The reading in Luke is not an easy one. Why would people who watched him grow up suddenly want to kill him?
If we read the corresponding story in Matthew 13:53-58 and Mark 6:1-6, all we see is that the people were displeased with Jesus. No one attacked him, though he could do little healing, because he was amazed at their lack of faith.
We need to look again at the text in last Sunday’s reading in Luke 4:18-19. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn. ESV
Isaiah 61:1-2 is the main source of this quote. It is also the main source for Luke 7:22 where Jesus answers John the Baptizer’s question. Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. ESV
Clearly, Luke considered these words of Isaiah an important part of the ministry of Jesus.
Another point that Luke repeated is the presence of the Holy Spirit. Check 1:15; 1:35; 1:41; 1:67; 2:25 ff; 3:16; 3:22; 4:1; 4:14: and 4:18; and that only gets us to the text for today. Luke speaks of the Holy Spirit three more times in the Gospel for a total of 13 plus the single word, “Spirit,” 20 times; while the other three Gospels combine for 14 and 51. Luke adds 42 and 25 more in Acts.
The power of the Holy Spirit was central to Luke’s thinking, as it is throughout the New Testament. That which is most important comes from the Spirit. We must always be aware of the presence of the Spirit of God as we read Scripture.
The custom in the First Century synagogue was for the reader of the Scripture to expound on what he read. Jesus did that and as he spoke people were amazed. Everybody noticed what he said and was amazed at the beautiful words that came from his lips, and they kept saying, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Phillips
If you’ve watched a person grow into adulthood and become a leader in the community, it’s difficult to forget the snotty little brat he used to be, not that Jesus was a brat.
Somewhere in that discourse, Jesus began to turn the people against him. But 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, 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. ESV
Jesus was speaking to God’s Chosen People. They alone received the Teaching from God. How dare this kid from their own community denigrate them?
But why did they try to kill him?
Everyone there understood and accepted Jesus when he said, “This very day this scripture has been fulfilled, while you were listening to it,” Phillips They were pleased that he identified himself as a prophet like Isaiah. Remember that this is the first interaction with people recorded by Luke. It seems that Luke wants us to see the difficulty Jesus will face throughout his ministry—the rejection by his own people. He also places the life of Jesus at the crest of death to symbolize the end of his earthly ministry.
Here we have Jesus boldly stating what he intends to do, that he expects to be rejected by most Jews, and that he will willingly face death to reach those few who understand and accept his Word.
In other words, Luke may have expanded the account to give us an important theological lesson. That is a common tool ancient authors used. No one would ever say, “it didn’t happen that way.” They would not, however, make the connection with Jesus’ death until much later.
Read my earlier comments on this theme here.
Be righteous and do good.