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LUKE 4:14-30 - part four
Series:  Released - Part Four

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
December 21, 2008

Please turn with me to Luke 4 - starting at verse 14.

Over the past few Sundays we’ve been thinking about the society that we’re living in - which is becoming increasingly - anti-God - and anti God’s people - even indifferent to God.  Where the core values of a healthy moral society are increasingly non-existent.   Add to that reality the current economic crisis - the evaporation of retirement accounts - savings accounts - foreclosures - layoffs - rampant unabated greed.  Then there are the present political changes going on around us - here in the USA - international tensions - terrorism - war.  Interesting times.

A few political cartoons.   The bag of bird seed says, “Bail Out.”   “Cream O’ Cash - the spreadable wealth.”  
“We have a couple of months left - maybe we could squeeze in a nuclear accident or something.”

We’ve been thinking about how all that’s going on around us effects us.  Often times - effecting us negatively - spiritually - physically - emotionally.  Looking at what’s going on around us it would be very easy to become a tad unhinged.

What we’re coming to here in Luke 4 - this passage that we’ve been looking at these last few Sundays - what we’ve been thinking through together is the reality of Immanuel - God with us - who Jesus is - the implications of His coming for our lives - what God offers us - especially as we live life where we live our lives.

Luke 4 - starting at verse 14: 
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. 
People were saying good things about Jesus.

Verse 16: 
And He - Jesus - came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up.  And as was His custom - something He normally did every Sabbath - as was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and He stood up to read.

As we’ve shared before - on that Sabbath - the local synagogue - the one Jesus probably attended growing up - the synagogue - a building about the size of this one - was probably packed - 400 plus people crammed in - people hanging around outside - to hear Jesus - the local boy Rabbi made good.  At the appropriate time in the service Jesus stands up to read.

Verse 17: 
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 - to teach - And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.  800 plus eyes all focused on Jesus

Verse 21: 
And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 

That’s huge.  Say that with me,
“That’s huge.”  Think with me about what Jesus has just said.

As we have been making our way through this passage - over the last three Sundays - we’ve seen the significance of Jesus being God’s Anointed One.  That is that God Himself has purposefully entered into where we live our lives.  The coming of Jesus - the baby born in the manger - Immanuel - God with us - Jesus is the focal point of God’s working in human history.

We’ve seen that Jesus is anointed by God to proclaim good news - good news which has implication for us physically - and more so - good news that’s crucial to our relationship with God.

Physically and Spiritually - in the midst of what this world tries to abuse us with - to conform us to - to beat us down with - in the midst of the self-focused at any cost survival mentality of this world - God offers each of us something tremendously different.

God offers us His approval - His provision for our lives - His healing - His purpose for us - life lived with purpose - life in His kingdom - knowing God and being known by Him.  The freedom - the liberty - that is ours the moment we come to put our trust in Jesus - God’s Anointed One - our Savior and Lord. 

We’ve also seen that Jesus proclaims the year of the Lord’s favor.  Which means that God has placed on the table His offer of His blessing of our lives - of salvation - of being restored to a right relationship with Him - of being released from all that binds us - His radical transformation of our lives - the privilege of being involved in God’s great purpose of restoring humankind to a right relationship with Him.  

700 years earlier the prophet Isaiah had written this prophecy that Jesus had just read in the synagogue.  700 years of God’s people waiting for fulfillment.  Jesus - 800 eyes staring at Him - proclaims that today - here - now - in Me - this prophecy has been fulfilled.  
God’s offer of life blessed by Him - that offer is made to each person listening to Jesus - and to us - through Jesus.  That’s huge.  Yes?

The bottom line is that Jesus is claiming to be The Messiah - prophesied by Isaiah

Let’s go on - verse 22: 
And all - this crowd in the synagogue - 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?”

That question is still being asked today. 
“Is not this Joseph’s son?”  Let’s ask that together.  “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 
How we respond to that question has huge implications for our lives. 

Luke writes - that when the crowd asked the question - they marveled.  Marveled is the Greek word “thaumazo” - which has the idea of astonishment - amazement - being taken aback - blown away by something.

41 days after Jesus was born - Joseph, Mary, and Jesus have come to the Temple in Jerusalem to present Jesus to the Lord and to offer the sacrifice required by the law.  Jesus is among many children being offered.  There are a large number of people making sacrifices for various reasons.  Many different spiritual traditions and rituals are being conducted.

In the midst of all this religious activity
- that huge crowd and chaos - Simeon - a man who knew God - who had heard God and understood what God was doing - came by the leading of the Holy Spirit - up to Joseph, Mary, and Jesus and declared that Mary’s child was the One he had been waiting for - the One through whom all peoples of the world were to be blessed.  The child born in Bethlehem - presented in the Temple - is the Savior of the world - The Messiah.

