• Gabriel von Wendt

Mon, September 3, 2018 - Sign of Contradiction

Luke 4:16-30

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, "Is this not the son of Joseph?" He said to them, "Surely you will quote me this proverb, 'Physician, cure yourself,' and say, 'Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'" And he said, "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.
"When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

The drama is quite apparent. Jesus steps into the world of the synagogue and promises salvation. After an initial, positive reaction by the people, He clarifies that this salvation might not happen in the way they are expecting. The same eyes that had “looked intently at him” at first, are soon veiled under a skeptic furrow and a growing skepticism silently challenges Jesus.


Jesus doesn't back down. He stands his ground in the world as a sign of contradiction. He shows how well He knows these people. As familiar as the assembly of neighbors, relatives, and friends in the synagogue are to Him, as familiar is all humanity. Thus, He sees not only the unbelieve in these particular eyes, but senses the lack of faith of all generations. On touching that weak spot the crowd explodes in fury like a hurt animal. And they try to kill the savior.

Jesus stands in the world as a sign of contradiction

Where do I stand in all this? The two most common difficulties present here are probably: One, to not only accept that Jesus wants to save me, but also how. Two, not going nuts when Jesus points out my lack of faith.


Jesus, You are screening the crowds in front of You, trying to make eye contact with me. Maybe You are wondering what You will see in my gaze: self-centered expectations? Skepticism? Accusation? Fury? Jesus, here I am and I want You to find humility in my eyes, openness and good will, faith and trust. Yes, I admit, Your ways often surprise me. Many a time I wonder why you aren't acting as I expected. But, Lord, I trust Your judgement more than mine. I trust in You, Jesus.