Read: Luke 4:14-30
Back from the desert temptation experience, Jesus’ ministry is now set for launch. Not surprising, His teaching is exceptional and people are amazed. They were amazed when He taught as a 12-year old (Luke 2:47), I can’t even fathom what another 18 years of life on earth added to His sermon archive!
In this passage, Jesus quotes Isaiah and declares He has come to fulfill the prophesies that begin with five specific proclamations:
- proclaim good news to the poor.
- proclaim freedom for the prisoners
- recovery of sight for the blind,
- set the oppressed free,
- proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
He does a lot more than that! This is just the beginning.
Forgive me for getting on my soapbox to preach this lesson once again, but I can’t help myself! One thing I want to specifically draw your attention to is #1 on the list. We often think about poor as those who are homeless, financially challenged, etc., but I hope you will consider the term poor in a much broader sense. Those who have not been adopted into the family of Christ are all poor. They might have great earthly wealth, but we all know that passes in a blink. Yes, those who have no earthly possessions, those who struggle day to day for a meal or a place to stay warm know that they are poor. We are obligated to care for the fatherless, the downcast, those who can’t care for themselves.
Somehow we have to learn to look beyond outward appearances and see people the way Jesus sees them. Those who are the pious poor are probably much more challenging to minister to, but that doesn’t let us off the hook. Lord, I pray for discerning eyes and ears to see and hear people they way You see them. Open doors that we might minister to them in ways that please You.
End of Soapbox
You would think that people would hear His teaching and get excited, right?
He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. Luke 4:15
The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:20-21
Everyone praised Him, eyes and ears glued to His teaching. Then some of the pious rich make the observation:
“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Luke 4:22
Hold everything! The people remember this was the little boy that grew up down the street. Surely He cannot be who He claims.
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. John 1:46
Jesus selects a few examples for the self-righteous to hear. He picks two of the all-time favorite prophets of old: Elijah and Elisha. Those hearing these words would know of the references and we are privileged to have the Old Testament to understand their significance. Here are a few main points to consider:
- Prophets were rarely welcome in their home towns; their ministry was consistently harsh and not welcomed
- The examples of Elijah and Elisha pointed to helping Gentiles, not Jews
- Elijah and Elisha prophesied during some of the worst times in Israel’s horrible history
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 off the cliff. Luke 4:29
Miraculously, Jesus simply walked away from the crowd and went on to continue His ministry.
This is a rather troubling text to consider. Those who wanted to throw Jesus off the cliff were the established church of their time. They couldn’t hear His message, though it was obviously presented in a compelling and exciting manner. People got the message. Religious leaders wanted to kill Him.
Jesus was not affected by their misgivings. He walked away and sought those who wanted to learn about adoption into the royal family — His kingdom. Lord, help us to do likewise!