Alfred Place Baptist Church

4:22-30 Getting furious with Jesus

Luke 4:22-30 “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ they asked. Jesus said to them, ‘Surely you will quote this proverb to me: “Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your home town what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.”’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ he continued, ‘no prophet is accepted in his home town. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed – only Naaman the Syrian.’ All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”

One Sabbath day Jesus returned to his home town of Nazareth and preached in their synagogue. Who comprised Jesus’ congregation? His hearers consisted entirely of Jews who for over a hundred years had lived in a subjugated nation controlled by the Romans. Speaking Aramaic, going to the synagogue and keeping the Sabbath were the chief ways they showed their independence from Rome. They might be under an occupied power; they might have to pay tax to Caesar this year and the next, but they knew that they were the chosen people of God and one day they would be free men again. Of all the nations of the world God loved them. Each day as they arose some of them would bless God that they hadn’t been made as Gentile dogs.

So they were a prickly Jewish congregation. More than this, Nazareth was a small town with all the prejudices of a tight inward-looking community. The occasions in the year when some of the more religious amongst them would leave Nazareth would be when they attended the Jewish feast days in Jerusalem. Apart from those pilgrimages life in Nazareth would have revolved around the well, the elders sitting at the town’s gates, the annual cycle of sowing seed and the harvest and the weekly Sabbath.

So these were our Lord’s audience; they all thought they knew everything there was to know about Jesus. They knew Mary’s family and Joseph’s family, and the self-appointed historians in their midst could trace the ancestries and relationships of their family trees back for many generations. In this synagogue were gathered people, many of whom were related to one another, first, second and third cousins.

What was their reaction to the words they heard from him? We are told that they were initially impressed with the graciousness of Jesus as he spoke to them. When he finished they turned to one another and talked about the message. There was first a voice of approval in the synagogue. On one Sabbath in Jerusalem in 1977 we went to a synagogue service for an hour or so and it was a very noisy place. There was a lot of talking and comings and goings while the hatted bearded man in the front stood and rambled – there was no pulpit and no notes and there were many others talking loudly as he talked; there was no spirit of worship at all as we understand it. So you must imagine a buzz of conversation erupting when Jesus finished – no Sabbath rest in Galilee. Then the initial appreciation was quickly followed by questions to one another. “This is the carpenter’s son isn’t it, Joe’s boy Jesus?” They had been enormously stirred as they listened to him, but when he stopped and they came down to earth again some could have been a little ashamed at the tingle factor they had experienced from his speaking. “This is our Joseph’s lad isn’t it? This is the joiner who lives by the olive grove on the south side of town, Mary’s oldest boy, with those brothers and sisters of his.” They were quickly going to damp down the excitement they’d received from this sermon. They didn’t intend getting caught up in religious fervour. “We know he’s been down to the Jordan attending the meetings of John and there he got himself baptized. Now he’s been going round the villages preaching and healing and getting a name for himself, but we know all about him. To us he’ll always be our own Jesus, Joseph the carpenter’s son.” They knew everything about Christ, so they thought, but they knew nothing about him.

But even more than that, not only were they Jews in a small town, living under Roman occupation, and thinking they knew everything about this preacher that it was possible to know they also were itching to see him trying to perform one of his miracles. “We want him to do here in his home town what he is alleged to have done elsewhere. He will find that here in Nazareth are people not as gullible as those he’s been impressing in other parts of Galilee.” The Lord Jesus was always to be followed by crowds of people who were there to see him do signs and wonders. We find him saying that an itch to see miracles was no sign of spiritual maturity at all, and that he warns them that it is an evil generation that is characterized by a hankering after signs. On one occasion some of his hearers were mumuring, “Do a miracle! Do a sign! Walk on water for us! Raise the dead!” and Jesus said sharply to them that he would perform no wonder except the sign of the prophet Jonah. What could that mean? Jonah was in the whale’s belly for three days and nights. Would Jesus be swallowed by a giant fish and escape unscathed after a few days? They liked the thought of having their own Houdini-type magician in their midst. They had no idea that he was speaking of his own resurrection.

