After Jesus was rejected by the Scribes and Pharisees He could no longer labour in Judea.
At Upper Galilee there were more ordinary people and the place also had a cosmic mix of people.
In is not easy to handle rejection and at times we need a little comfort. So before launching on His opening Missionary tour of Galilee, he first visited His home town of Nazareth. He was acquainted with most of the people and was longing to enjoy their welcome friendship.
But across the bright days of Christ’s ministry in Galilee, one shadow lay. The people of Nazareth rejected Him. “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” they said.
Luke 4:16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.
What a joy to see His friends at church that Sabbath. Listen what they did:
Luke 4:17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
Luke 4:18 “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;
Luke 4:19 TO PROCLAIM THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”
This was how Jesus saw the blessings of the acceptable year of the Lord. But this how did they see it?
Overthrow of the Roman yoke and a proud Jewish nation become independent.
Luke 4:20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
The tide of divine influence broke every barrier down; like Moses, they beheld the Invisible. As their hearts were moved upon by the Holy Spirit, they responded with fervent amens and praises to the Lord.
Luke 4:21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
But when Jesus announced, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears,” they were suddenly recalled to think of themselves, and of the claims of Him who had been addressing them. They, Israelites, children of Abraham, had been represented as in bondage.
They had been addressed as prisoners to be delivered from the power of evil; as in darkness, and needing the light of truth. Their pride was offended, and their fears were roused. The words of Jesus indicated that His work for them was to be altogether different from what they desired.
Their deeds might be investigated too closely. Notwithstanding their exactness in outward ceremonies, they shrank from inspection by those clear, searching eyes.
Luke 4:22 So all bore witness to Him, and marvelled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
Luke 4:23 He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’ ”
Luke 4:24 Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.
Luke 4:25 But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land;
Luke 4:26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.
Luke 4:27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”
How would they react to the mention of a Syrian? A heathen?
Luke 4:28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
Luke 4:29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.
Luke 4:30 Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.
Who is this Jesus? they questioned. He who had claimed for Himself the glory of the Messiah was the son of a carpenter, and had worked at His trade with His father Joseph. They had seen Him toiling up and down the hills, they were acquainted with His
brothers and sisters, and knew His life and labours.
Although His life had been spotless, they would not believe that He was the Promised One.
What a contrast between His teaching in regard to the new kingdom and that which they had heard from their elder!
Jesus had said nothing of delivering them from the Romans. They had heard of His miracles, and had hoped that His power would be exercised for their advantage, but they had seen no indication of such purpose.
As they opened the door to doubt, their hearts became so much the harder for having been momentarily softened. Satan was determined that blind eyes should not that day be opened, nor souls bound in slavery be set at liberty.
With intense energy he worked to fasten them in unbelief. They made no account of the sign already given, when they had been stirred by the conviction that it was their Redeemer who addressed them.
Our standing before God depends, not upon the amount of light we have received, but upon the use we make of what we have.
THE INCLUSIVE MESSAGE OF THE SABBATH
Unfortunately the Jews rejected the inclusive message of the Sabbath, and Satan gained a tremendous grip on them. Jesus was eager to the restore its beautiful message of divine rest for human restless.
Listen what Isaiah wrote about the issue:
Isaiah 56:1 Thus says the LORD: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, For My salvation is about to come, And My righteousness to be revealed.
Isaiah 56:2 Blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who lays hold on it; Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
Isaiah 56:3 Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the LORD Speak, saying, “The LORD has utterly separated me from His people”; Nor let the eunuch say, “Here I am, a dry tree.”
Isaiah 56:4 For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant,
Isaiah 56:5 Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off.
Isaiah 56:6 “Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, And to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants—Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant—
Isaiah 56:7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
The assembly broke up, and laying hands upon Jesus, they thrust Him from the synagogue, and out of the city. All seemed eager for His destruction. They hurried Him to the brow of a precipice, intending to cast Him down headlong.
Shouts and maledictions filled the air. Some were casting stones at Him, when suddenly He disappeared from among them. The heavenly messengers who had been by His side in the synagogue were with Him in the midst of that maddened throng. They shut Him in from His enemies, and conducted Him to a place of safety.
Not without one more call to repentance could He give them up. Toward the close of His ministry in Galilee, He again visited the home of His childhood. Since His rejection there, the fame of His preaching and His miracles had filled the land. None now could deny that He possessed more than human power.
Nazareth knew that He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed by Satan. About them were whole villages where there was not a moan of sickness in any house; for He had passed through them, and healed all their sick. The mercy revealed in every act of His life testified to His divine anointing.
Again as they listened to His words the Nazarenes were moved by the Divine Spirit. But even now they would not admit that this Man, who had been brought up among them, was other or greater than themselves. Still there rankled the bitter memory that while He had claimed for Himself to be the Promised One, He had really denied them a place with Israel; for He had shown them to be less worthy of God’s favor than a heathen man and woman. Hence
though they questioned,
“Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Mark 6:2 ” and they would not receive Him as the Christ of God. Because of their unbelief, the Saviour could not work many miracles among them. Only a few hearts were open to His blessing, and reluctantly He departed, never to return.
Their rejection of the Spirit culminated in the cross of Calvary, in the destruction of their city, in the scattering of the nation to the winds of heaven. Oh, how Christ longed to open to Israel the precious treasures of the truth!
If they had honestly searched the Scriptures, bringing their theories to the test of God’s word, Jesus need not have wept over their impenitence. He need not have declared, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Luke 13:35.
They might have been acquainted with the evidence of His Messiahship, and the calamity that laid their proud city in ruins might have been averted.
Truth was unpopular in Christ’s day. It is unpopular in our day. It has been unpopular ever since Satan first gave man a disrelish for it, by presenting fables that lead to self-exaltation. Do we not today meet theories and doctrines that have no foundation in the word of God? Men cling as tenaciously to them as did the Jews to their traditions. The Jewish leaders were filled with spiritual pride.
It was not simply the absence of outward glory in His life that led the Jews to reject Jesus. He was the embodiment of purity, and they were impure. He dwelt among men an example of spotless integrity. His blameless life flashed light upon their hearts.
Here at the precipice where they wanted to kill Jesus I sat for a while thinking about why should Satan hated the Sabbath as he did?
When God announced the unique possibilities of the new race He was going to make in His own image, Satan was jealous. The race would be able to reproduce their own kind, like God reproduced them.
The Sabbath would be celebrated to this end. In six days God created the animal world with this marvellous privilege. And Satan was intended to destroy the message of the Sabbath.
He attacked the two most holy institutions of Eden, the Sabbath and the marriage. He has never stopped doing it.
THE MESSAGE OF THE SABBATH
Exoxodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
20:9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
20:10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.
20:11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Satan influenced the Sumerian scholars to reject this idea and to produce two myths; the Enuma Elish and the Gilgamesh epic.
And then he brainwashed to ancient world with polytheism where people started worshipping the gods of their own sick lustful imagination.
THE CROSS OF CALVARY
In the death of Jesus on cross of Calvary God the Father wrought the greatest argument against the lies of Satan. He is not only the Creator of this world and the vast universe, but also the loving Saviour who welcomes every sinner that comes to Him to be saved.
The Creator also became the Re-creator of fallen man. Satan hates this truth and I the sinner rejoices in it.