In the movie, A Few Good Men, Col. Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson) forcefully shouts at the prosecuting attorney, “You can't handle the truth!” How about you? I know for me, the truth stings when it contains evidence convicting me of a personal flaw, a shortcoming, or (can I handle this truth?) sin. Frankly, I don't appreciate someone pointing a finger at me, whether friend or foe. It's easier to simply dismiss or denigrate a truth-teller as a liar and irrelevant to my life. It hurts too much to face it.
The truth hurt in Jesus' day too. In this passage we learn Jesus was already experiencing a fruitful ministry in His home region of Galilee and then returns to His hometown of Nazareth. Initially the response was one of good vibes, “All who were there spoke well of him and were amazed by the gracious words that fell from his lips” (v 22 NLT). At this point I want to tell Him: “Wow. Leave it there, Jesus. Step away from the pulpit and enjoy!”
But that isn't Jesus' way or purpose. He knew the listeners in Nazareth harboured a deep scepticism and resentment in their hearts. They wanted Jesus to prove himself, prove His lineage and even prove His loyalty to His home by performing the same miracles right here, right now. Jesus confronted that arrogance by saying, “But the truth is, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown” (v 24 NLT). There it is—the truth. But what did Jesus mean?
As Jesus confronted those listeners in the synagogue He confronts us with the truth even when we can't see it and especially when we don't want to hear it. I recognize this pattern of His truth telling in my life, whether it is through a parable that reveals my hard heart, shaped more like a resentful older brother's or in a passage that commands the impossible like loving my enemies.
Jesus also reveals a more complete truth if I keep listening. The truth is that He loves me. The Father in heaven loves me. There is life which is truly life is mine if I turn to Him. May I be immersed in the completeness of THAT truth: a truth that is hard to hear (that I am a sinner), and a truth that is sometimes harder to accept (that I am a forgiven child of God).
Lenten Reader 2018
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