• Tony Birkhead


When you can’t see the why of the story trust the One who is writing it!


Jesus understood what it felt like to face different responses from family and friends when He made a trip to His hometown. This study from Luke’s Gospel focuses on a passage in which Jesus explained to people in His hometown about His identity and mission as the Messiah. The lesson can help us gain a better understanding of Jesus’ mission and ways we can participate in that mission. It also reminds us that He will sometimes show up in our lives in ways we don’t expect.


Luke 4:14-30

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed meto proclaim good news to the poor.He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisonersand recovery of sight for the blind,to set the oppressed free,19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. 23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.


Read Luke 4:14-22.

How does it feel to have someone say something good about you and you know they are not being sincere?

How would you respond?

We don’t have everything He said in this sermon. We do have how He began it! What a moment this must have been. As He read the prophet Isaiah and the people began to associate what He read with what was being said about Him. He was healing and giving sight. There was power in His words. So much so that these people couldn’t take their eyes off of Him.

The picture of a grand, regal, and elite Messiah is what most expected. The fact that Jesus is merely Joseph’s son is too much for them. Jesus knows their hearts and that they were not expecting the Messiah to come this way. They were forced to ask themselves the question I started with today: When God doesn’t do what you think He should do what will you do?

Read Luke 4:23-27

The call for the physician to heal himself is a demand that Jesus do the works he has done elsewhere and show himself approved. The townsfolk want him to show his stuff. They want Him to do things the way they expect Him to. How can we possibly trust a God who doesn’t act the way we think He ought to?

How have you felt when God didn’t answer your prayer the way you asked?

How difficult is it to maintain your faith in those situations? What do you do?

Read Luke 4:28-30

God is going to accomplish His plan and reach His outcome! He will use every circumstance and situation, with or without us! The kind of reaction Jesus gets shows that he does not fit their expectations!

Why do we feel let down when God doesn’t meet our expectations?


  • What may change in our lives when we acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and understand the true nature of His mission? Is this a one-time change or ongoing? Explain.


Thank God that He has a plan and ask Him to help us be willing to trust Him even if we can’t see it and even if we feel let down. His ways and His plan is greater.


Luke 4:14-30

4:14-15 The same power of the Holy Spirit (see note at vv. 1-2) by which Jesus countered every test thrown at Him by the Devil, was present in His teaching in the synagogues throughout Galilee, bringing initial acceptance by virtually everyone.

4:16-17 Jesus lived (was brought up) in Nazareth in Galilee from the time He was a small boy (2:39,51) until He began His public ministry, when He was “about 30 years old”. When Jesus lived at His family home in Nazareth, He always worshiped in this synagogue on the Sabbath (the Sabbath lasted from Friday night at sundown to Saturday night at sundown). From what is known about synagogue services of that era, the reading from the Mosaic law (Hb torah) was usually prescribed, while the person chosen to read from the books of the Prophets (Hb nebi’im) had the latitude to choose any passage he wished. When Jesus was given the Isaiah scroll, He unrolled it and began reading from Isa 61:1.

4:18 Jesus’ ministry throughout Galilee demonstrated that the Spirit of the Lord was on Him (v. 14). As Messiah, He was anointed as the rightful king of Israel. But here the anointing was as a prophet ( to preach good news). Even though the message Jesus preached was first to those who were captivated by sin, the mention of the poor... the captives... the blind, and the oppressed is in keeping with Luke’s emphasis on the poor and downtrodden.

4:19-21 Jesus stopped reading from Isa 61 in the middle of verse 2 and sat down (the normal posture for reading Scripture was standing; teaching was done while sitting). He ended the reading precisely at the phrase to proclaim the year of the Lord’ s favor because this is exactly what His preaching proclaimed: the season of God’s grace had come in Messiah’s ministry. The very next phrase in Isa 61:2, which Jesus did not read, is “and the day of our God’s vengeance.” This refers to the second coming of Christ and His judgment of the world (Rev 19:11-21). Thus Jesus read in the synagogue the part of Isa 61:1-2 that was being fulfilled at that time, but held off on reading the portion that would not be fulfilled until the time of judgment.

4:22 The immediate response to Jesus’ message in the synagogue was mostly positive, as it had been elsewhere in Galilee (see note at vv. 14-15). But knowing Isa 61 was a messianic prophecy, it greatly troubled the people that the young preacher whom they thought of merely as Joseph’ s son was claiming to be the long-awaited Messiah.

4:23-24 The people in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, motivated by curiosity rather than genuine spiritual interest, expected to see Him heal, as they had heard about Him doing in nearby Capernaum. Instead of satisfying them, Jesus illustrated a principle that often proved true in OT times: A prophet (see 4:18; Isa 61:1) is not accepted in his hometown.

4:25-27 Jesus’ first example of a prophet being rejected by his own people was Elijah, who was so unpopular in Israel during the three years and six months of a drought that he had to seek refuge in the home of a widow in the Gentile town of Zarephath in Phoenicia, on the Mediterranean coast, northwest of Galilee (1Ki 17:1-24). The second example was the prophet Elisha, who skipped over all the lepers of Israel in his time and only healed... Naaman the Syrian, a Gentile general (2Ki 7:1-19).

4:28-30 The crowd in the synagogue was enraged because Jesus’ examples implied God’s acceptance of Gentiles and His rejection of Israel. Jesus foiled their attempt at mob violence by walking right through the crowd, an odd circumstance that may imply a miracle. Alternatively, it may only indicate that Jesus’ presence was so forceful that the people, though angry, willingly stepped aside and let Him through.

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