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Enraging the Spiritually Smug

January 14, 2018 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: Incarnation Verse: Luke 4:14–4:30

“The Enraging of the Spiritually Smug”

Luke 4:14-30

Theme: A person must realize their need of a Savior if they will be saved. 

I. The Proofs of Jesus’ Compassion Have Been Furnished – 4:14-15

A. The Power of God’s Spirit

  • Luke advances the story by relating an event that happened approximately 12 months after the baptism of Christ.
  • The Gospel of John details the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as the Messiah through the region of Judea.
  • He didn’t proceed into Galilee to begin His ministry there until John the Baptist had been arrested – cp. Matthew 4:12-13
  • That ministry of which Luke and the other synoptic Gospels are silent is detailed by John in his Gospel – chapters 1-4.
  • We are told that “Jesus, returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit …”
  • It bears repeating that Jesus’ ministry was performed in the “power of the Spirit” – hence the miracles and wonders that Jesus performed were divinely powerful – “… and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.”
  • The “surrounding district” would have included Nazareth – Jesus’ old friends and neighbors would have heard of His works – and the exercise of the power of the Holy Spirit through His healings and other demonstrations of power.

B. The Preaching of God’s Word

  • Jesus also centered His ministry upon the Word of God – so preaching was essential to His activity seeking to bring glory to God.
  • His ministry was highly effective – “And He began teaching in their synagogues, and was praised by all.”
  • "praised” [δοξαζόμενος]– is not a reference to their worshiping Jesus, but rather their compliments were honoring Him.
  • Clearly, Jesus’ teaching was biblically powerful and faithful, exegetically declaring the wisdom of God from the Word of God.
  • This was Jesus’ ministry M.O. – the repeated ministry of Christ through the entire tenure on this earth - .


  • Why do you think that we consistently expect God to prove Himself to us?
  • How does the power of the Holy Spirit demonstrate itself in your life?
  • Is this, or should this be, sufficient for us as proof of God’s faithfulness and power?

II. The Priority of Jesus’ Compassion Is Grace – 4:16-21

A. The Deliberate Choice of a Message – vv. 16-19

  • We are told that “He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up …” – as we mentioned, the Judean ministry had occupied Jesus for the 1st year of His public ministry.
  • When He came back into Galilee, Jesus had made his base of ministry the town called Capernaum at the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee.
  • He now comes “home” to His extended family, boyhood friends, and neighbors who had watched Him grow up.
  • Because of His reputation and notoriety, Jesus was accustomed to going to the synagogue on the Sabbath and gaining the opportunity of teaching – “… and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read …”
  1. The “synagogues” were places that sprang up after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 because the temple did not exist.
  2. They weren’t replacements for the Temple – and no sacrifices were made in Synagogues.
  3. Rather, they were a place where the Jews would gather on the Sabbath for worship, the reading of God’s Word, and an explanation of the reading by scribes or teachers – called Rabbis.
  • The regular schedule called for a reading from the book of Isaiah – “And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him,” but He apparently chose the selection – “And he opened the book and found the place where it was written …”
  • He chose a passage of Scripture that provided the specifics of the Messiah’s mission – to come and save helpless sinners and provide for them the blessing of God – Isaiah 61:1-2.
  • The first emphasis of this text is that the Messiah would exercise the power of “the Spirit” – something that Jesus had repeatedly demonstrated, that He had been “anointed” as the Messiah in order to fulfill God’s purposes for redemption – cp. v. 14
  • There are two main Messianic activities that will be provided to four specific categories of people; these are they who know the “favor” of God through the Messiah:

a. The Proclamation of Grace to those who are:

  1. Destitute of Righteousness: “Preach the Gospel to the poor” – [πτωχόςto cower or crouch – depending upon others for support] - those who come to realize that they possess nothing that can cause God to look kindly upon them will listen to the good news of God’s provision in the Messiah - .
  2. Bondage to Sin: “Proclaim release to the captives” – those who come to realize that not only do they not have righteousness, but they are in bondage to sin will listen to the message of how they can be freed or forgiven of sin - cp. Ephesians 1:7

b. The Provision of Grace to those who are:

  1. Groping in Darkness: “Provide recovery of sight to the blind” – Christ through God’s grace make sinners aware of their blindness enabling them to recover their sight through faith – cp. Acts 26:18
  2. Wearied by Sin: “Set free those who are oppressed” – Christ through God’s grace relieves sinners of the weight of their sin through the awareness of God’s love for them – Matthew 11:28-30
  • It is in this sense – as the Messiah proclaims grace and provides grace that He “proclaim[s] the favorable year of the Lord.”.

