Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. Luke 4:14-15
There are these brief and interesting moments in the life of Jesus where he enjoys wide acceptance and public opinion is definitely in favor of him. It doesn’t last long, but it definitely happens at times. As I read these words from Luke 4 I was struck by the words, “…[he] was praised by everyone.”
The reason this stood out to me is because I have read these words before…and the words that follow. This portion of Luke 4 is where Jesus reveals his ministry and intent. This is the place where he reads from Isaiah and proclaims himself as God’ anointed one. And then, in his explaining of himself and his coming, we find the people’s opinions and perspective changing—drastically.
The passage ends in a very different place from where it began:
When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff… Luke 4:28-29
Jesus was proclaiming the truth, teaching them more about God than they had ever understood before—and they weren’t open to it. Their hearts weren’t receptive. They didn’t want the truth, they wanted what they already knew; what they liked and felt comfortable with.
Two things cross my mind when reading this. First, human approval is fleeting and tenuous at best. We should never get too caught up in seeking it or desiring it. It just won’t last. It’s so easy to subtly find ourselves bending a little—compromising here and there—for the sole purpose of people’s opinion about us. This is dangerous ground to tread on and we should ever be praying that our ego’s desire to be fed would never trample over our intention to be faithful to God’s calling on us.
The second thing I am thinking is more of a question. A question I ask myself and maybe you are willing to ask as well.
Am I really open to God’s truth? Or do I prefer to stick with what I’ve already decided is true?
I am not implying that somehow God is going to show us “truth” that differs from what the Bible says, or that we might be the one he gives some new knowledge to. Not at all. I’m thinking in the context of Luke 4. The truth about Jesus was there—in the Bible—and they just didn’t get it. They thought they knew it, thought they understood it. But when God chose to reveal it—when Jesus showed it to them and explain it to them—it turned out that they just weren’t looking for it. They didn’t want it.
They were not open to God correcting their faulty thinking or misconceptions about him. When he did they got angry and rejected him. Is that how I am?
On one level, I know that’s how I am. I’ve been there before; been confronted by my misconceptions about God and been challenged by him to revise my thinking. It can be frightening and in defense of that fear we can get angry. But I know at times I’ve also accepted that I was wrong. That God was more than I thought him to be. I had sold him short and needed to re-learn things about him.
I want to be sure that’s still me; that I’m still open. Still willing to learn from God. I want to be in process; on the journey. I don’t want to get so comfortable in my understanding that I stop learning; stop listening.
I’m thinking that I need to trade in the value I keep putting on being right for something that holds real value: understanding God rightly. Being right doesn’t do me any good. It doesn’t make me more valuable. It doesn’t make me better in God’s eyes. Understanding God rightly, however, holds a ton of value. It’s where the real treasure lies. And it’s not about me, it’s about God. He’s the one doing the teaching, the revealing, the correcting. And I need to be humble enough to accept it, to embrace it. Even when learning something about God starts with acknowledging that I may have misunderstood it; may have been wrong.
Knowing God should be my goal. Not being right about him—knowing him.
I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! Philippians 3:10-11
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. John 16:13