Luke writes - Luke 2:33: 
And His father and mother were amazed - “thaumazo” - at the things which were being said about Him.

Parents like to hear good things said about their kids.  Yes?  But this is over the top.  How do you process what’s being said?  Your child is the Savior of the world - the Messiah.

The crowd marvels at what Jesus has said - the implications slowly dawning on them.  They’re amazed - unsure how to respond.  The question is asked. 
“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” 

Matthew - in his account of what took place that day  - Matthew records more of what people were thinking: 
“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?  Isn’t His mother Mary?  Aren’t His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?  His sisters still live around here.  Where did He get that kind of wisdom?  How’s He able to do the things He does?”  (Matthew 13:53-58)

Jesus speaking at the synagogue could have been a side show at a carnival.   They’ve heard rumors about how great Jesus is - the kind of things He’s done.  Jesus has a reputation.  He’s a great performer.

At Cana He turned the water into wine - healed an officials son who was in Capernaum about 15 miles away.  At Capernaum He cast out a demon - healed people - including the paralytic lowered down through the roof by his four friends.  Remember that?

On one hand they’re saying great things about Jesus. 
“Oh, He spoke so wonderfully.  What a nice Jewish boy.  A good message about God’s favor and the Messiah.”

On the other hand they’re not buying what He’s proclaiming. 
“Who is this guy to say these things?  Applying the words of Isaiah to Himself?  That’s just too over-the-top.  We came to see some healings - some miracles.  This guy talking about Himself being the Messiah.  That isn’t what we came for.  Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

The audience never gets the meaning of Jesus’ message - the implications for their own lives - because they’re focused on themselves

That is so today.

Happy Holidays!  It seems like people want a PC homogenous god that fits our expectations.  The innocence of a baby born in a manger - a nice story for the kids.  Love - good will - peace on earth.  A cultural god who fits our culture.  A god that meets our needs and doesn’t demand too much in response - all those nasty things like sacrifice and service and commitment - telling us how to live our lives.  What we need is a kind of god - the god who’s love - a god who performs for us - The Amazing God! 

Christmas without the implications of The Christ - The Messiah.

If God is something greater - demands more - doesn’t fit in the little box we expect Him to fit in - we ask - was this the God we expected?  Was this what we came to Him for?  Isn’t this Joseph’s son?

How deeply do we desire God to work in our lives and how deeply do we resist His working.

How are we to respond to God in the flesh - God’s Anointed One - Jesus - who has come

Verse 23: 
And he - Jesus - said to them, “Doubtless you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’  What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” 

Jesus knows the heart of this audience.  Not the wonderful outward words they’re speaking.  But, the crowds’ true response to Him.  He’s exposing their heart response which was something like: 
“The Messiah is suppose to do miracles.  Prove yourself.  Don’t just stand there.  Do a miracle or something.  Heal somebody - like you did in Capernaum.  Then we might believe in you.” 

Verse 24: 
And he - Jesus - said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown - Jesus - like many other prophets of God - were rejected by God’s people.

Verse 25: 
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 from Hebrew history in order to grab the hearts of this crowd. 
“Think about your response!”  Examples that should grab our hearts as well.  That are here to help us think about how we’re responding to Jesus.

First:  Elijah and the widow Zarephath

After King Solomon died the Kingdom of Israel was divided
into two kingdoms and many evil kings ruled over those two kingdoms - Israel and Judah.  Probably the most evil was Ahab and his wife Jezebel.  In fact, the Bible says that Ahab did more to anger God than any other of the kings of Israel before him.

Ahab and Jezebel worshipped Baal and led the people into tremendous sin.  It was an absolutely evil time in the history of Israel.  Elijah
- about 800 years before Jesus is speaking - Elijah was a prophet of God during those days.

As Elijah is in prayer before God - God gives him a message for King Ahab - a message of judgment
- because of the sin of the people.  God’s people following after other gods.  So Elijah goes to King Ahab and says that there isn’t going to be any rain - or even dew on the ground - until I - God - say there will be.

hen Elijah goes and hides from Ahab because - of course - Ahab is slightly ticked about this.  For 3 plus years it doesn’t rain.  There’s a famine - no rain - no crops - no food - dying cattle - lots of starving people

During those days of famine - even though there were a lot of widows in Israel - God sends Elijah to a Gentile - grab that - a Gentile - an unclean hated non-Jew Gentile - widow living in Sidon.  Sidon which is an ancient Phoenician city - way up the coast - some 20 miles north of Tyre - in what is today Lebanon.

Sidon was a pagan place full of Baal and Ashtoreth worshippers.  It ws the city that the wicked Queen Jezebel had come from.  So it was a major source of pagan worship and a whole lot of misery in Israel.

