Stirring Up Trouble

A Lamplighter Moment from Mark Hamby

Did you ever notice how Jesus responds to some people with a seemingly unrelated reply? In Luke 4:16-30 He does just that. Everything is going fine up to this point. A year has gone by and the hometown boy has just returned to Nazareth. He’s preached in a few cities, healed a few people, and cast out a few demons.

But as is His custom, He enters the synagogue on the Sabbath. Standing up, He makes His move, as all eyes are now upon Him. A scroll is handed to Him and He reads from the book of Isaiah. It is a beautiful reading and the crowd marvels at the gracious words that are coming from His mouth (4:22). They realize that this is the same Jesus they knew as the carpenter’s son and had no idea He has such depth of wisdom and eloquence of speech.

The hometown boy is back and the crowds love him. But Jesus, being Jesus, isn’t looking for unconditional acceptance, recognition, or approval from his peers. He is looking at the hearts of men and is ready to expose them. If you read Luke 4:16-30 you’ll be able to catch the drama of it all.

After reading the beautiful portion of Scripture, everyone is marveling at how wonderful He is. Then Jesus says the unthinkable! He rebukes the crowd by telling them the thoughts of their hearts—that deep down inside they want Him to prove Himself by performing a miracle or at least doing something similar to what He did at Capernaum (4:23). And if that’s not enough to aggravate the crowd, He really pushes their buttons by giving two illustrations. First, before he gives the illustrations he says that a prophet is not accepted in his hometown. He then proceeds by stating that in the OT a Gentile widow and leper were more worthy of help and healing than children of Israel.

How does the crowd respond? They’re furious! But the saying is true: Jesus came not to bring peace on earth but a sword. He loved to stir up the hornet’s nest. Think about it. It’s a beautiful day at church. Jesus preaches a beautiful sermon, and then, taking you by surprise, He unleashes His judgment on your character. What’s your reaction? It’s time for a new pastor! Luke 4:29 says they “rose up and drove him out of town and brought him to the brow of the hill . . . so that they could throw him down the cliff.” But Jesus passed through their midst and went away.

What happens when your buttons are pushed? When the “nice” citizens of Nazareth were confronted that they were no better than Gentiles, they were ready to commit murder! Sadly they never understood what Jesus was trying to teach them—that their pride and prejudice blinded them to who He was and why He had come. As a result, “Jesus went away.” That phrase speaks volumes and should be our greatest concern when our hearts are exposed.

If you want to experience the reality of Jesus’s presence—a prophet in his hometown, it will require a surrender of our blinding pride and a welcome of our exposed heart. I think he would be more apt to stay for a longer visit!

Making ready a people prepared for the Lord,
Mark Hamby