The Book of Luke, The Beginning of Jesus Christ’s Ministry, Part III  – Lesson 43


Luke 4:21-30, And 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 are given in this account an example of the perfect discernment and understanding that our Lord Jesus had of the people in his hometown of Nazareth. 


Luke tells us, that they all bare him witness which means that they were all speaking well of him and they wondered at the gracious words which came out of his mouth.


This kind of reaction and ready acceptance of Jesus Christ was a red flag of warning which told him that they missed the important message that he brought, 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;


Jesus Christ was leery of their much well speaking of him. 


Luke records his words on this subject which should give us pause when all men speak well of us, for Jesus Christ pronounces a woe on those who are well spoken of by all men. 


Luke 6:26,  Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.


Woe means that you should be feeling a sense of grief instead of a sense of elation which is usually felt when all men speak well of you.


The message is that if you are approved by the world then you are not approved unto God.


So Jesus knew that the people in the synagogue missed the point of what he is saying because he knew that he was approved unto God. 


They did not understand his mission and they were ready to receive him only based on his fair speech and gracious words. 


The Lord Jesus Christ knew from the scriptures, from the history of Israel, that “No prophet is accepted in his own country.”


And he knew that if he had been accepted in his own country he would not have been a true prophet, the Prophet identified in Deut 18:15. 


The lesson that Jesus is teaching here, is you must understand who Jesus Christ is and what demands are to be made of you if you are to truly receive him, if he is to reveal himself to you.  


There must be repentance which is a recognition of what you are and that you need the savior Jesus Christ, before the new birth takes place.


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. 


This was not the kind of Messiah that they were ready to receive.


The principle that a prophet is never honored in his own country, 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.


He therefore 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 for he knew man’s heart and it is in man’s heart, without the new birth, to reject the truth. 


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.


The inference of Stephen’s words is that there was never a prophet in the history of Israel who was popular among his own people.


Prophets must identify with God, rather than with their sinful fellow men.


John the Baptist similar to Elijah and Elisha lived apart from his culture, even from his family.


He was aware of what his culture was doing, but he was not a part of it.


He stood apart from the world.


Prophets are not popular because they tell men what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear.


Think back on the Old Testament prophet, Micaiah.


When Jehoshaphat was considering whether or not he should go to war with Ahab, the king of Israel, the false prophets of Israel all gave the go ahead.


II Chron. 18:5,   Therefore the king of Israel gathered together of prophets four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for God will deliver it into the king’s hand.


Jehoshaphat was not convinced for he knew that these false prophets always told him what he wanted to hear and he wanted to be sure that a true prophet had been consulted.


He therefore asked Ahab in :


2 Chron. 18:6,  Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might inquire of him? 


In Ahab’s response we can see the character of the man:


2 Chron. 18:7,   There is yet one man, by whom we may inquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla.


From the perspective of wicked Ahab, Micaiah never told him what he wanted to hear, for he wanted to hear lies.


From the perspective of God, Ahab never wanted to hear what God had to say.


Ahab only wanted God to confirm and approve His sinful actions.


Prophets are not popular with disobedient people, for they do not want to do God’s will.


The words of a true prophet are an offense to the natural or sinful man, who is at odds with God.


Any words of warning and reproach are going to be rejected by anyone who is intent upon doing evil.


Prophets are not popular because they tell men what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear.


The Lord Jesus refused the popularity of the people of Nazareth because He knew that popularity could not be based upon a clear grasp of what His ministry and messiahship was all about. 


If they fully understood him he would not be popular and this is what is played out in the gospels. 


He knew that popularity would not take Him to the cross of Calvary and he knew that it was the Father’s will for him to go to the cross.


Jesus refused popularity because, as the greatest prophet of all, men could not and would not take pleasure in Him.


Jesus cited the principle that Israel’s prophets were never honored by their own people.


And He illustrated this fact by showing that the prophets were on many occasions more kindly treated by Gentiles, and that the Gentiles received blessings at their hands.


To show his point in Nazareth, he referred to 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.   

The Gentiles were turned to because the Jews were not proper recipients of God’ blessings.