LUKE 4:16-30

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. (John 1:11).

The truth of these words echo throughout the entire life of Jesus. At His birth, it was not the king of the Jews who came to worship Him, but Magi from a foreign land. His parents were forced to flee to Egypt because no place within His own country could protect Him.

In this chapter, the pattern continues. For thirty years the people of Nazareth had seen Jesus grow up, leading a perfect and sinless life. Now, as He returns to his hometown, His own neighbors will reject His message and then seek to put Him to death.

There is an interesting contrast that can been seen between this proclamation at Nazareth and John’s account of the first presentation of the Messiah in the temple (John 2:13-21).

John 2:13-21

Luke 4:16-30

Jesus presents himself in Jerusalem

Jesus presents Himself in Nazareth

Marks the beginning of the Early Judean Ministry

Marks the beginning of the Galilean Ministry

The Temple

A Synagogue

In each case, the result of the presentation of Jesus is the same. In each case, Jesus confronts the people on the area of their sin, refusing to perform a miracle in their midst. In each case, He is met with rejection and opposition.



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. (Luke 4:14-15).

Our passage opens with the return of Jesus to Galilee. Luke is not going to discuss the early ministry that Jesus had in Judea. He wishes to focus upon the ministry that Jesus had in Galilee.

Luke 1-2

Luke 3:1 - 4:11

Luke silent about Wedding Feast at Cana, Early Judean Ministry & woman at well.

Luke 4:12-ff

Birth & Childhood narratives of Jesus

John the Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus

Galilean Ministry

1. The Manner of His Return: And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit (4:14).

I think that the manner in which Jesus returns to Galilee is significant. It is in the power of the Spirit. You see, this was always the case. Everything that Jesus ever did while He was on the earth, He did by the power of the Spirit. He never acted upon His own. He never acted independently of God.

The miracles which He performed were done by the power of God. The teaching which He taught was given to Him by God. And even the places that He went were a reflection that He was being led by the Holy Spirit. That is the way Jesus lived. And that is the way we are to live, too.

2. The Ministry of His Return: And He began teaching… and was praised by all (4:15).

The initial reception which Jesus received in Galilee appears to be very positive. All who heard Him teach were praising Him. This initial popularity was really very shallow. These people were not recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, God in the flesh, and worshiping Him on that basis. For the most part, they were not repenting of their sins and turning to God in faith. Rather, they were merely impressed by His miracles and His bold manner.

I think that it was a little like the two old ladies who sat in awe through a preacher’s sermon and then commented to each other, "Isn’t he wonderful? I couldn’t understand a thing he said, but he had such a nice way of saying it." It will be this same type of attitude that we shall initially see in Nazareth.



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, 18 "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 downtrodden, 19 to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord."

And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him.

And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4: 16-21).

As Jesus comes to Nazareth, there is an air of expectancy. The news of His miracles and His teaching has spread throughout all of Palestine. It is the gossip of the day. And, if He did all of those things in those other places, what shall He do when He comes to His own town?

1. Nazareth: And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up (4:16).

The village of Nazareth lay tucked within a wide natural amphitheater, surrounded on all sides by high sloping hills except for the south where a narrow gorge leads its winding way out onto the Valley of Megiddo. The peaceful town was several miles from the major trade routes and in those days the town would not have numbered more than one or two hundred families.

Today the town is alive with the news. Jesus has returned! No doubt, the people have heard of the latest miracle, the healing of the son of the royal official. Speculation runs high throughout the village as people come from afar to witness what Jesus shall do in His own town. What new wonder awaits their eyes? If He has done such wonders in Cana and Capernaum, how much more will He do for His neighbors?

2. The Synagogue: He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath (4:16).

The Sabbath had actually begun at sundown on the previous evening. In each home throughout the village, the festive Sabbath Lamp was lit as a trumpet blast from the roof of the synagogue marked the advent of this special day.

Now, as the early morning sun cast its first light down into the quiet hamlet, people from all over the village and the surrounding farms began to gather to the synagogue.

The synagogue itself would have been a fairly large structure, built of stone and located near the marketplace. As you entered through the front door, you would find the wooden seats arranged in long rows. To one side a lattice partitioned off a section of the hall for the women. From here they were permitted to observe the service, shrouded in their long veils.

Against the far wall was the TEBAH, an ornate chest which contained all of the scrolls which made up the Holy Scriptures. Just before the Tebah were the Seats of Honor, reserved for the rulers of the synagogue and other honored men.

3. The Reading of the Scriptures: And stood up to read (4:16).

The synagogue service began in prayer and with a quotation of the Shemah: Hear, 0 Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! (Deuteronomy 6:4).

Then a passage from the Torah would be read. Next, a passage from the Prophets would be read, followed by a sermon or a word of exhortation.

Prior to the beginning of the service, Jesus would have been invited to read from the Prophets arid to give this word of exhortation.

