Everything started out so well. Jesus returns to his home worship community. He stands up to read from Isaiah about good news for the poor, release for the captives, and sight to the blind. His message is well received.
But I wonder why Jesus doesn’t stop while he’s ahead! Jesus goes on to highlight that God’s message is for outsiders. The hungry widow from Sidon is fed and a sick leader from Syria is healed. These were not good Jewish people. They were from surrounding territory, the lands of their enemies! The people turn on Jesus. What started out well turns ugly. Read about it in Luke 4:22-30.
If you are hurting, depressed, hungry, confused, alone, at the end of your rope…Jesus’ message is really great news. If on the other hand, you like how things are going and you don’t want anything to change, then maybe you can related to the members of the synagogue who chased Jesus away. Maybe they didn’t want to welcome people who were different. Maybe they were afraid of how Jesus might change them. All of the sudden fear and prejudice take over. The crowd turns against Jesus. While he escapes this time, this foreshadows what will come in Lent.
Sometimes we forget how radical Jesus’ message really is. Is God’s welcome and healing for EVERYONE? What about… immigrants, people suffering from mental illness, people who want gun control, the NRA, liberals, conservatives, atheists, refugees, elderly, homeless, jobless, people without medical coverage, people who can’t speak English, people who are rude, people who are filled with hate, people who are filled with fear, …even my enemies?
Thanks God for your abundant love, grace, and healing for all—including me. Forgive me when I don’t want your welcome to include people I don’t know or people I don’t like. Your crazy love for me in my Baptism, frees me to love others. Awaken my imagination to care for outsiders in Your name today! Amen.
What might it look like to participate in God’s radical welcome and healing? I hope it sparks your imagination.