by Doris Horton Murdoch
In my previous post, I mentioned that I had just returned from the Holy Land. All of my forthcoming posts will consider my spiritual encounters in the Holy Land with Jesus’ confrontation on Mount Precipice being the topic for today.
There are many mountains listed in the Bible, but in actuality, most of these mountains are globular hills. These hills consist of sand, clusters of grass, caves, and many, many stones. The landscape is dotted with cedar and olive trees. One of the many hills is Mount Precipice. From the crown of Mount Precipice, one can view Mount Tabor (Mount of Transfiguration) and the Jezreel Valley (also known as the Valley of Megiddo; fertile heartland in the location for Armageddon). Mount Precipice is known as the site where an angry Nazarene mob attempted to throw Jesus over the cliff. We read about this in Luke 4:14-30 (NIV):
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. 23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’” 24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
After hearing the reading, the congregation’s eyes were fastened on Jesus; they were amazed at what they were hearing. It was good! The words were awesome! Then along comes the spoilers in the group. There seems to always be someone in the group that can gather the crowd and cause confusion and dissent. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Joseph was a carpenter; he worked with wood. He wasn’t a man with great schooling and he certainly was not a man of the cloth! Joseph is an honorable man and he has honorable sons, but they surely are not chosen as God’s prophets! A spoiler can plant the seed that causes disunity among families and congregations.
Jesus uses Elijah’s and Elisha’s stories as examples of how we must have faith and trust that God is in control. God will provide the message and the healing in His time and in His locale. Many times God bases this on the faith of the believers. As we see in verse 28, the group becomes furious with Jesus. How dare Jesus compare His position to the great prophets Elijah and Elisha? Let’s get rid of this false prophet! He is of no value to this community! Just imagine, he thinks He has the powers of Elijah and Elisha! No one will ever equal or exceed the powers of Elijah and Elisha! Let’s get rid of this guy! Throw him off the cliff! As we know, the all-powerful Jesus walked through the crowd and went on his way. Millennium-old rumors say that Jesus leaped from Mount Precipice to Mount Tabor. The Arabic name for the mount, Jebel Qafzeh, translates to “mount of the leaping.”
Jesus came to loose the chains of slavery for humanity (Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 58:6; Isaiah 61:1-2) and to anoint man with the freedom of salvation through His final sacrifice. He came to personally claim the good news. Jesus brought love, forgiveness and healing to humanity. He came to proclaim the Lord’s favor on mankind. And what do we do? Reject Him, starting with His very own community.
Are we supporting our church family? Are we encouragers of all members? Have we placed any members on the precipice? Have we pushed any members over the precipice? Jesus was about his Father’s business and we all need to hold ourselves accountable of being about our Father’s business.