The people at the synagogue of Nazareth were amazed at the words of wisdom from Jesus. They knew him too well and they knew his parents too and the entire family history. They knew Jesus as a carpenter and the son of a carpenter. They were too familiar with his details, so it was hard for them to accept the fact that Jesus was the promised messiah in their midst from among them. Realizing their belligerent attitude Jesus told them that a prophet normally was not accepted in his own place. Then he cites two examples from the Old Testament to show how the Prophet of God was respected and obeyed by the Gentiles rather than the Israelites.
The two stories Jesus told, one about the widow in Zerephath during the famine caused by three and half years of drought and her acceptance of Prophet’s word and thereby the miracle of never ending supply of provisions; and the other about Elisha, mediating a cure for Naaman the Syrian, particularly when the Syrians were the hated enemies of Israel. Both incidents show God’s prophets bypassing Israelites and helping the gentiles. This same prophetic call was given to Jesus and he saw it being fulfilled in his own ministry. This made the people of Nazareth angrier as Jesus was shunning out his own people and was reaching out to the outsiders. They felt that he had betrayed his own people. In a short time the people of Nazareth had gone from praising their own person to planning to kill him. This story of his rejection was just a beginning of the opposition he would receive throughout his life and his ministry. The people to whom Jesus was sent were the very people who rejected him. For Luke this has been a consistent pattern throughout the history of Israel. God sent his prophets with the message of salvation and the people rejected the prophet and the message. While many of the Jews would reject the message of Jesus, the gentiles or the outsiders would accept it willingly and joyously. This in fact proves the text which he spoke in the Synagogue before his own people. It also told them that the messianic age has come and they have to be alert or else the opportunity will be lost forever.
The people of Israel rejected the messiah because of their exclusiveness. They couldn’t see God as the “Father” of all. Jesus on the other hand reached out to the poor and the needy, Jew and Gentile, oppressed and captive. He made clear that his message was for all and no one was exempt from his call. He wants to open people’s minds and hearts to God’s all-inclusive love; but his message was too much for the people whose God was too small. When Jesus was rejected in the synagogue he responded to his opponents by reminding them how God had reached out to those in need, despite their outsider status: the widow of Zaraphath and the leper of Sidon – two Gentiles. The crowd at Nazareth that day chose to be angry because the words and deeds of Jesus did not fit to their expectations. They fell into the age-old trap of trying to tell God how to act, who God should bless, and on what terms.
God’s love and blessings are not exclusive. We should not limit God’s activities by giving proposal to God in our prayers; instead we should learn to accept God’s will. Respect all people of all nations and tribe, their belief systems and never judge others.
“The perfection of life is the perfection of love. Love is the life of the soul.” St.Francis de Sales.