The First Rejection
According to Luke 4:22-30
22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. 23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’” 24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have been looking at some of Jesus’ FIRSTS. His first Outreach Program; his first miracle and just last week his first sermon – which was a pretty awesome sermon. Jesus revealed that He would open the eyes of the blind, that he would free the oppressed from the guilt of their sins, that he would release people from Satan’s power and that he would bring to the poor the riches of eternal life.
It’s sounds great, right? You’d expect people to start giving each other high fives. You’d expect a few “Hallelujahs!” from the back of the room. You’d expect some people to get up and start dancing and teens to start texting, #NazarethRules #TheMessiahIsHere! #ImSaved
Nope. None of that. (And not just cause SmartPhones weren’t invented back then.)
The reaction of the Nazarites was far less receptive and yet eerily familiar.
I. Familiarity Breeds Rejection
Take a look at Luke 4:22. It says, “All were spoke well about him and all were amazed at his words of grace. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they said.
Those English words are kind of deceptive. The Greek text there simply means that they began “talking about him.” More neutral than positive or negative. You can understand why – He had just claimed to be the Messiah -- something that no one else had done before…ever!
The phrase “all were amazed” has a positive English connotation. Like “I was amazed at the singer on American Idol.” But the Greek word doesn’t have that positivity. Again – it’s neutral amazement – almost shock. As in, “Donald Trump just what?”
Look at their reason for being shocked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Isn’t this the kid who used to go to Ms. Mertz’s Saturday school? Didn’t he have the lead in the annual Passover pageant a few years back? Wasn’t he a part of the teen choir? Didn’t I pay him a few dollars to come and help rebuild my wooden parlor table?
He’s familiar. He’s too familiar.
To help grasp what the Nazarites were going through. Imagine this. Imagine that you were scrolling through Facebook and you came across an friend from high school that you haven’t seen for years. You click on his profile and immediately you get an eery feeling. His last post says, “Trust in me and you will be saved from eternal hell.” His profile picture has some fuzzy cloud effect and the phrase “Trust in me” in front of it. Then, under his profile it says that he’s from HEAVEN, that his age is infinite and that his dad – is God himself.
Sound a bit crazy?
Jesus sensed that tension. Look at his response: Surely you will quote me this proverb: Physician heal yourself! Which is an interesting proverb. Imagine walking into a doctor’s office. You’re sitting on the cold, metallic stool. The doctor enters his face engrossed, not in your patient notes, but a handkerchief. He looks pale. He’s sweating. He’s sneezing. When he listens to your heartbeat you can’t tell if the icy cold is coming from the metallic end of the stethoscope or his sickly fingers.
Don’t worry about me, doc. Heal yourself!
Jesus was revealing what these people’s hearts were saying. “Jesus, heal yourself!” Bub, stop talking to us about sin and our need for a Savior. Don’t tell us you’re the Messiah. Don’t tell us you will lead us to heaven. In fact, don’t tell us anything else. Just do some of your magic tricks so we can all go home.
Then, Jesus drops some truth on them: 24 No prophet is accepted in his hometown. His hometown is too familiar with him. They refuse to see the prophet as the prophet. They can only see him as the familiar little boy, as a going-through-puberty teenager, as a not-the-Messiah-just-an-ordinary man.
Familiarity breeds Rejection.
Can we take this as a warning? Especially if you’ve been a part of this church/a Christian for a long time. (Myself included). Familiarity breeds rejection.
Careful: Familiarity Breeds rejection.
II. Rejection isn’t good
You might be thinking, so what? I might have done that. I might not always listen to Jesus. I haven’t really acted like he’s all that important. I guess I kinda rejected him…but so what? It’s no big deal.
NO BIG DEAL!?! I’ll let Jesus handle this one:
25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Did you catch that? It was a drought. No rain in all of Israel and the surrounding areas for three and a half years. 1277 days. No irrigation. No bottled water. Crops dying. Food scarce. There were all kinds of people who needed help. All kinds of Israelites. All kinds of long time, familiar with God, people!
26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. God told Elijah to tell her to go back to her flour jar…to make some bread…to use all she needed…ONLY to come back the next day and find it filled with flour all over again. A miracle for the foreigner.
To those who were too familiar with God to care? NOTHING.
27a And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet. Leprosy was a horrible disease. It was highly contagious. It flaked off your skin. It rotted your cartilage. It caused your finger tips and ear cartilage to fall off. It was fatal. There were all kinds of people who had this disease. All kind of long time, familiar with God, people!
27b Yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian. God told Elisha to tell him to go to a river…to wash once…to wash twice…to wash seven times…to look down at his skin in astonishment: HE WAS HEALED. A miracle of God. A miracle for the foreigner.
To those who were too familiar with God to care? NOTHING.
REJECTION IS A BIG DEAL! If you rejected Jesus, you are rejecting your salvation.
Imagine if someone invented a cure for cancer. If the doctor offered it to you and you said, "No," then,(get this) you won't be cured from cancer! With Jesus it is the same thing. Jesus is the cure for sin. Jesus is the cure for death. Jesus is the cure for hell.
If you reject him...
...it's a big deal.
Repent. If you’ve been away from God for a long time, if you haven’t cared, if you’ve let God become too familiar for you to care, repent! Turn around. Turn back to the LORD!
Because you can’t stop him. They couldn’t stop back then. Look at verse 28. 28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this and they got up and drove him out of the town. They took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.
They didn’t want to listen to his warnings. They didn’t want to hear him talk about sin. They were tired of this carpenter’s son – who was a Nazarene just like them – telling them that they needed saving! The best way to shut him up was murder. Plain and simple! And they had the numbers; a synagogue full of people. Hundreds. He only had a few, measly disciples. They could bull rush him. They could take up to the cliff. All it would take was one push and they’d never have to hear from him ever again.
Except….except….30 he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
You can’t stop Jesus.
And can we point out this is one of those hidden miracles in Scripture. One of those times you might not see it the first time. He’s surrounded by people who are blood thirsty and ready to kill him. He walks “RIGHT THROUGH THEM.” It doesn’t say he went around them. He didn’t throw a smoke bomb and ninja out of there. He walked right through them.
Because you can’t stop Jesus.
Even though they tried again. Much later many people would try to stop Jesus again. They had him arrested; they had him imprisoned; then they sentenced him to die and instead of risking the chance that he might walk off again, they made sure he would stay.
They nailed him to two large pieces of wood and watched as he died.
But three days later, death couldn’t stop him.
The giant rock in front of his standing tomb couldn’t stop him.
The locked door that his disciples were hiding behind couldn’t stop him.
Jesus defeated sin, death, and hell. He did everything the sermon claimed he would. He made the poor rich by bringing eternal life. He made the blind to see as he showed himself the truth Savior. He released the prisoners from the guilt of their minds and the oppressed from the pangs of their sins. He proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor!
Nothing could stop Jesus.
That’s still true. When you come to Jesus in faith, your past sins will not stop him from saying, “I forgive you.” Your past rejections will not hold him back from saying, “You are forgiven for your rejection.”
No matter what you have in your past, it will not stop Jesus from saying, “You are mine.”
And with Jesus on your side? Nothing can stop you!
The struggles you are having with finances? They won’t stop you, because you've got him.
The troubles in relationships? They can’t stop you, because you've got Jesus.
The terrors of this world? The scares of declining health? The torments of the devil? They won’t stop you because you are connected to Jesus – and nothing stops him!
It's simple. Don’t reject Jesus.
Connect with Him.
He won’t reject you. Amen.
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