Sermon Text: Luke 4:20-32
1. When familiarity with the Savior is lost
2. When familiarity with the Scriptures is lost
3. When familiarity with all Godliness is lost
Epiphany 4 – 31 January 2016
1/28/2016 8:30:23 AM
When was the last time you complained about something? Each one of us complains about this and that. What would you say is the most common complaint in the world? Most people might say the weather. We talk a lot about the weather, those who have authority over us at work and in government. And then there is complaining about food. The Bible says, “if you have food and clothing you should be content.” But who are the gods of this world? All you have to do is to pay attention to how people live and act. What are their concerns and priorities? Jesus tells us what our priorities should be. We ask, what shall we eat, what shall we wear? Jesus said that pagans run after these things but you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you. People are obsessed with food. People are obsessed with clothing. People are obsessed with self. I want to do what feels good. Loving myself is a real problem.
We all agree that complaining is wrong but we do it anyway. We have some good examples of people complaining in the Bible. When God’s people left Egypt they had many complaints. They complained about the Manna God gave them to eat in the desert. They longed for the food they were able to eat in Egypt. Numbers 11:5-6 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Did they forget the slavery? When Moses appeared out of nowhere to lead them to freedom they were overjoyed but once they were out of Egypt they complained about everything and even wanted to kill him because they thought of him and enemy and not a friend.
It has been said that familiarity breeds contempt. The more familiar you become with something the more you take it for granted and it breeds contempt. Sometimes we dislike certain foods. Why is this? Maybe it is because it was something we ate regularly. Most people in the world eat rice every day. They are not concerned what they will have along with the rice, they just hope there will be some rice to eat. In the Lord’s prayer we say, “give us this day our daily bread.” That was because when Jesus spoke those words bread was the most important part of any meal. This is the way it’s been for centuries. God’s people complained about Manna because they ate it all day. They craved other foods.
When something is new we like it but after a while when it has been around for some time we get sick of it and maybe even despise it. This is also true of those God has placed over us. My parents, my boss, my teachers and those in authority. Usually when the teacher is new the students like him but then after all it’s just another teacher. When we have a new president we have high expectations but when something goes wrong it was because he was at fault even it wasn’t. Very often parents are only missed after they’ve been gone.
“What Would Jesus Do?” Sometimes people speculate as to what Jesus would do or say if he was here today. Jesus is on record as saying, “I have not seen such faith in Israel.” He said this more than once about Gentiles who believed in him. When he visited his home town Nazareth he was rejected more than once. The people did not see him as the Messiah and Savior but viewed him with suspicion and skepticism. One wonders what Jesus would say about us if he should come here for a visit. Would he leave impressed and said, “I have not seen such faith anywhere else” or would he say, “I have not seen so many unbelievers anywhere in the world,” and never come back?
The Old Testament believers were given a lot of information about the Messiah and how they could recognize him. He was to be born in Bethlehem. Also by his miracles the people would be able to recognize his deity. He did what no man could do. Healing the sick and feeding many people with little or no food were some of his miracles. Knowing the thoughts of people is something only God can do. This is exactly what happened in Nazareth. Before the people could say anything he already told them what they thought. In the OT it was predicted that Jesus would have to die for the sins of the world. This was the message he repeated over and over again.
We have every reason to believe Jesus because he has an amazing message, a serious warning and also we see amazing power. We have every reason to believe in Jesus. The people of Nazareth found fault with Jesus as a person and would not believe him in spite of the fact that he had an amazing message. Instead of believing him the people rejected him. Someone should have said – Be careful not to reject Jesus. Familiarity can breed contempt.
1. WHEN FAMILIARITY WITH THE SAVIOR IS LOST
Luke tells us what happened; Luke 4:16-19 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” When he was done reading he told them the unexpected. Luke 4:20, 21 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The people must have been shocked to the core. But then they began to ask questions, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” vs. 21-22 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
It is sad when people reject a message because the person is not acceptable to them. Jesus told his disciples that if people reject them it is really God whom they are rejecting. They are rejecting the one who sent them. In this world we can find fault with everyone. People said about the apostle Paul 2 Corinthians 10:10 For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” If any of God’s apostle’s was treated like dirt it was the apostle Paul. He said about himself, 1 Cor. 4:9-13 Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.” This is also the way Christians in general are thought of and often treated as refuse or dirt.
