Home Back to Sermon Files
Pastor Dan Eddy
Rejecting the Good
THE GOSPEL READING…………………….............................Luke 4:14-30 NIV
P: The Holy Gospel according to the St. Luke, the 4th Chapter:
C: Glory to you, O Lord.
Jesus is rejected in His hometown of Nazareth. This is the text for today’s sermon.
14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked.
23Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.' "
24"I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27And there were many in Israel with leprosy[f] in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian." 28All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29They 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. 30But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
P: This is the Gospel of the Lord.
C: Praise to You, O Christ. 2
I. Introduction: Rejection
Rejection: When I worked in radio advertising sales, I remember setting up for a live remote at local pizza chain located in my home town. As I was preparing I ran into my old fifth and sixth grade teacher who stopped by to pick up a pizza for he and his wife. I hadn’t seen him in a long time. He saw me and came over to where we were setting up.
However, instead of saying,"Wow…it’s great to see you. It looks like you’re doing great with your career." He looked at me as if I were still in grade school with his half-rimed glasses and said "So, young man what are you doing here today?" When I explained my role as an advertising and marketing person for the radio station to promote the pizza restaurant, he just looked at me in distain as though I was a failure. "Oh…I see, well I have to go. I’m running late." That hurt. We want to be accepted for who we are and what we’ve done.
Rejection: I think it’s safe to say that Martha Coakley feels she and many of her views have been rejected, well at least rejected by 52% of Massachusetts voters in last Tuesday’s U.S. Senate election. Losing a 30 point lead in the polls in less than a month had to hurt, especially if she felt she was better qualified to represent the views of Massachusetts voters.
Can you think of a time when you tried to win someone’s approval, didn’t get it, was rejected, and it hurt?
Rejection is all over today’s Gospel text as Jesus was summarily rejected in His hometown of Nazareth. He was rejected for who He is, what He stands for, and for what He has done or was going to do.
II. Why Jesus was rejected? Why do we reject Him?
First, Jesus was rejected for who He is. But His congregation loved hearing those words He spoke from Isaiah 61. Here the prophet is saying that the coming Messiah is preaching to meet people’s needs…reaching out to the poor, those imprisoned by oppression; spiritual and physical sight would be restored; prisoners would be set freed. These were good words of hope for a future victory where someday someone greater would come along...the Messiah…THE King for Israel.
So they loved to hear those words until…Jesus had to gall to say that this prophecy had been fulfilled in their presence. The congregation was in shock."What? You’re saying You’re that Messiah? From this Podunk town? Come on, Jesus, carpenter son of Joseph and Mary who are you kidding?"
He lacked credibility in the eyes of the worshippers. Like my grade school teacher who still saw me as a little boy, so Jesus was seen as the grown boy of Mary and Joseph, reading God’s Word in the synagogue. He was a nice boy but nothing more. Certainly not a rabbi, a priest, or a prophet. But when Jesus spoke these words from Scripture and then said they were fulfilled. (Snap fingers) He instantly had their undivided attention.
So how do you view Jesus? Does He have the authority to proclaim, teach, comfort, and admonish you and your life through His Word? Or is He just a historical figure we gather together to talk about each week, but doesn’t really have that much relevance OR the right to guide your life today? And how do you view me as His representative in this congregation? Do you see me as speaking for Him or just expressing some opinionsabout Him? Or if you’re older than me are you saying: "What does this young guy know about God?" Or if you’re younger: "This dude out of touch with today’s world?" 3
Jesus’ response to them rejecting Him as the Messiah was to offer them a bit of spiritual medicine they didn’t necessarily want to take. It was as though He could read their minds and knew they wanted Him to prove Himself by performing miracles in Nazareth like some may have heard He did in nearby Capernaum. Not only didn’t Jesus perform the miracles, but then drew a parallel between them and some of the unbelieving Israelites in the Old Testament. Throughout Israel’s history, God’s Chosen People rejected many of His messengers of redemption, didn’t accept the one Lord God, and instead worshipped and lusted after the many false gods. So the Lord sent His prophet Elijah and his successor Elisha to go and do miracles among the Gentiles…those considered unclean…just to show that just because God picks you to be His child doesn’t mean you are still His child, if you don’t want to be. You can reject Him.
Thus Jesus was saying to the hometown crowd,"You’re no better than your unbelieving forefathers who rejected the one Lord God." And one thing Jesus never did was perform miracles in front of people who had already rejected Him.
People marveled and were amazed at Jesus as long as they agreed with God’s Word and thought they were good. But once Jesus showed them their sins, their excitement for Him turned to hatred. They wanted God on their own terms and were unwilling to be instructed by our Lord…because they didn’t think Jesus was the Son of God…the Messiah… He wasn’t even seen as a prophet.
They were filled with fury. His views like many politicians were not seen as the truth but as insulting. And their vote was to drive Him out of the synagogue and the community. Their rejection was instantaneous.The harder the unbelief of God’s Word, the harder the blows one think they receive from Christ. They tried to kill Jesus and He somehow miraculously or otherwise walked away, because His time to die had not yet come. Scripture does not record Jesus doing any other ministering in Nazareth OR ever notes His returning to His home town again. I can only imagine how that hurt never to be accepted again where you grew up.
