January 31, 2016

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit

Old Testament Lesson; Jeremiah 1:4-10

Epistle Lesson; 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13

Sermon Text; Luke 4:21-32

The Word of God we will look at for today is taken from Luke, chapter four, looking at verses 21 through 32. These are God's Word, in Jesus' name.

And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of Him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from His mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” And He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Physician, heal yourself.' What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” And He said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove Him out of the town and brought Him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went away. And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And He was teaching them on the Sabbath, and they were astonished at His teaching, for His Word possessed authority.

This is God's Word.

OK, so the verses of our text come right on the heels of what the sermon text was last week. As a matter of fact, it is the case that one of those verses, verse 21, overlaps. It was used in Pastor Bartels sermon last week, and it is used in my sermon this week. It doesn't happen very often that portions of scripture overlap in a preaching series.

Well, remember what Pastor Bartels talked about last week. Jesus went to His hometown. It was the city of Nazareth. He went to the synagogue where Jesus had worshiped for thirty years. And so, the people there knew Him. The ushers knew Him. The families knew Him. Everybody there knew Him. And, Jesus was there.

Being over thirty, Jesus could read, and teach in the synagogue. And so, the person in charge of the scrolls, handed a scroll to Jesus. And, Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah. After He had finished reading that, He sat down on the teacher's seat, in front of the whole synagogue, and He said,


these words are fulfilled in your hearing.”

Our text for today comes right on the heals of that. I am entitling my sermon this morning, “An Epiphany in Nazareth.” Just remember the word 'epiphany' means 'to reveal', or 'to make known'. So Jesus is going to reveal Himself to the people of His own hometown. But, how would He go about doing that?

During the last couple of weeks, we had a cold snap. I was standing in the lobby of the new school, as school was getting over. There was a student who was walking from the classroom, getting ready to go outside to be picked up by the student's parents. Being cold, the student had a stocking hat on, and a face-mask, so you couldn't see any of the student's face at all! I wondered to myself, “What student is that, who is walking out the door?” Apparently, the student could see enough to know where they were going!

As the student walked past me, I said, “Who is it?”

He took his face mask aside, enough to just reveal his eyes, and he said, “Well, it's me.”

Just by seeing his eyes, and hearing his voice, he revealed himself to me, and it was an 'epiphany'!

That is what Jesus is doing to the people of His hometown. He is 'revealing' Himself to them.

I also told you this, recently. Sometimes my son, Ben, and I get confused from each other. From a distance people may wonder, “Who is that? Is it Ben, or is it Pastor Tweit?” But, the closer we get, we 'reveal' ourselves to them, and then they understand who it is they are talking to.

Jesus is doing that today. He is 'revealing' Himself. It is an 'epiphany' to the people of the city of Nazareth.

What is it Jesus is 'revealing'? What is He 'revealing' to them? He is 'revealing' to them that He is more than just a teacher. He is more than just a prophet. He is more than just an expert.

You have probably heard it said, and Mark Twain is noted as saying this. “An expert is an ordinary fellow from another town.” We usually don't think in terms of experts coming from our own town, but if it is somebody else coming from another town, they have to be an expert, right?

Will Rogers is quoted as saying, “An expert is somebody from fifty miles away who carries a briefcase.”

Again, we usually don't think in terms of an expert coming from our town, but if they come from a distance away and they are carrying a briefcase, well then they have to be an expert, right?

Jesus is 'revealing' to the people of His own hometown He is more than just an expert. He is more than just a prophet. He is 'revealing' to the people of His own hometown that

He is God.

Before this, Jesus had turned water into wine, at Cana, in Galilee. (I had focused on that two weeks ago.) Prior to our text for today, Jesus had done miraculous acts in Jerusalem, in Judea. And before our text for today, Jesus had healed the royal official's son in Cana, in Galilee. In doing so, He was 'revealing' who He was.

He is God.

Notice what the people said, when Jesus spoke that one sentence,


this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”.

