Leaders and Popularity
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips… All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 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 down the cliff… Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority… All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? Luke 4:22, 28–32, 36 NIV 1984
Two different towns – Nazareth and Capernaum, two different audiences, and two very different responses to Jesus’ leadership and authority.
In the synagogue in Nazareth, when Jesus was explaining a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 61 concerning the ministry of the Messiah, the prophecy concerning Himself, He proclaims that it was fulfilled that very day-right there in front of their eyes. The audience was amazed at His gracious words.
Yet Jesus continued to explain that the favor of the Lord was not based upon one’s heritage, but rather one’s faith. The mood of the audience quickly changed. They became furious at Him, drove Him out-of-town and sought to physically harm him by throwing Him off of a cliff. One can only imagine the feelings of the disciples with Jesus or even His family members as this was taking place? Popularity can be fleeting.
Jesus seemingly shrugs it off and moves on to Capernaum, where the following week He is again teaching in the synagogue. While we are not told about the subject matter, His teaching engenders a similar initial response. The people were amazed at His teaching and the authority with which He delivered it. But here they remained positive and in fact spread the news about Him to the surrounding area.
Jesus’ ministry did not change due to the audience. He was consistent, not caring about His reputation or concerned about whether they would like Him or not. Rather, He was committed to truth and teaching it well, letting the people decide for themselves whether to accept or reject the message.
This consistency created such a reputation that His enemies sought to use it against Him. Note what they say about Him as they tried to trap Him with a question about paying taxes. “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.” ( Luke 20:21 NIV 1984)
Kingdom leaders consistently focus on truth, not on how well they are liked as leaders. Do what it right and let God take care of your reputation and popularity. How’s your focus?