In his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus stood in the temple and read from Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 61. “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, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
When Jesus was finished, he sat down and said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).
I like the way Dallas Jenkins challenges us in his video series, The Chosen. I also like the way he and his wife challenge us in their devotionals.
“Jesus was being gracious enough—odd but gracious, so ‘they spoke well of him (v.22),’” the Jenkinses write in their devotion, “Rejected”, from the first devotional book of The Chosen. “But then Jesus didn’t return the favor. Knowing their hearts, he responded with ‘No prophet is accepted in his hometown (v.23NIV).’ It was a dig. He followed up with a reminder that Elisha and Elijah weren’t sent to heal their own people, because it would’ve been a waste of time…”
“Jesus effectively told His hometown crowd they had the same issue as their Old Testament relatives,” the Jenkinses continue, “and they came unglued. So much so, they wanted Him dead. With scant provocation from the guy they’d known for thirty years, the Nazarenes became so insanely offended and incensed that they drove Jesus out of town and up a hill so they could throw Him off a cliff…
“These people knew Jesus,” the Jenkinses emphasize. “They should’ve been all the more in awe of God’s power and authority clearly on display in Him. What the heck could it be? He was the carpenter who grew up with them, and now He was preaching and healing all over the place.”
How did the citizens of Nazareth handle the change in Jesus? They wanted to push Him off a cliff. How do we handle a change in those we know who stretch us with a different perspective on the Word?
“We tend to reject anything or anyone that represents a big change in understanding or perspective,” the Jenkinses write, “even if it comes from someone familiar—especially from someone familiar. The notion that what they thought they knew could be wrong was as incomprehensible as the notion of changing your mind in a Facebook argument. So they hardened their hearts, hated Him, and tried to push Him off a cliff.”
Of course, no person is Jesus! But how does God speak to us? Through the revelation of His Word by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit reveals His Word to us and also through others. What? Through others? That often means being stretched uncomfortably. The Holy Spirit works through believers with shortcomings because all of us are imperfect.
Don’t judge someone by their past or what others say about them or the mistakes they have made or even still make. We are all flawed. The Holy Spirits uses flawed humans to stretch us through the revelation knowledge of His Word. If someone shares something from their understanding of the Word that doesn’t conform to what you’ve been taught or believed, don’t rush to throw what challenges you off a cliff.
Pray and ask openly for the Spirit to reveal His truth to you. Don’t test what challenges you against man’s theological arguments. Don’t test it against what someone in ministry declares or even what a friend you trust thinks. Test what challenges you in Scripture alone. Seek earnestly to be open to the Holy Spirit. Don’t decide based on what tradition or religious opinion determines but only on what the Holy Spirit reveals. And sometimes realizing a different perspective takes a very long time.
Dallas and Amanda Jenkins write, “When was the last time you changed your perspective or realized you were wrong about something significant? (Note: if it’s hard to remember, that might be something to work on.)”
I pray to always be open to what the Holy Spirit wishes to reveal to me and through others. We are flawed in our flesh but, in Jesus, we have understanding. When we surrender and seek Him, the Holy Spirit guides us into God’s truth. “Who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16, NKJV).
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual…
—1 Corinthians 2:10-13, NKJV)