Jesus, the Confrontational

Luke 4:14-30 tells a story about Jesus that still shocks me.

After reading Isaiah 61 to his faithful hometown synagogue attendees and commenting that it was a prophecy now fulfilled, they reacted favorably and perhaps even with surprised awe – “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

But, for this understandable misapprehension, Jesus replies in a very confrontative way:

“Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.'”

“I tell you the truth,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 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.”

So, furious, they drove him out of town and would have thrown him over a cliff – except that He walked right through the gathered crowd and went His way.

I wonder if their admiring doubt was all that precipitated this outburst. The description of apparently the same event in Mark’s gospel that I blogged about a few days ago leaves out the attempted murder … and his observation that “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them” makes me wonder if that lack of faith drove His pointed commentary in the synagogue.

Did they welcome Him in town so they could see the miraculous things He had done elsewhere in Galilee – rather than to actually hear what He had to say? Only to discount what little they saw as impossible, because He was Joseph’s son?

Maybe that’s the rest of the story that we don’t see in Luke.

I know Jesus knew men’s hearts and thoughts (Matthew 12:25 or Luke 11:17; Luke 6:8; and maybe even John 2:24-25). I know that we – well, at least, I – don’t have those abilities. I know we aren’t to judge others.

Yet I also know that He took people on when they doubted God or tried to re-write His Word or thought better of themselves than of others; His brand of meek and lowly had nothing to do with always bowing to the expectations of such people.

(This, obviously, is not the only example. For more, see my post from June 15. Or better yet, a Bible in your neighborhood.)

And I know that He lived an exemplary life, a life worthy of our emulation.

So does Jesus expect us to be as confrontational as He was?

4 thoughts on “Jesus, the Confrontational

  1. Don’t you wonder if it was kind of like the Matrix when he walked “through” the crowd. My imagination goes wild when I think of these things. But I am sure he would want us to be more bold than we often are. I think that it is probably hard for us to escape the labels we get as we are growing up too…..”oh, that is just Donna…Hubert and Mary Joy’s girl”…

  2. I’ve always kind of wondered what that meant, too? They “drove Him out of the town, and took Him” to throw Him off the cliff, but then He’s able to just “walk through the crowd” and be on His way? I don’t disagree with Donna’s statement, I do think that we should be more bold and willing to stand up for Him and for the things that we <>know<> to be right. But does He “expect us to be as confrontational <>as He was?<>” I think that can be a little dangerous, because, as you pointed out, we don’t have the ability to know others’ thoughts and hearts. We don’t have the ability to judge perfectly <>all the time.<> So if we are to be that confrontational, I think we are to do so with much, much caution. Just one girl’s opinion…I’m not really sure on this.Keith, you always ask such hard questions! That’s why I like you. Thanks for, once again, making me think. (I tell you that alot, but it’s really true.)–mmlace

  3. Great post bro……..again! 🙂I go back and forth on this discussion, sadly on just about a daily basis. Here is where I am on it today……probably won’t be here tomorrow. I think we are called to be confrontational to the self-righteous crowd amongst those who believe. I think we are also called to leave the non-believers for Him to confront. In our confronting, I think we for sure are called to do it by speaking the truth in love. IN LOVE! You can be confrontational and loving at the same time. Not easy, but he wouldn’t tell us to do it if it weren’t possible….right? 🙂 My question is this… do we emulate John the Baptist by calling some “You brood of vipers” (as far as I know, he didn’t have the ability to see people’s hearts or their minds) in a “loving” way? I feel quite confident there are some today that fit into that category. In a culture that is addicted to tolerance and relativism, that is taboo. Because our culture is pretty demanding in those areas, we tend to be less confrontive….in my opinion. Thanks for confusing me even more! 🙂Love you bro,DU

  4. Jesus went about his business is weird ways but the more I look at the things he did, the more I start to think that he didn’t do anything for his own sake. In other words, every action seems to have been a lesson; everything he did was to communicate something to the people around. When we are confrontative (awesome word), it generally comes off as either judgmental or kook wacko activist. It seems as if Jesus confronted folks in an attempt to teach whereas we might “confront” in an attempt to conquer. (See Crusades) As for being able to walk through a blood thirsty mob, I got nothing.

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