Summary: Sermon for the 4th Sunday after Epiphany, Year C, 2013
Luke 4: 21 – 30 / He Went On His Way
Intro: An older lady sat in a worship service in a quaint southern town. The pastor was preaching against all kinds of sins from gambling to murder and everything in between. The Pastor started on the sin of gossiping and the old lady sat bolt-upright in the pew and exclaimed: “Now he’s left preaching and taken to meddling.”
I. VS. 22 – “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that come from his lips . . .” As Jesus began his sermon, it seemed that everything was going well.
A. “All spoke well of him and were amazed . . .” The word here in Greek is thaumazein = astonishment coupled with criticism, doubt or censure OR admiration coupled with unexpected pleasure.
B. From the context and the nuances of the language here, it suggests that the people were impressed with Jesus. Their curiosity was aroused. What would he do for his hometown people?
C. They asked, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” This same question is asked in Mark 6:3 where Jesus has performed miracles. Here it is just the words of Jesus that impress the people.
II. VSS. 23 – 24 Jesus shares some proverbs applying them to himself. He ends by saying that no prophet is accepted in his native place.
A. The people are ready to see greatness from Jesus. This is unusual because it is more likely that people will accept the words of a stranger rather than those of people they know or with whom they have lived.
B. The definition of an expert is anyone who is more than 50 miles from home carrying a briefcase.
C. Jesus affirms the fact that their familiarity with him is an obstacle to really listening to him and accepting what he has to say. “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Perhaps they are expecting Jesus to do what they want in the way they want: afterall, he was one of them!
III. In VS. 28 we see the astonishment of the people turn to rage because Jesus reminds them by sharing stories about Elijah and Elisha that illustrate that God often worked with non-Jews to accomplish God’s will.
A. The Jews believed they were God’s chosen and that God’s salvation belonged exclusively to them.
B. VSS. 25 – 27 Jesus uses these well-known stories aggravating and enraging the people reminding them that God had ignored the plight of the Israelites because they would not listen or obey.
C. They are angry because Jesus is meddling in their lives. He is basically tell them that God will not grant them special favors because they are unwilling to move beyond self to minister to the poor and oppressed people in their community.
Conclu: The people are furious because Jesus threatens to dismantle the status quo demolishing the stereotypes that defined the religious and social boundaries of those in the synagogue. VSS. 28 – 30 - The people were willing to kill Jesus because he pointed out their hypocrisy. VS. 30 “But he walked right through the crown and went on his way.” Jesus would not be deterred by the opinions and wishes of the people. He was going to do the will of God regardless. How willing are we to set aside the status quo and follow where Christ leads?