#856. No prophet is accepted in his hometown (14/7/23)
Welcome to this Come to Jesus Daily devotional as we continue with our series, ‘Luke - Exploring who Jesus is.’ This week, our devotionals are based on Luke 4:14-30. Today’s devotional is entitled, No prophet is accepted in his hometown.
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‘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.’” “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 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. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 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.” All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 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. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.’ (Luke 4:23-30)
Lesson: Jesus comes to anyone who will receive Him.
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I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of finding it hard to adjust our relationship with someone whom we’ve seen grow up and become an adult with some ability or authority. A parent finds it hard to adjust to the adult child. Many find it hard to respect young police officers or teachers, etc. This was Jesus’ experience in His hometown. As we saw yesterday, overfamiliarity led many to disrespect Jesus, but we can all allow overfamiliarity to rob us of worship and expectation.
Jesus reveals His prophetic insight into their demeaning attitude toward Him by saying:
“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.’”
In saying ‘physician, heal yourself,’ they are implying that, just as a physician should use their powers in their own life and for those closest to them, Jesus should prioritise performing the miracles He has done elsewhere in His hometown of Nazareth. Underlying their desire for miracles is unbelief. They are unsure if they believe what they have heard about Him and will only do so if He works signs among them. Throughout His ministry, Jesus’ claims will be tested by the desire for miracles (See 11:16, 29).
Jesus further confronts their unbelief and rejection, anticipating His rejection by the Jewish authorities as He quotes another proverb:
“Truly I tell you,” He continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”
To further confront those in His hometown, He refers to incidents in the ministries of Elijah and Elisha to remind them that God sends His prophets to anyone He chooses, even to those outside of Israel - to Gentiles. These prophets go to ‘The widow in Zarephath’ and ‘Naaman the Syrian’ who also had leprosy as God led them. Jesus’ teaching on the mercy of God for all creates great anger in those listening, revealing their self-righteous and bigoted attitudes.
This account reminds us that Luke’s gospel is written for all people and emphasises that all are invited to Jesus to receive cleansing and enter His Kingdom. Luke wants us to know that the ‘outsiders’ can become insiders and the ‘insiders’ can find themselves outside. God’s people and His hometown seem like a ready ‘runway’ for receiving Christ, but they were not, and we read of their vehement response:
‘All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 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. But He walked right through the crowd and went on His way.’
Here, Jesus does get a chance to test God’s protection. Satan had misused Psalm 91 as He tempted Jesus to test God’s promises by throwing Himself off the temple (Luke 4:9-13)! Here Jesus shows us that God will keep His promises of protection without our needing to test Him.
Jesus comes to anyone who will receive Him.
In our evangelism, let’s ensure that we don’t limit God’s ability to have mercy and save people whom we judge as most ready. Salvation by grace means that the invitation goes to all, and it’s often the most unlikely who enter the feast.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week and how has this helped you / affected your life?
3. STUDY AND PRAY TOGETHER
Please read Luke 4:14-30
On Sunday we looked at Luke 4:14-30 where Jesus visits His hometown of Nazareth. On the Sabbath, he goes to the synagogue and reads from the book of Isaiah, proclaiming that this prophecy has been fulfilled in him. He is the promised Messiah who would minister to the poor, prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed.
Initially, the listeners in the synagogue responded positively, speaking well of Jesus and being amazed at His gracious words. They were entertained by His speaking abilities, yet the full impact of His message had not yet struck them. They were impressed by the oratory skills of "Joseph's son" (someone from their own community, not highly educated), but their familiarity with Jesus hindered them from truly receiving Him as they should. As the narrative progresses, we will witness their admiration for His speaking mixed with disrespect toward His person transform into outright hatred for Him and His message as He confronts them with their rejection.
What does v.14 tell us about the work of the Holy Spirit in and through a Christian or a church?
What do verses 18-19 tell us about the work that Jesus is doing in this world; and what do these verses tell us about our work in this world?
Familiarity can breed contempt as we see in Jesus’ hometown. Have you grown overfamiliar or do you still have great expectations of what Jesus wants to work in and through us?
SIV - This text is rich in implications for how we do evangelism. How is your Serving, Investing and Inviting going? How can we pray for you about this?
SIV - Pray for one another to be filled with Holy Spirit. Pray that the church will see its mission being carried out under the anointing and power of Holy Spirit.