So, my next goal for reading is to read through Jesus’s “sermons” as set out in the book of Luke. It struck me on my last read-through (which was rapid) that there was an enormous amount of meat in only a handful of verses—over, and over, and over again—and that to really get at what Jesus was saying was going to take some time. I want to try to write it out here to make myself pay attention!
So, beginning in Luke 4:16-30.
The first thing I notice here is the sovereignty of God. Jesus didn’t ask for Isaiah, for a Messianic passage; rather, it “was given to him.” So Jesus picks out this prophecy of Himself, reads it, and sits down.
And the crowd is amazed at his graciousness and pleased with him, except not so pleased because—wait, isn’t this Joseph’s son?
Jesus rebukes them. They’re just interested in His miracles, He asserts, referencing Capernaum. But He cuts them off: pointing out starkly the many widows of Israel who starved in the days of Elijah, yet Elijah only went to one; and of the many lepers of Israel who were not healed in the days of Elisha, yet only one.
The people are enraged, and try to kill Him.
Many things in Jesus’s sermonette. 1) The divinity of the text and power of the Spirit in providing it. 2) Jesus compares himself to Elijah and Elisha, which is obviously enraging all by itself. 3) Jesus points out that the greatest prophets were not even called to all of Israel—a hint, I think, of the “not all Israel is Israel” that Paul would later make explicit in Romans 9:6… and an indicator that it’s been that way, and understood by the faithful, from the beginning. Elijah and Elisha’s blessings were only bestowed on a few, though they were in the midst of the entire nation; the nation was in rebellion (Ahab, Jezebel, and their children), and the mercies—the ministry, the miracles—were only directed to a handful. Lastly, 4) if we consider not just Nazareth, but the kingdom of Israel as Jesus’ “hometown,” this echoes His rejection by political Israel as well, from the very earliest days of His ministry.