The Gospel According to Luke: Part 11:: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

An Exposition

Luke 4:14-30: Truth is Wanted, But Never Welcomed

“Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. So, He came to Nazareth where he had been brought up, and as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. When He had opened the book, He turned to the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,

Because He has anointed Me,

To preach the Gospel to the poor.

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives,

And recovery of sight to the blind,

To set at liberty those who are oppressed,

To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.’

“Then He closed the book and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’

“So, all bore witness to Him and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. They said, ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ 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. Many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’

“So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city, and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which the city was  built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way” (Luke 4:14-30, NKJV).

The word “truth” is defined in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary as “the conformity to fact or reality; an exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be.”

Whether the world likes it or not, truth is never a term that means what they wish it to mean without the need for an established standard by which to measure or compare it against other terms, thoughts, or concepts. The notion that we can say to someone, “That’s true for you, but not for me,” is ridiculous, plain and simple, and is referred to as “relativism.” In this mode of thought, truth is founded not upon a set moral standard, but upon whatever one wishes, usually as a convenient way of avoiding the consequences of behavior or speech that would have been unacceptable only a few years ago. Individual definitions of truth are a recipe for inevitable chaos and the seed which grows into immoral, unethical, and godless disasters for people and nations.

For the true, faithful follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, He is the absolute personification of truth on which the Creation is founded. The truth is not found in any worldly philosophy, religious belief, legal system, governing body, individual conceptions, or conflict. Truth is established by the Almighty Sovereign God of the Holy Scriptures Who has set up the absolute and unmovable foundation of who we are, our individual responsibilities and accountability before Him, as well as the future state of our being. If the Holy Scriptures define themselves as actual grounded truth, then it would only be logical and wise to read and learn from them.

Truth is ascribed to the Law of God (Psalm 119:142-160),

describes the person of Christ (John 14:6),

the person of the Holy Spirit (John 14:17),

the word of God (John 17:17, 19),

as well as the Gospel itself (Galatians 2:5, 14).

According to Scripture, the effect of genuine, godly truth is that…

it makes one free from the bondage of sin (John 8:31-32),

it sanctifies the believer (John 17: 17-19),

it purifies us spiritually (1 Peter 1:22),

and establishes our faith (Ephesians 4:15).

As followers of Christ, we are commanded to:

speak the truth (Ephesians 4:25),

walk in the truth (3 John 3-4),

declare the truth (Acts 26:25),

worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth (John 4:23-24);

The LORD invites us to come to the truth (1 Timothy 2:4),

to believe and know the truth of God (1 Timothy 4:3),

to handle it accurately and without apology or compromise (2 Timothy 2:15),

to obey it (1 Peter 1;22),

and to be established in it (2 Peter 1:13).

The world, with its love of sin, self-centeredness and rebellious attitude towards God’s truth, will…

attempt to turn it into a lie (Romans 1:25),

willingly disobey it (Romans 2:5),

walk contrary to it (Galatians 2:17),

and will never love it (2 Thessalonians 2:10).

The world will not believe God’s truth (2 Thessalonians 2:12), nor will they ever come to the truth and would rather be destitute of it than surrender to the will of God (1 Timothy 6:5; 2 Timothy 3:7). The world and the devil who runs it will continue to oppose the truth and turn from it (2 Timothy 3:8; 4:4) until the return of Jesus Christ to establish His eternal kingdom and rid creation of sin, sorrow, and the effects of evil for eternity. The devil and his followers will be permanently cast into the Lake of Fire (Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:11-15). God’s eternal rule and His truth will be with the righteous always, and no one or no being can or will ever be able to thwart that fact. We are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20).

The Lord Jesus officially started His ministry with the reading of Scripture in the synagogue of His hometown Nazareth. As we examine this story, there are three areas of godly truth that need to be presented. First, there is the truth of fulfilled prophecy (4:18-19). Jesus, considered a rabbi, was asked to read and interpret passages from the Torah (the Law), the writings (national history, Psalms, Proverbs), and the prophets (Isaiah-Malachi) as part of the worship service. He specifically read and taught the interpretation of the passages from Isaiah (52:13-53:12), and then declared that the fulfillment of that prophecy had occurred, for it was the description of the Suffering Servant and His service to God, and He was that Servant.

  • He did heal the brokenhearted (Luke 7:11-17; 8:35-39; John 11:25).
  • He did preach the Gospel to the poor (Matthew 11:5, 28-30; Mark 1:35-39).
  • He did deliver the captives from sin (Isaiah 53:5; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2;24; 1 John 3:5).
  • He did give sight to the blind (John 9; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43).

There is also the truth of a prophetic mission by the Lord Jesus (4:20-23). The members of the synagogue who listened to Jesus’ proclamation and teaching expected some type of favoritism because of what He had done in other places for the people. They based this favoritism on a feeling of national pride that was grounded in their law and history as God’s chosen people and had been recipients of God’s mercy and grace to the exclusion of other nations, so they thought. Jesus shattered their expectations by declaring that the favor and grace God had mercifully given to them was to be extended to all people, regardless of who they were or the lives they had lived.

Jesus would demonstrate this compassion in His encounter with the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5-13), the Canaanite woman whose daughter was demon-possessed (Matthew 15:21-28), and the deliverance of the Gadarene man from multiple demons (Mark 5:1-20).

Jesus named two people, who were Gentiles, that had received mercy from God during the days of the prophets Elijah and Elisha. They were the widow from Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16), who was given food from God, and Naaman the Syrian general, who was healed of leprosy by immersion in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:1-19). God gave grace to those living outside of Israel at the time because it was steeped in idolatry and demon worship and was under judgment.

The reaction by the congregation was of rage and anger, being faced with the need for salvation and mercy from God, and not by national identity or history. In their rage, they sought to kill Jesus by throwing Him off the nearby cliff. Jesus supernaturally walked away from the angry mob and went His way. He would not return.

This story is an example of a paradox. People throughout history say that they desire the truth about life yet reject the offer of solid truth given by the LORD and hate it, for the most part, when it is presented to them. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that deaf ears and blind eyes are open to respond to God’s truth. Let this be a sobering lesson.