Jesus also told his followers about the rich man and the poor Lazarus. When the rich man was in hell he told Abraham to send Lazarus to them so that they might believe. Abraham reminded him, “They have Moses and the prophets, if they will not listen to them neither will they listen if someone from the dead returns.” Jesus also knew what their thoughts were, 4:23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’” In other words: Jesus prove to us who you are. Perform some miracles! Perform some miracles as you did in Capernaum. The Bible tells us, “Faith comes by hearing.” The faith of many people was strengthened when they saw the miracles Jesus performed.
They just could not stomach it that Jesus could be the Messiah. Not Joseph’s son. If he’s the Messiah then he better start doing something so we can believe him. There’s no doubt that jealousy was part of it as well. When people are jealous there will be all kinds of evil responses. They were familiar with Jesus and he could not tell them anything they did not know. This is also a danger for all of us. We know it all and we’ve all heard it before. When we take things for granted we do not always appreciate it as we should. Do we appreciate the things around us? The things available in our town? Do we appreciate our church – the building and those who worship there? Sometimes the members get sick of the pastor and sometimes the pastor gets sick of the members. We take each other for granted until we realize that we need each other and we all need our savior. Or are we critical of everyone and everything? Ever so often God sends us a wake-up call to bring us back to reality so that we appreciate the things we have again. It has been said that familiarity breeds contempt. Sometimes we hurt those closest to us the most. As far as Jesus was concerned it could also have been jealousy. Jealousy will make people do strange things. Where there is jealousy and selfish ambition you have disorder and every evil practice.
Even among clergy unkind things are said. A pastor will preach a fine and uplifting sermon at a conference but there always seems someone who will tear that sermon apart and find fault with it instead of rejoicing that the gospel was preached. We may not agree with many of the doctrines other churches preach and teach and in spite of this you can also hear good sermons. We can rejoice when the gospel is preached. We are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God. It is always sad when Jesus is rejected as it happened in Nazareth. It has been said that you cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater. When the baby
has had a bath the water is thrown away. You might say that the people in Nazareth rejected their Jesus. They had no use for him. This still happens. We are so familiar with him so that he no longer seems special. The people did not like the message Jesus preached and they had no use for him. The were not just ready to throw him out but throw him off a cliff.
We have to be careful not to reject Jesus because he’s so familiar to us. Familiarity with the scriptures can also be lost or even conveniently ignored.
2. WHEN FAMILIARITY WITH THE SCRIPTURES IS LOST
God’s people had great expectations of the Messiah but many of those expectations were misguided. They were hoping for a Messiah who would make them great as David and Solomon had made them great. Jesus went on to tell them. Luke 4:24-27 “I tell you the truth,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
When Elijah was prophet during the reign of wicked king Ahab the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine in the land, Elijah was not sent to any of them but to a widow in Zarepheth in the region of Sidon. Through the prophet Elijah she had enough to eat during those years of famine. At the time of Elisha when there were many lepers in Israel, not one of them was cleansed – only Naaman the Syrian. Whenever God’s people rejected God’s word and the prophets, then the prophets went somewhere else.
This was a serious warning to the people of Nazareth. If they would not believe, then the gospel might be taken from them and given to others who would appreciate it. The people were furious when they heard this. Luke 4:28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. The Jews were very nationalistic. When anyone dared to say anything bad about their nation or people they considered this an insult against the nation. There is nothing wrong when we are proud of our country and our nation. When people speak of breaking up the country we get upset. The people in Nazareth expected Jesus to reward them in some way, after all, he was one of them. Then he has the nerve to tell them that unless they believe in him they will perish. This was too much. People do not want to hear that they are bad. They want to hear that they are good and deserve more than they have.
