May 24 – Trip to the Holy Land – Nazareth

Day 12 – NAZARETH

Theme:  Rejection

Read Luke 4:14-30

When I was in school, my classmates often called me a nickname. I hated it. Every time I heard that name, it reminded me I wasn’t in the popular crowd. Today, we would probably call that bullying.

No matter what name you give it, nobody likes to be rejected. But nothing is more painful than to be rejected by your own family and friends. That happened to Jesus.

Early in his ministry, he went to Nazareth, entered the synagogue, and began to read from the scroll of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor” (Luke 4:18-19 – NIV).

The eyes of everyone were glued on him as he read those words. They recognized those words to be a messianic prophecy. And then Jesus confirmed it: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21 – NIV).

“Could it be?” they must have thought. “Is it possible that this son of Joseph, the stoneworker, is the Political Deliverer who will free us from the hated Romans and restore the glory of the kingdom to Israel?”

Then Jesus did the unthinkable for a Jewish rabbi. He turned the attention of his biased audience to the hated Gentiles around them. He reminded them that Elijah was sent to a Gentile widow in a community not far away and that Naaman, the Syrian, was the only leper healed during the days of Elisha.

The reaction of the citizens of Nazareth was predictable! No self-respecting rabbi would show compassion to the Gentiles. But Jesus did! So they “drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.  But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way” (Luke 4:29-30 – NIV).

Perhaps you’ve been ridiculed and mocked for doing what is right. Perhaps those who know you  have turned their backs on you. Perhaps you’ve never even known the love of a family.

If you’ve ever felt rejection, take heart. Jesus knows how you feel. You are in great company! The Apostle John wrote: “He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11-12 – NLT).

Prayer of reflection:  Jesus, thank you that you understand how it feels to be rejected.  Thank you for loving me, even when I’m not lovable.

Bob Fetterhoff

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