Luk 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. Luk 4:15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. Luk 4:16 And he 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. Luk 4:17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, Luk 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, Luk 4:19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luk 4:20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Luk 4:21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luk 4:22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” Luk 4:23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” Luk 4:24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. Luk 4:25But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, Luk 4:26and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. Luk 4:27And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” Luk 4:28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. Luk 4:29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. Luk 4:30 But passing through their midst, he went away. English Standard Version
One does not have to look at me very long or very hard to realize that I like to eat. I like to eat, a lot. And, I like a lot to eat. I am fond of buffets, for example, if I get there early, that is, while the food is still fresh. Once it gets a little feeble and pawed over, I’m not nearly so enthused.
I like those option menus, too. You know, take one from column A, two from column B, places. One of my favorite eateries B and I frequent is like that. It’s called “Starch R Us” or something along those lines. Anyway, there’s a list of meats and a list of side dishes. You can mix and match as you like. It’s great fun. And so healthy, too…NOT!
Last weekend, Brittan and I went out to eat at a nice family steak place. As we studied the menu, B showed me an item that looked good. It said (I paraphrase, but am pretty close), “a juicy sirloin served with two skewers of grilled shrimp over a bed of rice, with tomato butter, one side and your choice of a side salad topped with garlic croutons and your favorite dressing or a Caesar Salad, along with unlimited warm soft brown wheat bread.”
“That’s it!” I exclaimed with much enthusiasm. When the waiter came to take our order, I turned to him with great aplomb and said, “I’ll have the sirloin and shrimp, please. But instead of a sirloin, I’d like a filet. Instead of rice, I’d like broccoli. No bread please. I’ll have the side salad please. No croutons and I’d like the blue cheese dressing on the side instead of on top.”
I’m guessing both Brittan and the waiter are still speechless. What I ordered was certainly based on the menu item, but was customized to my liking. Fortunately for me, there was no notice in the menu carrying the dreaded phrase, “No substitutions.”
Here in America, we’re pretty spoiled. We’ve come to expect to have our every wish accommodated. We are the mix and match generation. We want our food that way, smart phones that way, our wardrobes that way, our relationships that way and, yes, we even want a customizable Messiah. Introducing the all new iJesus. Download the features you like from our convenient app store and configure the Savior just the way you want.
“Yes, I certainly want the salvation part. I’m big on the ‘friend of sinners’. Oh, and definitely hook me up with the water into wine feature. You can never have enough of that. That ‘take up your cross and follow me’? Nah, not so much into that. ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’…definitely. ‘Go and sin no more’, I can do without. As for ‘hungering and thirsting after righteousness’…well you can just forget that one too, honey.”
Desiring a customizable Savior isn’t new. We’ve just made it high tech. Take a look at Luke, chapter 4, which is where we are in our study. Jesus has been on the road making headlines, making friends, making enemies, changing lives. Now He’s come home to Nazareth and has been invited to be the guest Rabbi in the local synagogue.
I have no doubt that the place was packed. Homeboy makes good and comes back to wow the locals. That’s always a draw. Jesus does not disappoint. He begins his sermon by reading a very popular passage of Scripture from Isaiah that everyone would recognize as Messianic (see text at the beginning of this post). The coming rescuer of Israel would indeed liberate them from poverty and set them free from the prison of oppression to the Roman invaders. Messiah would set up His kingdom and restore the fortunes of the nation. This is just what the crowd wants to hear.
The synagogue is ripe with anticipation, filled with wonder and awe as Jesus reads them this favorite scripture. When He’s finished, He rolls up the scroll, takes His seat and listens for a second to the pregnant silence. Finally, He speaks, “Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Oh yes, this is the stuff heroes are made of. Jesus, the home grown prophet has just declared Himself the fulfillment of a most important prophecy. The crowd is filled with excitement and hope. They love this guy. They love this message. It fits all their expectations. Then, in the blink of an eye, He becomes the ultimate buzz kill.
Jesus follows His announcement of Messiahship with a story about God reaching beyond the people of Israel to the nations around them. When Jesus reminds the people of Elijah raising the son of the widow from Sidon, they instantly understand that He is saying that He doesn’t merely want to rescue the Jews; He’s come to save the Gentiles as well.
Unfortunately, that message was incompatible with the desires and expectations of the people. They didn’t want a Savior of the World; they wanted a Savior for Israel. Jesus message did not fit their view, so they quickly went from adoring Him to wanting to murder Him. Jesus, though, took advantage of the chaos created by their rage and escaped through the mob.
Jesus is not always going to meet your expectations. He is not the creation, He is the creator. We don’t get to customize Him. He wants to upgrade us. There is no Jesus shaped box to keep Him in. He’s way to big, way too awesome. He is still saying, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He’s also still saying, “Leave everything and follow me.” Jesus is not customizable, neither is the Gospel. There are no substitutions. He is, and always has been perfect just as He is; out of the box.