3-Week Series: Double Blessing


Summary: Luke 4


One cold night, as a sheik lay in his tent, a camel thrust the flap aside and looked in. “I pray thee, Master,” he said, “let me put my nose within the tent, for it is cold outside.” “By all means,” yawned the sheik, who was bored and listless from having reposed on his pillows all day. “Do so if you wish.”

The camel poked his nose into the tent. “If I might but warm my neck also,” he said presently. “It's all the same to me,” answered the sheik. So the beast stuck his neck inside, and contented itself a little while by looking about.

Soon the camel, who had been turning his head from side to side, spoke up again. “It will take but little more room if I put my forelegs within the tent when he said: “Master, I'm keeping the flap open by standing here like this, I think I ought to come all the way inside.” “Whatever you like,” the sheik nodded, moving over some more so the beast might enter.

So the camel came forward and crowded into the tent. No sooner was he inside then he looked hard at the sheik. “I think,” he said, “that there is not enough room for both of us here. It will be best for you to stay outside, as you are the smaller. Then there will be room enough for me.” And with that he pushed the sheik out into the cold and darkness (William J. Bennett, The Moral Compass 237-38, NY/Simon and Schuster/95)

It’s been said, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Jesus said, “No prophet is accepted in his hometown.” The Chinese say, “Local ginger is not spicy.”

Jesus grew up in Nazareth (Luke 2:39, Matt 2:23) but he left Nazareth to live in Capernaum (Matt 4:13), supposedly the Galilee of the Gentiles (Matt 4:15), when he was harshly and soundly by his hometown. What can we learn from Jesus’ rejection? Why did Jesus even bother to preach in Nazareth?

Be Single-minded When Others are Superficial

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 16 He 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. 17 The 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, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” 20 Then 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, 21 and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 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. (Luke 4:14-22)

A few days ago (March 31, 2011), we were watching TV together where a man asked his wife, “If I and your brother were to fall into the ocean together, who would you save first?” “Of course my brother. He’s my only relative.” The man was disappointed, but the wife explained, “You know how to swim. You don’t need me to rescue you.”

So my wife added, “Who would you save in a sinking boat: your mother or me? Not wanting to get into trouble, I said, “Of course you.” My wife said, “Wrong. You should save your mother because I am bound for heaven but your mother has not accepted the Lord.”

Have you ever wondered by Jesus bothered to return to a hostile crowd and environment? The bookends to this episode of Jesus hostile reception in Nazareth is His powerful ministry “throughout out the whole countryside” (v 14) and his ministry in Capernaum (vv 31-34). Previously, everyone through the whole countryside praised him (v 15). Later the people were amazed at his teaching in Capernaum (v 32), where he cast out an evil spirit from a demon-possessed man. The phrase “power of the Spirit” is exclusive to Jesus, not applicable to anyone else in the Scriptures. The response to Him was tremendous. Not one person had anything unflattering, unfavorable or unfriendly to say to Him.

The power of the Spirit, internal strength, is compounded by external witness. Word of mouth was at an optimum. Jesus debuted as a teacher in Galilee, teaching in their synagogues - plural, and everyone praised him (v 15). He was never short of admirers in all places except for one place - Nazareth. He “taught” everywhere but his hometown, the synagogue where he attended, where he got as far as to “read” but never got to “teach” the people, like he did through the whole countryside (v 14).

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