ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS

IN THE SYNAGOGUE IN NAZARETH

In the town of Nazareth in the province of Galilee there was a carpenter's shop. A young man worked there, a man who was known as the son of Joseph, the carpenter.

Everybody knew him. After all, he had lived there since he was an infant. They knew his brothers, they knew his sisters. They saw him every Sabbath day, worshipping in the synagogue. He was just an ordinary guy. Or so they thought.

When he was about thirty years old and returned to Galilee after a brief absence, the people of Nazareth began to hear strange stories about him, stories of amazing power and incredible messages. The whole province was buzzing with the news.

He came one Sabbath day to Nazareth, and, standing up in the synagogue, read the Scripture portion set for that day and began to comment on it. Instead of speaking in the normal manner of the rabbis he made a bold and startling statement: 'Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.'

As his message progressed, as he uncovered the truth about his identity, about the fulfilment of the Scripture in his person and his actions, and about the unbelief of his own hometown people, their response changed from one of approving amazement to furious and murderous antagonism.

Rejecting his right to make these claims about himself, incensed by his exposure of their unbelief and alienation from God, they drove him out of Nazareth and tried to throw him over the cliff to his death.

This record of the first rejection of Jesus throws out a challenge to each one of us: what is my response to Jesus Christ?

Do I believe that this ordinary man, Jesus, is also at the same time, the One to whom the whole of the Old Testament points with eager expectation? Do I believe that he has the right to claim my total allegiance and my undivided faith? Do I believe that my relationship with God and my eternal destiny hang on my response to him?

Or, do I, like his neighbours in Nazareth, reject and attempt to silence both him and his claims?

Scripture: Luke 4:14-30.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2008