Week 1: Wednesday

Read: Luke 4v14–30 

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. Word about him went out throughout the whole district. He taught in their synagogues, and gained a great reputation all around. 

He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. On the sabbath, as was his regular practice, he went in to the synagogue and stood up to read. They gave him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me Because he has anointed me To tell the poor the good news. He has sent me to announce release to the prisoners And sight to the blind, To set the wounded victims free, To announce the year of God’s special favor.’ 

He rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him.

‘Today,’ he began, ‘this scripture is fulfilled in your own hearing.’ 

Everyone remarked at him; they were astonished at the words coming out of his mouth – words of sheer grace.

‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ they said. 

‘I know what you’re going to say,’ Jesus said. ‘You’re going to tell me the old riddle: “Heal yourself, doctor!” “We heard of great happenings in Capernaum; do things like that here, in your own country!” 

‘Let me tell you the truth,’ he went on. ‘Prophets never get accepted in their own country. This is the solemn truth: there were plenty of widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a great famine over all the land. Elijah was sent to none of them, only to a widow in the Sidonian town of Zarephath. ‘And there were plenty of people with virulent skin diseases in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them were healed – only Naaman, the Syrian.’ 

When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue flew into a rage. They got up and threw him out of town. They took him to the top of the mountain on which the town was built, meaning to fling him off. But he slipped through the middle of them and went away.

Meditate: Jesus, having begun his work of launching God’s kingdom elsewhere, came back to his hometown. Not only did everybody know him and his family, they knew, if he really was bringing God’s kingdom, what he ought to be doing.

But when Jesus speaks they are all astonished. They are shocked by his words of sheer grace. The wicked and the pagans are going to be let off as well? We can’t have that! Who does he think he is?

We all know what we want God to do. But we are not so good at bringing our hopes and intentions into line with what God has in mind. God is turning the whole world upside down. That means he’s turning your whole world upside down as well. 

Pray: Sovereign Lord, teach me to listen to you even when you’re saying things I badly don’t want to hear.

Engage: Fast from coffee, soda, or alcohol