Summary: A sermon for the 4th Sunday after Epiphany
4th Sunday after the Epiphany
Preaching is Risky
21 And he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
22 And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; and they said, "Is not this Joseph’s son?"
23 And he said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ’Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here also in your own country.’"
24 And he said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country.
25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land;
26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.
27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian."
28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.
29 And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong.
30 But passing through the midst of them he went away.RSV
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
Our gospel lesson continue the story in last week’s gospel lesson. You will remember that Jesus was at home and went to the synagogue and was given a scroll to read. He read from Isaiah and then said a remarkable thing, that "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
Jesus was telling the people that he was the fulfillment of God’s salvation in the world.
And today’s text tells us of the reaction of the men who had heard what Jesus said.
The people were astonished at what Jesus said and they spoke out loud and said, "Isn’t this Joseph’s son?"
In a sense they were saying, how can he say that the scripture has been fulfilled in me when Jesus is just the son of a carpenter?
Jesus knew that it was difficult for the people to accept his new authority because they knew him as the son of Joseph the carpenter. How can Jesus says he has fulfilled the scripture when he is just a carpenter’s son?
It is difficult for people to change what they think of you and Jesus knew that when he said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country."
It is like the boy in the following:
Small town memories can be long and brutal. Michael was a troubled child. While he was quite young, his father passed away. Michael responded by acting out in school, by underachieving in class, and with repeated brushes with the law. By high school, Michael had developed a pattern of truancy and disrespect for authority and a taste for the wild side of life. When Michael moved away shortly after high school, the town heaved a collective sigh of relief. The small town’s consensus?
Michael was going nowhere — fast.
Many years later, while scanning the Appointments section of a national business paper, I saw a face that rang bells. I backed up and read the name. It was Michael, smiling proudly. The ad announced that Michael had recently been promoted to the position of junior vice president of a well-known company.
It didn’t seem possible. Not our Michael. Not with his past.
The memory of the people of Nazareth made it difficult for them to see Jesus in a new light. Jesus, a prophet? Jesus, the Messiah? Not possible. They remembered his past.
And not only did they have a difficult time accepting who Jesus was, the Son of god, the Messiah, they also were thinking in their hearts, why doesn’t he do miracles here as he did Capernaum. Prove to us he is the Messiah.
Jesus understood what they were saying as he looked into their hearts. They were wondering why Jesus did not heal in his own town as he did in Capernaum.
Then Jesus told them that even in the scriptures, what is our Old Testament, that Elijah did not provide food in a land that was starving, that Elisha did not heal the lepers, but Elijah and Elisha were only sent to a certain people who happen to be gentiles to bring food and to heal.
After Jesus told them that, they became angry and tried to kill Jesus.