Summary: If we are to hear the message of Christ we must deal with three misconceptions.
How’s Your Hearing?
Woodlawn Missionary Baptist Church
April 2, 2006
A man who smelled like a brewery flopped on a seat at a bus stop next to a priest. The man’s shirt was stained, clothes unkempt, and a half empty bottle of wine was sticking out of his torn coat pocket. He opened his newspaper and began reading. Needless to say, the priest became uncomfortable at the smell and appearance of his seatmate.
After a few minutes the disheveled guy turned to the priest and asked, "Say, Father, what causes arthritis?"
In his annoyed state, the priest retorted, "Mister, it’s caused by loose living, being with cheap women, too much alcohol and contempt for your fellow man."
"Well I’ll be...." the drunk muttered, returning to his paper.
The priest, realizing the error of his comment, apologized. "I’m very sorry. I didn’t mean to be so rude. How long have you had arthritis?"
"I don’t, Reverend. I was just reading here that the Pope does."
Just like this priest, too often we can make assumptions about people that can be completely wrong. What is worse though is that too often we can make assumptions about God that can be completely wrong. We try to squeeze the creator God with all his awesome characteristics into a box or into a set of creeds or theological explanations which we can comprehend or handle with our feeble little finite minds. In so doing, we put limits on what we will allow God to do in us and more seriously, we try to limit what God is allowed to do in other people.
This morning as we continue our study in the gospel of Luke we’re going to encounter a group of people who knew Jesus very well and as a result tried to stuff Him into their box. The problem though was that Jesus’ purpose and his whole ministry was way too big to be contained in any box dreamed up by the thoughts of mere men. Isaiah 55:8-9 says,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Luke 4:14-15 serve as a summary of the first year of Jesus’ ministry after He was baptized.
“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.”
Between verses 13 and 14, or between the time of Jesus wilderness testing and the time He appears in Nazareth, the events of the first four chapters of John take place. During this year of ministry He had been introduced as the Messiah by John, called some if not all of His disciples, cleansed the temple in Jerusalem, talked with Nicodemus, and proclaimed the gospel in Samaria where the woman at the well was saved. When He returned to Galilee, a nobleman approached Jesus in Cana while his son was ill in Capernaum. He asked Jesus to heal the boy from a distance, which He did.
In just one year Jesus had done some amazing things, but more importantly, He had taught and preached some amazing things, and the fantastic reports of His ministry had reached the people of Nazareth before He did. When He finally arrived, the level of anticipation and excitement was high.
You can imagine the scene as Jesus returned and began to visit His family and catch up on what had been going on. The townspeople would be curious about the reports they had been hearing, and folk at the synagogue would want to hear His teaching; so when the Sabbath rolled around, Jesus was asked to read from the Holy Scriptures. Verses 18-19 record what He read:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Once Jesus had read this passage, He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down ready to start teaching. And this is what He says in verse 21: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
So far everything had been going fine, but when Jesus made this statement things began to change. Let’s read verses 22-30 and see how things unfold for Him.
“And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elijah sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way.”