Summary: Jesus was not just a great teacher and healer. He’s the risen Lord and Saviour, the Son of God who died and rose so we could be made righteous in God’s sight.
One of the comments you often hear from non-Christians is that they quite like Jesus but they’re not so keen on God. Jesus is all loving, sacrificing, etc, while God seems so judgmental, so angry. People are happy to have a saviour. They’re happy to have someone who always forgives; who’s longsuffering and patient and kind. But they don’t want a God who wants to rule over their lives; to keep them accountable; who demands obedience and commitment.
The people of Jesus day were like that weren’t they? They were quite impressed with Jesus. He spoke so well. Perhaps they didn’t quite get what he was on about when he suggested that the words of Isaiah were being fulfilled in their midst that very day. But they were amazed at how well this son of a carpenter spoke.
That, of course, was the problem. When they looked at Jesus all they could see was the son of Joseph. Here was the proverbial “local boy made good!” You can imagine them turning to one another and asking “Isn’t this Joseph’s son? Isn’t this the little boy we watched growing up all those years ago?” But of course the answer to their question is a resounding “No!” Not even close. Luke has already made that clear several times over. The Angels tell the shepherds: “to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11). Simeon Tells Mary: “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed -- and a sword will pierce your own soul too." (Luke 2:34-35) When he’s taken to the temple at the age of 12 he himself explains: “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” (Luke 2:49). Then at his baptism the voice of God rings out: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22). Finally, in case you haven’t worked it out yet, Luke traces Jesus’ genealogy all the way back to God himself.
No this isn’t just Jesus the carpenter’s son. This isn’t even Jesus the great teacher, the wise speaker of parables and wise sayings. And it certainly isn’t “Gentle Jesus, meek & mild”.
This is Jesus, the son of God. Even Satan acknowledges that. And the things that he’s come to do go far beyond the small town vision of these small town people.
It’s amazing, isn’t it, how self-centred human beings can be. Here they are face to face with the greatest person that ever lived and all they want is to get a buzz from seeing a miracle take place, a healing perhaps. All they want is to feel that they’re important enough for him to do something spectacular in their home town.
If you ask someone who they’d like to have come to dinner, most people would name some famous person wouldn’t they? Someone they look up to? Someone well known. Perhaps a sporting hero or a media star. And why would they choose that person? Not because they think they’ll be good table company. Not for their scintillating conversation. No, I suggest they’d do it so they can tell their friends later that they had that famous person to dinner. Most people’s motivation will be self-serving. And that’s the case here. Jesus points it out in a fairly blunt, even unkind way.
See how he answers them. He points them to their own history as a warning that God is interested in the whole world, not just this Jewish nation. It’s almost as if he’s giving them a warning isn’t it? He reminds them of how Elijah was treated by his own people. Do you remember the story of Elijah - we studied it just last year didn’t we? Elijah started out in Israel, proclaiming God’s word to the people and especially to Ahab the king but it soon got to the stage where it wasn’t safe for him to stay in Israel. Ahab and Jezebel were out to kill him. And so God sent him to a place called Zarephath in Sidon, over by the Mediterranean, outside the borders of Israel. And while he was there he provided not just for Elijah but for this Gentile widow and her son as well.
Similarly, in the time of Elisha, Elijah’s successor, he says, there were many lepers in Israel, as indeed there still were in Jesus’ day. But there’s only one leper who’s healed by Elisha, Do you remember who it was? It was Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, at a time when Syria and Israel were involved in running battles.