The reality of opinion is that opinion can change.
Take, for example, the story of Winston Churchill who served as Prime Minister of England from 1940-1945 when England was fighting for its survival against Nazi Germany.
During this term as Prime Minister, Churchill provided inspiration during some of England’s most difficult days of World War II as London was blitzed by Nazi air raids and faced the threat of invasion.
A gifted orator who inspired a vision of hope and the promise of victory, Churchill provided leadership for a coalition of political factions that formed England’s Parliament. Ordinarily, these parties would do whatever was necessary to secure victory for their divergent political concerns, but the threat of Nazi Germany united them in purpose as they formed a wartime coalition. Public opinion of Winston Churchill during the wartime coalition was high and shared by an overwhelming majority of the British people. Public opinion polls showed that between July 1940 and May 1945 at least 78% of those polled said they approved of Churchill as prime minister. This high opinion was stated by Labour politician Hugh Dalton who said Churchill was “the only man we have for this hour.”
On May 8, 1945, “Victory in Europe Day,” Churchill delivered a speech to throngs of British people in which he declared, “God bless you all. This is your victory!” To which the crowd roared back, “No. It is yours.” With victory secured against Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, and victory pending against Hirohito’s Japan, Parliament’s wartime coalition became fractured by political opinions as elections were held two months later in July and the Unionist Party, of which Churchill was a member, lost in a landslide victory for the Labour Party. As a result, Churchill did not have the votes to remain as Prime Minister and he resigned before Japan surrendered and the Second World War was concluded.
Five years later, public opinion changed once again, and Winston Churchill became Prime Minister from 1950 – 1955.
The reality of opinion is that opinion can change. Sometimes, as in the case of Winston Churchill, it can only take two months for opinion to change.
Sometimes, as in the case of Jesus in Luke 4:22-30, it can take only a few minutes for opinion to change.
If you will recall, last week we considered the message of God that Jesus shared in his hometown synagogue as he read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and said he was the one whom Isaiah had written about:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the real synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Following this scripture, we see how quickly opinion can change as we travel from verse 22 that states “all spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth” to verse 29 that states “all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built so that they might hurl him off the cliff.”
What caused the reality of opinion to change so quickly about Jesus? What changed was Jesus telling the worshipers in his hometown synagogue about the reality that “no prophet is accepted in his own country” when they asked him to perform miracles in his hometown like he had done at the town of Capernaum. Rather than responding to their request to be a miracle worker, Jesus recounted the reality of the ministry of the prophets Elijah and Elisha.
The 17th chapter of I Kings tells of how God commanded Elijah to go to Zarephath where a Gentile widow would provide food for him in the midst of a 42-month drought that was punishment for Israel worshiping idols. The widow provides the last bit of flour and oil that she has. In return for her sacrificial offering, Elijah states that God will provide food for her household as long as the drought lasts.
The fifth chapter of II Kings tells the story of how the Syrian leper Naaman was cleansed by the prophet Elisha while none of the lepers in Israel were cleansed. Naaman was the commander of the Syrian army who was used to being in charge. When he came to be healed by Elisha, the prophet did not greet him in person but instead instructed Naaman to wash himself in the Jordan River. At first, Naaman is insulted that Elisha does not treat him with the response to which he was accustomed, but members of his entourage convince him to wash in the Jordan. Humbling himself, Naaman follows Naaman’s instructions as he washes in the Jordan and is cleansed. As the healed Naaman prepares to go home, he tells Elisha, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.”
Now, why would Jesus’ statement about a prophet not being accepted in his home country and the stories Jesus told about Elijah and Elisha cause the reality of public opinion to change to the point that the people in the synagogue would want to throw Jesus off a cliff?
Perhaps what caused the reality of opinion to change was Jesus’ declaring that he was called to be the Messiah of Israel rather than a hometown miracle worker of Nazareth. Perhaps what caused the reality of opinion to change was Jesus’ statement that his ministry was not about changing the reality of opinion, but instead was about changing reality itself as he fulfilled the prophetic vision of Isaiah by preaching good news to the poor, release to the captives, restoring sight, setting the oppressed free, and proclaiming release to the captives, sight to the blind, and declaring the year of the Lord’s favor. Perhaps what changed the reality of opinion was Jesus’ declaration that the prophetic ministry of Elijah and Elisha would guide his ministry.
The reality of opinion is that opinion can change, but today’s scripture is about a deeper reality than opinions changing. Today’s scripture is about the reality of Jesus changing reality. Like Elijah changing the reality of the widow and Elisha changing the reality of Naaman, Jesus changed the reality of faith in God as he walked from the edge of the cliff in his hometown to the cross of Calvary and the unchanging reality of the empty tomb.
Today, Madison and Duncan profess their faith in Jesus. As they are confirmed in the faith and fellowship of all true disciples of Jesus Christ, I invite you to affirm your faith in the reality of the Savior.
The Reality of Opinion
by Pastor Marc Brown
January 30, 2022
Accompanying Scriptures: Luke 4:22-30
Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for January 28, 2021
Scripture Lesson Luke 4:22-30
The Good News “The Reality of Opinion”
Music “The Gift of Love” by Hal Hopson
Closing Music “Heaven Came Down” arr. John Peterson (performed by Jacob & Alan Heer)