So here were a people chafing at being part of the Gentile Roman empire, gripped by a small town mentality, reluctant to be over-enthusiastic about a local boy’s preaching and wanting, above everything else now that he’d stopped preaching, that he would perform some miracles for them in the synagogue of Nazareth. That’s the situation in which Jesus preaches to them the second part of his sermon. What does he say to this audience? How does he respond?

NO PROPHET IS ACCEPTED IN HIS HOME TOWN.
This is a common enough proverb enough for us to pass over it without comment. We have a saying today, ‘Familiarity breeds contempt,’ it seems a world-wide observation. Bryn Terfel may be the greatest baritone singer in the whole world filling concert halls wherever he sings, but when you talk to his old school-friends and family members in Pantglas, Sir Caernarfon they will chuckle with their memories of him working on the farm, going to school in Penygroes, and attending the Young Farmer’s Clubs. To them he will always be ‘Bryn Jones.’ Familiarity breeds contempt. Yet this comment of our Lord’s is repeated in all four gospels, Matthew chapter thirteen, Mark chapter six, John chapter four and here in our text. There must have been some good reason for this New Testament repetition.

Moreover our Lord speaks these words very pointedly to his congregation because he prefaces the observation with the words, “I tell you the truth.” Literally he says to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you.’ This is the first time in Luke that the word ‘Amen’ appears. All that the Lord Jesus said was true, but some words were especially important and solemn, and before delivering them he said, “Verily, verily I say unto you . . .” It might seem strange to us that Jesus should have attached that phrase to his explanation of his own rejection in Nazareth. A prophet is not without honour except in his own country – and you’d better believe it now. “I am a prophet sent from God, but you are dishonouring me by your attitude, and whoever dishonours me dishonours the God who sent me.”

What is Jesus talking about? Notice how Luke introduces this section in verse sixteen, “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up.” He is looking at an audience of people who knew his past life in their midst, and were resisting his message because of prejudice against someone they thought was now starting to climb above the station in which he was born. He was addressing an audience of his own peers who were characterized by envy that he had risen above his own position. The carpenter’s son was breaking free, while they were destined to be chained to Nazareth for the rest of their lives, anonymous forgotten men and women and they were resentful. In other words there was a spirit of detraction and suspicion in the synagogue, the spirit of petty, narrow people, and the omniscient Son of God knew that this was fermenting in his hearer’s hearts.

It is interesting to notice that none of his own apostles came from Nazareth. You would think that there might have been those two or three who had been his companions and trusted confidants from childhood, even his own brothers, and they would be the core of the twelve, but we know that his own mother and family were perplexed by his fame, and reluctant to acknowledge him as the Messiah. One wonders whether there was ever a gospel church planted in Nazareth in the years that followed Pentecost. In many other places in Galilee there would have been congregations who worshipped Jehovah Jesus, but not in Nazareth, so I guess, and much of the reason for that was the prejudice of home town people. “We know him, you see. We know all about Jesus and his family. We watched him grow up. Nice boy. A bit over-religious . . . could be a bit uppity, if you know what we mean . . . a bit too big for his sandals. The bottom line is that he was the son of a carpenter and he can’t escape from that.” Probably the continued absence of a congregation of believers in Nazareth even when these gospels were being written was the basis why these words of Jesus were remembered and recorded by the four evangelists. It was a Jesus-hardened place after forty years.

What about ourselves? Are we going to resist the testimony of our family to the truth of the gospel because we have known all about them? Don’t we all have sieves by which we sieve out the mistakes and falls of those we love? Don’t we say, “That wasn’t the real Bill. He was acting under duress and out of character when he said or did such a thing”? We are not going to use our familiarity with a person to be the reason we reject all that is wonderful about their lives are we? I charge you not to be prejudiced! I charge you not to be envious! I charge you not to use our inconsistencies and lapses as a reason for not following our Saviour!

