When Jesus offends his friends and family

I have for a long time wondered why Jesus did not stop at the point where everyone marvelled at his gracious words. Why did he instead press on and drive the people who knew him since his youth into a murderous rage. What is going on in this incident in Nazareth that we find in Luke 4:14-30 and how does it help us in a time when the only Jesus many talk about is the always accepting, totally tolerant and never judging Jesus.

Audio teaching. “Challenging unbelief in Nazareth”

Listen to this MP3 to find out what I discovered or read the script of the teaching below. I look forward your feedback.

Manuscript of this teaching 

One of the most important passages in the whole Bible is Luke 4:14 -30.
I say it is one of the most important passages because it teaches us about Jesus – his mission, his ministry, his power and anointing. It shows the different areas that Jesus wants to address in our lives and it shows us why many people actually go home angry and dissappointed even though the Lord was in the meeting, and the anointing was present to heal and to deliver.

I suggest you have your Bible open and notebooks ready. I have been meditating on this passage for years and I keep discovering more depths to it. So take notes and invest some time at home to study the passage. To grow as a Christian you must study. You need to learn the stories well enough to share them, you need to learn the words of Jesus, because they are life, they are cleansing, they are medicine. His words are life giving. Also learning, Bible stories will transform the way you think. So take notes, learn, study.

At the same time, remember to keep your heart open and be ready to respond in faith. I never preach or teach without making an appeal to people to respond to the Spirit of the Lord and receive anointed ministry. Why don’t we just worship and minister? Well the reason is that there are often blockages to recieving, and we can address or expose those through teaching. This is what this passage is all about, so let’s begin.

The passage begins soon after the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. He had left Nazareth where he grew up and worked as a carpenter until the age of thirty. Then after getting baptised, receiving the Holy Spirit and passing the temptations in the wilderness, he started doing miracles in other towns, like Caparnaum. Now he comes home again one Saturday and heads for the synagogue.

During the service he reads a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah, which foretells the coming of the Messaiah and describes the nature of his mission. After he finishes reading and sits down he tells the people that the prophecy has been fulfilled in their presence. The people are at first excited and marvel but then something strange happens. Jesus begans to expose their hidden thoughts and by referring to two Old Testament stories he provokes them so much that want to kill him. What happened?

Well before we go through it verse by verse I will give you the answer.
Did you know the Lord expects us to respond to him with faith. And if you don’t he might actually provoke and offend you to expose the sources of unbelief that are in your heart.

Jesus made an extra effort to offend. It is unbelievable if the Jesus you worship is a politically-correct, humanist, liberal, all accepting and never judging Jesus. The problem is that this story shows us a different Jesus. The real Jesus was willing to offend and actually risk his life to expose evil before later giving his life to overcome that evil. But that is another topic. Let’s look at the passage and begin at verse 17.

LUKE 4:

17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and 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 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son
(Luke 4:22 ESV)

Jesus is announcing that he has been anointed with the Spirit of the Lord and he tells us the purpose of the anointing. The Anointing is given to preach good news to the poor, to heal broken hearts, to liberate the captives and to heal blind eyes.

The mission of Jesus was all about hope for the poor, inner healing, spiritual liberation and recovery of sight, which refers to all kinds of healing miracles.

Now what would you do with such an invitation? If someone says – I am here with the power – Whatever the need is in your life – I have the anointing to deal with it, wouldn’t you put up your hand and say

  • “Please help me, I have a problem …
  • Please heal my broken heart
  • I am a captive to sin,
  • I am bound and oppressed by the devil
  • Please deliver me”

That would be the normal response, but here in Nazareth they reject the offer. Why? Well, we will find that the people rejected the anointing for different reasons.

Some rejected the anointing, because they were so focussed on the words, that they missed the message. Others rejected the anointing because they were so focussed on the messenger that they missed the words and the message.

You see those who grew up with Jesus were thinking, we knew this boy since he was small. We know all about his family and their problems. He could never be the anointed one of God. So that is why they just sat there thinking:

“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

They were rejecting him because of his background. Joseph was a carpenter, so his son was a carpenter. Jesus was not well-educated. That is why it says they marvelled at his gracious words. I imagine that means they thought it was marvellous that he being uneducated could read so nicely. “Yes Jesus was a good carpenter and he read very nicely but he can’t be the anointed one of God. His mother had religous fantasies too. She blamed an angel for the mistakes she made. No Jesus, nice guy but anointed – no way.”

