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Summary: To the people of Nazareth, Jesus was nobody special...he was just Joseph's boy, you know, that carpenter's kid from up the street. The folks missed the meaning of his life because he was just Jesus.

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Just Jesus

Luke 4:14-30

You know the definition of a “church expert?” Answer: Anybody that lives more than 45 miles away from your church! Maybe you get this at home yourself sometimes. Conversation after dinner goes into a topic you think you have some knowledge about and you begin carefully imparting that knowledge. You think you’re doing quite well and even impressing yourself a bit until the awkward silence is broken by one of your kids who says “What do YOU know about that stuff?”

It’s scary to think about how many lessons of life and faith we miss because we don’t listen to those we know best the way we listen to dynamic, outside speakers—those so-called experts! We’re too close. We know each other too well. We aren’t experts. We are just dad; just mom; just a brother; just a sister; just a friend; just a neighbor. We’re not experts. This reality is particularly strong when it comes to matters of faith!

That’s why the folks in Nazareth couldn’t hear Jesus. He was, after all, just Jesus. He was no expert. He was just a carpenter’s kid. He was just Mary’s boy, just a kid from up the street. They knew his brothers and sisters. He was just Jesus.

Oh, they were quite impressed with him. Remember, word had gotten back to them about all the great things he was doing in the surrounding area, and the rabbi made good was returning home. There was a buzz in the air. They wanted to hear him. They were excited to have him return. Mary and Joseph could feel proud of the son who was making a name for himself. Perhaps they would see some of the mighty works done right there among them. This was an exciting time, but the excitement soon turned sour as things began to go in an unexpected direction.

Read Luke 4: 14-30 here.

Jesus went to the synagogue. Synagogue was a place where the Jews were taught the Scriptures. Don’t confuse the synagogue with the Temple. That was the place in Jerusalem where the priests made sacrifices. Synagogues filled the local communities, and the Jews went there every Sabbath to hear and learn. Much like church we experience today. The order went something like this: There had to be ten men present. The gatherers would recite the shema from Deuteronomy 6. There would be a prayer followed by a reading from the Torah (Law). Then a reading from the prophets, and then a sermon that tied the prophets and the law together. The service would close with a benediction.

Jesus must have been the one who read the prophet that day. Whether it was a selected text, or whether Jesus chose one on his own we don’t know. But he read from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah 61:1-2 to be exact. What had become for the Jews a great Messianic passage. Jesus read the passage, and then sat down (all good rabbis sat to teach). The people leaned over in anticipation, waiting to hear the words this great new rabbi would speak. Imagine their stunned silence when all he had to say was, “This scripture has come true today before your very eyes.”

The passage leads us to believe they like the way he said it, but that didn’t understand what he said. Jesus was simply saying, “Today, salvation has come among you. God’s salvation.” And the response of the people was “What? That’s just Jesus!” They couldn’t hear the message, or they couldn’t accept the message because they were focused too much on the messenger. After all, it was just Jesus.

Who is it for you, that makes you like the folks in Nazareth? Who is the prophet from your hometown, the one with whom you’re too close to view them as an expert, the ones you know so well that certainly they have nothing to teach you?

• Just mom…

• Just Uncle Joe …

• Just crazy Sally from up the street…

• Just a kid…

The lesson for Nazareth is the lesson for us—they had everything they needed right there in their midst and so do we. We have just Jesus in our midst. And we find him in each other. The trick is to learn from the good people of Nazareth by being willing to learn from one another.

What keeps us from honoring our hometown prophets, the people we live with, work with, play with, eat with, and worship with? What makes us say, “Ahhh, it’s…

• Just mom…

• Just Uncle Joe …

• Just crazy Sally from up the street…

• Just a kid…

What keeps us from learning from one another, and what can we do about it? First is we’re just too close. We need to step back.

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