“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
On my home cable remote, there is a magic button that says “On Demand”. Push this button and a world of entertainment opens up, when I want it, as I want it.
Notice that one of Jesus’ objections is to the attitude of the people in Nazareth. He understands that they have an “On Demand” attitude. He has done great things in Capernaum, now he must do them in Nazareth! It is only fair, and since it is his hometown he must do them for us! The people of Nazareth have an attitude that assumes they are entitled to the great things of God. They want the “On Demand” button pushed.
But notice Jesus response. He irritates them by pointing out that though there were many widows Elijah was only sent to the widow at Zarepath, and though there were many lepers only Naaman the Syraian was cleansed. This is more than Jesus being counter-cultural, or pointing out that gentiles are worth saving, or tweaking the beards. He is saying something entirely profound if we will but listen.
Jesus is not about doing things “On Demand”. He is about doing things for those who truly desire. The difference between the people of Nazareth and the Widow of Zarepath and Naaman is one of obedience and faith. When presented with the words of the prophets, even if they did not understand or if they argued, the Widow and Naaman, believed and obeyed. This is why the Nazareans are so upset, Jesus is calling them out on their faith and obedience. This is what drives them to attempt to drive him off the cliff. He is to be scapegoated for their lack of faith and obedience. They are not getting the great things of God to which they feel entitled “On Demand”.
Today, as we read this lesson, we are faced with the same choice. Do we think we are entitled to the great works of God? Do we believe that God is at our demand? Or do we recognize the need to trust and obey? Are like the Nazareans or the Widow or Naaman?
If we desire to see great things, if we desire to see miracles, if we desire to see God’s blessing upon our lives the life of our congregation, then we must have faith and live in obedience. Jesus says that if we love him we will keep his commandments. If we love Jesus, we will obey Jesus, and in that faithful obedience we will be blessed.
That is the choice that lies before us all. Our way? An “On Demand” religion? Or the way of faith and obedience? The way of Love. God has opened this way through Jesus the Christ, by loving us first, may God give us the faith and love to obey.