And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?
23 And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.
28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
The Savior said,
“Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”
As I read the New Testament gospels and reflect upon His ministry, it occurrs to me that so much of what He said either did or could have offended everyone. No one was excluded from words that could have caused offence; not his mother, siblings, closest friends, rulers, spiritual leaders of the nations, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile. Whether explicitly or in his parables, to all he spoke to, He challenged their perceptions of themselves and of those about them. He either rooted out their prejudices and pride or praised their humility. So what might the Savior say to you? Could He offend you by revealing more about you than you really know? And our hidden and deepest prejudices, would he bring them to light?
Of course, He did not speak the truth and make judgement in order to offend, but to bring about change. What offended those in the above scenario? What was he trying to teach? Surely it was simply to expose pride and that God favours the humble and penitent not those who consider themselves chosen. Pride says, I am better than you. The Jews considered themselves better than their neighbours not because of righteousness but because they were the ‘chosen people’. God had chosen them, so when Jesus suggested that the only miracles God performed at the time of Elijah were on their enemies or those they despised, his audience were outraged.
In contrast to the above story, I love the one of the Canaanite woman whose humility was rewarded.
22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
I love that story. I also love the story of Zacchaeus, the little rich man despised by all because of his occupation as a tax collector. The crowds were offended that he Jesus should want to visit with him. Yet Zacchaeus had a humble heart and joyfully welcomed Jesus to his home and promised to give half his fortune to the poor and undo any wrong he might have done.
I love the story of the Samaritan who tended to the traveller set upon by robbers. How it challenged the listeners ears of who are our neighbours? But more perhaps than this lesson, the idea that those who passed by the injured man were Temple workers who by aiding an bloody man would have disqualified themselves from their Temple responsibilities. What is the more important priesthood duty, to make sacrifice or tend the sick and injured?
The words and deeds of Jesus must have been challenging to all. He upset the status quo. Whether lepers, adulterers, Samaritans, Centurians, publicans, priests or thieves on a cross, his words to them or more particularly those who judged them, could be taken as offensive. From when he was just twelve when his parents had to return to Jerusalem searching for him only to be told he was going about his Father’s business to when he hung on the cross with his mother and those he loved at his feet, his words could have turned those he loved away, for after all, why was he crucified? Because he said, “I am, that, I AM!
Everyday the Savior, through the Holy Spirit could offend each one of us, but while we have a humble and teachable heart He changes us from the inside out into servants who know their duty and who by faith want to serve the master, not to be waited on and fed by Him, not for reward of mansions or glory, but to be one with Him in bringing all and any unto Him.