Verse 22 says, “All were amazed at his gracious words”. That is a preacher's dream right there, to speak one sentence, and have everybody say, “Wow! What he is saying is just so awesome!”

Well, notice what Jesus does in our text for today. These are the three things I want to focus on.

       -We are going to talk about what Jesus says about Himself.

       -We are going to look at Jesus 'revealing' His power.

       -And then, we are going to see how this plays this out in our lives.

So, what does Jesus say about Himself? He comes to His hometown. He had performed these miraculous acts in Cana, in Galilee, Jerusalem, and Judea, and throughout Galilee. Now, He comes to His hometown and says, “I know you are going to say, 'Physician, heal yourself.' If you did these miraculous acts in other places, do them for us, and we will believe.”

Jesus uses two examples from The Old Testament. He uses the example of Elijah, and He uses the example of Elisha.

Elijah was a prophet in The Old Testament, during the reign of wicked King Ahab. Wicked King Ahab didn't want to hear what the prophet Elijah had to say, and many in Israel didn't want to hear what Elijah had to say, either. And so, God told Elijah to prophesy that it would not rain for three years and six months. And, it didn't rain for three and a half years. Because of that, there was a drought. And because of that, there was a famine.

God told Elijah to go to The Kerith Ravine where he could drink water from the brook, and it would be birds that would bring food to him, for him to eat.

But that brook dried up, as well. So, God sent Elijah, not to a widow in Israel, but He sent Elijah outside of Israel, up the Mediterranean coast, to the region of Sidon, way up north, to an area called Zarephath to a widow who was there. It was that widow, outside of Israel, who took care of Elijah, and gave him food to eat, and water to drink.

The people of Israel had rejected Elijah. But, when Elijah went to that widow of Zarephath, she said this, right before Elijah left.

“Now I know

you are a man of God,

and the Word of the Lord from your mouth

is truth.”

She believed the message Elijah was sharing with her. She believed in the promise of the Messiah, and she believed the true God was the God of Israel.

Jesus today also uses the example of Elisha, the prophet in The Old Testament. In Elisha's day, there were many Israelites who didn't want to listen to Elisha. There were many people in Israel who had leprosy. But, who was it that Elisha cleansed of his leprosy? It wasn't an Israelite, but it was a Gentile. It was a foreigner. It was a man by the name of Naaman. He was an Aramean. He was a good fighter for his king, but he had leprosy. Elisha cleansed Naaman of his leprosy. Having done that, this is what Naaman and all of his servants said to Elisha.

“Now I know

there is no God in all of the world

except in Israel.”

Jesus' own people had rejected that message. The people of Elijah's time rejected that message. The people of Elisha's day rejected that message. But here, two foreigners, the widow of Zarephath, and Naaman the Aramean believed that message.

“Now we know

the true God

is the God of Israel.”

You see, when Jesus came to His hometown, He didn't come there to impress them. Jesus came for more than just the people of His hometown of Nazareth. Jesus came for more than just the people of the Jews. Jesus also came for the Gentiles, which means Jesus came for you. And, it means Jesus came for me.

The two examples we looked at of Elijah and Elisha are cases in which the judgment of God is foreshadowed. So now we have Jesus' Word, God's Word, going forth to all people, to Gentiles as well as Jews.

Well, what did that cause the people to do? Do you remember in verse 22 what I had said?

“And all spoke well of Him,

and marveled at the gracious words

that were coming from His mouth.”

They were all amazed at His gracious words.

Go to verse 28, and see what happened to their response.

“When they heard these things,

all in the synagogue

were filled with


All in the synagogue were furious with Him.

They were furious to think that Jesus would say salvation is for more than just the Jews. It is for the Gentiles. They took Him to the brow of a hill. They drove Him out of the synagogue. They drove Him to the edge of town. And, they were going to push Jesus off the edge of that cliff, and push Him to His death. They went from being amazed at His words, to being furious with Him.

