Flashback Episode — Divine Protection: Luke 4:16-30

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As we get ready to begin another year of podcasting in the gospels, first off I want to wish you a happy new year. I hope that you were able to have a great time with friends and family over this past Christmas season, and that you were able to spend a little time reflecting on what Jesus’ entrance into this world really means for you.

Like I hinted at last week as we were finishing wrapping up last year’s focus on the cross, for this year, I thought it would be neat to focus in on the miracles that we see Jesus doing throughout the gospels. However, with this as our theme, we have a slight dilemma.

When looking at the list of miracles, most lists count 37 miracles. While this is awesome, it doesn’t work as smoothly in our 50 week long podcasting years. While we could end the year with more parts to our grand finale, I thought we could take several of the more detailed miracles, and focus on them for multiple weeks. By doing this, my hope and prayer is that we see even more than if we blazed through these passages and events using only one episode.

Also, most lists don’t include some passages that at least deserve a little recognition for being miraculous, so periodically, expect us to focus on an event where the miracle isn’t as easily seen.

Our passage to open up this Year of Miracles is one that works great as an introduction to this year of podcasts, and it includes an event that most lists of miracles don’t include, but a subtle miracle is present. Let’s read about what happened and discover some things we can learn from this event.

This event is found in the gospel of Luke, chapter 4, and we will be reading from the New International Reader’s Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 16, Luke tells us that:

16 Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. On the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue as he usually did. He stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. Jesus unrolled it and found the right place. There it is written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me.
    He has anointed me
    to announce the good news to poor people.
He has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners.
    He has sent me so that the blind will see again.
He wants me to set free those who are treated badly.
19     And he has sent me to announce the year when he will set his people free.”

20 Then Jesus rolled up the scroll. He gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were staring at him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this passage of Scripture is coming true as you listen.”

22 Everyone said good things about him. They were amazed at the gracious words they heard from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

23 Jesus said, “Here is a saying you will certainly apply to me. ‘Doctor, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me this. ‘Do the things here in your hometown that we heard you did in Capernaum.’ ”

24 “What I’m about to tell you is true,” he continued. “A prophet is not accepted in his hometown. 25 I tell you for sure that there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah. And there had been no rain for three and a half years. There wasn’t enough food to eat anywhere in the land. 26 But Elijah was not sent to any of those widows. Instead, he was sent to a widow in Zarephath near Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel who had skin diseases in the days of Elisha the prophet. But not one of them was healed except Naaman the Syrian.”

28 All the people in the synagogue were very angry when they heard that. 29 They got up and ran Jesus out of town. They took him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They planned to throw him off the cliff. 30 But Jesus walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

In our passage, Jesus reads His life mission prophesied in Isaiah’s scroll, and in this summary of Jesus’ mission, we discover that His to-do list includes giving sight to the blind. While this could be strictly a symbolic reference, as we will discover moving through this year that not only were Isaiah’s words symbolic, but they were also very literal. Multiple times Jesus gives the blind sight, and this is directly fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy.

However, also included in this event is Jesus pressing those present a little past what they may have wanted to hear, and we discover that those in the Nazareth synagogue ran Jesus out of town and off towards a nearby cliff. But our passage ends in verse 30 by simply telling us that “Jesus walked right through the crowd and went on his way”.

In this unattributed miracle, we see a group of angry, emotional people set on killing Jesus before He had really fully stepped into His ministry, and Jesus essentially disappears, walks through the crowd, and goes on His way. The only way this verse makes sense is if something miraculous happened. Jesus might have disappeared, or He might have briefly displayed a level of divinity which would have pushed those present away, or God may have sent angels to pull people back and keep them from touching Jesus. Any or all of these things might have happened. What happened is less relevant than the huge truth that something miraculous took place. God miraculously protected Jesus from dying before the cross.

In our own lives, we discover this same truth as well. While none of us knows exactly when we will die, we can trust that God will keep us safe through everything that comes our way as we move through fulfilling the mission He has for our lives. While God didn’t protect Jesus from the cross three years later, we see God’s divine hand protecting Jesus in this event, and we can know that while we will ultimately face death at some point, death will not come a moment sooner for us than God allows it to happen. Our lives and our deaths can bring glory to God when we let them, and the bigger thing for us to remember when living life and facing death is simply that this life is not the end.

It would be tragic for God to indefinitely allow sin to reign, and there will be a time when He steps in to end history. God’s goal for all His people is to live with Him in the recreated new heaven and new earth that will be free from sin, pain, death, and the curse that our current earth is experiencing.

As we start out in this new year, regardless of whether our lives are going well, or whether we are facing hard times, and regardless of whether things are calm or chaotic, we can trust that God is in control and that He is moving history towards the end of sin and the salvation of His people.

As we end the first podcast episode of the New Year, here are the challenges I want to leave you with:

Always seek God first and intentionally place Him first in your life. Trust that He is both willing and able to keep you safe for eternity, regardless of what this world throws our way.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow your personal relationship with God each and every day. Through a personal relationship with God, we can know Him better and can trust Him through the chaos of this world.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of Miracles – Episode 1: Starting out in His ministry, Jesus challenges those in the Nazareth synagogue and they decide He should be put to death. However, on their way out of town to throw Jesus off a cliff, something unexpected happened. Discover how God stepped in to save Jesus and what we can learn from this event.

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