Please take your Bibles and read Luke 4:14-30.
Previously, we considered Jesus’ baptism (3:1-38) and His subsequent temptation in the wilderness (4:1-13). Based upon other Gospel records, we know that Jesus then ministered in the regions of Galilee and Judea (which Luke did not record).
This post will focus upon 4:14-30 in which Luke describes events which occurred approximately one year after Jesus’ baptism.
Beginning in Luke 4:14 the writer presents to his readers a narrative section which stretches to 9:50 and which is devoted to recording revelation about Jesus Christ and answers the question about the nature of true faith and discipleship. The narrative section will give an overview of Jesus’ mission, His initial teaching and miracles, the gathering of His disciples, the increase in opposition, Jesus’ instruction on faith, Peter’s confession, and finally, Jesus announcement of His death and resurrection which was followed immediately by His transfiguration. Therefore, 4:14-9:50 revolves around the revelation about Jesus and the nature of faith and discipleship.
Luke 4:14-44 provides a description of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. It begins with a summary statement about His ministry (4:14–15) and is followed with an example of Jesus’ preaching and the response of the people (4:16–30).
Though it might seem obvious to some, it is necessary to point out that Jesus’ teachings were for the purpose of giving revelation about Himself, His mission, and to draw people to Himself. While Jesus’ miracles demonstrated His power and authority, His teachings take center stage, and therefore, become the central feature of the Gospel. Generally, Jesus’ audience was okay with, and even enjoyed, the spectacular miracles; however, they tended to get upset when Jesus opened His mouth to give them truth.
TR: Luke summarizes the general response of the nation to Jesus’ earlier ministry…
His Fame Spread throughout the Region (vv. 14-15).
This section, which summarizes His ministry, emphasizes the people’s initial response, and it begins by highlighting that Jesus was a…
Spirit-Enabled Servant of God (v. 14a).
Luke said in verse 14, “Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee.” Immediately following Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit came upon Him to enable Him for His ministry. It is very significant that following Jesus’ enablement, that the Holy Spirit directed Jesus to Galilee, where He had grown up.
Initial Fame and Popularity (v. 14b).
Luke said in verse 14 that, “news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.” In the year following Jesus’ baptism, in which He performed miracles and taught God’s truth, His fame spread quickly throughout the region.
Synagogue Sermons (v. 15).
Luke states that Jesus, “taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.” Luke does not reveal the content of Jesus’ teaching; he merely states that Jesus taught frequently during this time period. Luke’s primary emphasis at this point is the response of the people to Jesus’ teachings. Generally speaking, the people “glorified” Him (this word does not necessarily speak of worship, in context it simply refers to His fame).
Jesus’ ministry was under the direction of the Holy Spirit and at the beginning, He gained popularity as a teacher. However, this is only the beginning of the story. Luke will show in the following verses that their positive assessment of Jesus Christ would quickly change.
Opposition Begins (vv. 16-30).
Luke gives an example of adverse reaction to Jesus’ teaching. This negative response took place within Jewish synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown.
Familiar Surroundings (v. 16).
Luke tells us, “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up.” Therefore, we must not miss the significance of this – it will become apparent in a few verses. Jesus entered and began to address those who were well acquainted with Jesus and His family.
Furthermore, we are told, “And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.” Jesus did as He normally did. He faithfully attended Sabbath services and took the initiative to read Scripture.
On this particular occasion, Jesus turned and read from Isaiah 61:1-2, which was a…
Declaration of His Mission (vv. 17-22).
Reading of Scripture (v. 17-20a).
17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down.
Anticipation of the Congregation (v. 20b).
After reading the passage, the people sat in anticipation: “And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.” In Jesus’ day, the Israelites understood correctly, that Isaiah 61 had to do with the establishment of the Messianic Age through the Messiah. The fact that Jesus selected a messianic passage intrigued them.
Beginning in verse 21, Jesus gave them the…
Application of the Passage (v. 21)
Jesus first pointed out the…
Recipients of the message.
Jesus said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Isaiah 61:1ff has to do with the establishment of God’s Kingdom as promised to the nation of Israel. The Kingdom will result in the comfort and relief of the nation. Jesus said that the passage He read was “fulfilled” in their hearing – they were the recipients of the message. However, Jesus did not mean that the Kingdom had been established on that day; rather He meant that the Kingdom was being offered to the nation – He was the Messiah through whom God would establish the Kingdom.
This brings us then to…
The Messenger’s message:
The Isaiah passage supports a major theme in Luke. Luke emphasizes the fact that Jesus’ ministry involved a lot of teaching, preaching, or proclaiming. In Isaiah 61:1-2 we find the same emphasis: “He has anointed me to preach.” The fulfillment, of which Jesus spoke, had to do with the proclamation/offer of the Kingdom, not the establishment.
18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me
Jesus Christ offered the Kingdom which He will eventually establish. They would benefit from Jesus’s messianic ministry by responding to the message which He had to deliver.
Therefore, the people needed to understand that…
The Messenger is the message.
