Luke records Christ’s first public sermon that occurred after His baptism, temptation, wedding and commencement of the public ministry. He read from Isaiah about the commission He had received from God to preach. (Luke 4: 17-19
.) After reading the verses, He proclaimed that He
was the fulfillment of those verses. (Luke 4: 20-21
He expounded on the verses adding that not only were they fulfilled, but He pressed on to explain how He would fulfill them in comments that were unrecorded. However, those who heard could not help but be persuaded at His gracious words. (Luke 4: 22
He moved from these verses in Isaiah to add His own prophecy about what they would eventually do to Him. You will tell me: “Physician, heal thyself,” He added. (Luke 4: 23
.) He will be asked by them to do miracles among them as He will do in Capernum, but they will not be given such a witness. He explains that not all of a prophet’s works will be put to display before all people. That some will see Him, but only have the testimony of others to learn of His works. (Luke 4: 24-27
They were indignant at His comments. It filled them with wrath. They thought they should be given the same signs, the same proof, of His claim to Messiahship as He would put before others. (Luke 4: 28-29.) However, He explained to them that He would be without honor among those closest to Him. (Luke 4: 24.)
The attempt of the congregation to kill Him failed. He departed and went among more believing people, who heard Him speak with power from heaven. (Luke 4: 30-32
What an interesting commencement of His public ministry. Telling the truth among those unprepared to welcome Him did them no good, persuaded no-one of the truth, and resulted in His forced departure.
What can be said of those who would cast out of their congregation He who was greater than them all? They thought they were making a bold statement about their fidelity to their religious traditions, and holding fast to the truth. Instead, they were cutting themselves off from the lifeline sent to save them.
Irony is not a strong enough word to describe this singular scene. It would be repeated throughout Christ’s ministry among the hierarchy and leadership of His day, ultimately culminating in His death at their hands. These were the only people who would kill their God. (2 Ne. 10: 3
.) They were devout. They were misinformed. They were very religious, but entirely mistaken.
What happened on that first day of teaching was a microcosm of His entire ministry. It is often the case that those who regard themselves as the “most religious” and “most correct” are capable of missing the truth sent to them by the Lord. They prefer the Lord package the truth in one way, coupled with a written guarantee that the package will never fail them, while the Lord is always sending it in another, and requiring them to receive it when only their hearts can guide them into recognizing it. It is little wonder, then, that our day is when “men’s hearts will fail them” because they fear, and trust not the things sent to them. (Luke 21: 26.)