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Saturday, 23 May 2015

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Churches together in Hexham

THIS week Alan Curry from Hexham Abbey gives a commentary on the Bible reading, Luke 4.21-30.

“Luke brings his account of the visit of Jesus to the synagogue in Nazareth to a dramatic climax: the congregation are enraged by Jesus’s words and drive him to a cliff top in order to push him off. The tension mounts as they approach the edge.

“At that point though, Luke brings the episode to a rather unsatisfying end. We read: ‘But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.’ Well, OK – but how? How did Jesus escape from this angry, violent mob? How did looming disaster turn into an apparently stress-free happy ending?

“The visit to the synagogue had started so well, too. Initially those listening to Jesus are very impressed by him. The contrast with the outcome of the encounter is stark. What has brought about the change in mood?

“Luke plays down the action of the account in order to put the emphasis on what Jesus says that upsets his listeners so much. All Jesus has done is point out, using references to the times of Elijah and Elisha, that religious observance does not in itself bring the security people seek in it. It can be a barrier to recognising what God is really giving us and where our true security lies.

“All Jesus has done? His words were seen as an attack by those they were first directed to. The gospel invites us to consider how we might let ourselves use the practice of our faith as a kind of insulation.”