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Jesus' Groundbreaking Sermon!

Posted on May 15, 2017

God Saves Gentiles! Luke Has Good News!

A study of the NT book of Luke

by Pastor Frank Rice

Luke 4:16-30

Many people have said when surveyed that public speaking is their greatest fear. Some react; “I’d rather take a beating.” When Jesus speaks, everyone will listen. Right? They’ll love and applaud Him. Right? Let’s see how His first recorded sermon impacts His hometown fans.

Luke has proven Jesus’ credentials and His impeccable integrity. Now we catch a glimpse of His first speaking engagement! We’ll get to hear what He says and how the hometown crowd responds.


I. The Stage Is Set for Jesus’ First Recorded Sermon (Vv. 16-17)!

❖The location for His groundbreaking sermon is important (v. 16).

  1. He’s back in His hometown, the place where He’d grown up and where everyone knew Him and His family.

  2. He was a regular at synagogue. This day He’s invited to do the Scripture reading. Following protocol, He stood to read.

❖The synagogue attendant must have been delighted to have Him offer to read from their scroll (v. 17).

  1. He was handed the scroll of Isaiah the prophet, maybe the only scroll available to a small-town synagogue this day.

  2. The Guest Reader chose the text that He wanted to read. (This may have been difficult for the average person!)


II. Jesus’ First Sermon Features a Popular OT Text (Vv. 18-22)!

❖Jesus turned to and read aloud the text that correctly described His mission and His ministry (vv. 18-19)! (Did they realize it?)

  1. He claims that the Spirit of the LORD had chosen and empowered Him for a particular mission (v. 18a; Isa 61:1-2)!

  2. He claims to have been authorized & empowered;

    1. To preach good news to the marginalized, those of low status, and those who are disadvantaged (v. 18b). CAUTION: some have taken this and crafted a social gospel while ignoring the spiritual dimension!

    2. It is the poor in general who sense their need in the greatest way and, as a result, respond most directly and honestly to Jesus.” (Bock)

    3. The gospel does have societal implications, not so much for society, as it does for how the redeemed community approaches humans, and social structures. Compassion, concern, love, truth, and service are to be concretely expressed by the church, just as they were evidenced in Jesus.” (Bock)

    4. To heal the desperate and despairing (v. 18c). (This is not included in some manuscripts.)

    5. To announce release to those in bondage (v. 18d). This term “always refers to the forgiveness of sins elsewhere in Luke-Acts.” (Stein)

    6. To provide recovery of sight to the sightless (v. 18e). This is NOT merely physical help and healing!

    7. To set free those who are downtrodden (v. 18f). This same term was used previously to refer to forgiveness of sins.

    8. To announce the year of the LORD’s favor (v. 19). This is the time for release or forgiveness. “The universal availability of the good news of God’s visitation does not necessarily have as its corollary its universal acceptance.” (Green)

    9. All the images have to do with the comprehensiveness of Jesus’ message and the hope that He offers people.” (Bock)

  3. Jesus seems to stop short in His reading. (Did anyone notice He omitted the phrase about judgment?) Jesus describes the current time as a time of release not judgement.

  4. The deliverance imagery parallels the description of the Jubilee year (Lev 25:8-17), when debts were cancelled and slaves were freed every fiftieth year. It is a picture of forgiveness and spiritual liberation, which is at the center of Jesus’ message.” (Bock)

❖Jesus closes His sermon in a rather dramatic way (vv. 20-21)!

  1. He reversed His opening procedure by rolling up the scroll, handing it back to the leader, and sitting back down.

  2. He had the undivided attention of everyone in the audience, as they silently anticipated the explanation of the reading. With hearing comes responsibility!

  3. He claimed the Scripture He’d just read was being fulfilled right before their eyes (v. 21)! Did they realize that Jesus was presenting Himself as the fulfillment of Isaiah 61? (“Did I hear Him right?”)

❖Jesus got mixed reviews from the hometown fans (v. 22).

  1. Everyone was positively impressed with His words of grace. (Evidently, Luke doesn’t record everything He said.)

  2. They were also a little perplexed because they knew His family. They had thought that they had Him figured out…There is some negativity in this particular line, but the response is primarily positive.

  3. The problem, which will soon become evident, is that God’s plan does not match the plan that the audience has in mind, which would vouchsafe them their special privilege and status.” (Garland)


III. Jesus’ First Sermon Includes a Popular Proverb (Vv. 23-30)!

❖Jesus levels with the self-satisfied hometown crowd by predicting their eventual rejection of Him (vv. 23-27)!

  1. He predicts that there will be a time when they’ll mock, insult, and eventually turn against Him (v. 23)!

  2. He predicts their rejection of Him (v. 24). He, as a prophet, is realistic. People are fickle. He knows they’ll treat Him like every other prophet that God had sent to correct them!

  3. He reveals that they will become resentful because He will do no mighty work in their midst, and He rebukes them in advance for rejecting Him.” (Garland)

  4. He gives two convicting and disturbing examples of Jewish faithlessness and God’s subsequent refusal to bless them while at the same time blessing Gentiles (vv. 25-27)!

  5. Two of their greatest prophets, Elijah & Elisha, looked in vain to find a faithful person in Israel, but He did find people of faith among Gentiles! (OUCH!)

  6. No Israelite received positive benefit from the prophets’ presence in this period.” (Bock)


❖Jesus loses their initial approval… big time (vv. 28-30)! Things turned real ugly, real fast! What set them off?!?!

  1. His listeners realized He was castigating them for their lack of faith and lousy response to God’s voice thru His prophets! They were worse than Gentile lepers and widows!

  2. They also resented the fact that He said God would do something special for Gentiles and pass by the Jews!

  3. The mention of Elijah and Elisha alludes to Gentile inclusion and national judgment.” (Bock) Neither of these allusions is tolerable to this Jewish audience!

  4. They led Him out of town with murder on their minds, but He turned and walked away. It wasn’t His time, yet. “The narrative begins with Jesus’ rising up to read, and it ends with the synagogue rising up to throw Him out of the town throw Him off a cliff.” (Garland) What went wrong!?


Jesus declared the acceptable year of the Lord. But He, as a prophet, is not acceptable to the crowd. God offers to accept all who come to Him through Jesus’ message; but people will not accept Jesus.” (Bock)


When people realize what Jesus’ real mission and ministry entails, they either love Him or hate Him (John 3:19)!