Summary: Accepting Jesus means accepting what He really is and what He wants to do
My wife used to work at Wal-Mart. One of the stories of Wal-Mart lore that used to circulate around there concerned the day that Sam Walton, the owner of the whole enterprise, visited one of his stores. Even though he was wealthy, Walton was known for his simplicity. He drove an old red pickup truck and didn’t always dress up. On this occasion, he was dressed in overalls and the store he was visiting wasn’t open yet for the day. Sam could have started by explaining who he was, but sometimes, by being anonymous, you can learn a lot. He approached the door and attempted to go in. A store manager stopped him. Rather than handle the scene respectfully, he was rude and disrespectful to this redneck hick trying to get in too early. He didn’t recognize that the man he was mistreating was the owner of his store. Guess who didn’t work for Wal-Mart anymore. Oops!
It’s funny when it doesn’t happen to you, isn’t it? But some of the most unbelievable words in the Bible are in the introduction to John’s gospel, and they speak of One Who was unrecognized.
(John 1:10-11) He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
For these next 2 months we’re going to be looking into a period in the life of Jesus. It’s going to take us through a lot of different events. We’ll consider a lot of different people. But, most importantly, we’ll be looking at how Jesus “came unto His own.”
We’re starting our journey in the life of Jesus as He’s just getting into His ministry. Jesus is going to impact the world from a geographically small area we know as Palestine. Today’s text is during a visit to the northern area of Palestine called Galilee, pretty removed from Jerusalem where the temple was. Matthew even cites Isaiah and calls it “Galilee of the Gentiles.”
There, halfway between the Mediterranean and the Sea of Galilee is the city of Nazareth. Nazareth didn’t have that great of a reputation. We recognize it as the hometown of a married couple, Mary and Joseph. Even though Jesus wasn’t born there, he grew up there and became known as a “Nazarene.”
Understand that calling someone a Nazarene wasn’t a compliment in the 1st Century. That negative name stuck with Jesus and His disciples. In fact, with a little adjustment, it’s the same word that Muslims use to refer to Christians today – like us calling the followers of Sun Yung Moon “Moonies.”
So, Luke takes his camera from the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and follows Him up to Galilee, and zooms in this one day that Jesus travels to His old home town of Nazareth.
To appreciate the impact of this text, we have to start with the finish. *vv27-28. Just a little earlier in this scene, everyone seems to appreciate Jesus just fine
*vv15,22. But now it’s ending in a mob scene!
“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
Nazareth is just the first place. It turns out that some people just can’t seem to “handle” Jesus.
Now, I’m using that term in a way we use it – we talk about being able to “handle” something. We mean being able to endure it – “I can’t handle taking that medicine”; or we might just mean feeling comfortable – “I don’t think I can handle being around him all day.”
In more ways than one, the people of Nazareth couldn’t “handle” Jesus.
Apparently, neither can a lot of the people of Joplin, or of Missouri, or of the US, or abroad.
Why is that? What is it that turns them from thinking He was a pretty OK guy to wanting to throw Him off a cliff? Why can’t people handle Jesus? I asked that question as I studied this passage, and I hope that we can adequately answer it before we leave here today.
I want us to be able to answer it for ourselves – because, let’s face it, there are some things about Jesus that we all just don’t handle very well. I also want us to be able to answer it for the sake of other people who are struggling with Jesus. Maybe you’re one of them.
Why can’t people handle Jesus?
I. He’s Too Familiar
(Luke 4:14-16) Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.