Jesus and the Cliff

Luke 4:28-30, CSB

” When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged. 29 They got up, drove him out of town, and brought him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl him over the cliff. 30 But he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.”

When I pastored a church, I loved it when people told me that my sermon was the best they’ve ever heard. What a boost! But Jesus didn’t have that response when He preached at the synagogue in His hometown. The people went nuts! They weren’t happy with what Jesus had to say.

Nazareth was big enough (500 people) to have its own synagogue. This was the central place in the town. The village was also built very near to a sizable cliff. (You can see it today.)

It wasn’t a nicey-nice sermon, and it certainly didn’t comfort the congregation. They got really angry–Jesus point-blank confronted them. I suppose the Jewish leaders may have incited the crowd, which is sort of typical. If we take a quick peek at what He said perhaps we can understand their response (Luke 4:23-27).

But it’s really odd, initially, the people were responsive:

“They were all speaking well of him and were amazed by the gracious words that came from his mouth; yet they said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

(v. 22)

Two things immediately strike me, maybe they’re significant, and maybe not. One–This attempt to toss off the cliff came immediately after Jesus’ temptation. (One of Satan’s temptations was Jesus jumping off the pinnacle of the temple.) Two–this is Nazareth, the town where He grew up, and the people obviously had issues about this ‘familiarity.’

They couldn’t or wouldn’t accept Him.

What probably happened is this. After Jesus’ sermon, the people were enraged. They escorted Him, pushing and shoving to the cliff. Throwing Jesus off was just the beginning, as He landed they would have gathered rocks (as big as a person’s head) and they would’ve finished the deed by stoning Him. They would have aimed at His chest first, and then the head. Survival was unlikely.

Prophets and teachers are seldom respected by who is closest to them. (Trust me, I know all about this.) Joseph, Jesus’ step-dad (if he was alive) would’ve had a carpentry shop. And Mary would’ve shopped with the women of the village. Both would have been in the synagogue and part of the crowd.

So tell me. What lesson can we grasp from this passage?

We’re people who’ve got the ability to make choices. Stoning is frowned upon in our culture; but could it be that we respond to Jesus’ words in less extreme ways? Physically we can’t react like this. But could it be we ignore Him or are apathetic to the things He says to us? Might this be as “bad” as stoning? (Maybe I’m putting too fine a point on it?)

The Lord Jesus’s voice to us should never be trifled with.

The things He speaks are supremely authoritative–what He shows us is not a trivial thing. His words are always significant. What Jesus says to us mustn’t be ignored, no matter what they communicate.

As believers or nonbelievers, we must take into our hearts the word that He speaks. To minimize or nullify (by our apathy?) is incredibly dangerous. When we judge Him we’re actually judging ourselves, and that dear one is frightening. We make the decision to accept or reject Him. It’s that freedom of choice that can be scary.

What has Jesus spoken to you that you’re turning a blind eye to?

Is it possible He has spoken but you’re ignoring Him? I mean no harm and it’s not possible for me to know your heart. But maybe you’ve listened up to a certain point and ignored the things that don’t settle with you. Personally, when I read Jesus’ words in the Gospels I discover an awful lot that I don’t really want to hear. (He talks about humility and loving our neighbor before ourselves. Yikes!)

Please consider this honestly. It’s spiritually dangerous to be apathetic and not to pay attention to what you know to be the full Word of God.

“In all unbelief there are these two things: a good opinion of one’s self, and a bad opinion of God.”

    Horatius Bonar