In verse 21 Jesus said “Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Isaiah 61 is a passage about Israel’s Messiah. His citation of Isaiah 61:1 and 2 began with: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me.” Israel understood the passage to refer to the deliverance which the Messiah would bring. Jesus assured them that passage was fulfilled in their hearing – He was God’s appointed messenger, and His message was about Himself – He is the Messiah whom God had promised to liberate the country of Israel. The point that they needed to accept first was that He was their Messiah. They would not be able to experience the Kingdom without first identifying and receiving God’s Messiah.
However, before Israel could welcome the message of the Messiah and the Kingdom He offered, the nation needed to come to grips with…
Spiritual needs of the nation.
The book of Isaiah records the consequences Israel faced for falling away from God. They had sinned against God. Therefore, the nation would be plundered and taken to Babylon. However, even though the nation had been devastated, Isaiah prophesied of a future restoration of the nation through God’s Messiah.
Although Isaiah’s passage has social implications, the thrust and emphasis must be understood in the context of spiritual deliverance. The passage depicts the nation suffering physically because of the consequences of sin/covenant unfaithfulness. Isaiah’s passage predicts that Messiah will restore the fortunes of Israel. He will do this through Israel’s spiritual salvation. When they receive Jesus Christ as Saviour through repentance, they will receive forgiveness of sins, and be restored to the divine blessings promised them in the Abrahamic, Davidic, and new covenants.
Jesus came to “preach the gospel to the poor.” The word “poor” is to be understood in the material sense – impoverished. Because of the fall of Israel in Isaiah’s day, it had been plundered and made destitute and weak. However, the nation’s poverty was linked to its spiritual poverty – not having spiritual richness due to its sin. Jesus is the One who will restore the nation’s material fortunes. This will be accomplished through the nation’s spiritual salvation and restoration. This will occur just prior to the Messianic Kingdom.
Jesus was “sent… to heal the brokenhearted.” The nation was demoralized. Because of its sin, God judged the nation, the glorious nation fell, and the people’s hopes of had been dashed. The mental state of brokenheartedness is closely associated with spiritual brokenness. Jesus is the One who will restore the hope of the nation – this will again occur after the nation is healed of spiritual brokenness through the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus came “To proclaim liberty to the captives.” As a result of the fall of Israel, many were exiled to Babylon, and effectively captives. They became strangers in a strange country. Since that time, Israel has always been a scattered nation – only 6 million Jews presently live in Israel, whereas 14 million live scattered throughout the world. Jesus is the One who will restore the people to their homeland and in the kingdom they will no longer be treated as captives or strangers. Captivity may be an allusion to the spiritual state of the people who are captives to sin. Jesus is the Messiah who will release repentant Israel from its sin and restore the nation into its homeland prior to the Kingdom.
Jesus came to bring “recovery of sight to the blind.” It is hard to know if the word “blind” is to be taken literally as the other references are. It is certainly possible that it is meant to be literal. We know that even at His first coming Jesus restored the sight of some, and it is completely possible that this reference refers to the restoration of sight for all blind. However, blindness is often used metaphorically of spiritual blindness – referring to those who have not been illuminated by the Spirit of God. Jesus, as the Messiah, will illuminate the hearts of many, bringing them to saving knowledge and will heal many of physical blindness which is a result of sin.
Jesus was sent to “To set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Following the fall of the nation, Israel has always been oppressed to one degree or another. This is understandable – Satan has done his best to wipe out the Jews from the earth, because our Saviour had to come from the Jewish nation, and because the Jews are heirs of the promise of God. The physical oppression can likewise be illustrative of the spiritual oppression which Israel is under due to sin. Those Jews who receive Christ as Messiah, will be born again and will no longer experience physical nor spiritual oppression.
Lastly, Jesus came “To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” The “acceptable year of the Lord” refers to a jubilee year. A jubilee year was supposed to occur every 50th year – it was a year of release – debts were released, slaves were freed. The Messianic Age is considered the greatest Jubilee. Jesus, the Messiah, will be the one who brings about this complete release for the nation of Israel.
This passage must be understood in light of its original context – given to Israel. Israel had been ruined because of sin. Messiah would restore the fortunes of the nation. This restoration required spiritual salvation, which was dependent upon their repentance and reception of the Messiah. Jesus is the Messiah who could and will restore them if they would only repent of their sin and turn to Christ. Jesus wanted his audience to understand two ideas: He is the Messiah who came to restore the fortunes of Israel, and the nation could be saved and restored if they would admit their sin (and depend upon Him as Messiah).
Unfortunately, Luke shows that the room was filled with…
Calloused Worshippers (v. 22).
Verse 22 tells us that the people “marveled at the gracious words” of Christ. They were amazed at the wonderful pronouncement. Their amazement was positive regarding the proclamation, but skeptical regarding Jesus’ Person: “And they said, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?’” Because they were familiar with Jesus, they were skeptical. His growing up years did not give them any reason to think that he was any more than a commoner.
