Best of Daily Reflections: Would You Throw Jesus Off a Cliff?
Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff. . . .
Please don't take offense at the title of this reflection: "Would You Throw Jesus Off a Cliff?" I realize that your gut reaction is to say "No!" And I'm quite sure this expresses the conviction of your heart. I don't want to throw Jesus off a cliff, either. But there is a sense in which I might be tempted to do so metaphorically, if not literally. Maybe that's true for you too. Allow me to explain.
In Luke 4, Jesus visited his hometown of Nazareth. He had already achieved considerable local fame, owing to his extraordinary teaching and miracles (4:14). So, when the Sabbath came around, Jesus was invited to read the Scriptures in the synagogue. He selected a passage from chapter 61 of Isaiah, a text that announces the mission of the Messiah. After reading this passage, Jesus sat down, assuming the posture of a teacher. Then he said, "The Scripture you've just heard has been fulfilled this very day" (4:21).
At first the people in the synagogue were impressed by what Jesus said. But then he stirred the pot by predicting that he would not be accepted in Nazareth and by connecting his ministry to the actions of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, who healed Gentiles but not their fellow Jews. This angered the synagogue congregation, which drove Jesus to the edge of a hill so as to push him off. Somehow, he managed to escape.
Why did the people in Nazareth spurn Jesus? To put it simply, he failed to meet their expectations. When he refused to do what they wanted, they were quick to reject him. Plus, they were understandably fearful that his messianic message might bring Roman wrath down upon them. Better to get rid of Jesus than to let him mess up their lives!
I have never wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff. But there have been many times in my life when he failed to meet my expectations. Sometimes he didn't answer urgent prayers that I had offered to him. Sometimes I have stumbled over things he said that didn't fit my image of "Jesus meek and mild." Sometimes his call to discipleship has unsettled me. In these times, I haven't chucked Jesus out of my life. But I have tended to ignore him, or to find ways to twist his words so as to match my agenda. I haven't said, "Get out of here, Jesus." But I have said, "Why don't you sit there quietly while I do my own thing for a while."
When Jesus unsettles you, what will you do? Will you allow him to lead you into deeper faith and discipleship? Or will you "throw him off a cliff"?
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have there been times in your life when Jesus has unsettled you? How did you respond to him? In what ways do you find yourself wanting to ignore the call of Jesus? What leads you to embrace him as your Lord and Savior?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you know my heart. You know that I would never choose actually to throw you off a cliff. You are my Savior and Lord. I owe everything to you and want to live each day for your glory.
But there are times, Lord, when I don't know quite what to do with you. And there are times when you don't meet my expectations. In those times, there is a part of me that wants to ignore you, at least for a while. And sometimes that part wins the battle for my soul. Forgive me, Lord, for all the ways I do "throw you off a cliff."
Help me, dear Lord, to surrender my expectations for you so that you might be who you really are in my life. May my mind be open to learn from you. May my heart be open to decide for you. May my life be used to glorify you. In your name I pray, Amen.