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Now You See Him; Now You Don’t

Key References: Luke 4:16-30; The Desire of Ages, chap. 24, pp. 236-243; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 7, pp. 165-168; Our Beliefs nos. 4, 9, 18

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“I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:7, 8).

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When we respond to God’s love, Christ becomes the center of our worship.

Can you remember something in church that made you feel close to God? It may have been a song, a reading, a sermon, or something else. When we worship God, we get to know Him better, and He can speak to us about His plans for us. Imagine a worship service like this one.

Jesus got up to read the Scripture. People in the village had been talking about Him, telling stories about His going to other towns and healing people. Now He was back in Nazareth, where He had grown up. It seemed that more people than usual were at the synagogue today. The whole town had heard that one of their own was back. They wanted to see just how He had changed.

Standing in front of the group, Jesus opened the scroll. The whole room seemed to be holding its breath, waiting for Jesus to speak.

Jesus told the group He was reading from Isaiah where the prophet says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Isaiah 61:1, 2).

The way He read the verses, people felt drawn to them. He spoke with authority, but also with kindness. Finishing reading, Jesus rolled up the scroll and handed it to the synagogue attendant. Wrapped in silence, everyone wondered what would happen next.

Jesus looked around the room and slowly began to explain what He had read. “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4: 21). They remembered Him as someone who could mend their broken furniture. Now He was talking about being able to mend broken hearts.

Questioning faces looked at one another. Not everyone was pleased with Jesus’ comments about Himself. Some thought they were right to doubt Jesus’ authority because He did not perform any miracle in their town. They wanted more proof than the stories they had heard from Capernaum. After all, they had known this man since He was a little boy.

Suddenly one of the elders jumped to his feet. “Don’t you remember who this Jesus is? He’s just the son of Joseph.”

“That’s right!” shouted another elder. “Why are you following after this man like a herd of goats?”

“Jesus has done a lot of good. What about the healing He’s done?” questioned someone else.

“Healing? How do we know those stories are true?” another person retorted. “He hasn’t done anything like that here in Nazareth.”

The crowd was beginning to take sides.

People shouted to make themselves heard. The synagogue was in complete turmoil. People shouted to make themselves heard. The synagogue was in complete turmoil. The people agreed to put an end to Jesus’ teaching by throwing Him down from the cliff.

The crowd started pushing its way toward the cliff outside of town. For a while it seemed that this would be the end of Jesus’ ministry, right in the place where He had grown up. The noisy crowd approached the top of the cliff near Nazareth. But suddenly they stopped in confusion. Where was Jesus? Who had seen Him last? Where had He gone?

As the people of Nazareth milled around the edge of the cliff in confusion, it finally dawned on them that Jesus was no longer with them. Confused, they finally wandered back to their homes.

They had had a chance to get to know Jesus while He lived among them. They had had a chance to believe in Him after they started hearing about the wonderful work He was doing in the villages around them. But they just couldn’t believe He was anybody but the boy who had grown up next door.