Living on the Edge, Part 3

Luke 4: 14-30

And He said, truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown.  

But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 

And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian. 

And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things.

Last time I wrote: 

After Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus and the woman at the well, Jesus heads back to Galilee and his hometown of Nazareth. Things go bad in Nazareth. I provided this context of the spiritual versus the physical so that you could understand why the people of His birth place suddenly wanted to throw Him off a cliff. 

Click here to read the previous post.


Why are the people so mad??? 

In our text above, Jesus reminds them of two stories from the Old Testament. Two of God’s prophets provide provisions and cleansing. God uses Elijah to care for a dying widow and her son during a fierce famine. That’s a good story, isn’t it?

God also uses Elisha to heal and cleanse a leper. That’s a good story, right? 


The widow and the leper were Gentiles.

They were not Israelites.

Jesus is pointing out that God overlooked the widows and lepers of Israel and instead, cared for non-Israelites. Jesus is teaching them He has come to save the world.

The favor of God that Jesus is speaking of is not to save them from Roman oppression but to extend salvation to all nations. 

In light of this scenario, consider the following illustration. It’s a little silly but will help us understand why the people went from being amazed with Jesus to anger; angry to the point of (wanting to) killing. 


A Windfall 

I’ve lived in Texas now for almost 18 years. I love living in the state of Texas.

Texans are proud people; proud of their heritage and proud of their unique way of being Texan.

What if the governor of Texas announced a unique discovery of a huge treasury of money? This is money that Texans have contributed in the past from taxes but for some reason was lost or hidden until the recent discovery. 

What if the governor announced plans to use the new found treasury to fund massive road improvements; increase teachers’ salaries and enhancements to education; improve rural hospitals and healthcare; fund innovation and new business start-ups to enrich the economy and lastly, build beautiful nature parks and recreation fields and hiking trails.

The people of Texas would be thrilled. 

Jesus announced the favorable times of God has come at His coming. The Texas Governor announced some favorable times as well. Everyone is happy, of course, so why does the mood change so quickly?  


Here’s the rest of the story… 

The governor continues and announces that none of the money paid by Texas tax-payers will be used in Texas.

Then, the governor goes on to say that all the plans for improvement are going to indeed take place, but they are going toward improvements in California. 

What? California? How can this happen? This is an outrage! 

At this point, Texans may not grab the governor and carry him to a cliff to throw him off (like they did to Jesus). But they would be very, very angry that their hard-earned, tax-paying money is going to California. 

Jesus announces a windfall of blessings from God, BUT then tells the people it is going to be directed toward the Gentiles. This is an outrage to the Jews in Nazareth. They were so mad, they tried to kill Jesus. But it wasn’t His time just yet. 

But passing through their midst, He went His way. Luke 4:30 


The Same Thing Happened to Paul 

Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly [to the Jews] and said…we are turning to the Gentiles…when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord…But the Jews…instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. Acts 13:44-52. 

I feel like the Gentiles described in this story from Acts. I am rejoicing and glorifying the Lord. He has saved me and I am forever grateful that Jesus’ mission is to take the gospel to all nations, Jews and Gentiles. I am a grateful recipient of the favor of God. I hope you are too.

For God so loved the world that He gave His Son! 


Father, thank you that you sent your son to save the world and that Your gospel is for all nations and all people. May my readers embrace this truth with all their hearts and all their souls. Amen.