The Book of Luke, The Beginning of Jesus Christ’s Ministry, Part II – Lesson 42
Luke 4:14-30, And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 16And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. 22And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? 23And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. 24And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 25But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, (Elijah) when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 26But unto none of them was Elias (Elijah) sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. 27And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus (Elisha) the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. 28And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. 30But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
We have seen in the early chapters of the book of Luke how that Jesus Christ was annointed by John the Baptist as the King of Israel.
We have read of the temptations of Satan that the Lord Jesus Christ faced in the wilderness, on the high mountain and on the pinacle of the temple and how our Lord, by the use of the word of God disarmed Satan and his attempt to get him to sin.
In this passage we see Jesus Christ fully involved in his ministry returning to his hometown after preaching thoughout Galilee and doing many wonderful works.
He has just read passages from the prophet Isaiah and has stated that the one whom Isaiah is speaking of is he, for he said:
This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
We are told that all spoke well of him and marveled at the words of grace that came forth from his mouth and added, Is not this Joseph’s son?
Who would expect this from someone coming from such a poor background?
But even though there was much well speaking of his words there was no true grasp of what His words meant.
There was wonder at his gracious words but no understanding.
They were like people who read the bible as literature and marvel at its integrity and flow but have no understanding of its reality and its claim that as God’s word it is to be taken personally and applied personally.
The word of God is given to build lives not just to enjoy as good literature or to make one feel good.
There were many no doubt who asked, I wonder what he meant, refusing to take his word at face value.
He had said, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
The Amplified Bible presents it this way: Today this scripture has been fulfilled while you are present and hearing.
By saying this He proclaimed that:
He, the son of Joseph whom they recognized, was the one upon whom was the Spirit of the Lord.
He was the one who preached the gospel to the poor.
He was the one who healed the brokenhearted.
He was the one who preached deliverance to the captives.
He was the one who gave sight to the blind.
He was the one who delivered those that were bruised.
He was the one who preached the acceptable year of the Lord which means the day when salvation and the grace of God abound.
By saying that “Today this scripture has been fulfilled while you are present and hearing”, he was telling them that he was the Messiah.
Could this be, knowing that he was also the son of Joseph, the carpenter?
But it is obvious that the people of Nazareth had a distorted concept of the Messiah and His ministry.
Jesus knew their hearts and he knew what this distorted concept led them to.
Jesus Christ brings this out in his account of the ministry of Elijah to the widow of Zarephath which we will discuss later.
Jesus Christ expressed the words of their heart which were words that expressed a selfish interest in their own benefit instead of doing or promoting the will of God.
These people had grandiose thoughts of what Jesus would do for them.
He was their home-town boy (“the son of Joseph”), and they expected Him to do even greater things for them than He had done elsewhere.
He had done great things in Cana and in Capernaum and now it was their turn to receive greater things.
They looked on Jesus Christ as a performer, a miracle worker, someone who would provide things for them and Nazareth, and they praised him and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.
The temptations of Satan in the wilderness tested the character of Jesus Christ and now he was to be tested by the praise of the people in the synagogue.
Everytime you receive praise there is a test associated with it.
The word of God has a praise test of your character.
What does praise do to you?
Proverbs 27:21 reads, As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.
The fining pot is used to rid the silver of the dross and to make the silver pure.
The furnace burns off the impurities of the gold and the gold is purer for it.
A man has the opportunity to do the same with praise.
Praise needs to be tested by the discernment of the wise man.
Discernment is called for in the reception of praise.
The wise man rids himself of any false praise because false praise received, magnifies pride.
And the wise man will credit any true praise to God because the wise man understands that it is God who makes him to differ from other men.
In accordance with this principle of separation of praise Jesus responded to the praise of men in the synagogue of Nazareth.
He was not about to succumb to their praise that was given in order to get something.
Jesus knew the hearts of men, and He therefore knew what the synagogue audience was thinking.
He understood that His words were not understood, so he tells them what they really have on their hearts.
Luke 4:23-24, And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
24And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
These people in Nazareth believed that charity begins at home.
And Jesus Christ brought this out when he used the phrase “Physician, heal thyself”.
It is the same as expecting a shoemaker’s family to always have good shoes, a butcher’s family to always have plenty of meat, a dentist’s family to have bright and healthy teeth.
And I suppose a teacher’s family should always have a good education!
It is as if they said: Charity begins at home and we have heard much about your success thoughout Galilee but what about your hometown?
Where are our new shoes, what about the meat for our table, what is your dental and health plan?
They expected Jesus to perform for them and demonstrate his power at home.
