This is for anyone who’s ever preached a sermon, or heard one. A Sunday morning excerpt from a soon-to-be-published book . . .
The synagogue worshippers got up and drove Jesus to the hill on which their town was built. They were ready to push him off the cliff, but Jesus managed to escape and continued on his way. (Luke 4:29-30)
No one bothers to wait for the benediction. Nobody makes a motion for a congregational vote. In an apparent act of unanimous spontaneity, the synagogue worshippers rush the speaker’s chair and hustle Jesus out of town. So much for job security.
The word drove suggests in Greek, as it does in English, a hostile and aggressive action. Here’s blind rage fueled by mob mentality: “No one comes on our home court and makes those accusations. Hometown son or not, nobody gets a free pass spouting that God’s love is meant for people we can’t stand!”
With dust funnels swirling behind them and Jesus securely in tow, the crowd reaches a suitable execution spot. The preacher has to die, and in all likelihood, he would have were it not for a bizarre and mysterious turn of events.
Jesus somehow “managed to escape.” Huh? How’s that possible? Nobody sees him walk away? Are we to believe the hilltop altitude gives them bigger problems than the preacher’s message? Does their prolonged argument over who’s going to push him off the cliff actually provide Jesus the opportunity to give them the slip?
The fact that Luke doesn’t dwell on the logistics of the escape is reason enough to let the issue stand. The Sabbath crowd tries to kill Jesus. (Wait a minute, weren’t executions unlawful on the Sabbath?)
Rather than pointing to a divinely orchestrated rescue operation, this near-death episode is a reminder that Jesus doesn’t stay where his presence isn’t wanted. He may arrive an unannounced visitor, but he doesn’t remain an unwelcome guest. Yet, in spite of the treatment, Jesus doesn’t invoke on them fire and brimstone. There might be a lesson there if we choose to see it.
When was the last time you roasted a preacher?