Luke makes it clear that Jesus was already preaching and was well received by those outside Nazareth (Luke 4:14-15). Our text begins (Luke 4:21) with the clear statement that the Isaiah 61 quotation (Luke 4:18-19) means in Jesus words that "Today this scripture has been fullilled in your hearing (Luke 4:21)" as well as seeing (look at the text carefully).
We contemporary readers of Luke are surprised by the question that Jesus hearers raise among themselves, "Is not this Joseph's son?" (Luke 4:22). We have known since earlier in Luke's gospel that Jesus is God's son (see Luke 3:22). However, we need to remember that even Jesus mother, Mary, ran into a situation where she assumed, despite all of what she had experienced Joseph was the father of Jesus (Luke 2:48-49).
In the exchange that takes place between Jesus and those gathered we hear Jesus using two other stories from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. One deals with Elijah (1 Kings 17:1-16) and the other with Elisha (2 Kings 5:1-14). Both of these stories deal with Jesus mission of healing. More particularly Elijah and Elisha heal outsiders. Elijah is sent to a woman, a non-Jew and a widow. Elisha encounters a Syrian whose disease, leprosy, is a signal that the Syrian is outside the likes of those gathered in the synagogue. So Jesus underscores with his Bible that “good news to the poor” embraces the widow, the unclean, the Gentile, and those of the lowest status. Jesus mission extends beyond those gathered in the synagogue.
Jesus’ mission has become all too clear to those gathered in the synagogue in his native Nazareth. Jesus mission extends far beyond the narrow confines of those in the synagogue. Therefore they seek to hurl him off a cliff. Here early in the story of Jesus we, like Luke, realize that Jesus beginning is like what will happen at the end. Here he escapes without much elaboration. In the end he leaves the cross for a greater mission.
Two points stand out for us. First, is that the returning hometown boy while seemingly speaking in an amazing way is cast out--no prophet, let alone Son of God, is accepted in their hometown. Second, what had become the center of these synagogue goers religious life, namely the Bible, convicted them. Their own stories of watchfulness for the outsider were too much for them. They did not understand.