Luke 4:14-30 Jesus Rejected By His Home Town

14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marvelled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your home town as well.” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his home town. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers[a] in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

 Jesus Rejected By His Home Town

Jesus returns in the power of the Spirit to Galilee and that means he probably did miracles in the region as well as teaching with great power.  However, when he returned for Saturday synagogue at his own town of Nazareth, he decides to make his most jaw-dropping proclamation of all.  The people of Israel had been waiting for centuries for the coming of the Messiah.  The Messiah would fulfill Abraham’s promised blessing to Jewish descendants and to the nations round about.  I think it is easy to develop myths in the abstract.  It is wonderful to tell stories of supernatural deeds, powerful teaching, and the changing of the world.  However, when the reality of change occurs it seldom starts with a cataclysmic upheaval, but with small conversations and very normal people.  Presidents of countries, heroes in the army, prophets, and priests all had to learn to dress themselves, study in school, and live at peace with their families.  When such prophets first speak, those from their hoe town tend to remember their formative years, their insignificance and their family background.  A prophet is particularly vulnerable.  An entertainer may gain acclaim which raises the profile of a home town.  People feel like they are carried along by the fame of the boy down the road.  However, the truth-talking prophet warns those far and near to change their behaviour.  Those who know the history of the truth-talker can belittle him and therefore his message by saying, “I know your family.  Who do you think you are?”  or in effect, “Shut up snot face!”  If Jesus had just read the prophet Isaiah with passion and interpreted him in a way that was positive for his hearers, they may have applauded.  However, he pointed out how people are contemptuous of the familiar and he challenged their assumptions that God chose Israel first regardless of their actions.  Jesus needs them to see that there is no security in their national heritage, but rather than have their secure lie exploded, they decide they want to kill him.  He could have brought them great grace from God that day, but because of their familiarity with him they chose God’s judgment.  This would be a recurring theme for Jesus in Israel.

Speaking the truth must be done with love.  However, many of us use the excuse of love to avoid speaking the truth.  We have been sent by God into the world to change it.  We must reform any environment that we are in.  All areas of living are tainted by sin and Jesus came to enable his followers to be a blessing to the nations.  Good news is truth.  To some it immediately resonates with them and they live life in an ever more righteous way.  Some have developed patterns which go deep.  they even appear godly, but truly they serve self.  Such people will eliminate the truth-teller in whatever way they can.  Many want to believe they are already good, they’re fine, they don’t need to change.  Change happens when we seek the truth.  It is good news because the truth changes things it touches to righteousness.  Work places become just.  Homes become harmonious.  Churches become safe.  Maybe, like Jesus, we have to become missionaries who preach far from our cities of origin, because if I went back to Plympton, England, they might say, “How dare Peter speak that way to us!  He thinks he’s become better than us because he has a Masters in Bible and is in a doctoral program.  We know his past.  We know who he is.”  Or perhaps I avoid speaking the truth from a pulpit in Plympton because I fear they would stone me.  Jesus spoke without fear.  He went where the Spirit took him with power.  Maybe I should be less afraid of Plympton and more mindful of the Spirit.

Prayer

Thank you for coming and speaking the truth.  Thank you for bringing blessing and allowing blessing to flourish.  Help us to walk in the Spirit as you did and preach truth that is biblical and transforming of individuals and culture.  Rejection will come.  I have to be stronger and remember that You were rejected.  Your message divides those who can accept truth and those who want nothing to do with it.  as I am changed by your word, help me to effectively communicate change.

Questions

  1. Where did Jesus go in the power of the Spirit?
  2. What passages were read in the synagogue?
  3. How did Jesus’ application of the passages offend his readers?
  4. Where has the Spirit led you and you feared rejection?
  5. How does focus on God develop courage to speak truth to yourself, your church, your coworkers and your family?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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