22All the people started talking about Jesus and were amazed at the wonderful things he said. They kept on asking, “Isn't he Joseph's son?”
You will certainly want to tell me this saying, “Doctor, first make yourself well.” You will tell me to do the same things here in my own hometown that you heard I did in Capernaum. 24 But you can be sure that no prophets are liked by the people of their own hometown.
25 Once during the time of Elijah there was no rain for three and a half years, and people everywhere were starving. There were many widows in Israel, 26 but Elijah was sent only to a widow in the town of Zarephath near the city of Sidon. 27 During the time of the prophet Elisha, many men in Israel had leprosy. But no one was healed, except Naaman who lived in Syria.
28When the people in the synagogue heard Jesus say this, they became so angry 29that they got up and threw him out of town. They dragged him to the edge of the cliff on which the town was built, because they wanted to throw him down from there. 30But Jesus slipped through the crowd and got away.
Jesus has a knack for ruining a good thing.
He does it here—turns everyone’s bubbling affection into murderous rage. One minute they’re ready to carry him on their shoulders, the next toss him off a cliff. And he ignites that with an incendiary speech.
He does this elsewhere, too—attracting thousands after serving a spur-of-the-moment banquet, then offending every last one of them so that they all walk away in a huff. Insulting dinner hosts at uptown parties. Baiting the high and mighty. Humiliating the elite.
It’s like he doesn’t know any better.
He does things calculated to get himself in trouble. He sabotages his own popularity. He offends his fan club. He pushes everyone’s loyalty meters to the red line.
This, frankly, is no way to run a campaign. If he’s stumping for King of the Universe, he needs a better script writer. More . . . grooming. A bit of PR spin. Image management.
Or is this the wisest strategy? It certainly sifts out the committed from the excited. It separates those easily quickly impressed (who are just as easily quickly unimpressed) from those who actually have ears to hear. It divides the loyal from the fickle.
Jesus is asking for all of you. Your whole self: mind, body, spirit, soul. Nothing held back. To hail him King is to surrender all. Everything short of that is only a ploy, an evasion, a bit of rhetoric. Jesus sees right through our sweet pious platitudes: “Oh, what a nice young man—so well spoken. He has my vote.”
Jesus knows that such sentimentality and cliché carry us no distance in the kingdom. If we are going to crown him King, we relinquish all terms. We simply come and say, as Peter does when Jesus asks him if he’d like to leave, “Lord, there is no one else that we can go to! Your words give eternal life. We have faith in you, and we are sure that you are God’s Holy One” (John 6:68-69).
Are you convinced of that?
May I not humor you with platitudes, but surrender to you as Lord and King. Deepen my resolve that no matter where you lead, I will follow; no matter what you say, I will obey.
In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.