This Week's Focus Passage

Luke 4:28 ‘They were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things.’

Luke 4:28 - ‘They were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things.’ 

This demonstration took place after Jesus had read the Scriptures to those before Him in the synagogue. He had been asked to read, we may presume according to their custom. They had delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Isaiah, which He opened to a particular place where, we are told, it was written, and He read;

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to  preach good tidings to the poor: He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.—Isaiah 61:1ff.

In keeping with tradition as we find it in Nehemiah 8:8 where it is recorded that they read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly; and they gave the sense, Christ proceeded to ‘give the sense.’ After He had closed the book, returned it to the attendant, and taken his seat, we are told that all eyes were fastened on Him. It was, evidently, expected that He would make some comments upon that which He had just read; He would ‘give the sense,’ unto His hearers of that which He had just read. And so He began, To-day hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears. It is only reasonable to expect that their ears perked up as He began to ‘give the sense’ of this word from God through the prophet Isaiah. Luke continues to inform us:

And all bare him witness, and wondered at the words of grace which proceeded out of his mouth.

And yet, remarkably, they seem to have had their minds twisted around in some way that raised, almost immediately, negative thoughts that opposed this wonderment at the words of grace. Instead of reminding themselves of the Word of God, perhaps even Psalm 45:2, Thou art fairer than the children of men; grace is poured into thy lips, their thoughts turn to a parable of their own. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, exposes it before them, saying; Doubtless ye will say unto me this parable, Physician, heal thyself. Even, it appears, as in the parable of the sower, the gracious word; the seed, is snatched out of their thoughts and minds. It is astonishing how that a sinner’s native resistance can so swiftly turn his ears off, and turn his foolish mind on to a false conclusion. But so helpless is man apart from the grace of God.

We witness here Jesus rejected by His own, even His own siblings; this should not surprise us. Nazareth’s synagogue is an image of unbelieving Israel. Jesus had to bear rejection; can we not bear it with Him? Can we not say, paraphrasing Christ’s word, ‘in this life ye shall have rejection.’? No prophet is acceptable in his own country.—John 4:44. In Mark this is expanded; A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.—Mark 6:4. This is a sad reality. He came unto His own, and his own received Him not. Why should we be surprised if we are rejected by our own kinsmen according to the flesh; even those in our own house; even our very own children?

Do not Naaman, the Syrian general of the army—‘but he was a leper’—and the poor, destitute widow of Zarephath represent here those having faith in our sovereign God, while Israel is representing the many that think to be saved by their own works—to save themselves?—or perhaps by their own supposed righteousness? We are not suggesting that such representation was in the mind of God the Holy Spirit, nor even in the mind of Luke, but nonetheless, there is, at least, some plausible likeness for consideration here. It struck me, years ago, that what is demonstrated in this passage is not dissimilar from the rejection that comes from many to the doctrines of grace; to the teaching of God’s sovereign electing grace; to the teaching that ‘salvation is of Jehovah’ alone, and does not come in any way from our works, much less our ‘spark of faith,’ and even much less, from any pretended righteousnesses; they are all filthy rags. Many have completely ignored passages such as Ephesians 2:8-9 where we read those blessed words given to Paul to write for us, by God the Holy Spirit,

For by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory.

God has left no room for boasting on the part of man. He has reminded us in more than one place in His Word that He will share His glory with none. Jehovah our God is a jealous God; He will not share His glory with another.

One commentator has written, most helpfully of Christ, in this narrative account, that, ‘With the greatest humility He, who was so much more than a prophet, places Himself so far on an equality with the prophets in the Old Testament as this, that He together with them must be content to suffer an unbelieving rejection, which, it is true, is most severely requited by God. This we see from two examples taken from the life of Elijah and Elisha, which are doubly noteworthy for this reason, that here at the beginning of the public life of Jesus in somewhat covert wise the same thing is announced which the Savior at the end with explicit words threatens the Jews with, as punishment for their unbelief.’—John Peter Lange.

Sadly, it is often the case that toward believers in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior the charge is made, ‘Physician, heal thyself,’ or, ‘Who made thee a prince and judge over us?’ Look to your own self; clean up your own house; Judge not, lest ye be judged, and so on, ad nauseum. And because we are not absolutely perfect and without sin as is Jesus Christ, the charges are often not totally missing the mark. By our less than spotless behavior we may bring reproach upon our God. It is likely that we are, unhappily, a soft target for their resentment of the truth as it is in Christ. We must strive, through God’s grace, to be Christ-like, remembering as one has written; ‘The Savior at Nazareth reveals at once His double character as Physician and Prophet: as physician, who is treated with scorn when He wishes to prepare help for others and at once is bidden to heal Himself; as prophet, who deserves the highest honor and does not receive the least.’

 David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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