The Book of Luke, The Beginning of Jesus Christís Ministry, Part IV Ė Lesson 44
Luke 4:28-30, And 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 people of Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew up did not receive from Jesus Christ what they expected for they expected favor simply because they were from his hometown and they were Jews.
This is a prospective difficulty that a pastor also faces in his hometown when he ministers to his friends and relatives.
For sometimes those friends and relatives expect favor simply because they are friends and relatives.
And so Jesus Christ makes it clear in his message to them that their expectations are not to be met.
So he tells them of two prophets and their experiences with gentiles.
There were many Jews in Israel during the time of the prophet Elijah and yet God sent Elijah to a gentile widow woman and there were many lepers in Israel but none of them were cleased but Naaman the Syrian.
God honors faith, he does not respect persons because of what group they belong to or the blood that they share in their veins.
In Godís program blood ties or hometown or human connection do not bring special favor from God and we ought not to take advantage of our position or blood ties in our daily walk.
God is pleased by faith, not your position or blood ties.
God will have a people for his name and the Jews nor any other group have a monopoly on God!
But in both cases that Jesus mentioned, the prophets were sent to Israel to condemn their sin and to pronounce divine judgment, and were in large part rejected by their own people.
In this event in the synagogue at Nazareth Jesus Christ refused to meet their expectations of him in spite of their praise because their expectations were based upon a false understanding of the Scriptures and a misconception about the Messiah and His ministry.
Beware of those who much praise because they are the same folks who will bring much cursing.
It is amazing to read of how their enthusiam turned so quickly to wrath because he reminded them that He, like other prophets of Israel, had come to bring blessing not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles.
Jesus preached this message thoughout Israel as we can read in:
John 10:16, And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Jesus could have enjoyed their praise and basked in their praise but he would not offend truth in order to please the people in the synagogue in Nazareth.
We see in this passage of Luke 4 Jesus Christís readiness to confront them with truth to expose their sin, regardless of any consequences to him.
We read throughout the scriptures even if truth offends the true prophet speaks truth.
God had promised as early as his covenant with Abraham to bless the nations.
But Israel, thoughtout its history, stood in the way of this promise even though, as Paul tells us in Romans, that unto the Jews the oracles of God were committed.
Israel was to be the lighthouse of the world but we see in this passage how selfish the Jews were in bringing those oracles to the gentile.
Remember how Jonah fought against bringing the message of deliverance to Ninevah.
Remember how reluctant Peter was to go to the gentile.
It was almost inborn in the Jew to hate the Gentile and to be jealous of any of Godís blessing that fell upon them.
How could the gentile be blessed without the law and the law belonged to the Jew?
But God is pleased by faith without the law and the Jews could not accept this.
Paul made this very clear when he wrote to the Romans.
Romans 3:28-30, Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
And also it appeared that the Nazareth-ites thought that being a son of Joseph and a resident of their town gave them some leverage with Jesus.
They were willing to see themselves as the poor, the captives, the downtrodden but they were not willing to see gentiles in that group with them.
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.
That far out idea was certainly too much for them to grasp!
Their Messiah would do no such thing and if this Jesus Christ proposed that, then this Jesus Christ was no Messiah.
But this idea was what Jesus Christ intended for them to be confronted with.
If you want to be confronted there is no better person to be confronted by than Jesus Christ.
He is not the pacifier, but the great confronter.
But 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.
Jesus Christ is not to be made in our image, we are to be made in his image.
He is one way about this and will not change to suit your liking!
Jesus Christ does not avoid confrontation 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 Nazareth-ites were filled with wrath at hearing this truth.
They did not even take time to bring Jesus Christ before a court or some legal body but they acted together as a mob with the intentions of a mob.
By their actions they said:
Anyone who would speak of the blessing of the Gentiles instead of the Jews was a traitor and he deserved to die right now!
Without the law how could a gentile be blessed?
The Nazareth-ites wanted Jesus to identify with them, but they refused to identify themselves with sinful Gentiles in their need for salvation and forgiveness.
Jesus associated with the poor, the sick, and the sinners and therefore always offended the self-righteous.
We read of this in:
Mark 2:15-17, And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. 16And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? 17When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
We are to also identify with those with whom Jesus identified.
We are not to be the high and the mighty but we are to be among the lowly, the humble, we are to identify with those who are in need and know that they are in need, and know that Godís grace is their only help.
One of the hardest understandings for a sinner is to come to the place where he admits that coming to God requires him to admit that he is on the same level with sinners, with the unclean, with the lepers, and the harlots.
Isaiah 54:6, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Romans 3:10, There is none righteous no not one,
Those who refuse to see themselves as sheep gone astray, as an unclean thing, cannot avail themselves of the grace of God, nor will they want the source of grace and truth, Jesus Christ.
Unless you see yourself as God sees you, you wonít be saved.
This heart of refusal to identify with those whom Jesus identified manifested itself in the people of the synagogue at Nazareth.
The crowd rushed Jesus from the synagogue and pressed Him toward the precipice of a nearby cliff, intending that he fall to His death.
Jesus did not escape by fighting or running away, nor by ďtaking a back way out.Ē
Instead, He walked through the midst of His opponents (4:30).
30But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
Such is the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He could have chosen to walk away in Jerusalem when taken by the Romans and crucified but that event met Godís good timing and Godís will, and God was not about to allow the Nazareth-ites to take his life.
So the angry crowd parted to allow Jesus to pass through their midst, unharmed and untouched.
So by this the Nazareth-ites saw the power of this one in whom they refused to believe.
What do we learn by listening to Jesus Christ as he speaks to us from this passage?
We learn how to distinguish between true prophets and false prophets.
As you read through the Bible you will discover that false prophets are more popular that true prophets.
False prophets tell people what they want to hear; true prophets speak those unpleasant truths from God which men need to hear.
False prophets appeal to the flesh, and not to the spirit.
They justify sin, rather than to condemn it.
We learn that in the giving of truth men do not naturally accept the things of God, but rather reject them.
We learn that true prophets will be hated because the fallen nature of man hates truth.
Truth and the fallen nature of man are always opposed.
The gospel will only be effective in the salvation of men as the Spirit of God works a miracle in their hearts, convincing them of the truth of His word and giving them new hearts to respond positively to it.
When the gospel is clearly told, natural men will always reject it, unless drawn by the Spirit of God and given salvation.
Witnessing will not save men, but it will often make them mad.
Only the working of the Spirit saves men.