Jesus had come from a whirlwind tour of Galilee, preaching and teaching in the synagogues. The non-traditional and more liberal people were captivated by Jesus’ words. It is no wonder His resume and reputation were building at each speaking engagement as people listened to His innovative and forward-thinking sermons. People were starving for a word from God. He had a message, and as one author noted, “A man with a message will always command an audience.”
For public worship, which was conducted on the Sabbath, a minimum of 10 adult males had to be present. The five-part service included prayers, psalm-singing, blessings, readings from Scripture, and commentaries on the sacred passages; but there were no sacrifices and no standard liturgy. Although a rabbi might be recognized as the leader because of his distinguished teaching, there was no official clergy. In fact, any Jew who felt himself qualified could ask for permission to teach Scripture as Jesus did at Nazareth (BibleHistory.com).
There was a leader known as Chazzam who had many duties at the synagogue, which included being the leader of the service (Luke 4:20). Chazzam asked Jesus to share as a visiting Rabbi and gave Him the scroll from Isaiah, which Jesus had requested.
Jesus launched into His sermon, and people seemed to feel that He was doing an excellent job of preaching (v. 22), but suddenly the atmosphere darkened. What caused the switch? According to William Barclay, the crowd became angry because of the “apparent compliment that Jesus paid to Gentiles.” The Jews believed they were the exclusive people of God. Someone said the Jews believed “the Gentiles had been created by God to fuel the fires of hell,” yet Jesus, as a young Preacher, gave them a compliment as the concern of God!
The people in the synagogue became so angry. Remember, these were His friends, neighbors and possibly relatives among whom He had lived until He moved to Capernaum early in His ministry. Their anger boiled to rage, and they seized Him to take Him out of the building to a cliff, ready to throw Him to His death. Scripture says He walked through the crowd and left. I don’t know if this is a miracle, but He escaped with His life! The consequence of His rejection at Nazareth is that He never returned to His hometown to minister.
We pay inevitable consequences by rejecting Jesus, but the truth is that Christ is the inevitable Conqueror over things that are wrong.
Christ Is the Conqueror over Sin
Jesus was bringing a new era to the spiritual world. The blood of animals in the temple covered the sins of the people, but no longer. The blood of Christ conquers the consequences of sin! We cannot allow sin to have any place in our hearts.
The story is told that a man in Haiti wanted to sell his house. Another man wanted to buy it but did not have the financial resources to pay the full price. Negotiating with the owner, a deal was struck, and the man paid only half of the price. However, there was a stipulation by the seller. He wanted to retain ownership of one small nail protruding above the door—no removing it!
The buyer agreed. Time passed, and the original owner wanted his house back, but the new owner refused to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.
Someone said the moral of the parable is, “If we leave the devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ’s habitation.”
Friends, give Christ complete ownership of your spiritual life…every last nail!
Christ Is the Conqueror over Social Needs
Bruce Larson said, “God’s Spirit is at work where personal and social concern are demonstrated. If we are God’s people, we care about the physical, social, temporal needs of the world.”
One out of six Americans go hungry every night. Fetuses are aborted; racial prejudice still thrives; human trafficking exists on a large scale; people are paid less than livable wages around the world; hatred and war goes on around the globe; and other social issues plague us. Jesus was concerned not only with the sin situation but also with the social issues of His time. We as disciples must be concerned with the social issues of our time! The world is unconcerned with our credentials in theology, but it wants to know if we care enough to act. Do we care for the poor and the outcast in our world?
Christ Is the Conqueror over Rejection
It is not recorded that Jesus ever returned to Nazareth. His rejection could have been redeemed, but the people refused Him. Our rejection of Jesus can be irreparable. I agree with the idea that God doesn’t send anyone to hell. Hell is a choice we make. My grandmother had the picture of Jesus knocking on the door of a heart. No doorknob was on that door. The doorknob was on the inside.
We have to open our hearts to Jesus! He will not force His way inside. He calls to us for a response. If we open the door, He will come in and live with us. Don’t turn Him away!
Derl G. Keefer, administrative pastor, Center Park United Methodist Church, Three Rivers, Michigan.