Christ’s passion from the outset of His ministry
was for God’s people to know and accept God. There were no imitation
gods allowed. Jesus preached the message that came directly from the
heart of His Father. Christ was asked to share at His hometown
synagogue, and for the moment he held celebrity status. The people
heard about His preaching, teaching and healing ministry so old
neighbors and friends wanted to hear what their “home town boy” had
to say that was impacting lives around Israel.
At the time of Jesus’ ministry the synagogue
system was concerned about the cultivation of the mind and the soul
through study, discussion and praise, then with the spiritual needs
of the people. It teemed with tradition and had lost its relevancy to
everyday life. Jesus stood up in the synagogue and talked about God in
the present tense, not the God of irrelevant tradition. But tradition
made people feel comfortable, and Jesus bringing God in to the
present tense made everyone uncomfortable!
Bruce Larson comments, “It is much riskier to open
your heart to God each day to listen and to ask, ‘Lord, what are you
telling me today?’ That plunges us into the now, which is the
dimension Jesus introduces here. If God is not here and now, there is
no God. If we have only the God of history, the God of the apocalypse,
and the God of eschatology, we have no God. Jesus said today this
Scripture is fulfilled. The Bible is full of ‘nows.’ Now is the
acceptable hour. This is the day the Lord hath made.”2
Because of their discomfort, the people rejected
both Jesus as a person and His teaching. Their rejection became an
uncontrollable anger that ignited a fury from the crowd, which led to
their attempt to kill their one-time neighbor!
Rejection has the potential to damage the
emotions, the mind, relationships, the body, and the spirit. What
caused the rejection of Jesus by His neighbors – and what causes
people today to reject Him?
We reject Jesus when He doesn’t match our expectations.
During the time of Jesus there was a heightened
awareness of the coming of the Messiah. The Romans had a strangle
hold on the people in Israel, from unwanted taxation to military
occupation. They were hated and despised by the Israeli people. The
popular idea of the Messiah was the destruction of the occupying forces
and the liberation of Palestine giving them the superior position.
Their expectations were fueled when John the
Baptist came center stage and seemingly feared no one, not even King
Herod. He told the crowds that he was not the Messiah, but one was
coming whose sandals he was not even worthy to unlatch. The
anticipation was that when the Messiah came he would come in riding a
white horse, leading an impregnable army, defeat the hated Romans and
restore Israel to its rightful and powerful place.
Jesus did not meet those expectations. He walked
the dusty streets of the countryside and did not own a white horse.
He told His followers to live at peace with the world and to render
unto Caesar that which was Caesar’s. He told them to love others
above themselves. These did not fit the popular conception of Messiah,
so for Jesus to proclaim that He was the Messiah was unthinkable!
How many of us have false expectations of the
Lord? He is the Messiah, He is God, He is all powerful. Why does he
allow war, terrorism, divorce, illness, etc.? If I ask Christ to
come into my heart, what realistic expectations should I have?
Here’s a short list that I’ve compiled; maybe you need to compile your
1. I expect that during the rough times he will walk with me giving me encouragement, hope and wisdom.
2. I expect that he will provide an opportunity for me to draw
upon his maximum power by sharing the Holy Spirit with me.
3. I expect that Jesus would bless me in a variety of endeavors for His glory.
4. I expect that at the end of my life he will take me to Heaven.
We reject Jesus when we don’t recognize His true value.
Jesus gave value to the kingdom because He was
honest in what he said. George Washington said, “I hope I shall
always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider
the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”3
Jesus gave value to the kingdom because of the
life He lived before the people. He lived a life that was simple,
sincere, and straightforward. There was no pretending with Jesus.
What He said, what He did, what He thought was authentic.
Jesus gave value to the kingdom because He had a
heart for people. Henri Boulard, an Egyptian Jesuit, once said,
“Never say that you have no time. On the whole it is those who are
busiest who can make time for yet more, and those who have more
leisure time who refuse to do something when asked. What we lack is
not time, but heart.”4
We reject Jesus when we fail to grasp His vision of God’s Kingdom
Jesus had a vision of the kingdom of God! He
attempted to share it with those sitting in the synagogue that day,
but He was rejected. Christ understood that before He could make a
difference in the lives of people He must get them to see the truth
of God’s message. He did not want them to be satisfied with the things
of earth, but to think of the lofty values and life God wanted for
them. Sadly, they rejected His vision.
Let Him help you shape your vision even if it
means going through the valleys of life, or through the floods that
overcome us, or the fires that melt away the dross of life! God wants
to give you a vision today! Will you let Him?
Sermon brief provided by: Derl
G. Keefer, Adult Development Ministries Coordinator for the Church of
the Nazarene in Kansas City, MO
2. Bruce Larson, Communicator’s Commentary Luke (Waco: Word Publishing, 1983), 91.
3. Jan Karon, Patches of Godlight (New York: Penguin Book, 2002) np.
4. Ibid, np.