I mentioned in an earlier post that the Pharisees lost their chance to identify Jesus by mistakenly believing that He was born in Nazareth. They were close. Jesus grew up in Nazareth, but as an adult the home base for His ministry was Capernaum. As was typical of His ministry, the move to Capernaum took place in the midst of a religious storm and an attempt on His life. It happened this way.
For about a year Jesus had played the itinerant preacher, going from Synagogue to Synagogue and teaching on the Sabbath. Eventually Jesus had made His way home, to Nazareth.
As a point of interest, teachers in that day gained followers / students / disciples by asking or inviting people to become their students - The teacher chose the student. In that same fashion, after a year of growing notoriety, when Jesus asked someone to become His student (“Follow Me”) people eagerly grabbed the opportunity. They left everything; jobs, family, security. While most fell away by the time of His execution, there are no accounts that I’m aware of where people refused Jesus’ initial invitation of discipleship. By the time He made it to His home Church, Jesus had a sizeable following.
So, Jesus went to the Synagogue, and as a visiting Rabbi He was asked to teach. He stood up, opened the scroll to what we now call Isaiah 61 and read the first verse. He sat down. Everyone was looking at Jesus and then He said, “This prophecy is being fulfilled in Me.”
I had asked a couple weeks ago, What kind of person would say, “Everybody! Come to Me and I’ll cure your deepest spiritual and emotional problems”? I mean, who actually believes that they’re able to do that? Well, the same thing is happening here. Isaiah, a revered prophet, had written several hundred years before the birth of Jesus that the Messiah would have a ministry that was characterised by preaching to the poor, healing the sick and brokenhearted and setting free those held captive in the darkness of sin. On that day, Jesus said to the people in His hometown Church, “Isaiah was writing about Me.”
Who does that?
Now, I don’t know what made Jesus so intense as an adult. Maybe His keen eye as a teenager had made Him gag while watching the religious hypocrisy taking place all around Him. Whatever it was that got Him going, He was on roll this particular Sabbath. Just as the people were murmuring amongst themselves about this upstart kid playing a holier than thou Rabbi, Jesus stood up and let them have it. You can read it in John 7:23-27 but I’ll give you my version here.
First He compared Himself to the prophet Elijah - another big star on the sidewalk of prophets. Jesus said to those in His congregation, “Elijah wasn’t accepted by the “unbelievers” of his day either.” Did you get that? Jesus was saying directly to the congregation that was gathered that morning that unbelievers rejected Elijah just like - ya - “You guys are rejecting Me because you’re unbelievers too! You aren’t really God’s children. You’re hypocrites!”
He came very close to putting the people in His home congregation on par with those who worshipped the pagan god Baal and they got the implication loud and clear.
You know how every once in awhile you hear about some guy going into a Church and killing someone in the congregation? Well, here we have the whole congregation rising as one and attempting to killing this one guy, Jesus. They were ticked off - big time. Hugely insulted! As John tells us, “They were filled with wrath.” Jesus spoke the truth to the people in His hometown congregation and they wanted to kill Him for it. Atheists aren’t the only people who don’t like to be told that they aren’t good people in the eyes of God.
And that was it for Nazareth. That was their one chance to absorb and accept the truth of their spiritual state. They rejected it and as far as I know, Jesus moved to the lake and never returned to Nazareth.
The Bible tells us, Now is the day of salvation. Today is the day when the invitation is being offered. The ability to make a decision for Jesus more often than not ends with little or no warning. We are living in the age of grace. Today is the time in history when forgiveness is being offered.
One day, that door is going to swing closed.
This chance may not come your way again.
As an example, anybody remember Gorth Santana?
One moment this atheist is confidently defending his atheist beliefs
The next moment, all is changed - forever - in the blink of an eye.