Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.
Today’s passage is so frustrating &, sadly, so applicable to today’s culture. Jesus returns to Nazareth to preach in His home synagogue. He reads from the scroll of Isaiah that references the Year of Jubilee that declares good news to the poor, pardons for prisoners, & sight for the blind. He boldly proclaims, “The Scripture you have just heard has been fulfilled this very day.”
However, the congregation completely discounts this intriguing message &, instead, gets distracted by the optics of the scene by limiting their focus on the messenger whom they had known for years. No one questions why Jesus references the Year of Jubilee or wonders what He means by citing this is the year when God would bring hope to the frightened, healing to the broken-hearted, & help to the downtrodden.
Aside: Thanks to the distracted audience we’ll never know, but Jesus, being a masterful speaker, may have even opened with a little levity to break the tension in the room. “Verily I tell you, that young farm girl was right: There is no place like home. (Note to Self: Wait for laughter.) And I didn’t even need to click my heels.” (Wait for even more laughter.) (This is highly doubtful. The “Wonderful Wizard of Oz” wasn’t published until 1900, and secondly… Oh, never mind – Editor.)
Now we can readily understand how familiarity can breed contempt. It is like the long-retired kindergarten teacher who, preparing for an upcoming surgery, meets her surgeon. He coincidentally had been a former student. “Everyone tells me he is excellent, but I just can’t help recalling when he tried to color his teeth with his crayons.”
We fathers are also well acquainted with inverse relationship between familiarity & authority. I can tell the boys multiple times to pack hat & gloves for the upcoming winter camp-out. No response. As we are getting ready to leave, the boys say, “Wait. We need our hat & gloves.” (Smiling inwardly.) “Mr. Day said we would need them.” (Sigh.)
Like our friends in Nazareth, today’s culture is obsessed with ignoring ideas & instead attacking the person delivering the message. We don’t debate an initiative, instead we debate/attack the character of the person presenting the proposal with simplistic labels & trite comparisons. Thus, if we can drag the presenter through the mud we can be spared having to actually address the viewpoint. But, we also miss out on the value of the give & take that can only arise from debating positions to reach the best possible solution to whatever issue that may be at hand.
That Nazareth congregation had the amazing opportunity to discuss & ponder one of the most hopeful & forward-looking sermons ever preached. Instead, their only response was to defame & disparage Jesus.
Perhaps they could have (and we can) draw inspiration from the late Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, who wrote: “I attack ideas. I don’t attack people. And some very good people have some very bad ideas. And if you can’t separate the two, you gotta get another day job. 1”
Maybe we can avoid the temptation of our Nazareth friends & strive to avoid name-calling & labels & just get back to the basics of actually discussing ideas & propositions, be it in church, within our extended family, or in the public arena.
To assist us in our assignment, an Emergency Room Doctor has made the audacious claim that he can instantly spot a bad idea: It always starts like this, “Oh yeah? Check this out. Here, hold my beer…”
1 “Antonin Scalia In His Own Words.” Los Angeles Times 13 February 2016 A4
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.