Written by Dr. Ed Gallagher
“But he passing through the midst of them went his way.”
With this sentence, Luke concludes his account of Jesus’ visit to the Nazareth synagogue (Luke 4:16–30). The carpenter’s son—who was already becoming famous elsewhere for the wonderful powers that he possessed—returned to his hometown. At the synagogue, after reading from Isaiah 61, he boldly claimed that his audience was witnessing the fulfillment of that text, meaning that he himself was the theme of that prophetic passage, the one anointed by the Spirit of God to heal the sick and release the captives.
The crowd’s positive reaction quickly turned sour, as they remembered his humble origins: “Is not this Joseph’s son?” they asked, implying that because they had known him since he was small, he should not try his “prophet routine” with them. They knew the real Jesus, so they thought.
But this is exactly the type of reaction that God has always condemned in his people—this smugness that assumes they already have the answers, have already been perfected. That’s exactly why Elijah, during the famine, helped no Israelite widow but only one from Zarephath, or why Elisha healed no lepers but Naaman the Syrian. When Jesus reminded the hometown crowd of these facts, they prepared to kill him, but he somehow escaped, passing through their midst.
How many times does our smugness, our confidence that we have all the answers, that we have already attained perfection, prevent us from seeing Jesus so that he simply passes through our midst without our notice? We gather each Sunday in order to encounter our Lord. Let’s be sure to have our eyes open and our hearts attuned to his call so that it cannot be said of us that Jesus passed through our midst and went his way.