Many people today are living at the edge, on the verge of emotional breakdown, ready to quit, run away, even actually committing suicide or murder. They are tired of being lonely, abused and mistrusted, taken advantage of and cheated on by those who supposedly love them.
Luke 4:29 tells us how Jesus’ own people “Took Jesus to the edge of a hill in order to throw Him down the cliff.” In Nazareth, they said, “Do here in your home town what we have heard you did in Capernaum.” Christ’s response was, “Surely you will say to me, Physicians heal your self.”
Then Jesus replied, “There were many hungry widows in Israel during Elijah’s time (I Kings 17:9) but only to the widow in Zarephath was he sent. There were many with leprosy in Israel during Elisha time (II Kings 7:1) but only to Naaman the Syrian was Elisha sent to cleanse.”
When Jesus told of these prophets’ actions, the people became furious. They wondered, “Why hasn’t He made Nazareth His headquarters?”
It is often, as Christ said, “A prophet is not well accepted in his own country.” It was after all this they threatened to throw him off a cliff; instead, He just walked away.
When we are driven to the edge, we need to stop and remember that all we need to do is commit to the right priorities, connect with the right people and be sure we are confronting the right problems.
Committing to the right priority: Jesus’ example cites two of the most famous Old Testament prophets. In both cases, they chose to dispense miracles to foreigners, rather than to the people of Israel. Christ’s point was that God shows He is Father to the fatherless and is rich in mercy to all, not just to Israel. God and Christ’s point is meant to show we are to commit to the right priorities.
Connecting with the right people: God didn’t dispense miracles based upon family lineage or family ties or exclusive private rights but, rather, based upon divine appointment. Christ too made it a point to connect with the right people, regardless of their backgrounds. Whether rich, poor, Jewish, Gentile, Roman or Greek, it didn’t matter, as long as He was sure His actions were pleasing to God. Christ didn’t care one bit about pleasing the wrong people.
Confronting the right problems: This scene adds to the divine meaning of “Jesus of Nazareth.” Not only was Nazareth a place where reportedly no good thing was expected; now we see it was a wicked and unkind place towards Jesus. Yet He sensed a hint of providence in it, though He wasn’t respected or well received there, elsewhere there would be many who did receive Him.
It is tough any time we are called to speak the truth for God. We often find our selves living at the edge. The edge is a lonely place and it creates lonely feelings, especially when we are threatened by others. We too must learn sometimes to do just as Christ did: walk away.
Learning to live at the edge means learning to say to oneself, “God is not going to send me over the cliff nor is it His plan for me to drown in my sorrows.”
When we feel like we are living at the edge or have come to our breaking point, we must remember that all we have to do is commit to the right priorities, connect with the right people and confront the right problem.
If you take this message all the way to the cross as Christ did, we would be reminded of how Christ behaved at His emotional edge. Yes, He cried out to the Lord for help in the Garden of Gethsemane and seemingly got none. So what did He do? He got up and said, “Well, nevertheless, not my will but Thy will be done.”
Then He committed to the right priority by accepting God’s will for Him; then He turns to the disciples and connected with the right people and He waited for his captors, confronting the right problem.
His death on The Cross was a sacrifice for our sins. Christ went over the earthly cliff for us and stepped into eternal life, so He could send us a helper: the Holy Spirit. I thank God this time He did not walk away.
*The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org