God sends Elijah - who was suppose to be God’s prophet to Israel - God sends Elijah to this hated city - to the Gentile widow Zarephath - who - despite her circumstances - was willing to share what little she had with Elijah.  Miraculously - by God’s grace - Elijah was able to provide for Zarephath - provide her with flour and oil until the drought ended.  And at one point even raised her son from the dead.  (1 Kings 16:29-17:24)

There’s a certain arrogance on the part of God’s people - that they can live any way they want - live life focused on themselves - worship other gods - and God is suppose to keep on blessing them and keep sending prophet after prophet to them - whether they choose to listen or not - and change how they live or not.

Jesus points to the reality that God can offer salvation - life - to anyone He chooses.  What God offers - what God is up to in history - is whole lot bigger than an audience in a synagogue in Nazareth - or a sanctuary in Merced.  God doesn’t have to fit into our box - to perform for us on demand.

Point being - in responding to Jesus and what God offers us through Him - point being:  
We should be driven to our knees in humility - given how we’ve lived our lives - driven to our knees in humility that God even chooses to make the offer.  That God is so gracious - so merciful - so loving - so beyond comprehension in His kindness towards us - that Jesus has come for us

Say this with me: 

Illustration number two:  Elisha and Naaman

King Ahab - same evil king of Israel - tries to convince Jehoshaphat - king of Judah - to go into battle with him against the Syrians to take back a city called Ramoth-gilead - a Hebrew city on the east side of the Jordan River.

Jehoshaphat - to his credit - says that they should ask God if its okay to go up against the Syrians.  Ahab assembles 400 plus prophets who all say,
“Go for it!  God is with you.” 
But Jehoshaphat holds out for God’s prophet - Micaiah - the lone voice in the crowd who prophesies a major disaster.  The battle  this plan of Ahab’s - is not according to God’s will.

So Ahab has Micaiah thrown in jail.  And Ahab and Jehoshaphat go into battle against the Syrians anyway.  God’s people not listening to God.  Its 400 to 1 - so why listen?

And of course - just as God’s prophet said - the battle doesn’t go well.  God’s people get spanked royally - humiliated - by the Syrians.  In the course of the battle one of the Syrian soldiers aimlessly shoots an arrow into the air - without aiming.  The arrow hits Ahab and kills him.

The commander of the Syrian army - that day - was a man of great renown - valor - might - a hero among the Syrians - and as you can imagine not well liked by God’s people.  The commander of the whole hated Syrian army was Naaman.  Same Naaman that Jesus is using as an example.

Naaman was a leper.  A slave girl - a young Jewish girl who’d been captured by the Syrians - a slave girl told Naaman that there was a prophet of God - Elisha - who could heal him if Naaman put his trust in God.  Remember this?

Naaman - after a bit of arguing - follows Elisha’s instructions.  This great valiant mighty commander of the conquering Syrian Army humbles himself before God - obeys God’s instructions through God’s prophet Elisha - does the absolutely ridiculous - medically unsound - humiliating to been seen doing this - goes and dips himself in the Jordan River 7 times - and is healed by God.  (1 Kings 22:1-40; 2 Kings 5:1-14)

There was no shortage of lepers in Israel at the time.  But God choose to heal Naaman the Syrian.  Naaman was the one - regardless of how silly the instructions sounded - Naaman was the one who got off his high horse of pride and arrogance - and simply obeyed God.

Point being - in responding to Jesus and what God offers us through Him - point being:   We need to respond with
Obedience - the by faith - trusting God with all that we are - daily surrender of our lives to God.

Say this with me,

Verse 28: 
When they - the crowd - Jesus’ audience - heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.  And they rose up and drove him out of the town and bought 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.

How did this synagogue filled with 400 plus Godly worshippers respond to Jesus?  To God’s good news?  To God’s favor and blessing?  In humility?  With obedience?

They became a frenzied mob.  Driven by anger and hate they ran Jesus out of town - tried to run Him off a cliff - to kill Him.  What God offers  to do in their lives gets rejected.  Which is what happens when we focus on ourselves.

Jesus passes through the mob.  Because it wasn’t yet His time to die for them.

All this begs a question of each one of us.   This morning -
what have you come for?  What do you want God to do for you?

People ask - maybe you’ve asked
:  “If God really does exist why doesn’t God do something about poverty - global warming - natural disasters - all the evil in the world - the circumstances of my life?” 

Like God should act the way we think He should.  When He doesn’t - how quickly we turn on God.  Holding back our trust - blaming Him for our failures - living life by our own set of rules and standards.

What does God need to do to have you believe in Him - to trust Him with your life?  Really trust Him - not just outwardly in a religious sort of way - but in humility - with obedience - to trust Him with everything you are?

Maybe the question - thinking about Immanuel - God with us - what Jesus’ coming means for us - maybe the question isn’t what we should expect of God - but what does God expect of us?




Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.