Now, at the proper time, Jesus stands up and moves to the front of the synagogue. He comes to the Bema Seat, a raised wooden chair which stands before the congregation. The scroll which contains the book of Isaiah is handed to Him and He moves behind the lectern to the side of the Bema. Carefully unrolling the scroll, He begins to read.

The passage which Jesus reads from is Isaiah 61. It contains a prophecy of the kingdom and the peace and the prosperity which shall reign when the Lord comes.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to prisoners; 2 to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. (Isaiah 62:1-2a).

The Jews recognized this passage as a prophecy of the Messiah, the One whom God would anoint to bring in His kingdom. They looked to the One who would preach the good news of deliverance to the poor, the One who would release them from their bondage to Rome, the One who would heal the diseased and set free the afflicted. And yet, they had failed to recognize that each of the points of this prophecy had been fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus.

4. An Appropriate Stopping Point: And He closed the book (4:20).

Right in the middle of verse 2 of Isaiah’s 61st chapter, Jesus stopped reading. In mid-sentence, He suddenly stops and rolls up the scroll and hands it back to the attendant.

The next phrase from Isaiah would have been, "And the day of vengeance of our God..." But we are not told that Jesus read that. It seems that He stopped before getting to the second part of the verse. There was a reason for this. Jesus had come to fulfill only the first part of this prophecy. He did not come to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

But there is coming a day when the rest of the prophecy will be fulfilled. There is coming a day of vengeance. And on that day, He shall judge the world.

5. A Moment of Expectancy: The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him (4:20).

Located in the front of the synagogue by the lectern where the Scriptures were read was an ornate seat. It was called the BEMA, the Seat of Judgment. When the Scriptures were read, the reader would stand behind the lectern. But when a Rabbi would teach or exhort from those Scriptures, he would sit on this Bema Seat.

And so, having handed the Isaiah scroll back to the attendant who reverently places it within its proper space within the Tebah, Jesus now sits in this Seat, signifying that He is going to teach from the passage which He has just read. It is a dramatic moment. All are waiting to hear what He shall say.

6. A Proclamation of Fulfillment: "This Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (4:21).

This is startling. He does not begin His discourse by reminding His audience of the golden days of Israel’s history when the Lord stretched His mighty hand to protect His covenant nation. Neither does He look to the future to the glories that shall be revealed when God overthrows the kingdoms of this world to set up His eternal kingdom.

Instead He speaks of what is here and now. He announces that they are witnesses of the fulfilled prophecy. It is coming to pass in their very midst.



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?" (Luke 4:22).

At first glance, the reaction of the people of Nazareth seems very favorable. They speak well of Him, astounded at the words which He speaks in comparison with His social and educational status. And yet, by the time we get to verse 28, we shall see a very different reaction altogether. The entire synagogue will be filled with rage against Him. What happened to cause this change?

We are inclined to think of this situation in purely human terms. Jesus has them in awe at His sermon and then He turns around and offends them so badly that they want to take Him out and stone Him.

We might have said, "Jesus, you have it all wrong. If they are speaking well of you when you tell them that this prophecy is being fulfilled, then you need to cultivate their respect and take care not to offend them or cause them to stumble." But the truth is that the reaction of the people was not the type of reaction that Jesus sought.

1. A Reaction of Wonderment: And all were speaking well of Him (4:22).

No doubt, the people were impressed by what Jesus had said concerning the dawning of the Messianic kingdom. This type of preaching was completely different than anything that they had ever heard. Never had a teacher proclaimed that a prophecy was being fulfilled before them.

However, there was a part of this message that they found difficult to accept. It was that Jesus Himself was the promised Messiah.

2. A Reaction of Doubt: And they were saying, "Is this not Joseph’s son?" (4:22).

You see, they could accept the fact that the kingdom was about to be revealed before them. They could even accept that Jesus was the One who was announcing the advent of that kingdom. But to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, was just too much. After all, they had watched this same Jesus grow up from the time He was a small boy. They had known His parents all these years. They were nothing special. His father had been the town carpenter. He hadn’t even been a ruler in the synagogue.

Perhaps if the son of the village rabbi had been chosen to be the Messiah, they could have more readily believed. But this was just too much.

They were ready to believe that He was a teacher. They were ready to accept Him as a good man. They could even believe that He was a miracle worker, as long as He did a few miracles in their presence. But it was just too much to ask them to believe that this was Messiah, the Son of God.



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 home town as well."

And He said, "Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his home town. 25 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; 26 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. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the days of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." (Luke 4:23-27).

It is evident that Jesus knows exactly what they are thinking and their objection to His claim. Notice His response. It is one of rebuke. He will not allow men to accept Him as only a teacher or a good man or a miracle worker. You must accept Him on His own terms, or else you cannot accept Him at all.

1. An Insolent Proverb: "Physician, heal yourself!" (4:23).

This was a familiar proverb in the ancient world. Jesus uses it here to describe how the people of Nazareth were expecting Him to provide evidence of his Messiahship by performing a miracle.

