Jesus Rejected at Nazareth (Part 2)
In our prior lesson, Jesus entered into the synagogue at Nazareth and read a prophecy from Isaiah regarding the Messiah. He then applied it to Himself! The people marveled at His claim, but rejected it. Jesus addressed the matter further in Luke 4:23-27 - "He said to them, 'You will surely say this proverb to Me, "Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country."' Then He said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.'"

Jesus, who knew the hearts of men (John 2:24,25), was fully aware that they did not believe Him to be the Messiah. Jesus predicted their sarcastic comments toward Him in Luke 4:23, and the meaning is essentially this - "Jesus, you can do big things in Capernaum, but you cannot do them here; you can't deceive us because we know you!" They were defiant in their disbelief, in a way similar to those who would hurl insults at the Christ during His crucifixion (cf. Mark 15:29-32).

Jesus' statement about no prophet being accepted in his own country should be understood as a general, not absolute, truth (the same can be said regarding the statement: "familiarity breeds contempt"). Jesus implies here that He is actually a prophet and has the right to be honored in His own country (cf. Deut. 18:18ff; Matt. 21:11). It was often true that when a stranger witnessed the public and spiritual acts of a prophet, he would immediately recognize him as a prophet. However, the neighbors and acquaintances of that same prophet focus their thoughts on his earthly relationships, and thus come to an incorrect conclusion about him. This is exactly what happened to Jesus on this occasion. Because of their prejudices and hardness of heart, Jesus chose to work His miracles elsewhere, rather than in Nazareth. In the following verses, He shows that God's servants of old reacted in the same way when they were faced with similar attitudes.

In the days of Elijah, God brought over three years of drought on Israel because of their wicked ways. While there were many widows in Israel, God directed Elijah to go to a Gentile widow in Zarephath. There he found someone with faith in God's word (which was lacking terribly in Israel). Hence, she, instead of Israel's widows, enjoyed God's blessings (I Kings 17:8-16). The same conditions prevailed in the days of Elijah's successor, Elisha. While the lepers of Israel remained covered with the dreaded disease, it was Naaman, the captain of the Syrian army and a Gentile, who offered to God the obedience of faith that resulted in a great blessing (II Kings 5:1-14). We will conclude our study tomorrow of this section of text in Luke 4.