Sermon: Fulfilled in Your Hearing (Luke 4:14-30)

Click Here for Audio Luke 4-14-30

Fulfilled in Your Hearing

After Jesus was tempted by the devil, He comes back to the area where John is still preaching and baptizing.  The Synoptic Gospels are silent on this year or so but John gives us a detailed description.  Jesus returns from the temptation and upon seeing Him, John exclaims, Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

As Jesus begins His public ministry He goes from town to town teaching.  He created quite a stir among the people.  Here are some events that had already taken place by the time we get to our passage today in Luke 4…the wedding Cana where Jesus turned water into wine, His encounter with Nicodemus and the discussion about the new birth, and the cleansing of the temple where Jesus chased the Money Changers out.

We are told in our passage today, that Jesus enters into the synagogue as was His custom.  The rule was that for a town to have a synagogue it must have ten families to meet together.  Towns and cities sat up the system of the synagogue to learn the Word of God.  These places of worship had no full-time pastors so they would call various men to travel and teach from place to place.  It seems, Jesus would become one of these traveling preachers.  And He could definitely preach.  In fact, His fame was spreading.

I love the words Jesus speaks here on a number of levels.  I love them because of what they mean for people enslaved by sin.  I love the fact that Jesus declares that He is the One who will set us free.  I also love these words because Jesus mixes in OT themes and declares that He is there fulfillment.  Two themes especially surface today…the New Covenant and the Year of Jubilee.

We learn in this text that Jesus is the Messiah (Anointed One) and we learn that Jesus came to set us free from sin and darkness.

Luke gives us what seems to be Jesus’ first official preaching experience actually in the synagogue.  What a stir it caused…

Luke 4:14-30 (ESV)

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee (Northern Kingdom), and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country.  [15] And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

[16] And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.  [17] And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

[18] “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

[19] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

[20] And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  [21] And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  [22] And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”  [23] And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.”  [24] And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.  [25] But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land,  [26] and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.  [27] And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”  [28] When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.  [29] And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.  [30] But passing through their midst, he went away.

1. The Sermon Text (Luke 4:14-22)

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country.  [15] And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

[16] And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.  [17] And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

[18] “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

[19] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

[20] And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  [21] And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  [22] And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

The synagogue ruler gave Jesus permission to preach that day.  The scheduled reading was to be from Isaiah 61.  As was the tradition of a synagogue service, there would be prayers, Scripture readings, singing, and an expositional sermon brought based on a text of Scripture.

What providence was at work here to have Jesus preaching the very day Isaiah 61 was to be the Scripture text!  The synagogue had a scheduled litany of readings.  Jesus didn’t simply pick the text; it was the text that was scheduled to be read.  The timing here is amazing.

If you’re familiar with Isaiah 61, then you know that this is the chapter of hope.  In this chapter, God promises an everlasting or new covenant between Him and His people.  Ezekiel and Jeremiah wrote about the new covenant as well.

Here in the Isaiah passage we see that the One who would usher in the new covenant would be the Annointed One of Israel, the Messiah.  And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee.

Jesus stood up to read the Scripture and was handed the Scroll of Isaiah.  He unrolled it almost to the end, to Isaiah 61.  He reads the first two verses and then backs up the scroll and read a verse from chapter 58.  Then, as was the custom, the preacher sits down and begins His exposition of the text.  Jesus, looks at the people and with authority declares that Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.

What was Jesus saying?  As your ears are hearing these verses from My lips they are being fulfilled.

As one commentator writes, While you are listening to Me, the passage I read to you has been and is being realized.–Hendricksen

It was the proclamation by Jesus and the hearing by the people that fulfilled the prophecy concerning these verses in Isaiah.

[18] “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

At that very moment He was proclaiming the good news to the poor.  Two weeks ago we looked to the Beatitudes and learned that the poor in spirit are blessed by God because they realize their spiritual bankruptcy before Him.

Oh, that we all would continually be poor in spirit!

Jesus was also proclaiming to all who could hear that He would be the One to open the prison door and let the captives free.

In the Book of Isaiah, these verses spoke about the Babylonian captivity.  Here Jesus uses them to show that the Babylonain Captivity was only a picture of the real captivity that Satan has placed upon sinners.  Before Christ has opened the prison door we were all under the slavery of sin.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

[19] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The year of the Lord’s favor is a phrase that speaks of the Year of Jubilee.  This happened in Israel every 50 years.

Perhaps someone had borrowed money or was caught stealing something.  They were made to serve as a slave until the debt could be paid.  Once a person was made a slave or indentured servant it was difficult to ever get free again.  Every 50 years, came the year of Jubilee when slaves would be set free and debts cancelled.

The human race had sinned against a Holy God and was enslaved until the debt could be paid.  We had no way to pay it.

For Jesus to say, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,  [19] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” He was saying, I am ushering in an eternal Jubilee.  All who are in Christ experience freedom from sin’s enslaving chains.  Jesus is the Jubilee.

The crowd liked what He had to say…but they didn’t believe that He was who He claimed to be.  They did not believe.  And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

Mark’s account says that the people were offended at Him.

