And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 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.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.
Luke 4:24-30 ESV
The scribes had a different reaction than what is common in our world when people disagree about meanings of biblical texts. People might get worked up and have a heated debate, but I wouldn’t say the term “wrath” would be necessary nomenclature. And certainly, we don’t try to throw people off cliffs who quote Philippians 4:13 out of context.
Jesus struck a serious nerve. Aside from the specific point he was making, I think the scribes weren’t used to having to defend points like this. I think it infuriated them because they didn’t have any prepared answer, and maybe it even seemed to themselves to be eerily right.
This has a few quickly accessible applications at least. First, the way Jesus disagreed with the Pharisees is qualitatively different than the way people “rethink” Christianity today when something biblical becomes less socially acceptable. Jesus wasn’t following a crowd. In this same chapter, Jesus says a profit isn’t welcome in his hometown.
The next application is that when someone is saying something sharp to me that causes me to consider “wrath” to be an appropriate response, I should check their statements for truth. Odds are there’s at least something there that is convicting me. Hardly any personal criticism is completely devoid of any truth.
Lord, help me see the truth when people speak to me candidly, even when they’re trying to attack or hurt me. I want to see all of it as an opportunity to grow that you have given me.
This post is part of my Weekly REAP series. I’m posting these from my personal journal to share what God is teaching me, and to give some practical examples of the REAP method. I didn’t write any of these with publishing in mind, so forgive me if they don’t always wax eloquent. Here is some more information on the REAP study method.