And He (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and He stood up to read. ... And all spoke well of Him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from His mouth. ... When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove Him out of the town ... so that they could throw Him down the cliff. (Luke 4:16, 22a, 28-29)
What a weird reaction—to go from "all spoke well of Him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from His mouth" to trying to throw Jesus off a cliff! And in such a short time, too. Something certainly got them riled up.
And if we look at Jesus' sermon, we can see what it was. They were happy as long as Jesus was proclaiming God's mercy for them. But then Jesus started proclaiming God's mercy to foreigners! He said, "But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when ... a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian" (Luke 4:25-27).
The people really didn't want to hear that. Surely, God belonged to Israel only! They were so enraged that they tried to murder Jesus.
It seems ridiculous—and yet we see people behaving like this today, too. We behave like this any time we refuse to share God's blessings with others in need, just because they are different from us. Against this attitude Jesus urges us, "Freely you have received; freely give" (Matthew 10:8b, NIV). God's mercy is for all the world—not just physical blessings but the best gift of all, His Son Jesus Christ, our Savior, who died and rose for us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, give me a generous heart to share Your love with everyone. Amen.
* When do you find it easiest to share? Hardest?
* What gifts has God given to you? List as many as you can.
* How has Jesus helped you to bless other people?
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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