That is why they just sat there. There was no response. No one was coming to get healed or delivered. So that is when Jesus started to expose the blockages. You see some of the people had what I call the spectator spirit.

You know those sports fans, who know exactly what the team should have done, yet they never played a game in their life. That’s the spectator spirit.

23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself. ’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.”

They were waiting to see a good show. They had heard about Jesus doing miracles but they wanted to see a good magic show and try and find out what the trick is.

Have you noticed how people react to miracles – when Jesus opened the eyes of a man born blind, they refused to believe that this was the same man. Many people say – I won’t believe a miracle unless I see it with my own eyes. So some people of Nazareth were thinking like that. They wanted to see if Jesus could really heal a local person, someone they knew personally.

But Jesus is basically saying I don’t want spectators, I want team members. I don’t want the critics, I want the crippled. My anointing is for the broken, the bound, the poor and the indebted. Who needs help? But because there is still no response, Jesus digs even deeper to expose their blockages:

24 “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.

In other words he was saying – I don’t take this personally, this is normal. No one honors or accepts a prophet who they know. There is a saying “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Have you noticed how some people are very polite at work but they are very impatient and impolite with their family. Honor and respect are very important to God. You need to honor your parents to live long. Treat your wife well or your prayers will be hindered. Here no one honors Jesus because they knew him. He was a normal guy, so how could God be talking through him.

Do you know that most people who never hear from God fail to hear because they are expecting to hear in some spectacular way. Most of the time when the Bible talks about God speaking it is through a person – a prophet, through the scriptures themselves, through a dream, and through what we call an inner witness – a still small voice. The dramatic burning bushes and voices from heaven are rare. People rejected the anointing because they were waiting for God to speak in a more dramatic or supernatural way.

So let me summarise so far, Jesus has claimed to have the anointing to bring good news to the poor, to heal the broken hearts, to liberate the demonised and to heal the blind. But no one responds with faith – they miss the message because they are judging and dishonoring the messenger, or because they are waiting for a show, or because they do not understand the way God speaks to us, which is usually through the scriptures and through normal-looking people.

So because of all these blockages Jesus begins to introduce two key stories from the Old Testament. It says in Verse 25:

But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and 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 the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

When Jesus says this – it sends the whole group into a murderous rage. What is so offensive about mentioning the widow of Zarephath and the Syrian army commander?

Well firstly, Zarephath was a place where a horrible demonic idol call Baal was worshipped, and the Syrian soldiers have always been famous for their brutality.

These two stories were normally used to show that the Jews are better than the other people or nations because their God is more powerfl than other gods.

But Jesus makes a completely different and very disturbing point. He says: the reason God did a miracle for the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian soldier was because almost no one in Israel was open to God.

God multiplied food for the widow, raised her son from the dead and healed her broken heart because she was obedient in faith. Yet she lived in Baal’s country not Israel.

Now this was really offensive, it is like saying – God is doing miracles in Mecca because no one in Rome or London has faith.

Instead of healing lepers in Israel, God healed Naaman the commander of the Syrian Army, although he was certainly a very violent man. That is like saying God has more pleased with Assad or Putin than he is with the West.

So can you now see why the people got so offended, angry and wanted to kill Jesus. No if you don’t believe what I am about to say study Genesis 4 and the story of Cain and Abel.

I believe that whenever people are overcome by anger and the desire to murder, we are dealing with an evil spirit. And because the offense that is angering them relates to their religion, we call it a religious spirit.

And what a religious spirit does, I believe, is to make you comfortable with false worship and make you very angry with anyone who points you towards true worship.

The religous spirit loves us to talk about a God in heaven, who we serve with our ceremonies and rituals. But when the anointing and the Spirit of the Lord, are present we have God here on earth ready to help us. The religious spirit loves us to speculate about what God will do in future, but gets angry when you suggest that God wants to act now and through you.

The religious spirit loves wonderful words but hates marvellous miracles. And that is why the religious spirit is ultimately what resists the anointing and this is what Jesus exposed that day in Nazareth. He said:

  • I have the anointing.
  • I have come with Good news
  • I have come to heal broken hearts
  • I have come to deliver people and
  • I have come to deal with debts and offenses.

