Summary: The inaugural sermon of Jesus, and the refusal of His own people to hear Him.
THE INCLUSIVE NATURE OF GOD’S MISSION
In a synagogue in Nazareth, a young man is reading aloud from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He stops mid-sentence at “the acceptable year of the LORD” without mentioning “the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2). As He sits down to preach, all eyes are upon Him (Luke 4:20): whatever is He going to say?
His voice echoes forth as clear as any trumpet: “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). There is a stir in the congregation. They wonder at the gracious words that fall from His mouth (Luke 4:22).
We can almost hear them: ‘We know this young man. He is the son of the carpenter (or so they think). Whatever is He saying?’ Those same words pierce their own hearts, but they cannot bring themselves to accept His message.
Although no question had been asked by the congregation, nor challenge laid down, the Lord anticipated the reaction which He was going to receive. He knows the minds and hearts of each one of us. Familiarity breeds contempt, and they are now offended that He has manifested His glory elsewhere, but has done no miracles in their midst (Luke 4:23).
It has ever been the same, and drew forth the observation of Jesus that a prophet is not without honour - except in his own country, and amongst his own people (Luke 4:24). We read elsewhere that Jesus ‘did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief’ (Matthew 13:57-58). When we have a heart of unbelief, and depart from the living God, we are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:12-13).
The LORD has always been reaching out towards the people on the wrong side of the tracks. That was the plan all along (Genesis 12:3). It is sad, then, when His own people cannot find it in their hearts to accept the inclusive nature of God’s mission to mankind (Acts 22:21-22).
The people of Jesus’ hometown missed their great day of opportunity. They attempted instead to cast Him headlong from the “Brow of the Hill” upon which their city was built (Luke 4:28-29)! Thus these self-professing ‘people of God’ were aligning themselves with the devil - who had already failed to get Jesus to cast Himself down from the “Pinnacle of the Temple” (Luke 4:9-13).
Jesus’ time was not yet (John 2:4; John 7:6; John 7:30; John 8:20). When the time came, no-one took Jesus’ life from Him: He lay it down Himself (John 10:18). For the time being, He “passed through the midst of them” - unscathed - and “went on” with His mission (Luke 4:30).