THE PROPHET ELIJAH WAS NOT ACCEPTED BY THE PEOPLE.
“I assure you,” Jesus continued (v. 25) very much like the prior statement in the previous verse, “. . . I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon” (vv.25&26). “Let me remind you for a moment about the days of Elijah,” he was saying. They all knew Elijah, the greatest prophet of Israel. They all knew of the mighty events in his life, of his courage in resisting the prophets of Baal and King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. And in his time, around 850 B.C., there were many widows in the land. Surely death was frequent, men died in wars. There were many widows. So here was Elijah in the midst of a recalcitrant Jehovah-opposing people. The whole nation was worshiping Baal and there were many widows in the land, hungry, struggling to survive in days of a famine that had lasted three and a half years. No rain in Israel for three and a half years and you are a widow looking after a family of little children alone seen by the Lord who cares about widows. There are all kinds of instruction in the Old Testament to take care of widows. God has a special heart for widows. God in Psalm 68:5 is called “The God who is the defender of widows.” Psalm 146:9, “God, the Lord who relieves widows” and he instructed the people to care for the widows and that was a very important part of living out godly righteous life. Even in the New Testament Christians are enjoined to take care of widows because they are of particular care in the mind of God.

That is the background to these words of Jesus. He says, “Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them” (v.26), and immediately his audience’s hackles began to rise. He had charged them with prejudice, that over-familiarity was preventing them from hearing what he had said to them and now he reminds them of God’s dealing with a similar people in the days of Elijah. They didn’t like this story, and as Jesus started to tell it, they got angrier. Why was he bringing that old incident up? Better forgotten; Jehovah, the God of the fatherless and the widow, Jehovah, the God who cares about the widows, ignoring all their widows! “We don’t like this story at all.” Elijah was sent to none of the Jewish widows; this was worse than being accused of prejudice. Elijah was sent to Zarephath in the land of Sidon to a woman who was a widow there. Now this was worse.

Why? This woman in the land of Sidon . . . wait a minute . . . she was a Gentile! How could God ignore the Jews of Israel? How could he possibly have sent his prophet to minister to a Gentile widow in, of all places, Sidon? Sidon was Gentile territory on the north coast of Israel, Tyre and Sidon, Phoenician cities with Zarephath in between them. The area was the home . . . wait for it, this is even more amazing . . . the area was the home of Jezebel’s father. You know what his name was? ‘Ethbaal,’ he was so devoted to Baal he named himself after Baal. Ethbaal means ‘Baal lives’ and Ethbaal was that murderous man who’d killed his predecessor. He was a priest of Baal as well as being a king. This is the most wretched thing imaginable. This is the father of the apostasy, because he’s the father of Jezebel who came and polluted Israel worship when she married Ahab, and yet God sent his prophet to a woman from the home region of Jezebel, a Gentile widow, and the implication is clear as Jesus says it, that the same God had sent his Son to Nazareth, to Jesus’ home region.

This woman, however, was a widow who trusted in the true God, who said, “The Lord God of Israel lives.” She bears her testimony to him. Some had witnessed to her about the true God of Israel and she trusted in the true God of Israel. She was a pagan Gentile widow in the midst of a pagan godless area but she came to believe in the true and living God. So God responded to her faith in him and sent to her the prophet of God. He didn’t send Elijah to any Israelite widows because none of them trusted in him, not one of them, the land being in such a sick spiritual state. Elijah came to her and there made wonderful provision for this widow. He tells her that her “jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry” (I Kings 17:14) no matter how often she emptied them. She believed the word. She didn’t say, “How do I know that I can trust you?” She did not ask for a sign to be done before she believed the word. She thought, “All I’ve got is one meal left. I’m destitute. I’m desperate and I don’t know where to turn. If I don’t trust the God of Israel who lives, if I don’t trust this man sent by of God, I’m dead anyway, but if he is the man of God, and if God did send him, then I have life.” She believed the word and she got permanent life, and then . . . and then the Lord did another amazing thing! Her son got sick and died and Elijah raised her son from the dead. The God who sent Elijah to her has sent Jesus to suspicious, resentful, unbelieving Nazareth.