And he was just longing for someone to respond with faith and stretch out their hand and say – HELP ME! I need that!

What about you here now?

Is there anyone here who is hearing this invitiation of Jesus? Has anyone got a broken heart?
Anyone feel oppressed and imprisoned. Anyone blind who needs their eyes opened, are there any other physical afflictions and you need healing.

If so, now is your time.

Get out of spectator mode. Get out of scepticism. Stop trying to discover the trick. There is no trick. It is the power of God. Stop being an observer and become a receiver. Respond to Jesus with faith and expectation.

Some of you are struggling because you are bound by religion. You love biblical exposition and love stories of what God is doing in other places, but you don’t want it to get personal. You don’t want to become vulnerable.

Some of you are blocked by the spirit of racism. You know that racism is not about skin color. The Jews of Nazareth and Naaman the Syrian were both the same color. Racism is thinking that you are superior by birth. Racism is thinking your race deserves special treatment. Racism is blaming people from another tribe or race for your problems instead of addressing your own issues.

And racists tend to team up in a murderous party.

It says:

28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away
(Luke 4:20-30 ESV)

Yes they tried to kill Jesus, but he walked right through the middle of the party of killers. The Spirit of the Lord has anointed you, no one can touch your life, before the appointed time. No one can kill the Lord’s anointed before the Lord’s appointed time.

Jesus passed through the midst of the murderous party and went away.
Don’t be afraid the anointing is stronger than death. The anointing is life and freedom.

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.”

Will you receive the anointing, ask Jesus to heal your broken heart. Will you receive the anointing, and ask Jesus to deliver you from demonic bondage? From your addiction, from your anger, from your blindness, from your skin condition?

Add-on if people are stuggling to receive.

I know it is sometimes hard to respond with faith, which is also why the stories that Jesus mentioned both help us.

God spoke to the Widow of Zarephath and told her to provide for the man of God. If you making notes the story is in 1 Kings 17. So Elijah said, “Make my food then prepare your own.” But they were in the middle of a famine so she said “I don’t have enough for myself, I am about to die of starvation.” She had heard God speak, she heard the prophet speak, but it all made no sense because she did not have enough even for herself. She was going to die of hunger. But when she exercised her faith, that’s when God started to multiply her oil and flour. The food never ran out. But later her son died. She thought it was a punishment from God, but Elijah raised the boy from the dead. So you see she was full of guilt and and dissappointment ever since her husband died. She was under condemnation, but because she chose to believe, and obey she experienced supernatural provision, ressurection and inner healing.

Are you carrying guilt and disappointment? Do you think that God is punishing you for mistakes you made. Have you heard God speak but you don’t want to believe it was him because you are afraid?

Jesus said, I have come to heal the broken hearted.

Naaman the Syrian, had a terrible skin disease. He was the commander of the army. Certainy, he was a brutal and violent man. Skilled in arts of war and terror. But he heard about the Man of God Elisha. He heard about the anointing for healing. The story is in 2 Kings 5. But when he gets to Elisha’s house he is very dissappointed because he has a very precise idea of how the man of God should perform the healing. Elisha says go and wash in the river. And he says no way – I was expecting the Man of God to wave his hands and call on his God. He had fixed expectations of how God heals. He is about to go home angry. But his servants persuade him to give it a try and he washes in the River Jordan seven times as instructed and is healed.

Many people don’t get healed because they have a very precise idea of how the Man of God should heal them. What about you? Are you willing to do whatever God says to get your healing?

The widow of Zarephath and the commander of the Syrian army Naaman, really struggled but they finally came to the point where they were willing to co-operate with God to receive their miracles. They came to the point of trusting God and his anointed messengers instead of looking to their own religion.

The people of Nazareth held onto their religion and tried to kill the anointing.

Widow Z. and Naaman the soldier left their religion and the anointing transformed their lives.

*Now you can understand when people are offended, but when people want to kill, I believe that an evil spirit is at work. If you want evidence for that look at the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4.

God warns Cain that sin is crouching at the door and desiring to take control of him and because he opens the door instead of repenting, he ends up killing his brother. That is in Genesis 4.

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