Jesus returns to his hometown after his baptism, goes to the synagogue and reads a wonderful passage about God coming to dwell with his people. Jesus proclaims this and says, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The initial news that God is coming to save his people with new power is exciting. No sooner do the people utter the words that Jesus is such a wonderful, well spoken speaker that they soon begin to question: “Well, wait just a minute, isn’t this Joseph’s son?” (Read Luke 4:20-30).
The Resistance begins as the people ask, “How could someone so ordinary deliver a message to extraordinary?” The reading then describes how the people were closed to the message. Jesus picks up on this. He is aware that they are beginning to doubt whether he is the Messiah proclaiming this great message they have wanted to hear for so long. When Jesus notes the people’s doubts and lack of receptivity, he reminds them of a pattern in human beings: resistance to the fullness of God’s message.
Where do we find the roots of that resistance? It seems to have something to do with being an insider – perhaps someone who is too comfortable or who has another system they are relying upon to save themselves. Why, then, listen to a new system?
Jesus reminds the people of the Prophets of the past who came long before him, in particular he reminds them of Elijah and Elisha. Two prophets of the past who weren’t really heard or trusted, either. The work these prophets came to accomplish was hindered by a lack of faith and a closed-mindedness among the people of Israel.
The people in the “inner circle” had difficulty with the message, while people who would be considered “outsiders” were much more open – the widow Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian. What was different about the two of them?
The widow had nothing. Naaman the Syrian was covered with leprosy. They also did not have any preconceived ideas about other ways of finding healing. They didn’t have the system of laws and regulations that they thought would save them. They were simply intrigued by the promise of a prophet who said, “I can do something for you if you would just open yourself up to the fullness of God’s message.” Certainly this story in Luke’s gospel speaks of resistance.
“Perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of the life of Jesus
is the resistance other people showed toward him and his teachings.”