Jesus was saying to those Nazareth Jews, “Let me tell you something, you may be God’s chosen nation, you may be the people of the covenants and the people of the Messiah, but I’ll tell you this, God saves outcast Gentile widows who admit their spiritual destitution and he by passes you!” Do you understand what the Lord is saying to you today? There’s one reason why people who can repeat what the gospel message says do not accept Christ. It is because they do not see themselves as the prisoners and the debtors and the oppressed. Do you see it? That’s always the problem. The widow in Zarephath who trusted in the Lord knew her condition. Salvation has always been that way, men and women. It’s always been that God will save Jew or Gentile who comes to a point of spiritual destitution. The widow would only know if that was the word of God spoken to her by Elijah if she trusted the word she heard. You know how the Nazarenes in the synagogue that day could have known that Jesus was Messiah? Not by laying down their terms; “Perform a miracle first and we will believe!” No that wasn’t the way. You know how they could have known if Jesus was the Messiah? Very simply, admit they were prisoners to sin and needed Jubilee freedom.Ask God to save them and deliver them from their sins. That’s the issue. You want to know whether Jesus can save you from hell? Deal with God. Have dealings with him. Ask him to save you; cry mightily to him and don’t stop until you know he has answered you. Give him your life, that’s the only way you’ll ever know. You can see all the alleged miracles under the sun; they are paraded every single night on a dozen God satellite channels, but if you don’t believe my words you will never be persuaded by watching healers on TV, or live. There’s only one way to know that Jesus can save your soul from hell and change your life and send you to eternal heaven with all your sins forgiven. Take your meager little wicked life and hand it over to Jesus Christ and see what he does with it. This congregation in our text were listening to Jesus preaching in the synagogue. You say, “If only I could have listened to Jesus preaching when he was on earth I’d be a Christian.” Do not delude yourself. It takes more than seeing Jesus’ physical face and hearing his voice and holding his hand to become a Christian. No one was more than twenty yards from Jesus in Nazareth’s synagogue and nobody believed him. They were as unbelieving as the widows in Israel when Elijah was the man God sent to the land, but a woman living down in the territory of Sidon did believe and how the Lord blessed her. But Jesus was not finished with them yet.

IT WAS A GENTILE LEPER WHO WAS HEALED IN THOSE DAYS.
“And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed – only Naaman the Syrian” (v.27). Now Jesus is pressing home the fact of the distinguishing grace of the sovereign Lord, and he is taking no survivors! He has no obligation to save one Nazareth sinner. The exercise of salvation is purely optional by the Almighty one! They had gone there to the synagogue that day thinking they might hear Jesus and pass some judgment on him, awarding him a 5.5 or even a 5.9 if he were exceptionally good. They thought they might see a miracle. They imagined that they were the jury standing in judgment on him, but when he spoke to them they discovered that they were in the dock, without any hope except to listen to what he said and believe his words.

Christ pressed home his words. His sermon is full of Scripture; he now tells them about an incident in the life of Elijah’s successor Elisha. There is no change in Israel; there is still the worship of Baal everywhere. It is indifference time for Jehovah; unbelief rules in the nation, and then God tells his servant Elisha to heal the leper Naaman. What was special about Naaman? Naaman was a commander-in-chief of the Syrian army, a full-time famous and victorious military man. In fact he was the one ultimately in charge of those Syrian raiding parties who came across the border terrorizing Israel’s farms taking teenage girls prisoners, hauling them back to Syria and selling them.

Naaman was the Gentile soldier the Jews loved to hate, the one who made their lives so unhappy. Worse than that, he was a leper; he was unclean, and he also an idolater who went to the temple of Rimmon with his master the king to worship, to ask for success in their battles. A Jewish girl, one who had been abducted, became a servant in his house to help his wife. She had an extraordinary gracious attitude. She knew about Naaman’s leprosy and she said to her mistress, “Your husband needs to go to the man of God, Elisha, because God can heal him through his prophet.” You know what happened? The words of this little Old Testament Christian girl stuck in Naaman’s mind and he began to believe in the power of the God of Israel. He eventually wound up meeting Elisha. Here is an enemy, a Gentile, somebody who has sacked and pillaged your homes and taken captive your friends and family members, and now he’s a leper. “Serve him right!” all Israel says. Yet . . . this is the man Elisha is authorized by Jehovah to heal. He says to him, “The God of Israel is willing to heal you. You have to go to the river Jordan and go down seven times under its stream.” At first Naaman was angry with Elisha for not coming out to him from his house, merely sending a servant with the message. He was a man of rank and stature and dignity and nobility. Was he going to humble himself in some kind of ceremony without the prophet of God accompanying him and doing all the jiggery-pokery he had seen Rimmon’s prophets doing? He says in effect, “We have clean rivers in my area, I’m not going into your river that’s been polluted by Jewish washing.”