Do we sometimes disagree with Christ and His Word and what it is saying for our lives? Are we rejecting the tough love God gives us through Christ Jesus? Is it really easy to discount a sermon message? When we hear those correcting word from God, do we plug our ears and go"La, la, la, la." Do we like hearing only the good things, but when God’s Word shows us our faults we become filled with fury toward our Savior and His messenger? If we do, then we are risking our relationship with God, and in our own way trying to throw Him off our cliff of selfishness. He chose you and me, but we can reject Him.
Sometimes we reject the good, because we really didn’t believe it was all that good for our lives in the first place.
III. Empathize with Jesus for moment; put yourself in His shoes.
But before you consider driving me out the door and throwing me off a cliff, I want you to put yourself in Christ’s shoes (or sandals), and consider the phrase"Physician, heal yourself." It’s an ironic statement because some doctors can make the worst patients; have you ever noticed that? They come in and tell you to exercise more, and eat right. And yet while they are telling you this, you are noticing that they’re overweight and out of shape. There’s a credibility problem when the word and actions don’t match. One could say it might be a good reason to reject them and what they are saying. 4
But with Christ Jesus, His words always matched His actions. God the Father through the Son of God promised a Messiah and we got one. Jesus said in Matthew 5:48:"You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." And Christ never sinned. He performed many miracles; healed many people. And yet on the cross, those words "Physician, heal yourself," came back to haunt Him when the skeptics said (cross arms), "He saved others; he can not save Himself." (Matthew 27:42 ESV)
Because He wasn’t saving Himself; He was saving you and me. Jesus was rejected by not only by the people in His hometown, not only by the crowds at cross; but by you and me through our sins; We rejected Christ, and it hurt Him. The harder the unbelief of our sins, the harder the blows Christ suffered on the cross. He was even rejected by His own Father,and that really hurt.
But that means, too, because of that rejection, He was able to save you with His suffering and death on the Cross, and on Easter Sunday He saved Himself by rising from the dead; but because He lives, you live forever if you have faith in Him. Jesus has preached His saving gospel to the poor in spirit like you and me; He’s released us from the prison of our sin and its consequences. And even though we still feel the crushing effects of our iniquities….the completed healing and freedom is coming.
Jesus’ words match His actions at the baptismal font when He healed you from the blindness of your sins and gave you the sight of faith. And in the bread and cup of His true body and real blood…He has absolved and released you, the oppressed, of your sins.
So when we are tempted to reject Christ Jesus from God’s Word preached in a sermon, remember the words of our sermon hymn: "Amazed and overwhelmed at how Your mercy fell/ And changed a heart as hard as mine/ I tried to turn away, deny the hand You gave, But You refused to leave my side/ Wonderful God Wonderful God/ Wonderful Savior Wonderful love/ Who could compare? None can be found/ Wonderful Savior Wonderful God." Christ doesn’t want to reject you, even after you’ve rejected Him, so confess your sin; receive His love again, and listen well for His goodness.
IV. Listen well and Living well, so our words match our actions.
You see the key here is listening well to Jesus so we can live well for Him. Then His words will match our actions.To help illustrate this point, I am going to ask the children to come forward and help me out. (While they are coming up repeat bold phrase above)
Okay here’s what we are going to do. The goal is to listen to God’s Word carefully. If I say"God the Father says to you…" or "Jesus wants you to do…" or "the Holy Spirit is moving you to do…" then you cup your hands over your ears and say "Let my actions match your Word, Lord." So ahead and say that: "Let my actions match your Word, Lord."
Now If I don’t say"God the Father says to you," or "Jesus wants you to do," or "the Holy Spirit is moving you" then you cover your ears and say "I’m not listening, la, la, la." Because we don’t want to listen to the world, the devil, when they encourage us to reject Jesus. Go ahead and say that: "I’m not listening, la, la, la."
Let’s see if you’re listening to God well. You adults can play along in the pews and help the children out. Okay ready…let’s play:
"God the Father say to you….pray and help the poor people in Haiti."
"Let my actions match Your Word, Lord."
Great!! Here’s the next one,"Do what makes you feel good."
"I’m not listening, la, la, la."
Very nice."Jesus wants you to tell people about heaven."
"Let my actions match your Word, Lord." 5
Good. "I don’t have to follow all of God’s Word as preached in the sermon."
"I’m not listening, la, la, la."
Alright."If people have faith in Christ, they don’t need to go to church."
"I’m not listening, la, la, la."
Excellent. Last one:"The Holy Spirit is moving you to help out more at church."
"Let my actions match Your Word, Lord."
By reading the Bible and listening to God’s Word in Church, Sunday School, and Bible class: We can listen well so we can live well for Him.
Let us pray:
Spirit of the Lord, anoint me with better ears to better hear Your Word and the needs of Your people. Forgive me for rejecting Your goodness. Let my words and actions express the everlasting freedom of Your love and forgiveness, so my actions…match Your Word. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.