The idea of going home holds many emotions. It could be exciting, nerve-wracking, relieving, and terrifying – all rolled into one. If you moved back in with your parents after college or visited old friends from school or work, maybe you’ve felt apprehension along with your anticipation.

In Luke 4:16-30, Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth and has a less-than-welcoming reception. If you’re wondering why Jesus’ own town rejected him, you’re in the right place!

We will be using the Bible Knowledge Commentary for background information.

Arrival

In the beginning of this story, Jesus arrives at Nazareth, his childhood home town. Because he was a popular teacher, he taught at the synagogue on the Sabbath. He stood up and read Isaiah 61:1-2, which says,

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

    and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Isaiah 61:1-2 as quoted in Luke 4:18-19

Interpretation

This reading was significant because Jesus stopped in the middle of Isaiah 6:2 without reading the next line about God’s vengeance. When Jesus added, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”, Jesus implied that he was the Messiah who could bring the long-awaited kingdom of God without the impending judgement yet.

Conflict

What happens next is interesting – first, they were amazed at his “gracious words”, then they immediately began questioning his authority and honor. How could Joseph’s son – the boy they saw grow up in their town – be the Messiah?

It’s one thing to come home with a college degree or spouse (like I, this article writer did), but Jesus was definitely in a unique position!

Rebuke

“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”

Luke 4:24

Jesus, sensing their opposition, noted two instances in which God’s prophets ministered miraculous acts of grace to Gentiles while Israel was in unbelief – Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16), and Elisha and Naaman the Syrian leper (2 Kings 5:1-19).

Rejection

The people were furious with Jesus’ mention of Gentiles rather than Jews having God’s blessing. In their anger, they confirmed Christ’s claim of Israel’s unbelief.

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.

They attempted to kill him but he walked right through the crowd! Luke no doubt described a miraculous escape from an angry crowd. This pattern is seen throughout the rest of Jesus’ ministry: Jesus went to the Jews; they rejected Him; He told of Gentile participation in the kingdom; some Jews wanted to kill Him. But He was not killed until the proper time, when He chose to die (Luke 23:46).

What do you think of this passage? Have you ever felt like the crowd before – amazed at Jesus one moment and then questioning Him the next? Let us know in the comments below!

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Bible Knowledge Commentary

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