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
there are the present political changes going on
around us - here in the USA - international tensions
- terrorism - war.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“Is not this
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
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
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
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
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
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 -
This guy talking about Himself being the
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.
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
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 -
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
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
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
and the widow Zarephath.
After King Solomon died the Kingdom of Israel was
divided into two kingdoms and many evil kings ruled
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
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.
goes and hides from Ahab because - of course - Ahab
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
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
Sidon was a pagan place full of Baal and Ashtoreth
ws the city that the wicked Queen Jezebel had come
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
And at one point even raised her son from the
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
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
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
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
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
Naaman - after a bit of arguing - follows Elisha’s
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
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
Say this with me, “Obedience.”
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
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
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?
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?