Summary: However, we must ask the question, “Why do people not believe in Jesus as the Messiah and personal Saviour” particularly when they know the facts and choose not to believe? I hope the gospel message this morning helps to answer that question.
At school nowadays us teachers get more than our share of abuse for the pupils. Most of it goes over my head, but now and again something minor gets through, and it hurts.
Last week I heard some of the pupils talking, and I was meant to listen, and what they were saying was, “Stop swearing, I am a Christian”. The “I” they were talking about was not me, but this phrase was repeated in form many times, that it was blatantly obvious they were getting at me.
In a class of unruly teenagers, and in that type of mood, how do you defend this; because whatever question you answer, you open up ten other questions; and don’t forget, in this situation, it is not answers they are looking for, it is the opportunity to attack you.
This is sort of what happened in today’s gospel reading, the Jewish people were unreceptive to Jesus, and were basically out to decry him.
However, we must ask the question, “Why do people not believe in Jesus as the Messiah and personal Saviour” particularly when they know the facts and choose not to believe? I hope the gospel message this morning helps to answer that question.
It is a very gripping and powerful scripture because Jesus is the speaker in this passage, and as a continuation from last week, his words captured the moment in a way that is shocking.
2 Last week, poor, blind oppressed
Last week, I believe you heard from Ian, how "Jesus came to Nazareth, his home town, and read from the book of Isaiah in his old synagogue, and said “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, and to proclaim the favourable year of the Lord
Here Jesus was saying that he, a local lad whom they all knew, was the long awaited Messiah, the Saviour of the world, and the son of God. “I right”, springs to mind, but that is what happened; and we will come back to this verse later.
3 Miracles not salvation.
However did you notice that Jesus did have some qualification to preach in the Synagogue, because he had already been ministering for about a year in the south, so the word of his preaching was being widely spread; and the Jews of Nazareth were aware of his wonders, miracles and healings?
And this really made me think because nowhere in the New Testament does the Jewish population, even their leaders, question the miracles of Jesus. So you must conclude that all the signs and wonders fall into insignificance compared to the gift of eternal salvation.
Being miraculously healed from a fatal disease like cancer or leprosy is absolutely nothing, compared to having your soul saved from hell?
So you must ask, what exactly what do miracles to, because when Jesus did a miracle, did that prove that He could save sinners for hell? If Jesus can walk on water, is that proof that He can transfer people from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light; and give life eternal in heaven?
Miracles don't prove that, miracles only re-affirm the faith of those who believe; but it does nothing for those who don't, because to them, it is just another amazing magic trick.
Now, the miracles were not an issue with these Jews, other than them wanting to be entertained, but Jesus knew this. The Jews knew Jesus performed miracles at Capernaum, and you don’t blame them for wanting to see him performed them here in his home town of Nazareth; so that is the meaning of verse 23: where Jesus said them “And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.”
They were quite a horrible bunch, and Jesus went on to say in verse 24: ”Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town”. Jesus was making it clear that he was no performing seal.
But Jesus did not walk away, Jesus mission in his home town was the same as it was everywhere else, to preach the gospel of salvation to all; and to do that he had to take authority and force them to listen. I have to do this everyday and school, and when you get an unruly class you have to be forceful to pin them down and make them listen. The politically correct term is “create an atmosphere for learning”; and this is what Jesus did.
But to do this he descends his teaching and enrages the congregation by focusing on some very controversial scripture; to introduce the new topic of salvation to all who would receive; to explain that salvation with God was at hand, and through him and only him, would that salvation be available for all. There was no gentle way of doing this.