How Not To Follow Jesus
Jesus is without doubt the greatest Bible teacher of all time. The Sermon on the Mount - his recipatiulation of Old Testament Law applied to the human heart, stands as an unequaled masterpiece. It would make sense that the crowds loved his preaching and were in awe of his skill.
But that was not always the case. In Luke 4:13-30, we read about the first sermon Jesus preaches in Nazareth, his hometown. Fame about Jesus had be spreading as he taught in other regional synagogues, and the anticipation in Nazareth was high.
Jesus picked a power text - Isaiah 61:1-2. This describes God's liberative agenda for humans - captives set free, the oppressed released - all kinds of good things going on. It's a beautiful picture of God's restoration.The goods Jesus preached is for the poor - those who recognise their need for God.
We can summarise the message like this:
Jesus in love meets the needs of those who recognise their need for God.
After reading the text, sat down to give a short reflection on it. In saying 'Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing', Jesus was saying, 'This is about me'. When the crowd remembered that Jesus had been brough up in Nazareth, they questioned the messenger. They liked the message, but didn't like the messenger.
Now I'm sure that over the years, I've preached some sermons that provoked some people. But not like the response Jesus got in Nazareth:
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. Luke 4:28-30
That's how not to follow Jesus. Killing him is not a good idea. But the good news is that if we get the point of Jesus' message, we can follow him well.
What's the point? Very simply - Jesus' sermon invited people to believe something, feel something, and do something. The response to what Jesus taught - that he is the prophet-deliverer predicted in Isaiah - is to believe that He is who he claimed to be, to feel humility because we need God, and to follow him with all our hearts.