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 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 for the Spirit to work through Him explains the extent of the incarnation. Jesus truly became a man in order to identify with those whom He sought to deliver from the confines of the flesh, 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 in 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 the reading of the law could be heard. The Jews’ custom was that the Old Testament law is 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 in any other prophet, Isaiah 61:1-2 / Isaiah 49:8-9 / 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 is 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. 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, 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, 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 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 about 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, 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, Acts 9:20 / Acts 13:5 / Acts 13:13-14 / Acts 14:1 / Acts 17:1 / Acts 17:10 / Acts 17:16-17 / Acts 18:4 / Acts 18:19 / Acts 19:8.

Those who are already ‘religious’ will be more open to talking 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.