And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.  And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:16-22 ESV)
As we near July 4 I can’t help but reflect on the message of freedom Jesus brought to the people. Freedom from the penalty of sin. Freedom from the power of sin. Freedom, one day, from the presence of sin. Freedom to live as free men and women, no longer enslaved to misplaced passions and bound by destructive desires. He brought freedom from the need to impress or perform and freedom from religion that alienates the poor and oppressed and only invites a few to participate.
When Jesus went to the synagogue that day he quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2, looked at the people, and announced, “That just happened.” Notice how the people respond, “And all spoke well of him and marveled a the gracious words that were coming from his mouth.” I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that most pastors would love to hear that from their congregation! Jesus didn’t soak in the compliment.The affection of a crowd can turn quickly.
Immediately after his approval numbers skyrocketed they plummeted. Jesus tells the crowd, “You love me because you think I’m going to perform for you. I’m not.” Notice what happens next. “When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.” Yikes. It was the best of times and then 5 sentences later it’s the worst of times. The adoring crowd quickly turned into a ravenous crowd. The Presidential approval rating sinks before the acceptance speech is over. It’s amazing how quickly the spiritual weather changes.
Don’t be surprised when the message of the gospel is well received. There are times when Christ’s words are accepted as “gracious”. Just don’t be shocked when, after his words are received, he’s quickly rejected.
Often we love the pronouncement of freedom, but only when it’s delivered on our terms and meets our expectations. Jesus doesn’t play the role of people pleaser. He’s not the court jester. He’s not a puppet that performs for his people. He offers freedom, but always under his terms. Thankfully, the freedom that he offers is the freedom we need. He doesn’t preform for us, but he does present us with the one person that will satisfy-Himself. This week may you marvel at his message of freedom.