Hometown Rejects World Famous Hero
[Luke 4:16-30] “So He (Jesus) 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 to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” So all born witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to me, ‘Physician heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in your country.” Then he said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.”
In this story Jesus comes to His hometown of Nazareth, enters the synagogue and gives a teaching to his friends and neighbors concerning His service to mankind and what would happen to Him at the end of His earthly ministry. As He tells them what is going to take place, we see His Words being fulfilled in their actions. Let us understand at this point, that every action Jesus made and every word He spoke had significant meaning for the modern day believer. And when the believer understands that everything He said and everything He did when He was on the earth had a spiritual singificance, then we will begin to understand the scriptures. When Jesus was on the earth, He was dealing with natural man; so the things He did at the time were done in such a way natural man could understand them. The Holy Spirit
or the ministry of the Holy Spirit had not yet come to earth to take up residence inside man, so Jesus acted out and spoke words that natural man could understand and of which the Holy Spirit would later reveal the spiritual significance of that teaching to His disciples. The story of His rejection by his friends and neighbors at Nazareth and their attempt to kill Him is a microcosm of His overall earthly ministry to the world and His rejection and crucifixion by the nation of Israel at the end of His ministry.
You may be thinking,”Brother, I don’t see all of that in this story.” Well then, let’s dig in and break down the different verses and we will find the relevance.” In the first three verses, Jesus describes His reason for coming and what God
had sent Him to do while He was on the earth. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
The description Jesus is giving of His eartly ministry is being quoted from the book of Isaiah the prophet, who had written these lines many centuries before. Jesus ended that part of His teaching with, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
At this point the hometown folks are fine with what He had to say. They made the statement, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
To me this sounds like the hometown folks were in awe of Him as the people of Israel
were by the works He did among them at the beginning of His ministry. I don’t think His friends and neighbors expected to hear the quality of the teaching they had just witnessed when He arose to speak to them. Much like we are when a local boy gets up to speak to the congregation in our own churches. We don’t expect a whole lot from them, but we give them polite applause when they are finished, whether they did good or bad.
Jesus begins to describe the reaction of the Israelites to His ministry by saying, “You will surely say this proverb to me, ‘Physician heal yourself!” Let it be noted that this is precisely what the Jewish chief priest stood before His cross on the day He was crucified and said to Him, [Matthew 27:42a] “He saved others; Himself he cannot save. And Jesus continued with [Luke 4:23] “Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in your country.” And the chief priest said to Him at the cross, [Matthew 27:42b] “If He is the King of Israel, let Him come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.” With this next statement in [Luke 4:24] “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.” Jesus is describing for the people of Nazareth that His ministry would be rejected by His friends and neighbors just as all of God’s prophets had been rejected by the Israelites.
But I (Jesus) tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”
As a result of the kings of Israel rejecting the ministry of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, no one in Israel was helped except for a widow in Zarephath, and a leper from Syria
named Naaman. Let us note, that Jesus used these two examples of the widow and the Syrian who were gentile unbelievers to foretell what would happen after His death. If you have read the Book of Acts
, which is also known as the Acts of the Apostles; you will soon learn that after Jesus was crucified, the Jews who rejected Christ also rejected His disciples by killing some, imprisoning others, and driving many of them out of Israel to the uttermost parts of the world where His gospel of Good News was more readily accepted. And just as the Israelites rejected all of God’s prophets, God rejected and judged the nation of Israel in AD 70 because they rejected His Christ and His disciples. The Apostles left Israel and went to the gentile nations (the widow and the Syrian) with the news of the finished work of Christ, and most all of them died in foreign lands in the service of their Lord.
The next line says, His friends and neighbors in Nazareth, were “Filled with wrath, rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down the cliff.” The earlier words Jesus spoke that had been received with joy soon turned to anger and thoughts of murder. The people who should have been the most open to the Words of one of their own, were the most closed to the words they heard. The nation of Israel whose Messiah came to them in person to deliver them from the powers of darkness, rejected Him, took Him outside the city of Jerusalem, the city of peace, and crucified Him on Calvary’s Hill. They killed the Lord of Glory who had come to save them. The hatred and the murderous thoughts and actions of the Israelite people are clearly seen in the actions of the friends and neighbors of Jesus who led Him out of the city of Nazareth to the brow of a cliff with intentions of killing Him.
And lastly, “Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.” How exactly Jesus did this I do not know, but I do know that He had complete control over all spiritual powers operating on the earth. So I am assuming He used His authority to bind the murderous spirits that wanted to cast Him off the cliff. However, I do understand that, “Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.” is the same as after He was risen from the dead and the Holy Spirit had come to live in man, that His teachings were preached throughout the land of Israel (passed through the midst of them) and on into the utter most parts of the world. (went His way.) And the gospel that was being preached at that time is still (on its way) being preached around the world even as I write these notes. DThrash