The people rather enjoyed the message of the opening of the prison doors and the setting the captives free.  They really loved point number two about the year of Jubilee being an eternal jubilee.  They loved the fourth point about the new Messianic age being ushered in currently.

But what they didn’t like was when Jesus told them that He was the One who would usher it in.  When He claimed to be the Messiah, that was more than they could bear.  They were offended that the Messiah was the local carpenter’s Son.  They didn’t like the part of the sermon where Jesus said the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me…

2.  The Sermon’s Conclusion (4:23-28)

[23] And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.”  [24] And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.  [25] But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land,  [26] and Elijah(Northern Kingdom) was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.  [27] And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, (Northern Kingdom) and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”  [28] When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.

Verse 23 shows their lack of belief.  They had heard that Jesus was doing miracles but they just could not believe it to be true because after all, isn’t this the carpenter’s son who grew up here?

The other gospels say that they sought for a sign.  Jesus, do some miracle for us and then we will believe.

Matthew 13:55-58 (ESV)

Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?  [56] And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”  [57] And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”  [58] And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

Jesus refused to perform for them.  Miracles in the life of Jesus always accompanied faith.  In other words belief was prerequisite to a miracle; it was never a miracle that brought on the faith.

Jesus also knew that even if He did a miracle right in front of them, they still would not believe.

This crowd was a lot like the unbelieving Pharisees Jesus encountered…

Matthew 12:38-42 (ESV)

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”  [39] But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  [40] For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  [41] The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.  [42] The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

There will be a sign given.  The resurrection from the dead, the greatest miracle of all is coming.  But most, didn’t believe then and most don’t believe it today.

All those good church goers in Galilee were steeped in unbelief.  They didn’t believe and were not convicted of the sin of disbelief as Jesus reminded them of the people in Elijah and Elisha’s times.  Jesus declared to them that they were just like them.

Rather than repenting and believing they wanted to get rid of the source of the conviction.

3. The People’s Reaction (4:29-30)

[29] And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.  [30] But passing through their midst, he went away.

They didn’t file out the door and say, Good sermon Pastor, we can’t wait to here you again next week.  They didn’t shake His hand and say how the message helped them or challenged them…they ran Jesus out of the synagogue to the edge of town where a cliff was and was going to throw Him over the side!

Talk about a hostile crowd.  I’ve preached a time or two with a few people who didn’t like me.  I remember preaching to a congregation and prior to the sermon a man asked me what I thought of the free masons.  I simply told him that I didn’t know everything there was to know about them, but if what I’ve read is true, they are not a good group.  So, I preached the sermon with the man sitting in the middle of the aisle glaring at me for 45 minutes.  I’ve preached when a group in the back was calling on their cell phones to get the rest of their family to come before the end because there was going to be a vote and they wanted to make sure I didn’t get the vote.  I’ve preached in churches where all sorts of crazy and weird things were going on, but nothing like what Jesus faced.  The amazing thing was that He knew ahead of time exactly what would happen.  It wasn’t their approval He was after.  He didn’t care whether they liked Him or not.  What had to happen that day was Jesus had to announce that His ministry was a fulfillment of prophecy.  He would go on from there preaching much the same theme to different people and they would believe.

Application

There’s a couple of things we need to think about this morning…

-Jesus did not dwell on the past but said Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.  He didn’t dwell on the glory days of Isaiah but only brought that in to authenticate His claim.  It was fulfilled that day and it is still being fulfilled as men and women, boys and girls hear the good news that Jesus Christ saves.  He sets those who are held captive by sin free, forever.  Do you believe Jesus today?  Do you believe that He is the long awaited Messiah.  Do you believe He will set you free today!

-How do you react when Jesus convicts you of sin.  Do you deny it and seek to get rid of the source of the conviction?  Perhaps you stop reading the Bible or you cease praying.  Perhaps you stop attending church.  Maybe you blame shift.  These people were very good at looking the part.  They looked a whole lot better than they really were.  When we do this, it’s like we chase Jesus to the edge of town.  These were church goers but their real god was their appearance.  Jesus opens up their hearts and shows them the truth.  They had covered up their sin.

-There is always a danger of getting too accustomed to Jesus.  In His home town they thought they knew everything there was to know about Him.  However, by their statement, they showed that they didn’t know all they thought they did… Is not this Joseph’s son? No, this is not Joseph’s son this is God’s Son.  God Himself declared this truth.  The devil even affirmed it when Jesus was tempted.  The entire universe, from the God of heaven to creation to demons knows this truth, everyone that is except people.  They were offended.  They had set themselves up as judge over Him.  Their attitude was, Why should we believe you??

Never get too used to Jesus.  We must stand in awe of Him, His Person and His works and realize that what we know about the Son of God is but a drop in ocean of His glory and greatness.  Believe every word from His mouth.

Lets be a congregation who does not pretend to be a proper people of cultured Christianity while we still have sin that needs to be dealt with.  Are you tired of covering up your sin?  Let’s turn to the only One who can give us grace and mercy and forgiveness.  Deal with it in Christ.

[18] “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

[19] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

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