The Wrath Against God
Subtitle: Perfect Preaching Provokes Punishment
Big Idea: Jesus, the Perfect Preacher, Provoked some of his listeners to want to kill him
Last week, we began to look at this passage, where Jesus is in the synagogue and reads from Isaiah and tells the people that He is the Servant Isaiah prophesied. This was at the synagogue where Jesus had grown up. Many people there had known him as a boy, and he had already become a bit famous, having traveled around Galilee, teaching and being glorified by all.
We can imagine then, the normal human attitudes that may have existed.He healed elsewhere, he must be planning something really amazing for his hometown! Surely he would do some of his very best work among his own clan! At the same time, there is that old phrase, “familiarity breeds contempt”. In other words, we seem to have less appreciation with those who we are close to sometimes when they have accomplished something. History may record some great things about certain heroes in the course of things, yet if you dig deep into biographies you will often find those who were not so impressed with so-and-so.
“If you really had to be around him all day”, they may say, “You would not have thought so highly of him. You just couldn’t even live with him!”. We can see that it is very common for someone of a sort of celebrity status, who everyone seems to love, that those closest to them will have other opinions. Yet Jesus had no flaws, not behavioral problems that could cause anyone to think lowly of him. And even still, many people were so angered by his message that they did not just want him to go away, they wanted to kill him!
If the perfect one had that many haters, we should not be surprised that very imperfect men who preach also get folks riled up, especially when they stick as closely as possible to scripture. That is because for people who have not been born again, that is, have been regenerated by God’s Holy Spirit to be able to receive the good news about Jesus and believe it, His Word will offend people, it will cause people, for various reasons, to be quite angry with the preacher. This is why in part, that Jesus promised they would hate his followers. John15.18
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
With all these initial thoughts in mind, let us read our main text for this morning:
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘ “Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’ ” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.
Our focus for now is verses 23-30. If you missed last week’s message, you can go back and listen to learn about how Jesus applied Isaiah 61 to himself. This morning we are going to consider what happened after he had read this passage and began to teach.
So Jesus read the passage and then said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” They all spoke well of him, they marveled at his gracious words. Seems like for now they were very receptive of the Word of God Jesus was teaching them. But then they began to remember that this was Joseph’s son. Who is he to tell us anything? You know, we keep hearing about these miracles he performs, why has he not performed some here?
Jesus, of course, knows what they are getting at. We know from other places in the gospels that Jesus often knew what people were thinking about, as the Holy Spirit revealed it to him. So now he realizes that they are beginning to find ways to dismiss him, and by dismissing him, they dismiss his teaching. So he says,
And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘ “Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’ ”
A proverb is a saying that generally is true, or a common precept to live by. “physician, heal yourself” was apparently a common proverb at this time. It shares similarities to many other sayings and teachings. For example, Jesus taught that before someone go and remove a speck from their brothers eye, they should get the log out of their own eye. This has some similarity. Physician, heal yourself generally meant that a physician, if he wanted to be of any help to anyone else, had better keep himself healthy.
If you went to visit your doctor, and their eyes were blood-shot, and they were wheezing every time they stood up, or they had slurred speech, or even if they were poorly dressed, you may feel less confident than if your doctor appears healthy and on the ball. You may not want to trust your life with someone who is stumbling around. There is also an extension to this proverb that was understood by many, and that is that not only should a physician make sure they are healthy, they should focus on the health of those closest to them first, their family, close neighbors, etc.
In other words, you ought not go out to heal people far away if you haven’t taken care of those right in your own backyard. I used to have this sort of objection to people who would travel a long way to do a missions trip, but their own coworkers didn’t even have a clue that they were a Christian. “You went on a missions trip”, their colleague might say. “I didn’t even know you went to church!” So it may be in many cases this proverb, “Physician, heal yourself” could apply to us and our faith.
This is why a qualification for elders is that they must manage their own household well. 1Tim3.5
for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?
So it is pretty well understood, and quite sensible, that whatever someone’s specialty is, they should first apply it well in their own case, if they want to be helpful to others. Jesus understood this is what they were thinking, so he continued and said “What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” Ah, now we get to what they were really interested in. They wanted the miracles.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus encountered people whose only interest in him was in his ability to do miracles. Here in his own hometown, they wanted miracles as well. In fact, it seems they were not going to believe the good reports about him unless he did some miracles among them. But just as many others who Jesus encountered, their desire for seeing a miracle was not combined with a love for the truth he taught. They wanted to see something wonderful, perhaps for themselves, or a family member, some relief to suffering. Maybe they wanted their water turned into wine.
What they didn’t want was the truth. Luke4.24
And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.
Familiarity breeds contempt. These people who knew Jesus well now wanted something from him. There could be another component here. In my life, I have met many people who grew up in very difficult situations, very poor, in a dangerous neighborhood, whatever the case may be. One example is a young man I worked with in the Marines. He had grown up in a rough part of Harlem in NYC. His family was very poor. No one ever left the neighborhood. No one had ever gone to college.
This young man, whose name was Corporal Kelly, joined the Marines. While he was in, he took advantage of every educational opportunity he could, and got many classes finished to prepare him for college. Just before he was discharged, he received word that he attained a full-ride scholarship to the prestigious Brown University. I don’t know what degree he pursued, but based on his work ethic that I witnessed, I have no doubt he went on to do very well in life.