B.The Dramatic Confession by the Messiah – vv. 20-21

  • In a dramatic moment, Jesus quite unexpectedly stopped reading in the middle of Isaiah 61:2 causing even the least attentive to perk up – “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.”
  • Teaching typically followed the reading of the text – and the traditional posture for the Rabbi was to be seated.
  • What came next was completely shocking – He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
  • I assume that the phrase “He began to say …” indicates that He had more that He was interested in saying, but because of their reaction, He did not divulge it – responding to their unbelief with a confrontation of their response instead of blessing them with any elaboration.


  • To which of the “four” groups of sinners do you most personally relate?
  • How successful is Jesus in His exercise of grace in your life? 
  • What hinders Him from being more effective?
  • The Rejection of Jesus’ Compassion Is Intense - 4:22-30


A.The Skepticism by the Self-Righteous - vv. 22-23

  • As noted, their response was one that failed to grasp the truth of what He was saying and their unbelief was displayed in the form of questioning His credentials.
  • At first, they were impressed by His manner – His voice, style and authority – “And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips …”
  • His reputation as a “star” of the community had caused a certain anticipation – they were interested in seeing this hometown sensation, and initially “talking him up.”
  • However, they began to be very uncomfortable with His application of the Scriptures.
  • So, “they were saying, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?’” – He isn’t as special as He was claiming to be, possibly a certain throw back to some of the ridicule that He may have encountered as He was growing up as to His “origin” – whether of Joseph & Mary, or Mary and someone else – cp. John 8:42.
  • Jesus immediately confronts their unbelief by confronting it – “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.”’”
  • Their attitudes, discerned through the illumination by the Holy Spirit to Jesus, were skeptical and evil – desiring that Jesus “put up or shut up” – prove who you are by doing something worthy of your assertions.
  • They weren’t willing to listen to the Word of God as it fell from the lips of God Himself, they wanted something titillating and sensational, but Jesus wasn’t willing to indulge their evil desire for a sign – cp. Matthew 13:53-58.
  • Often even we treat God similarly – we know what His Word declares about Him and His compassion, but if He doesn’t “prove” it to us, we struggle believing Him – cp. Luke 16:31; Romans 11:15-17.

B. The Scolding of the Self-Righteous – vv. 24-27

  • Jesus immediately diagnoses their unbelief in the form of a direct reference to their attitude toward Him: their dismissal of His message was a dismissal of Him – “And He said, ‘Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown.’”John 4:44.
  • As He commonly did, He compares their specific example of unbelief to the constant unbelief by which Israel had been consistently characterized.
  • He demonstrates that during very dark days in the history of Israel, when God had graciously sent a set of powerful prophets who did many miracles, Israel consistently rejected their messages – “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 …”
  • God had a) provided a prophet who declared God’s Word; b) caused a 3 ½ year drought to confront the sin of the people; and c) intensified their plight by means of a famine, but Israel continued to reject God and His Word.
  • As a result, “… 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.” – demonstrating the God is willing to accept whatever sinner is willing to believe in Him and respond by faith to His Word.
  • Sidon was the hometown of Jezebel – the wicked queen who seduced Israel into the worst idolatry of her history.
  • Yet Jesus was willing to save an outcast Gentile woman who had admitted her poverty, bondage, blindness, and oppression, but not a Jew who refused – and this outraged the smug Jewish nationalists who believed their righteousness as “de facto.”
  • So Jesus presses the matter further – “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.”
  • His point was evident to them – unless they were willing to  humble themselves like an outcast Gentile widow and the Syrian leper terrorist had done, their spiritual condemnation was certain and salvation was impossible for them.

C. The Scorn by the Self-Righteous - vv. 28-30

  • The people of Nazareth went ballistic at His clear and unmistakable condemnation of their unbelief.
  • Luke says that “all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things …” – not only did Jesus indicate that Gentiles were better than they, but their unbelief would cause them damnation.
  • Their solution was to kill Jesus – “… 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.”
  • "to throw Him down the cliff” was clearly designed to be a precursor to their stoning Him – the terrain would not have killed Him.
  • The only miracle Jesus displayed was His supernatural exit – “But passing through their midst, He went His way.”
  • Instead of seeking relief of their rejection by God through repentance, they rejected God with rage and disdain causing the certification of their condemnation.


  • Why would a person be dismissive of Jesus’ compassion?
  • Have you ever been angered or “enraged” by God’s grace - either to you or someone else?
  • In what ways are you resisting God’s agenda of grace in your life?