If He is the One who will release captives and give sight to the blind and set free the downtrodden, then let Him demonstrate it here in His own home town.

2. An Irreverent Demand: "Do here in your home town as well" (4:23).

What miracle was done at Capernaum? Luke has not told us of any. It is not that he is unaware of them. But he has not focused upon any of the parts of the ministry of Jesus that took place prior to this time. We know from the other gospels that the healing of the son of the Royal Official had taken place in Capernaum, even though Jesus had been 18 miles away in Cana when the miracle took place (John 4:46-53).

The implication is that Jesus has an obligation to do even more miracles here in His home town of Nazareth. After all, they are His neighbors and ought to have some special privileges as a result of their status.

3. The Inoculation to the Familiar: "No prophet is welcome in his home town" (4:24).

This saying of Jesus is found in all four of the gospel accounts (Matthew 13:57; Mark 6:4; John 4:44). There is something about home-grown prophets that are hard to take. We are perfectly willing to listen to the Word of God when it comes from someone we don’t know. But when it comes from a familiar source, there is something within us that resists.

I can remember the trouble my own mother had listening to me teach the Bible for the first few times. She has long since gotten over it, but there was a time when she did so with difficulty. After all, this was not a Bible teacher. No matter that he had a couple of degrees in theology or that he was acquainted with the Greek and Hebrew texts. This was her little boy. What could he teach her?

Are you guilty of the same thing? If you are a husband, do you listen to your wife when she speaks to you? If you are a wife, do you get to thinking that your husband can’t teach you anything?

You may be missing out on a special truth that the Lord is giving you, but you just won’t accept the messenger because it is too close to home.

4. Two Interracial Illustrations: "And yet Elijah was sent to none of them" (4:25-26).

Jesus quotes two examples to show that the workings of God s mercy and miracles overlap national and racial and geographical barriers. The people of Nazareth had thought that they would be granted certain special privileges due to the fact that they were the neighbors of Jesus.

The two examples which Jesus uses each describe a time when great miracles were performed. In each case, the recipient of the miracle was a Gentile.

Do you see the point of the illustrations? It is that the Jews of Nazareth can expect no special privileges just because Jesus is from their town. If God was not under obligation to cure all of the sick sons of Israel in the days of Elijah and if God was not under obligation to cure all of the lepers of Israel in the days of Elisha, then God is not obligated to do anything in Nazareth, either.

This is a lesson that you need to learn. We often tend to fall into the same sort of thinking as the people of Nazareth. After all, we are the church. We are the people of God. That gives us a special position. And if we have a special position, then it isn’t long before we reason that God is obligated to do what we want Him to do.

It isn’t so. God is not obligated to do anything for you. When He does act on your behalf, it is the direct result of His love and mercy and grace.



And all in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; 29 and they rose up and cast 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 4:28-30).

What was the reaction of the people who heard this message? Did they repent from their arrogant attitude and praise God for His sovereign mercy? They did not.

1. A Mob Mentality: And all in the synagogue were filled with rage (4:28).

The people were furious. To think that they are no better than Phoenician widows and Syrian lepers! Their arrogance had been insulted. Their house of prayer and worship quickly becomes a place of anger and confusion.

They realized that they had been likened to apostate Israel which had rejected the words of the prophets. Instead of worshiping other gods as their forefathers had done, these Jews had come to the point of giving worship to a religious system. Just as Ahab and Jezebel had sought to have Elijah put to death, so also the people of Nazareth now seek to put Jesus to death.

2. A Murderous Intent: They…led Him to the brow of the hill... to throw Him down (4:29).

There is murder in their hearts. There has been no trial. No legal charges have been brought forth. And these Jews who pride themselves on being Sons of the Torah are about to break the Law by murdering the Son of God.

3. A Mystifying Departure: But passing through their midst, He went His way (4:30).

How was Jesus able to escape from the clutches of this angry mob? We are not told. But it was a simple thing for the One who had parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River. The simple truth was that His time had not yet come. The hour of His death had not yet arrived and no power on earth was able to take His life from Him.

We have the same guarantee today. God has determined what is to be the length of our lives and there is no power that can thwart the plan of God.

Man, who is born of woman, is short-lived and full of turmoil...

Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with Thee, and his limit Thou hast set so that he cannot pass. (Job 14:1; 14:5).

We can take comfort in this fact. If it is not your time to depart from this earth, then you can be completely safe in the midst of a raging mob.

These Jews had sought a miracle. They got more than they bargained for. They found themselves completely powerless in the presence of the One who could calm a raging storm with a single word. And so, He departed from their midst. He had presented Himself to those who had witnessed His sinless life and they had rejected Him. He had come to His own, and those who were His own had not received Him.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12).



About the Author
Return to the St Andrews Homepage
Return to Online Bible Studies & Sermons Page
Have a Comment? Place it on our Bulletin Board.