Luke 4:22-30 (ESV)

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.

The crowd responded both positively and negatively to Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue. His declaration impressed them, and they were amazed by his words of grace, but at the same time, they said, “Hey, this is Joseph’s son. How could the local carpenter’s boy claim to be our Messiah?” Jesus was aware of their desire for signs and additional proof that he was the Promised One. He reminded them that their ancestors previously rejected the prophets, and he was prepared for dismissal by his hometown as well. Jesus went on to cite examples from the history of Israel to demonstrate how even in the past God’s people refused to believe. Jesus first mentioned the account of the widow of Zarephath for whom Elijah supernaturally provided food during a time of famine. There were many widows in Israel during this famine, but not a single one was blessed by the prophet except for the widow of Zarephath, and it was because of her faith. Then he mentioned a leper, Naaman the Syrian. He used Naaman to prove the same principle. There were also many lepers in Israel, but only Naaman was healed.  So why did this make the crowd so mad (v. 28)? Both the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian were Gentiles, not Jews! Why did the prophets of Israel bless the Gentiles? These specific Gentiles believed the word of God, while Israel didn’t.

Jesus used accounts from the nation’s history to reveal that the majority of those who would ultimately trust in him would come from outside the nation of Israel. The crowd in Nazareth did not like what Jesus was saying. Outsiders blessed? Insiders left out? They were ready to execute him. Jesus declared an often-repeated truth, “No prophet is acceptable in his hometown.” Those who knew Jesus best couldn’t get past his ordinariness, and as a result, they would not believe the message he brought. Our neighbors can do the same thing, refusing to listen to the good news we bring because we are just regular people. If you are downcast because you are trying to do things God’s way and are continually spurned by those closest to you, know that you are in good company. Don’t get discouraged! Keep doing what God has called you to, even when you don’t get the support you hoped for. Though many may refuse the Lord, God’s purpose cannot be thwarted. His desire will be accomplished.