When Jesus began his ministry in the synagogue on the Sabbath day he read the beautiful passage from Isaiah 61:1-2 proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor and declared: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lk 4:21) Everyone was impressed, and “all spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. (Lk 4: 22)
The Jews must have been so encouraged and hopeful, their messiah had finally arrived to save them! But Jesus, not being politically correct, responds in Luke 4:23 by correcting their narrow thinking. He relates his arrival to a physician who is there to heal others, and that he will not be accepted by his own people. The very people who are hearing him at that moment.
Then he pours it on even more relating stories from their existing scriptures of their prophet Elijah who was sent to the Sidonian widow, not the “many widows” in Israel. And he reminds them of the era of the prophet Elisha when Naaman the Syrian was healed of leprosy, not the “many in Israel” who had leprosy. (Lk 4: 24-27)
These infuriated the Israelites who felt their messiah would come to save them, the chosen, the insiders. “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of town and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built in order to throw him down the cliff. (Lk 4: 28,29)
Jesus turns the tables of entitlement at the very beginning of his ministry. His ministry is inclusive, even for those who are hated and seemingly undeserving. The unworthy, ones with the wrong lineage, the outsiders.
Who are those in your life? Relatives, criminals, politicians, work mates, people of a particular race, region of the world, country, religious group?
Radically, Jesus came for all. In another physician reference in Luke 5:31 he states: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
We are all sinners in need of a savior, all sick and need a doctor. The gospel is for all and we are not in any position to keep it to ourselves, or feel that anyone is undeserving. Indeed, unless we are ethnically Jewish it would not have come to us with this kind of thinking.
Thank you Lord for including me into your family, and may I be privileged to share you with everyone. Amen.