Title: The Messiah’s rejection in Nazareth
Scriptures to Read: Read Luke 4:16-30; Matthew 4:13-16
The initial rejection in Nazareth
We come to His rejection in Nazareth. This is the initial rejection of Jesus in Nazareth. Later there will be the final rejection in Nazareth. What happens locally in Nazareth will also happen nationally.
Jewish custom: You read the text standing and teach the text sitting
Notice who records this first rejection. It is Luke alone. Notice how Luke is very careful to spell out the Jewish motifs. In the synagogue service they have divided the Mosaic Law into 54 divisions. Every Sabbath one section of the Mosaic Law is read. If you go to any synagogue anywhere in the world the same passage of Scripture is read on that Sabbath. Concerning the prophets, not all of the prophets are read, but they have segments of the prophets to correlate with the reading of the Mosaic Law. In the Jewish practice, when you read the Scriptures you always stand. When you teach you always sit. It is Jesus’ turn to read from the Prophets. Notice the last line here: “He stood up to read”. This is very Jewish. You read the scripture standing.
Jesus read only one and a half verses from Isaiah 61
And what he reads is Isaiah 61, but he reads only one and a half verses. That went against the Jewish practice because the Jewish law for reading these prophets is that you must read a minimum of three verses. Different people read different portions, but whatever you read, you must read a minimum of three verses. He read only half of that passage from Isaiah 61, verse 1 and the first part of verse 2. And the people don’t quite understand why until he sits down. But in verse 20, notice, he closed the book and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down, because you teach in the sitting position. And now we see why he stopped where he did. In verse 21 He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” As far as Isaiah 61 is concerned He is only fulfilling verse 1 and the first part of verse 2. The second part of verse 2 and verse 3 he will fulfil only in the second coming, but not now.
No prophet is welcome in his hometown
But there is rejection throughout the synagogue because of a principle in verse 24: “no prophet is welcome in his hometown.” And this is his home town.
The Gentiles will accept what the Jews reject
So He again brings in Gentile examples, then female examples, which are Luke’s special concerns. He points out in verse 25 that back in the days of Elijah there were many Jewish widows that Elijah could have been sent to, but God did not send him to a Jewish widow but a Gentile one up in Lebanon. In the days of Elisha, he points out there were many Jewish lepers that Elisha could heal, but God sent him to only a Gentile leper, Naaman the Syrian. By using these examples, a Gentile man and a Gentile woman, Jesus begins to hint at what becomes obvious later: that the Gentiles accept what the Jews reject.
The residents of Nazareth tried to kill Jesus
That made them so incensed that they took him outside the town. And the town of Nazareth is on a hill that comes to a cliff, and the cliff falls down into the Jezreel Valley. And they brought him to the cliff with the intent to push him over the cliff to kill him. But verse 30 simply says: “But passing through their midst, He went His way“. Jesus was able to walk through their midst using his messianic power. They could not harm him.
Jesus sets up his headquarters in Capernaum
He now sets up his ministry in Capernaum. And he mentions the names of Zebulun and Naphtali that would receive most of the benefits of Messiah’s light. Zebulun is where Nazareth is located. Naphtali is where Capernaum is located. So he grew up in the territory of Zebulun, and he ministered in the territory of Naphtali.