January 30

Luke 4:24-30

“‘There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.” vss. 27-28

At first the folks in the synagogue were pleased with what Jesus had to say but their mood changed when they heard the rest of the story. They knew their scriptures and they immediately got the point when Jesus mentioned that Elijah and Elisha, Israel’s two most famous prophets, reached across religious and national boundaries to bring cleansing and healing to the widow of Zarephath and to Naaman. Jesus was telling them that his mission extended far beyond the boundaries of his hometown. He’d been sent to proclaim good news to the poor and broken wherever he could find them. And his neighbors in Nazareth believed that they’d been dissed–and that Jesus deserved to die. We might wonder at the violence of their reaction but that’s the way it is with religious people. Jesus was welcomed by outsiders and the insiders ultimately killed him. We’re a bit more refined, but it’s still true that bigotry and religiosity go hand in hand. Our deepest prejudices are often masked by piety–the Ku Klux Klan was at its heart a deeply religious organization. It’s something to think about as we walk with Jesus in these deeply divided times. As someone has said, when we start drawing lines, Jesus is always on the other side of the line!

Thought for the Day: How do I know I’m on Jesus’ side of the line?

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