The Lord’s hand moves and it is largely unrecognized by the world. Most of those who see it reject outright what they see. Generations pass, and finally acceptance comes too late. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36.) Those who belong to it are strangers and sojourners here. Nuisances to those who do not see.
Christ was born in a small Roman-controlled province, far from the world’s power, governmental and social center. During His life, few people knew of Him. Of those who knew of Him, most rejected His message. Even more obscure was His forerunner, John the Baptist.
Christ explained that John the Baptist was “more than a prophet” (Luke 7:26) He declared, “Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet then John the Baptist; but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:28.) This messenger, although sent by God, was rejected by those in authority, while accepted and followed by the “least” among them:
“And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” (Luke 7:29-30.) The people, including the lowly publicans, believed and were baptized. But the proud leaders rejected God’s counsel delivered by John. God’s counsel condemned them and told them to repent. They would not accept that counsel because it was “against” them.
Christ reflected on the sad state of affairs: “Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” (Luke 7:31-34.) It does not matter how the message is given, nor who the Lord sends, the world rejects, criticizes and judges.
Christ formally began His ministry in Nazareth in His local synagogue. He had been there many times before. Like He had done many times, He participated in the Sabbath service. This time, however, He offended those who heard Him because of His message:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, [He was in the habit of regular attendance at this synagogue. This Sabbath He would begin a new ministry.] and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place [He searched for these verses. He had a message to deliver and found where it was foretold.] where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me [He was the Messiah, or one anointed by God.] to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. [See Isa. 61:1-2] And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, [He started by unequivocally declaring He was the fulfillment of the prophecy.] This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. [The rest of His words are not recorded, but they were gracious and filled with light.] And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? [The idea someone as common as Jesus, who grew up among them, could be God’s anointed was too difficult to accept.] And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: [Which would be fulfilled as He was on the cross (see Luke 23:25; 27:41-42).] whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. [Not every one was saved, and not every one knew about it as it happened. Obscurity at the time it happens is never an accurate way to measure God’s hand.] And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.But he passing through the midst of them went his way, And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power. [They could sense something powerful in His message.] (Luke 4:16-32.)
The fact that God sends a messenger, (or even His Son), does not mean the world will notice or accept it while the message is being delivered. Only a few are ever willing to hear His voice. But the few who do are always chosen by God and acknowledged by Him as “His sheep.” (John 10:27.) They suffer rejection but then learn to understand the Lord through experiences shared with Him. He does not leave them comfortless. He manifests Himself to them, (John 14:18) because their hearts are broken and their spirits contrite. This is His gospel and it was meant to be lived. Very few people notice. Great things in God’s eyes are not the same thing as great things to this world. But those who choose to notice are given treasures of understanding. They hear, see and understand things which are entirely hidden from the world.