Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3
Thesis: God typically rejects those who respond to the "Nazareth" issue by using "religion" to build themselves up in the eyes of others.
Introduction: We got bogged down last week in our study and, as a consequence, we did not finish our look at what I called "the Nazareth issue". That means we are returning this morning to the issue that the story of Jesus' raises. On the one hand, Luke introduces the ministry of Jesus by telling us that He was widely accepted in the synagogues in Galilee, but on the other hand, the very first story that he relates in any detail is a story of how the people in Nazareth were so incensed by Jesus' teaching in their synagogue that they tried to murder Him. This kind of contrast calls for some thoughtfulness on our part: why would Luke tell us that the people of Nazareth did not receive Jesus like those in the other synagogues in Galilee? Why did he set the stage of his presentation of Jesus with such a negative account?
In an attempt to answer those questions, we looked into "the Nazareth issue." In the beginning of our study last week we saw that the Bible highlights two things about Nazareth. One of those things is the comment by Nathanael in John 1:46 by which we understand that "Nazareth" was a despised and dismissed "backwater" in Galilee. The other of those things is Matthew's claim in Matthew 2:23 that the reason for Jesus' "dwelling in Nazareth" was so that He might be a fulfillment of the "theme" of the prophets that Messiah would be a "Nazarene". The conclusion that we drew was that being a "Nazarene" was to be one of those dismissively considered by men as weak and insignificant. This conclusion is not only pressed upon us by the only relevant "fact" that the Bible contains about Nazareth, but it is also pressed upon us by the "theme of the prophets" that Messiah would be a "Netzerene" -- a "branch" out of the root of Jesse which would be considered dismissively by the vast majority of humanity as He accomplished the most significant and powerful "feat" in human history.
Now, as we continue where we left off last week, we are going to look at the reason Jesus was not well received by those in Nazareth.
August 13, 2006
- I. Issues Involved in Being "From Nazareth".
- A. The most fundamental issue is the one attached to its name and reputation.
- B. The next most fundamental issue is the one attached to how people from Nazareth reacted to their "reputation".
- 1. People are always "reactionary".
- 2. People are particularly "reactionary" when the issues are pretty close to home.
- 3. There are few issues closer to home than the way people treat you because of the way they think about themselves and you.
- a. Those who think too highly of themselves invariably treat others "dismissively".
- 1) This reality should not be "turned around": those who treat others dismissively do not always think too highly of themselves.
- 2) But, given that caution, it is yet a fact that those who think too highly of themselves invariably treat others "dismissively."
- b. Those who are treated "dismissively" tend to react angrily.
- c. In such a mix, there is typically an undercurrent of hostility as people strive to jockey themselves into a "higher" position.
- 1) The "dismissed", in their anger, seek ways to "get the glory" that those dismissing them seem to have.
- 2) The "dismissive", in their pride, seek ways to keep the dismissed under their thumbs.
- d. This undercurrent of hostility needed very little to bring it to eruption when Jesus reminded the folks from His hometown that God deliberately bypassed those who thought too highly of themselves.
- 1) This is an interesting thing for one reason: the people in Nazareth had reacted to being treated "dismissively" by becoming exactly like those who treated them with disdain...they angrily "dismissed those who dismissed them"...and when they did, their hearts were lifted up in the very pride that controlled the hearts of those who dismissed them in the first place.
- 2) Thus, instead of Jesus' words being a balm to their spirits by giving them hope in the face of God's favor upon the humiliated, they were gasoline on the fire of their own rage at being humiliated.
- II. The Synagogue Issue.
- A. This is the "religion" issue.
- B. Jesus was obviously "fed up with" His hometown synagogue.
- 1. We are told that He had habitually attended Sabbath synagogue services all His life.
- 2. There is no explanation for His hard words on this Sabbath except for His anger with those who were habitually in attendance.
- C. When casting about for a reason for His anger, we run immediately into two facts.
- 1. On the one hand, His "illustrations" from the period of Elijah and Elisha are all about God's "dismissive" attitude toward "Israel".
- 2. On the other hand, He was clearly addressing "the dismissed by men" as "dismissers of God."
- 3. About the only conclusion we can draw is this: reacting in pride when treated dismissively by the proud reveals that both groups have embraced "pride" so that they refuse to take humiliation "sitting down."
- III. The Point.
- A. It is the very fundamental nature of God's Kingdom that there is no self-exaltation that goes on in it: everyone, including God, considers himself "dismissively".
- B. Thus, there can be no participation in God's Kingdom by those who have fundamentally rejected its "self-dismissive" character.
- C. It does not matter what the "Good News" is if a person has already decided that he/she "deserves better than what is being given".
- D. The "bottom line" is this: what difference does it make if one is treated "dismissively" if the one so treated actually realizes that he/she is not supposed to be the center of the universe?
- 1. If I honestly dismiss myself, I will not be surprised that others dismiss me.
- 2. If, however, I honestly think I deserve to be treated better than I have been, I will not only be seriously disappointed if I am "dismissed" by others, I will also be angry.
- 3. So, though it is a sin to treat others "dismissively", it is true humility to treat oneself "dismissively" and though it is legitimate to be "angry" when one sees others treating people "dismissively", it is never legitimate to be "angry" when one's self is treated so.
- a. The vast majority of the "anger" in our world is not truly about "godly" concern for the "dismissed" [This is God's, and Jesus', reason for the "angry dismissal" of others.]
- b. The vast majority of the "anger" in our world is about being "dismissed" by others.