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Bible boy_reading_bibleThis entry continues a study of the passages from the Gospel of St Luke which have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

As such it becomes part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

Today’s verses are from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry.

Luke 4:42-44

Jesus Preaches in Synagogues

42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

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Last week’s post discussed Jesus’s healing of the many people stricken with illness or demons after the Sabbath had ended.

He left Capernaum the next day (verse 42) for a place removed from humanity. No doubt He needed to rest and have time alone to pray before moving on to other towns. Not surprisingly, the people of Capernaum urged Him to stay with them.

He explained that He had to move on in order to ‘preach the good news of the kingdom of God’ (verse 43). This, He said, was what He came to do.

Our Lord went on to preach in other synagogues in Galilee — Judea (verse 43).

Jesus had friends in Capernaum as well as many well-wishers among those He had healed, including their families. Yet, as Matthew Henry points out:

The people were exceedingly fond of him; I doubt, more because he had healed their sick than because he had preached repentance to them.

Their reaction to Him was much different from that of the people from His hometown of Nazareth. They wanted to throw Him off a cliff after He announced that He was fulfilling Scripture. He was able to escape them by ‘passing through their midst’ (Luke 4:30). With that, He was finished with them.

Henry observes that clergy should not feel discouraged when people reject their preaching:

for they will meet with others that will welcome them and their message.

This is why the notion of ‘church growth’ is so absurd. Where did Jesus have large numbers of true believers following Him? He had crowds, certainly, but those people were not converts. Many sought something tangible from Him for themselves, i.e. healing. In other words, ‘What’s in it for me?’

No one denies the importance of being physically and mentally well, but how many believed He was the Messiah? How many of those deepened their faith after His healing? Very few, indeed.

What is interesting is that Jesus cured so many people — unbelievers — unconditionally. He freely addressed their physical needs by restoring health completely.

This demonstration of His generous love and mercy in His public ministry should give today’s unbelievers pause for thought.

Next time: Luke 5:12-16

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