Luke 4:21-30 (NRSV)
Verse 21Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Verse 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" Verse 23He said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Doctor, cure yourself!' And you will say, 'Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'" Verse 24And he said, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown. Verse 25But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; Verse 26yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. Verse 27There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian." Verse 28When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. Verse 29They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. Verse 30But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
When Jesus is asked to preach at his hometown congregation, he fares worse than many of my colleagues in the Lutheran tradition. Usually, when one has been invited home to preach, the reception is warm. But it can be difficult to bring a prophetic word to people who know your family and witnessed your youthful indiscretions. Still, Jesus stands before his hometown crowd and announces God's salvation for the world. This sounds like good news, until he reminds his hearers of the bad treatment prophets have historically received in their hometowns. That’s when he turns the home-field advantage on its head.
Jesus explains that he cannot perform his famous miracles here, even though the people may expect some favoritism. He shuts them down with his reminder that the prophets before him reached out to foreigners and strangers. Perhaps we too are called to reflect on this, since Christ came to save the whole world—not just our brand of religion.
Heavenly Father, grant us humility when our expectations soar too high. Help us seek solidarity with those different from us, rather than preferential treatment. In the name of Christ. Amen.