#14: HE CAME TO HIS OWN,
BUT HIS OWN DID NOT RECEIVE HIM, part two
(Luke 4:16-30, John 1:11)
An early summer morning, A. D. 27, Nazareth, Galilee
The people of Nazareth are amazed that Jesus applied the prophetic passage in Isaiah about the Messiah to himself. “Does he realize he is claiming to be the Messiah?” they wonder. Jesus was not being proud or boastful, but he was taking the place God told him to take, and not the position that man would give him. Nevertheless, some of the people become agitated.
Also, as he rolls up the scroll and returns it to the attendant, some who are familiar with this passage in Isaiah wonder why Jesus left out the part about “the vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2b). They look for a Messiah who will execute vengeance on the Romans. If Jesus had continued in this passage, he would have also read about the Gentiles serving the Jews and the Jewish people receiving the riches of the Gentiles (Isaiah 61:5-6). Some are disappointed that Jesus stopped reading where he did.
So they challenge him, “Let's see you work the miracles here like those we heard that you did in Capernaum! Show us that you are who you claim to be”, some think quietly, while others, less respectful, criticize him and dishonor him loud enough for the people around them to hear.
By the Spirit, Jesus knows their thoughts and tells them they are thinking: “Why don’t you do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum?” He explains, “But the truth is, no prophet is accepted in his hometown. Certainly there were many widows who needed help in Elijah’s time . . . Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a widow of Zarephath – a foreigner in the land of Sidon. Or think of the prophet Elisha, who healed Naaman, a Syrian, rather than the many lepers in Israel who needed help” (Luke 4:23b-27, NLT).
The synagogue audience facing Jesus becomes irritated as they hear Jesus compare his prophet’s ministry with the prophetic ministries of Elijah and Elisha. He teaches from the Scriptures how Gentiles were sometimes more open to receive from God than Jews. This teaching threatens their beliefs and challenges their pride.
The people of Nazareth expected Jesus’ sermon would be a prelude to his working miracles for them. Now it dawns on them that he might be explaining why he will not work miracles here. As he continues, many become skeptical and angry. Some of them ridicule and scorn him, saying, “Is this not the son of Joseph the carpenter?” as they look for a reason to reject him.
Some of them reason, “He is not doing miracles to prove who he is. Instead he is only making elaborate claims about himself.” Suddenly, their anger shifts into a demonic rage. Some rise up and surround him and began shoving and pushing him. Several strong men grab him, lift him up and carry him out of the synagogue, to the edge of town and up a hill. The devil, who earlier tempted Jesus to jump from a high place, works with these men who intend to throw him off a high place. These men who disbelieve in working on the Sabbath are now working strenuously on this Sabbath to kill the Son of Man. As they are about to throw him over the cliff to murder him, Jesus supernaturally passes through them. For God saves His anointed one, as promised:
“. . . the Lord saves his anointed king.
He will answer him from his holy heaven
and rescue him by his great power”
(Psalm 20:6, NLT).
Comment: Imagine if one of our friends went to minister in a church and the people there: (1) showed him no appreciation or respect, (2) didn’t thank him for speaking, (3) didn’t offer to pray with or for him, (4) gave him no offering, and (5) were outright hostile and physically abusive towards him. What would we say to our friend? Many of us would probably say something like, “I am sorry you had to go through that” or “At least you will never have to go back there” or “I guess we should have covered that meeting better with more prayer.”
However, on this day, Jesus did everything perfectly and he was still rejected. We know he had thoroughly prayed over this meeting. We know he was speaking on the subject that His Father wanted him to and that he spoke as the very oracles of God. During the first part of Jesus’ message the people witnessed how his manner of speaking was full of grace and beauty. But still he was rejected.
Have you ever witnessed for Christ and you felt like the one to whom you were reaching out rejected both you and your message? I have. The devil wants to use such experiences to put into us a fear of failure or a discouragement that would lead us to shrink back and be quiet the next time we have a good opportunity to speak out for Christ or give a simple message of love and concern to someone.
How did Jesus react when he was rejected? Soon after this experience, Jesus told his disciples, “I must preach the kingdom of God in other cities also, because for this purpose I was sent” (Luke 4:43). Jesus would not allow the rejection in Nazareth to discourage him. He knew that there would be those who would welcome him and receive him. So he went to other cities to share the blessings of the kingdom of heaven.
It is time for us to forget past rejections and move on. It is a new day for us, with new opportunities from God on the horizon. We can take advantage of those opportunities and be blessed and be a blessing to others.
Note: much of this devotional is from The Life of Jesus Foretold, pages 11-15.