Jesus Rejected In His Home Town
[Luke chapter 4, verses 22-44]
Taking up where we left off at the conclusion of last week’s Bible study, today we will be analyzing the second half of chapter four of the gospel of the apostle Luke. You will recall Jesus had gone up to the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth on the morning of the Sabbath. It was his turn to read, and Jesus unrolled the scroll from the prophet Isaiah and read the first two verses of chapter 61. Those readers who are unsure of what I mean should read that passage in their Bibles. If you have none, please refer to last week’s Bible study on this blog. He then concluded by saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”. So Jesus had just told the assembly that he was “anointed to preach good news to the poor”, “sent to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and sight for the blind”, and “to release the oppressed” and “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”. So, as I wrote last week, Jesus was telling that morning’s Sabbath gathering that he himself was who Isaiah was writing about nearly 1,000 years prior to that. For some, he was well-received, but not always as we will see, beginning at verse 22:
“All spoke well of him, and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’, they asked. Jesus said to them, ‘Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard you did in Capernaum’. ‘I tell you the truth’, he continued, ‘No prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel during Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy at the time of Elijah the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed – only Naaman the Syrian.’ All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” (Luke 4: 22-30)
If we read in between the lines here, it is evident that what Jesus was actually telling his fair-weather friends, “You tell me how approving you are as you fawn all over me, but you don’t really mean it”. Moreover, he was telling them the Gentiles would be blessed along with the Hebrew nations when he mentioned the region of Sidon (near the Mediterranean coast south of modern-day Haifa) and Syria, a natural enemy of Israel’s. It is here that Jesus prophesies the inclusion of Jew and Gentile into God’s kingdom, which frankly insulted the Jews in the synagogue at Nazareth. They thought the non-Jews could not ever have an after-life, but that only the 12 Hebrew tribes could. But that was under the Old Law, what we now call the Old Testament.
Jesus’ statement that there would be equality between Jews and Gentiles was regarded as insulting by those present in the synagogue. So enraged were they that they herded Jesus to the edge of a precipice on the outskirts of town, intending to throw him over the edge and down a tall cliff. But once again Jesus, exemplifying his divinity, simply walked right back through the crowd and went on his way. Nobody tried to stop him. This brings us to the middle part of this study, beginning at verse 31:
“Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, ‘Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!’ ‘Be quiet!’, Jesus said sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. All the people were amazed and said to each other, ‘What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!’ And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.” (Luke 4: 31-37)
As you have just read, Jesus spoke with an authority that was absent in the religious leadership of that time. The people were hungry and thirsty for that kind of strong moral leadership, and they found it nowhere else but in Jesus. Much the same is still true today. We don’t find that kind of moral authority today in any capacity with the probable exception of organized religion. Even there there’s much left to be desired. Television preachers insist on 10% of every viewers income so they can spend it lavishly on themselves and their immediate families. Corporate CEO’s earn tens of millions of dollars annually while their workers scrape by on 10 or 12 dollars per hour, even less for most restaurant chains. On any given night in America there are scores of homeless families living on the streets, and the same goes for military veterans. So there is dire need for moral authority, and I continue to maintain that it can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God! To become a problem solver, simply follow Him!
Notice that the demons residing within the man who was possessed already knew who Jesus was. So now you can see that demons have precognitive powers that are, to we humans, both spiritual and paranormal in nature. So here you can also plainly see that foreknowledge and the paranormal come from evil spirits. They are demonic in nature. So whenever you encounter someone such as an astrologer or a fortune teller, get away from those people because they use demonic powers as their stock in trade! Jesus, on the other hand, was using the power of the Holy Spirit when he healed the demon-possessed man. Now that you know how to tell the difference, let’s conclude today’s study starting at verse 38.
“Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them. When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’. But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ. At daybreak Jesus went to a solitary place. The people were looking for him, and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.’ And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” (Luke 4: 38-44)
First, to clear up any confusion, this particular Simon was not the same one that carried the cross of Jesus up the hill at Golgotha. That was Simon from Cyrene from Luke chapter 23, which we will get to in a few weeks. But Jesus stayed at Simon’s house for an unspecified period of time, and during that time he healed a lot of people. But in so doing, he was also making a statement to the religious leadership of that day, the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin, or ruling council. Jesus was exercising some ‘leadership by example’ over the religious establishment of his day. While the Hebrew priests were at the synagogue busying themselves with religiosity and all the pomp and circumstance thereof, Jesus was out healing people, driving out demons, and rebuking all kids of illnesses. He was taking care of business while the Pharisees stayed in their synagogues.
But there was something even greater than that occurring as Jesus began his ministry, as he was healing people’s bodies, hearts and minds. In days of old, it is written in the Old Law (see the Book of Leviticus starting around chapter four), certain animal sacrifices had to be made because the shedding of blood was necessary for the forgiveness of sins. The thing people did not yet understand at this early point in Jesus’ ministry was that he was the new sacrifice, one that would have to be made only once, and that it would be Jesus himself who would shed his blood for all our sins. Of course, this would not occur for approximately 3 more years. But, Jesus statement of his purpose for being here, as he put it, was obviously done prophetically, confirming once again that he truly was the Son of God! He is our blessed and most sacred Kinsman Redeemer and the Savior of the world!
“‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.’ And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” Jesus was a very industrious man, he ministered on a daily basis as far as I can tell here. Jesus was relentless in preaching the “good news to the poor”. He never gave up, and we should be following his example in our own lives. Set a goal, make it an honorable one, and then take whatever steps are necessary to achieve that goal. If we conduct our lives like Jesus conducted his ministry, we will have all done well! So go for it, change your life for the better! Until next time, then, think about these words, and be blessed I Jesus’ name!