How can a guy like that go back to his own hometown? In fact, others I have talked to who left tough situations and did well, professionally and economically, and returned home with their success, found that their family and neighbors, rather than being happy and proud of them, felt angry and betrayed. They had the audacity to achieve something their friends and neighbors had never done, and instead of being loved for it, they felt despised.
It is not unusual that this happens. In this case, Jesus sees exactly what is going on. No prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But if they were already growing tired of Jesus, what he says next will really get them riled up. Luke4.25-27
But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
Jesus gives two examples of when God did something favorable for Gentiles when he had not done the same for Israel. Both of these stories come from 1 & 2 Kings. First, Elijah had ministered to a widow, who believed in faith that Elijah’s word was true. Elijah had her take a step of faith, and with her last flour and her last oil, prepare him a cake. It was the last food she had, she and her son. She was going to prepare this last little food, and then wait to die. It was a drought, there was no provision.
She had no food stamps, no walmart, no way to go purchase a little more food, no work to earn income. And now comes Elijah
So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’ ” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
Jesus recalls this story, and his emphasis on the story was not the woman’s faith, although that is clearly part of the story. his emphasis is not in the kindness of God, though that is part of the story. The emphasis Jesus puts on this story is an emphasis that makes the people in the synagogue very angry. His emphasis is that Elisha did not help a Jewish woman. He helped a woman of Sidon. The Jewish people found this to be offensive, since they believed in their favored status with God as his chosen people.
Next, Jesus gives another example of God showing favor to a Gentile: 2Kings5.1-14
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.” But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
The King of Israel thought this was a tactic to cause a war. Even he did not see any possibility of a leper being healed. This really would infuriate these Jews, because the story of Naaman shows he really had no faith, and even was a scoffer at first, and yet, he was urged on by his servants, and it seems begrudgingly went to the Jordan river. Naaman became such a believer after this that he asked for loads of dirt so he could make an altar for himself to bow before the God of Israel.
There are a few things Jesus is saying without saying them explicitly to these people. He is saying to them, you are in unbelief. You think you know me, because I grew up here, and you feel that therefore you can dismiss my words. You are no different than many Israelites before you, who lived in unbelief, and because of their unbelief, they missed out on many of God’s blessings. Jesus also knows that it is not in miracles themselves that people find their faith. It is in the preaching of the Word of God.
This is very clear in scripture. Jesus even said in a parable that if they do not believe Moses and the Prophets, they would not believe even if someone were raised from the dead. So why did he do any miracles at all, if faith comes not from observing miracles, but from the Holy Spirit doing a work in the heart of a spiritually dead person so that they could believe the Word of God? If miracles are not really a factor in true faith, why did Jesus do them?
Because even though faith comes through hearing, and hearing the Word of God, He graciously fortified the faith of those who believed by those same miracles. The miracles, however, also condemn further those who refused to believe in Jesus. John10.37-38
If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
What was Jesus saying here? The works do not produce faith, but are further evidence of the truth of his message. He had just said moments ago, John10.25
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,
Not only were the works of Jesus, including his healings, bearing witness about him, they also were merciful. Every miracle of Jesus recorded had a direct impact on the welfare of someone. But in his hometown, he didn’t do any miracles. These people had condemned themselves because of their unbelief.
Subtitle: Perfect Preaching Provokes Punishment
Big Idea: Jesus, the Perfect Preacher, Provoked some of his listeners to want to kill him
Every preacher of God’s Word is imperfect, except God himself. Many of us preachers cause offense because we said something in an unnecessarily harsh way. Sometimes we offend because we act high and mighty. If the preacher offends in these ways, he should repent. But if the preaching and the teaching is the Word of God, it will offend.
There are many teachings of scripture that offend people today. People are offended that the Bible teaches things against the way they want to live or believe. We offend when we take a strong position on the Sanctity of Life, or the Sanctity of Marriage. We offend when we call out gossips. We offend when we warn people of God’s wrath, because they want to believe in a God who is love, which in their opinion means that he should pardon and forgive everyone, regardless of whether they believe or not.
We offend when we say that Jesus is the only way to heaven. We offend with the corollary to that statement, which is that any religion that is not the religion of the Jesus of the Bible is a false religion, and that any false religion, by definition is of Satan. It is not popular to tell people their religion is antiChrist, or it is Satanic, yet this is the case for every religion that is not the Biblical gospel of Jesus Christ. So even some religions that claim Jesus as part of their belief system, if it falls short of the gospel, or adds to it, is a false religion, and therefore it is a church of Satan, if not in name, then certainly in practice.
So many of these other religions have tried to look like they are like true Christianity. Sadly, many denominations today have strayed so far from their origins that they are no longer teaching and preaching the true faith of the gospel. I think that one reason for this is because preachers are afraid to receive the wrath of people that comes when they teach the true word of God. They do not want to be reviled or disliked or mocked. They don’t want to be subjected to what Jesus was subjected to.
When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.
They were filled with wrath; that word wrath had many possible translations. Anger, rage, outburst, excess, nostrils (as in flaring nostrils), heat, poison, venom, indignation. These people have very quickly turned into a mob. They have gone from listening nicely at first, to questioning Jesus’ qualifications, to anger, to murderous intentions.
They want to throw him over the cliff:
He escapes (supernaturally?)
It is not yet his time
When it is time, he submits to the trial and the cross
They did not receive him
Those who do recieve him become children of God
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.