Many years before Jesus was born the Lord told the prophet Jonah to preach in the city of Nineveh. Jonah was really upset when the Lord told him to do this. Instead of going to Nineveh he took a ship going in the opposite direction. He ended going to Nineveh anyway where the people repented and believed and were not destroyed. Jonah’s own people would not believe while the Ninevites did. What happened when Elijah and Elisha were prophets, still happens. When people reject God and refuse to believe the message will be preached to people who will listen and will believe.
For those who must see miracles to believe Jesus had a chilling message. He said that no sign would be given to them but the sign of Jonah On Judgment Day the Ninevites will stand up and condemn them because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. In Nazareth they had one greater than Jonah – Jesus. The same can be said of the Queen of Sheba who will rise to condemn the Jews for their unbelief. She came to listen to Solomon and became a believer. In Nazareth they had one greater than Solomon and they would not believe. Unbelief condemns. The Jews believed they were the elect. It was true that God had chosen them for a special purpose. But only those who had faith were special in God’s eyes. Only those who are Abraham’s spiritual descendants are God’s people. Without faith it’s impossible to please God. We believe and teach that we are saved by grace alone Scriptures along and grace. It is all about God’s love.
The people in the synagogue were furious that day. They were ready to kill Jesus. They were ready to kill Jesus because they did not like what he said. Familiarity can lead to contempt. When the Scriptures are lost then godliness is lost and that means all is lost.
3. WHEN FAMILIARITY WITH ALL GODLINESS IS LOST
The truth will not always bring people to their senses. What Jesus just told them was true. A prophet does not count in his home country. It also was a fact that the widow of Zerapheth and Naaman the Syrian were not Jews. In this case the truth hurt. It did not convict but brought the worst out in them. They were not even going to conduct a trial but lynch him. Luke tells us what happened. Luke 4:28-30 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
What happened to Christ in Nazareth can also happen to us. Just because we are followers of the Lord does not guarantee that all our relatives, neighbors and acquaintances will welcome the gospel message – or even our children. At times some of us stand alone, ridiculed and mocked by those who know us best. But it is easier to bear when we realize Jesus also had to bear that same burden.
Instead of throwing him off the cliff Jesus walked right through the crowd and went on his way. Jesus did not talk the crowd out of killing him. They wanted him dead and were not going to listen to reason. Jesus did not take back what he had said – not even when he was before Pilate. How sad that instead of falling down to worship him the people tried to kill him. The apostle John reminds us, John 1:11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— We have every reason to believe Jesus.
Jesus never gave up. As he came up to Jerusalem he said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I would have gathered as a hen gathers her chicks but you would not.” On the cross he still reached out saying, “Father forgive them for they know not what do.” We know better than to reject and deny Jesus and still often we do. His last words before he left were words of comfort and assurance. “Go, into the world and preach the good news and I will be with you always even until the end of the age.” Jesus will be there and is there when we take him for granted and also when we don’t. In him is gladness among all sadness. This world and the people in this world will disappoint and let us down but not Jesus. The people of Nazareth were not impressed and dismissed him. Thank God for sending his son in spite of the fact that he was not accepted and honored as God. This give each one of us more reason fear, love and trust Him.
Jesus is special. When we celebrate Christmas there’s magic in the air. The child seems to come out in each one of us. For a short time we bury the hatchet. We take time to marvel at the miracle of the Savior’s birth. It is at Christmas when we see the value of family and the gift of eternal life. This is when you see more godliness than any other time of the year. Paul wrote to his friend Timothy, 1 Timothy 6:6-10 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Familiarity can lead to contempt when familiarity with godliness is be lost. When my knowledge of my savior and the scriptures becomes clouded and is lost then my godliness will also be gone. To the people in Nazareth Jesus was just Joseph’s son and they were no longer familiar with the Scriptures. When Jesus is no longer God and the Bible just another book them there can be no faith and godliness. Do we have something to complains about? We also do but we have more things to be grateful for. The love of God never end. He has patience . Paul inspired Paul to write about the greatest things in the world. Faith, hope and love. Love is the greatest. This is something I need to familiar with. 1 Corinthians is not just to read but also good to live. We fail in so many ways but the love our God is eternal and without it we would be lost. When we focus on the things that are wrong we may be feel hopeless but when Jesus is there is hope and eternal joy. amen.