So leprous Naaman is about to go back when a servant takes his life in his hands and says, “Sir, don’t you think better a dirty river and a clean Naaman? Isn’t a simple action worth a try?” and Naaman starts to think about it and he has second thoughts. He realizes his desperation and there’s no other relief. Neither is there cleansing in any other for there is none other cleansing in any other name than that of the Lord. Is Elisha really the man of God? Is Jehovah really and truly God? Is Elisha really his prophet? How will I ever know that? How am I going to know that that’s true unless I do what he says? I have to take my desperation, my destitution, my disease, and I have to go to the river Jordan. I have to do what Elisha tells me to do. If I do what the man tells me to do, then I’ll know whether he’s the man of God, right? So Naaman went down from his horse, and down into the river seven times and when he emerged the seventh time this Gentile general who did what the man of God said was clean.

Now you are a good Nazareth Jew sitting on your usual bench in the synagogue, and you’re saying, “This service is not going in the way I wanted it to go. I wanted a few words of inspiration. I wanted us all to clap the carpenter’s son on the back and say, ‘Great message, Jesus.’ I would have liked a miracle thrown in as the encore, maybe Miriam’s blind boy getting healed. That would have brought a memorable Sabbath service in the old synagogue to a close, but instead of this I am being told I am a sinner in the hands of a sovereign God, and that he will show mercy to Gentile dogs before cautious men like me! I’m getting out of this place.” What a difference from the beginning of the service. In verse twenty-two they were all speaking well of him, and then as he really lay the word of God on them in their pride and refusal to listen to him we are told in verse twenty-eight, “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.”

Jesus would not put on a display of sword juggling – of wizardry with words – that day in Nazareth’s synagogue. He took the sword of the Spirit and he thrust it deep into the hearts of everyone of them, not excepting his own family. They were all furious with him, maybe especially his family. They felt he had let them all down, and they had to go on living and working in Nazareth while he wandered the country. He was ‘a young foolish man without any respect or sensitivity to the congregation he was addressing,’ but Jesus knew his time as short and he wouldn’t have many opportunities to speak to the whole Nazareth community. He had to give them the word his Father had given him to tell men.

This is what the sort of thing that the Lord Jesus was saying to them, what he had learned from John the Baptist. “Say not, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for God is able of these stones to make children for Abraham. The axe is being laid to the root of the tree of Israel and every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. I have come to save Jewish sinners, but I can only save those who know they are the poor, and the prisoners and the blind and the oppressed. That’s all I can save – those who know they are in need and cry to me for help. Then it doesn’t matter whether they’re a Gentile widow woman or if they’re a Syrian leper who sends his troops against Israel, it doesn’t matter who it is. What matters is that they see their bankruptcy, their defilement and enormous need, and they come to me like the man who said, ‘Lord, I believe, but I wish my faith were much stronger. Could you help my unbelief?’ They may not know everything there is to know and their faith may not be full, but if they’ll just come in their desperation and say, ‘I don’t have a choice, here’s all the faith I have and I’ll plant it in the heart of Jesus.’ Do that and you’ll know that I’m the Messiah.” Right!

You didn’t know whether God had chosen you from the foundation of the world to be one of his people before you believed in Christ his Son. You didn’t know as you listened to the sermon whether you were loved by God. You didn’t know if he would save you when you were still thinking about it. Not until you surrendered your life to the Lord did you know you were saved. The people in the synagogue in Nazareth could have had paraded before them ten fabulous miracles but that sight and the gasp of breath wouldn’t have proved anything. Pharaoh’s magicians could do the same thing. You will never know whether Jesus can save your soul from hell, give you new life, recreate your soul, plant his Holy Spirit there, forgive your sin and send you to heaven until you give your life to him.

