer was going to have a receptive audience

So what went wrong - why did the Nazarenes reject Jesus?

We get the clue in the next section of the reading, where Jesus goes on to explain the fulfilment of this prophecy in Isaiah:

"I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian." (Lk 4:25-27)

Here Jesus refers to a time, about 800 to 900 years earlier during the divided kingdom of Judah and Israel where the spiritual life of the Jewish nation was at its lowest ebb.

This was a time in which God raised up two important prophets Elijah (and we see him later in the Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration) and Elisha his successor.

False Gods were worshipped along with the God of Israel – and indeed often instead of the God of Israel.

And it was during that time that God refused to intervene in the lives of the Jews but sovereignly intervened in the lives of two Gentiles.

Here Jesus introduced change into the story.

The Good News that the Jews wanted to hear was not the Good News Jesus brought.

What was galling was that Jesus was attacking one of the most important tenets of Judaism –

that of the Jews being a special people to God.

Jesus in contrast was heralding a new age where Jew and Gentile were going to have equal access to being special

And then the mood of the crowd changes :

Who did this upstart think he was – preaching change.

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