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Luke 4:14-30

A consistent sorrow to Christians is this: despite their best efforts, both in word and in life, there are family members who utterly reject Jesus Christ. It is a great heartache. Such people often look for some magic method of evangelism to deal with this. They love much; they want the best for their loved ones. But it is necessary to know that Christ told us there would be rejection, for he himself was despised and rejected.

And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD." And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, "Is this not Joseph's son?" And He said to them, "No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, 'Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.'" And He said, "Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. "But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. "And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went His way.

(Luke 4:14-30 NASB)

Prophesy of Rejection

Many of us are very good at hearing only what we want to hear. We hear the joyous news of Christ; we do not hear his words telling us of rejection. But they are there:

·         A consistent theme in the Old Testament prophecies is the rejection of the Holy One (the Messiah).[1] Christ took these prophecies seriously; he was under no illusions that everyone would love him.

·         It is also prophesied that we shall be rejected as well.[2] Some will not believe us when we bring the good news.


This rejection seems strange to us. Why would anyone reject the good news of Jesus Christ? But they do, and often very vigorously. We may venture to suggest some reasons:

·         They are “ever hearing, never understanding.”[3] Teachers see this often. For those who have “math block” algebra is difficult, despite their intelligence. For those who have “God block” no set of words will crack the attitude inside.

·         Some, when they encounter the man of God, see only the man and not the God. The good works they see are attributed to a happy nature. To see God requires the pure heart; the worldly heart cannot see him in us.

·         For many, the matter is one of the consequences. To accept God means to live by his ways; to reject God means to live by our own ways. If we are stuck in sin, we may prefer our own muddy rut.

Results of rejection

God allows no evil unless from it he can make a greater good. The rejection of the Christ was worked into that greater good for us:

  • Because the Jews rejected the message of Christ, the message was taken to the Gentiles – the whole world.[4] How God would have dealt with this had they accepted him we do not know – but we know the good he brought from rejection.
  • Because Christ was rejected and scorned, the church reaches out not just to the socially acceptable but to all. There is no one who is so sinful as to be beyond the reach of repentance. So it is that the rejection of Christ has helped to build the church.
  • Ultimately, the one whom this world rejected will return in glory, bringing in the “year of the Lord’s favor.” Known also as the year of Jubilee, it symbolizes the time in which all things will be renewed. Those who accept the rejection that comes with being a Christian will then see the favor of the Lord.

Rejection Defines

Rejection is not an “add-on” to the ministry of Christ; it is essential. Rejection creates the rugged character of his ministry, and it also creates that character in our own work. Why is this so?

  • First, so that those who love Jesus will count the cost.[5] He will have no followers who are staying only through the picnic but running away from the storm. In war, you take the weather as it is. We are at war.
  • Next, so that those who reject him can clearly see that we proclaim Christ not from selfish motives but from love.[6] By our suffering in rejection they see that we mean it.
  • Finally, Christ shows us this character of our ministry so that we will be prepared for rejection – and know what to do when it comes. It is a hard thing, but we are to shake dust.[7]

So the ministry of Christ (and our ministry in Christ) is one which must be rugged enough to endure rejection. This would seem to make it hopeless thing – were it not for the fact that our ministry, like his, is given by the sovereignty of God. It moves not from our own power, but in his Spirit.

  • In Christ’s ministry we clearly see the miraculous nature of his touch. It is a credential of authenticity, but it is also a sign that God has ordained this path of ministry. Christ does the right thing in the right way. Likewise, so should we.
  • We also see the providence of God. Christ went his way, through an angry mob intent on killing him. How? By God’s providence; his arrangement of events working all things together for the good of those who love him. Likewise, he will do the same for us; God’s provision for God’s work.
  • This ministry is empowered by obedience. The Son can only do what the Father has shown him to do. Likewise, our obedience will be blessed with power from God.

The ministry of Christ is a ministry of deliverance, as is proclaimed in Isaiah as quoted here. We are delivered from sin into grace. We are to proclaim this deliverance so that others might so be delivered.

  • It is a deliverance in righteousness, not amnesia. Deliverance does not erase the past, it makes amends for it. It is no accident that the Scripture tells us that God is faithful and just to forgive us. As we deliver others, we cannot forget the results of the sin – but we can be the ambassadors of reconciliation.
  • We should also note that this deliverance was obtained at great cost – the blood of Christ. It is given, however, at no cost – for that is grace. As we have received, so we should give.
  • Indeed, we are “saved to serve.” We should never take our own deliverance lightly, for when we do others will see it as being of no great value. Let the world see what we prize – even at the cost of rejection.

The Model for the Disciple

It is good for us to see that our Lord was rejected in his own home town. It shows us that the rejection we get from our own families and friends is not some strange accident, but very much to be expected. They rejected Jesus; they will reject us too. Christ is very clear on this point:

  • He tells us clearly that following him will cause division in our families.[8] It is not strange, it is normal. It is also heartbreaking.
  • By that same example, we may discover that we have more success outside our families than within! This too is normal.
  • Of great sadness is this: there are those in our family who once knew the Lord, but now have rejected him. This is indeed deadly, but our Lord tells us that such people have no way back. Their former beliefs cannot cover their present rejection.[9]

We might well ask why. It hurts us greatly to see such people in our family. The great temptation is to stop and spend all our effort on those we love so much. But we are commanded to “shake dust.”[10] As our pastor put it, “No one has the right to hear the Gospel twice until everyone has heard the Gospel once.”

Rejection and God’s power

It puzzles us: why, if God is so mighty, does he not smooth the road for us, giving us eloquent tongues, powerful miracles and (while we’re asking) angelic assistance?

Because his power is made perfect through our weakness. We need to remember that rejection is a part of that perfection.

  • We are rejected not for ourselves but for Christ.[11] God is love; he will woo, he will not force our love in return. To make this voluntary is to create the possibility of rejection. It is not our doing, but his.
  • Indeed, God has deliberately provided us with a message that many regard as foolishness – the message of the Cross.[12] It is a sign of his power that the Cross goes from shame to glory.

He does this for one reason: so that those who hear the word can understand it is not of our own invention, nor is it sugar-coated to make it look nice. It is hard and rugged and not at all slickly attractive. It is reality itself.

A blessing

God knows that we are weak. He knows that enduring his rugged road will not be easy. But his way is the only way, and he provides his blessings upon it.

  • In this world we shall be those who build upon the rock.[13] Despite the storms of life, we will stand firm in him.
  • He also tells us that in the age to come our walk with him will reap great blessings.[14]

But there is a final warning: there is no fence to sit on. If we confess him, he will confess us before the Father. If we deny him, he will deny us.[15] It matters not how smooth is the road – if it leads to the wrong end.

[1] Psalm 118:22-23

[2] Isaiah 53:1-4

[3] Isaiah 6:9-10

[4] Romans 9:31-33

[5] Matthew 8:19-20

[6] 2 Corinthians 4:5

[7] Matthew 10:14

[8] Matthew 10:34-36

[9] See Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:28-31

[10] Matthew 10:14-15

[11] Luke 10:16

[12] 1 Corinthians 1:118-25

[13] Matthew 7:26-27

[14] Luke 6:22-23

[15] Matthew 10:32-33

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