Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 10
Thesis: At the heart of "redemption" is the question of whether there is any serious willingness to admit to guilt.
Introduction: Up to this point in our studies of Luke, we have seen that Jesus is being presented as "the Consolation of Israel", "the Lord's Christ", "God's Salvation", "the Son of God", "the Redeemer", "the Savior", "Christ, the Lord", "the Horn of Salvation", "the Fulfillment of the Holy Abrahamic Covenant", "the Ruler on the Throne of David", and "a Light of Revelation" (among other things). But, this presentation has been made in the context of the true message of the Law -- that men are core-corrupted so that they are no longer the men God created them to be; but, as John claimed, they are the "offspring of vipers."
In the particular context of the words before us this morning, Jesus has come into Nazareth and claimed to be the personal fulfillment of the Message of Recovery. The "outer" boundaries of the message is the announcement of the "Recovery" -- the Gospel of the Restoration of What Has Been Lost: the fantastic "good news". But the "inner" core of the message is that men are "blind" to the Light of Revelation because they are over-committed to their own self-interests: the chilling "bad news".
As we have worked our way to the text before us this morning (4:23-24), we have been particularly pressed to deal with the "problem" of "blindness" and the question of "What does it take for the blind to see?" When we considered 4:20, we were impressed with Luke's emphasis upon how the physical eyes of everyone present were focused upon Jesus. Under that impression we were reminded of how the Scriptures never present anyone's sight being restored who refused to "look unto Jesus". So, we drew the conclusion that one of the first things Jesus had to do if He was to fulfill His calling to restore sight to the blind was to attract the attention of the blind. And this He did as 4:14 tells us. But, we have also been impressed by the paragraph before us with how those in the synagogue that morning remained blind even though they had their eyes "fixed on Jesus". The automatic question arises: what, then, is needful for sight beyond "looking unto Jesus"? It is this question that is addressed in our text.
October 1, 2006
- I. The Text in Its Larger Context.
- A. If our reading was "first time", without the prejudices of "other" information, the text before us would be the first hint that there is something really wrong between Jesus and the people of Nazareth.
- 1. In terms of a broad overview of Luke's information up to this point, there is a notable absence of emphasis upon "conflict" except for the heavy blast from John the Baptizer.
- a. In his record, there is no king trying to kill the baby, or any statement like John's who introduced Jesus in conflict terms in his Gospel.
- b. To be sure, there is an emphasis upon conflict between Jesus and the devil, but that seems to be sufficiently outside the boundaries of mankind as to not set off any bells of alarm.
- 2. But, as we zero in on what Jesus said in the synagogue in Nazareth, we move directly from an extremely positive "Gospel" to two pointed "proverbs" that signal serious conflict.
- a. The first "proverb" is "Physician, heal thyself."
- b. The second "proverb" is "No prophet is acceptable in his own country."
- c. Both "proverbs" indicate that all is not well in Nazareth between Jesus and those who grew up with Him.
- B. If our reading was done in a kind of Pollyanna, blissful ignorance, we would be shocked at what we "see" (in this context of "the blind").
- II. The Text in Its More Immediate Context.
- A. The core issue of the immediate context is Jesus' claim to be the fulfillment of the prophetic word that He has been sent to restore to men what they have lost because of sin.
- B. And the core of that core is Jesus' claim that there can be no restoration unless there has first been a loss -- in other words, if no one is blind, no one needs "recovery of sight" or, "they who are healthy have no need of a physician" (Mark 2:17) -- a comment made in the face of self-righteous opposition to Jesus.
- III. The Problem.
- A. Jesus reveals part of the problem in 4:23.
- 1. There is antagonism in Nazareth.
- a. "No doubt you will quote this proverb...".
- b. "Physician, heal thyself" is simply a way to say "I'll listen to your interference in my business when you have proven yourself to be the pristine example of a solution."
- 1) This is always a "hateful" rejoinder to "rebuke".
- 2) It is never used unless there is serious antagonism along the lines of "who do you think you are to point out my flaws?".
- 2. The antagonism is rooted in the Nazarenes' reluctance to admit to any serious problem.
- a. I'm not a "prisoner".
- b. I'm not "blind".
- c. I'm not "downtrodden".
- d. These are all echoes of John 8:32-33...
- 3. The refusal is rooted in the determination of the snakes to insist upon their identity as the people of God as an expression of the "pride of life".
- 4. And Jesus' refusal to exercise the graciously miraculous for their benefit is His response to their antagonism.
- a. On the one hand, God resists the proud so that they get no solution to that to which they will not admit.
- b. On the other hand, a resisted solution is no solution.
- 5. Thus, we see that a big part of the problem is the pride-induced refusal to admit there is a problem.
- B. Jesus Reveals the other part of the problem in 4:24.
- 1. In this "proverb", Jesus simply states the obvious.
- 2. The deeper issue, though, is the answer to "Why?".
- a. Why is it that people refuse to honor a person as a prophet just because they grew up with him?
- 1) Part of the answer is revealed in John's "prophetic message": you are vipers in need of regeneration.
- 2) Part of the answer is revealed in Jesus' "prophetic message": you are blind in the face of God's Law. [Note here Romans 2:17-19.]
- 3) People don't like prophets because they don't like God's opinion of them.
- 4) People particularly don't like prophets with whom they rub shoulders 24/7.
- b. But why?
- 1) In the context of the Nazarene syndrome, no one likes to be "inferior" to someone they know well.
- 2) To admit that someone is "superior" is too galling.
- 3) And, not only that, but more significant is the issue of the implications of "superiority": I will have to serve them if they deserve it.
- c. So why do people "honor" prophets from afar?
- 1) They are from afar -- they don't have to live with them or serve them.
- 2) They often piggy-back upon the "prophet from afar" [Illustrate: going to a "pastor's conference" as a pastor; or going as the featured speaker].
- 3. So, the issue really is simple: the deep-seated aversion to "servanthood" is most easily "handled" by simply not admitting anyone is "superior" so that they "deserve" to be served.