The people were furious with Jesus for demeaning them in their synagogue, for making them worse than that leprous beast from Syria. All they could think about was that they were being ranked below Gentiles by this upstart carpenter’s son whom they knew very well in their synagogue. They didn’t want those incident ever preached on again in their synagogue. They didn’t like those stories in their synagogue. They were so angry with Jesus because he’s insistent in their own synagogue that they must see themselves as worse than Gentile sinners before God to be saved. “You see that Syrian leper? You need the mercy of God as much as him. You see that pagan Gentile widow? Unless you see yourself as no better than her you cannot be saved.” That was an intolerable message for them. People had been going to that synagogue since before Jesus was born and no one had ever spoken to them like that, and they hoped they would never hear that message again in their synagogue. Think of it! “I’m no better off than a pagan. I’m no better off than a Gentile leper.” It was unthinkable; it was monstrous; it was utterly provocative in their synagogue. Who did he think he was? They would show him what they thought of his preaching, and we are told “They got up;” they rose as a man from their benches and they all walked toward the place where Jesus was sitting.

It is the only place in the Bible where people are described as walking to the front after a sermon has ended, and they were doing it to kill the preacher. The congregation had turned into a lynching party. They wanted his blood. They dragged Jesus out of the synagogue and they dragged him to the top of a nearby hill to the edge of a precipice to throw him off. They remembered some of the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 13 said that if you have a false prophet, you may do that; you may kill him. They were so entrenched in their ethnic and personal self-righteousness, and so unwilling to see their sin that when Jesus came and preached to them – the Messiah for whom they’d been waiting for so long, the Saviour of the world. They wanted him dead. They never wanted him to open his mouth again to kill Him because He threatened their sense of righteousness.

There’s only one reason why people who know the truth of Jesus don’t believe and it’s because they don’t see themselves as prisoners, debtors, fast bound in sin and nature’s night. Do you see that? Because you can’t be saved if you don’t; God offers nothing but judgment to people who are content with their own condition. In their own minds they were the respectable. They were the chosen, the true worshipers, the covenantalists, the possessors of the Word of God. Those others were the destitute outcasts, they couldn’t see themselves as spiritual lepers and impoverished widows. They refused to admit it and yet they knew so much about Jesus. Now they knew one more thing; they wanted him dead. It is such a contemporary account. Islam, all over the world, wants any Muslim who comes to love and serve Jesus Christ, dead. That is the answer to everything. You hear a message which is not the message your tradition has told you and you want to kill the messenger. Death is the answer to the great question of whether Jesus Christ is the Son of God. “You say yes and then we will kill you. Kill him! Kill her!”

Jesus told us that this would be so; “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you . . . If they persecuted me they will persecute you also” (Jn. 15:18-20). If you are a Christian worth your salt then some people will despise you and oppose what you are and what you do. But your goal is not to be a people pleaser but a God pleaser. You have one boss, not many, and his name is Jesus. Religion that suits the world is out of touch with Jesus. If religious people offer a religion that is so weak that it confirms the prejudices of everyone in the community and no one opposes it then it’s not worth anyone believing it. A faithful follower of Christ will unavoidably provoke hostility from those who want to live without Jesus Christ interfering in their lives. A gospel that never turns anybody off will probably not turn anyone on to the reality of salvation in Jesus and the revolutionary new life that comes from him.

Here is the congregation of the synagogue in Nazareth outside the building on the Sabbath morning, and what are they doing? They are getting ready to throw the Lord Jesus off a precipice to his death. “He that is not for me is against me,” said Jesus. But we are told, “he walked right through the crowd and went on his way” (v.30). Suddenly no one was holding him and they were looking around and he was walking away from them and they had no energy at all to go chasing after him and catching him, and off he went going further and further and further from them with every stride. Will it be like that with you today? Jesus came here and spoke to you, and you rejected him, and he has gone away from you and left you to yourself.

Those of us who know him as our Saviour are so glad that in the Garden of Gethsemane when a band of soldiers came to take him that he did not walk through the crowd and disappear. He could have, so easily, but then his hour had come. He allowed himself to be arrested and scourged and blinded and spat upon and crucified and killed that we might never perish but have everlasting life, saved by his precious blood. Hallelujah for such a Saviour!

17th February 2008 GEOFF THOMAS