Jesus’s Early Ministry
Open Your Bible
Luke 4:1-44, Deuteronomy 9:6-11, Psalm 91:1-16
To begin His public ministry, Jesus returns to His hometown of Nazareth and preaches in the synagogue. His homecoming message is so controversial, the townspeople—the people He had known since He was a child—“drove him out of town, and brought him to the edge of the hill… intending to hurl him over the cliff” (Luke 4:29).
The crowd is with Him for the first part of His message, when He quotes the prophet Isaiah, saying He had come to preach the good news and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (vv.18–19). But when He mentions the widow in Sidon whom the prophet Elijah helped, and Naaman, the Syrian whom Elisha healed, the crowd gets upset. These are stories of Gentiles who were shown favor above Israelites.
The crowd would have been familiar with these stories, and they would have known their meaning. This good news Jesus was preaching was for everyone, not just the Israelites but the Gentiles also—not a popular opinion among God’s chosen people, as we can see from their response.
Now, I’ve had some difficult homecomings. I’ve had disagreements with friends and family from time to time, but none of them has ever been so displeased with me that they attempted to hurl me off a cliff.
In this passage and elsewhere in Scripture, we see a common response to Jesus: People wanted His miracles, but not His message.
The crowd is amazed when He casts out a demon in Capernaum. They bring their sick to Him to be healed. They follow Him around, hoping to see Him perform other miracles. But when Jesus preaches the truth in the synagogue? They want to kill Him.
Jesus’s miracles were amazing, yes, but His message was convicting. People like to be amazed. They don’t like to feel convicted.
I know, in my own privilege, I often prefer the turns-water-into-wine Jesus over the seeks-justice-for-all Jesus. If Jesus is just a miracle worker, I can sit back and enjoy the show. But if Jesus is first and foremost a justice-seeker, I have to get in the ring and be about His work.
Jesus’s message in the synagogue proves His priority was not to amaze us with His power, but to redeem us—Jews and Gentiles alike—with His blood.
I can see myself in the Galilean crowd that tried to keep Jesus from leaving so they could witness more healings. I need the reminder Jesus turned and gave them: “It is necessary for me to proclaim the good news about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I was sent for this purpose” (v.43).
This is our purpose too. May we seek after Christ because we want to do as He did, not watch from the stands. May we remember that Jesus is our Redeemer, not a performer. And while we can stand in awe of His power to heal and cast out demons, may we be most amazed by His power to save.