Therefore, Luke wanted his readers to know that their familiarity with Jesus caused them to discount and reject His message
Announcement of General Rejection (vv. 23-29).
The reaction of the people is further demonstrated by Jesus’ prediction of their future response.
His prediction of their response (v. 23)
Jesus predicted their future response to Him: “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself!” Jesus’ point began with a simple premise: a physician who could not heal himself could not be trusted to heal others. The Gospels tell us that this is, in fact, what the people shouted to Jesus when He was hanging on the cross (Mt 27:40; Mk 15:30; Lk 23:37, 39). Because He did not help Himself, they assumed He could not help Himself, and therefore, from their perspective, if He could not help Himself, He could not save the nation.
Jesus also predicted that they would say, “Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.” He had performed miracles in Capernaum, but none in Nazareth. They wanted Him to perform the miracles in their midst that they had heard He performed in Capernaum.
Verse 23 points us to the fact that those of Nazareth rejected Jesus Christ and His message. They saw Jesus as a helpless victim who could not save Himself. They expected Jesus to do great miracles in their midst, but Jesus did not. Both of these issues, to the minds of the citizens, spoke of Jesus’ weakness. If Jesus was weak, as they supposed, He would be unable to save them, and therefore, He was not the Messiah.
In verses 24-27 Jesus rebuked them for their desire to have Him prove Himself.
His pronouncement regarding their rejection (vv. 24-27)
Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.” Through this statement, Jesus equated Himself with OT prophets. Many OT prophets were rejected by their own people. He knew that it would not be different for Him.
However, Jesus warned them that their rejection of Him would have dire consequences for them.
Jesus said, in verse 25, “But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the landbut to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.”
There were many Jewish widows in Israel in the days of Elijah. However, Elijah was sent to the Gentile town of Zarephath to a believing Gentile widow, and Elijah cared for her instead of all the Jewish widows. Rejecting God’s prophet is risky and has dire consequences. Jesus’ point was that God had in the past favoured Gentiles in preference over Jews because of Jewish rejection of God and His message. If they rejected Jesus Christ, the nation of Israel would likewise be abandoned by God.
Jesus also warned in verse 27, “And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” There were many Jewish lepers in Elisha’s day who did not receive a healing. The Gentile Naaman, because he believed God, did receive a healing. Jesus’ point was the same as the previous illustration.
With these two illustrations, Jesus warned his crowd that unbelief would result in losing out in the blessings from God. Jesus, like the OT prophets, would work among the Gentiles. In the book of Acts, we find a shift, where the nation of Israel is temporarily set aside by God in order to bring many Gentiles to faith.
Not surprisingly, we find…
Their negative response (v. 28).
The people understood what Jesus was implying through His illustrations. They understood that Jesus was suggesting that God would bless Gentiles in the place of Israel if they did not respond in repentant faith. Therefore, in verse 28, “all those in the synagogue…were filled with wrath.” In verse 29, the “rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill…that they might throw Him down over the cliff.” The future rejection which Jesus predicted was quickly displayed by the Nazarites.
Though they wanted to kill Him immediately, it was not Jesus’ hour for His death, and therefore, the Father granted Him a…
Temporary Reprieve (v. 30).
Luke says in verse 30, “Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.” Jesus miraculously passed through the crowd because it was not His time to die.
This passage has developed a few key ideas.
This passage demonstrates that Jesus came to fulfill Old Testament prophecy regarding the establishment of God’s Kingdom on the earth. It also shows that Jesus received a negative response from Jews, those who had been given God’s Old Testament prophecies. Finally, this passage emphasizes the universal nature of Jesus’ mission (to reach not just Jews, but Gentiles as well).
One of the central messages of the gospels is that Israel, as a whole, rejected Jesus.
The people of Israel were unqualified to enter God’s eternal kingdom. They needed to receive Christ as their Messiah in order to enter Christ’s kingdom. But they would not receive a Messiah if they refused to admit their spiritual needs (individual sin which needed to be cleansed). Jesus said that only those who are born again can enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:1-6). Therefore, those in Israel, who maintained their rejection of Jesus Christ, were barred from Kingdom blessings.
Another theme of the Gospels is that the Kingdom offered, which was rejected by Israel when they rejected the Messiah, was postponed.
Christ will return to establish His eternal kingdom. He will allow many Jews and many Gentiles into His Kingdom. However, because all people are sinners, they are condemned to an eternity in hell. Only those who have their sins forgiven and are born again by the Spirit of God are qualified to enter into Christ’s Kingdom. Those who fail to receive Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord are barred from the eternal blessings which He will usher in.
All people deserve to experience an eternity in hell because of sin.
The only way you can be saved from that future is by receiving Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord.
Receiving Jesus Christ means believing in Him as He is revealed in His Word.
A lot of people claim to have received Jesus – but they have merely received the Jesus of their own mind’s making. A lot of people claim to have received Jesus – but he is not the Jesus of the Bible, he is, as Paul said, another Jesus who cannot save.