16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 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, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers[a] in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 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. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.
I’m not a pastor, but I imagine there are several sermons worth of material here in these few short verses on an incident that seems to have happened quite early in Jesus’ ministry here on earth. But for me, the last verse here is the one that resonates deep within my heart and twists my heart up in thoughts of sacrificial love.
As a mom who has seen her kids through really tough struggles and a wife who has helped a spouse through really dark days, I do know the pain and the cost of true love. As a daughter who watched her own mother sacrifice in ways I didn’t understand, I have seen true love demonstrated often. And still, the implications of the verse “but passing through their midst, he went away” brings me to my knees with tears and thanksgiving.
Jesus didn’t have to die! Here in these verses we see him speak the truth in love to some people from his hometown and what he has to say convicts them so completely that they take him to a cliff intending to kill him, but he escapes. Do you see that here? Jesus somehow escapes certain death by just passing through the crowd. I am assuming here that their eyes were covered by something, but for certain some miracle allowed him to pass through their midst undetected. Which means, he could have saved himself from the crowd in the garden, or at Pontius Pilate’s, or even on his way to the cross. Jesus however, chose to die when he did. In fact, “he chose to walk that road out of his love for you and me” (Via Dolorosa). He sacrificed himself for us, as a real lover does. He demonstrated real love and asks us to follow him in like ways.
So I ask myself today as I am overwhelmed with Valentines Day often silly sentimentality two questions. First, am I sacrificially loving those whom God has called me to love, because that is what real love does. And am I loving God back in a sacrificial way that not just talks but walks?
Father God, your love amazes me in fresh new ways every day. I thank you for showing me in such an incredible way what real love looks like. Help me remember always to love in a sacrificial way that brings real joy to every single loving relationship I am in. Help me follow and obey and display my love for you in tangible ways today.