Jesus Rejected At Nazareth


‘Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ 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. 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 4:14-30

‘Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?’ they asked. ‘Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.’ And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.’ Matthew 13:54-58

Jesus was now under the full power of the Holy Spirit to carry out His ministry. In His incarnation, He had given up an equality with God. It was now the Spirit working through Him to accomplish the miraculous works of His ministry in order to fulfil the purpose of His coming into the world.

The need of the Spirit to work through Him explains the extent of the incarnation. Jesus truly became as man in order to identify with those whom He sought to deliver from the confines of the flesh.

‘In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ Philippians 2:5-11

This rejection of Jesus in Nazareth took place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The rejection of Matthew 13:54-58 took place at the close of His ministry. The residents of Nazareth had two chances to hear Jesus, but they wouldn’t listen on either occasion.

As was the custom of the Jews, Jesus went to the synagogue to listen to the reading of the Old Testament law. However, the Sabbath assembly in the synagogue wasn’t a part of the Old Testament law. The synagogue came into existence in Palestine after the Jews’ return from Babylonian captivity 536 B.C.

Keep in mind also that not all Jews in a community met in the synagogue simply because the synagogues were not large structures. The synagogue was a Jewish cultural centre where reading of the law could be heard. The Jews’ custom was that the Old Testament law be read only while the reader stood.

This particular scroll was twenty-three feet long, seven meters, which length was determined by the length of the Isaiah Scroll that was discovered in the Dead Sea area in 1947. There are more prophecies concerning Christ in Isaiah than any other prophet.

‘The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn’ Isaiah 61:1-2

‘This is what the LORD says: ‘In the time of my favour I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ ‘They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill.’ Isaiah 49:8-9

‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?’ Isaiah 58:6

Some translations use the word ‘book.’ However, a scroll wasn’t in the format as the books that we have today. A scroll was a roll of papyrus paper or leather on which the law was written. Jesus unrolled the scroll and read from the law.

Everyone knew who Jesus was. He had grown up in the town of Nazareth. They had heard of the miraculous happenings that surrounded His conception and birth. They knew of Him as a wise and obedient child of Mary and Joseph. They also knew that He was one who had been very knowledgeable of the Old Testament Scriptures since childhood.

With intense interest, therefore, they were here expecting something of Him at this time because the age of thirty was the accepted age at which one began any ministry among the Jews. They possibly expected Him to make some formal announcement of His intentions concerning His life. He did, but what they heard wasn’t what they expected. He claimed to be the specific fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the Messiah.

The Jews knew that the Scripture from which Jesus quoted referred to the Messiah. When Jesus made this statement, they knew that He was making application of the scripture to Himself. Therefore, this would be the announcement and beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry and work toward the cross in order to bring about what Isaiah had prophesied.

Their concept of the ministry of the Messiah was nationalistic, but Jesus’ destiny was spiritual. They wouldn’t be delivered from the occupation of foreign powers. They would be delivered from their bondage in sin. It was difficult for them to accept these words from the mouth of a carpenter’s son, John 6:42.

They could accept Him as a good teacher, but not as the Messiah of Israel. Jesus spoke in a manner that was appealing. The eloquence of His speech commanded their attention.

They had heard of the healing of the nobleman’s son that Jesus did in Capernaum a few days earlier, Matthew 4:13 / John 4:46-54. They asked Him for such a miracle in Nazareth in order that the hearsay concerning His other miracles be confirmed in His own country.

Those of one’s own home town are slow to accept the greatness of one who is from that town, Matthew 13:57 / John 4:44. Those of Nazareth were surely proud of Jesus as a teacher. But it was difficult for them to accept Him as the Messiah who had been promised through the prophets.

Severe famine. 1 Kings 17-18

‘Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.’ James 5:17

The widow of Zarephath was a Gentile

It was to this woman alone that Elijah, the prophet of God, was sent. God sent Elijah to her because she accepted him. Jesus teaches that the messengers of God are sent to those who accept them. God’s evangelists, therefore, should go to those who are receptive to teaching.

‘Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.’ Matthew 7:6

Naaman was a Gentile

It was by God’s grace that he was cleansed while many Israelites at the time who were lepers remained unclean.

‘Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’ Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. ‘By all means, go,’ the king of Aram replied. ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’ So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: ‘With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.’ As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, ‘Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!’ When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: ‘Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.’ So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, ‘Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored, and you will be cleansed.’ But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?’ So, he turned and went off in a rage. Naaman’s servants went to him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!’ So, he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.’ 2 Kings 5:1-14

His faith led him to Elisha, whereas those who ignored the prophet didn’t seek him. Those who are accustomed to the prophets of God are often those who reject what the prophets say. In this case, Jesus was saying that those who were accustomed to Him in Nazareth would reject Him, though others throughout the world would receive Him.

These Jews of Jesus’ home town were greatly prejudiced against the Gentiles. When Jesus said that the Gentiles would receive the prophets of God before the Jews would, such greatly angered the Jews.

They couldn’t accept the fact that others would be more righteous and privileged than they. Their religious prejudices at this time in Jesus’ ministry were stirred to the point of an attempted murder of Him.

‘I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word.’ John 8:37

‘Again, his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him.’ John 10:31

The multitude may have become so confused in what they were about to do that Jesus simply walked through them and on His way. Whatever the case, Jesus simply passed through them on His way to more receptive people.

We must keep in mind that though these people didn’t respond to Jesus at this time, when they later considered all that Jesus did in fulfilment of the prophecies concerning the Messiah, they would believe. This event was early in His ministry. It occurred before they had all the facts concerning His fulfilment of prophecy.

‘So, the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.’ Acts 6:7

Some people accept the Gospel and others reject it, we should share the Gospel with everyone who wants to listen but what can we learn from Jesus about who is more likely to listen to the Gospel message? There are times especially if someone is getting aggressive that we just need to walk away.

What else can we learn from Jesus, in terms of who is more likely to listen to the Gospel message? Let’s read these passages and see if you notice the common denominator.

‘At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.’ Acts 9:20

‘When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.’ Acts 13:5

‘From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath, they entered the synagogue and sat down.’ Acts 13:13-14

‘At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.’ Acts 14:1

‘When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.’ Acts 17:1

‘As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.’ Acts 17:10

‘While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So, he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.’ Acts 17:16-17

‘Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.’ Acts 18:4

‘They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.’ Acts 18:19

‘Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.’ Acts 19:8

Those who are already ‘religious’ will be more open to talk about their faith and we can lead them to the truth, if they only know partial truth and we need to take advantage of those situations.

Many people claim to be believers, but they haven’t read the Bible or obeyed the Gospel.



"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

Hebrews 11:6