From a strictly human point of view, what a temptation it would have been to prove Himself to His fellow-Nazarethites.
At the least he could have kept the peace by saying or doing nothing.
But that is not the way our Lord conducts himself.
They had missed the important message that he conveyed, that he was the Messiah, that he was the Prophet that was fortold in:
Deut. 18:15, The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
And he knew that if he had been accepted in his own country he would not have been that prophet.
For he knew the scriptures that “No prophet is accepted in his own country.”
They did not understand his mission and they were ready to receive him only based on that misunderstanding.
The lesson is you must understand who Jesus Christ is and what demands are to be made of you if you are to truly receive him.
Too many preachers sugar coat Jesus Christ and the Jesus Christ that is presented is not the Jesus Christ of the bible.
These folks in Nazareth had a distorted view of the Jesus Christ of the Bible and our Lord was not about to let this distortion continue.
He therefore confronted them in order for them to fully understand his mission and because of this they attempted to kill him.
The principle that a prophet is never honored in his own country, by his own people meant that Jesus, if He were a true prophet, would not be received with open arms, or with bowed knee, but with rejection, like all of the other prophets.
They were about to receive him with open arms which proves that they did not understand what Jesus meant by what he said, that they did not understand His claim to be Messiah, nor what kind of Messiah He would be.
Jesus would not receive misguided praise and therefore He set out to correct their misconceptions of His identity and mission as the promised Messiah and Prophet.
Jesus pointed out that if His ministry were correctly understood, He would be rejected like all the other prophets of Israel’s history.
And we know that that eventually came about.
True prophets of Israel, without exception, were not received by Israel, but scorned, persecuted, and even killed.
Stephen’s last words in Acts 7:52, before he was stoned to death expressed this thought.
Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
Jesus not only cited the principle that Israel’s prophets were never honored by their own people, He illustrated the fact by showing that the prophets were on many occasions more kindly treated by Gentiles, and that the Gentiles received blessings at their hands.
He cited the case of Elijah’s stay with the Gentile widow at Zerephath (1 Ki. 17:9) and of the healing of Naaman, the Syrian who was a military leader of the army which was successfully attacking Israel (2 Ki. 5:1-14).
In both cases, the prophet of Israel brought blessings to Gentiles which the Jews, their own people did not receive, because of the hardness of their hearts.
In both cases, the prophets were sent to Israel to condemn their sin and to pronounce divine judgment, and were largely rejected by their own people.
Jesus Christ will not respond to their expectations of him because they are based upon a false understanding of the Scriptures and a misconception about the Messiah and His ministry.
Their enthusiam turned to wrath because he reminded them that He, like other prophets of Israel, had come to bring blessing not only to the the Jews, but also to the Gentiles.
Jesus could have basked in their praise but he would not offend truth in order to please his audience in Nazareth.
He had to offend his audience with the truth to expose their sin.
His use of this illustration of the widow of Sidon and the cleansing of Naaman also shows that in God’s program blood ties or hometown or human connection does not bring special favor from God.
God had promised as early as the Abrahamic Covenant to bless the nations.
Israel, thoughtout its history, stood in the way of this promise.
Remember how Jonah fought to bring the message of deliverance to Ninevah.
It was almost innate in the Jew to hate the Gentile.
It appeared that the Nazarethites thought that being a son of Joseph and a resident of their town gave them some leverage with Jesus.
If the Messiah was to minister to the poor, the captives, the downtrodden they were willing to see themselves as such but not willing to include the gentiles in such groups for God’s blessing.
They could identify with a Messiah which catered to their needs but would never have anything to do with a Messiah which also met the needs of the Gentiles.
But this is what they must be faced with, for they were only ready to receive a Messiah of their liking and Jesus Christ was not about to fit himself into a pattern of their making.
So he again uses scripture to confront them.
25But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, (Elijah) when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 26But unto none of them was Elias (Elijah) sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. 27And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus (Elisha) the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. 28And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. 30But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
The Nazarethites were furious.
They did not bring Jesus Christ before a tribunal or some authoritative body.
Anyone who would speak of the blessing of the Gentiles instead of the Jews was a traitor and he deserved to die right now!
The crowd rushed Jesus from the synagogue and was pressing Him toward the precipice of a nearby cliff, with the intention of him falling to His death.
Jesus did not escape by fleeing, nor by “taking a back way out.” Instead, He walked through the midst of His opponents (4:30).
Just as the waters of the Red Sea parted to allow Moses and God’s people to pass through, so the angry crowd parted to allow Jesus to pass through their midst, unharmed, untouched.
God the father was not ready for his son to die.
But this was the one and only miracle which they would witness.