And now we see, Jesus 'revealed' His power to them. Now, the Bible here doesn't tell us how He did it, but it just says Jesus walked through their midst. We are not sure if they were frozen. We are not sure if they just had to back off, because of His power, or if He just walked right through people, on His way through that mob of people. But, Jesus just walked right through, passed through their midst! He 'revealed' His power to them. No human being could do what Jesus did. But, He walked right through them, on His way. He left Nazareth, and He went on His way to Capernaum, where He had preached before.

How does this text play itself out in our lives? Jesus tells us who He is, and Jesus 'reveals' His power to us. I am going to give you an example from the 1800's, and then make it applicable to ourselves today.

In the 1800's, the Norwegians were coming over from Norway, and they were settling in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. One of the places they settled was just 12 miles north of here, and it is an area, or a church called Norway Grove. If you are cruising down the interstate, you can see the church. You can see the cemetery.

One of the pastors there was a pastor by the name Herman Amberg Preus, H.A. Preus. He had been a pastor there for thirty years.

In the 1800's there was a controversy. It was known as the Election Controversy. It was a controversy about how it is that a person is saved.

       -There was one group, the majority group, that said, “We are saved in view of faith”.

       -And then, there was the minority group who said, “We are saved by faith”.

       -The majority group said, “There is a spark of good in some people. And, because of that spark of good in some people, God knows about that, and He will give faith to the person in which there is this spark of faith”.

       -The minority group said, “Scripture says we are saved by faith. I can't come to faith on my own. That is the work of the Holy Spirit, and it is only the Holy Spirit who can bring me to faith to believe in Jesus, as my Savior. We are saved by faith.”

Well, at the church where H.A. Preus had served at for thirty years, (and we might say, in a sense, they were amazed at his preaching for those thirty years), they became so furious with him, because they held that majority view. And, they not only deposed him as their pastor, but they physically carried him out of the church on Good Friday of 1883 They were so furious with him, they physically carried him out of the church, outside of the church! They were angry with him, and they basically did to him what the people of Jesus' own hometown did to Him, driving Him out of the synagogue, driving Him out of the church.

I say this because sometimes, (and here I am talking about me too), sometimes our self-centeredness, and our pride can get in the way of the message of God's Word. Sometimes my self-centeredness, and sometimes my pride can get in the way of what it is that God's Word is teaching me.

Now, this was something that was very difficult for me, early on in my ministry. As I would visit with people, and they would get angry with me over what God's Word said, that was pretty hard on me. And yet, now I realize they were not really furious with me. They were furious at God's Word. They were furious, because of what God's Word says, the truth of what God's Word says. And so, as we see this self-centeredness of our pride, how wonderful it is to know our Savior, Jesus, and God, our Heavenly Father has a forgiving spirit to us!

When H.A. Preus was carried out of his church, he is quoted as saying, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” When Jesus was nailed to the cross on Good Friday, He said,


forgive them

for they know not what they do.”

Have you ever felt rejected in life? Have you ever felt put down, or maybe even deposed? All of us, at different times in our life can say, “Yes”. Well, what attitude can we have? And, what attitude may we have? May we have the attitude of our Savior, Jesus, to be forgiving of others, as He has been forgiving to us.

An 'epiphany' in Nazareth, as Jesus 'revealed' to the people of His own hometown who He was, but also 'revealing' His power.

This is something I want you to think about, during the course of this week. What people, or what “Gentiles” can you 'reveal' Jesus to? During the course of this next week, think about that. What “Gentiles”, what people can you 'reveal' Jesus to, so that Jesus is an 'epiphany' to them?

       -In our Early Learning Center, the staff of our Early Learning Center are able to 'reveal' Jesus to those young children. That is awesome!

       -In our school, the teachers have the wonderful ability to have Jesus be an 'epiphany' to those kindergartners through eighth graders.

       -In our church (like this morning) we have Jesus being 'revealed' to us again, today as true God. It is an 'epiphany'.

During the course of this week, think about those people in your life that you can 'reveal' Jesus to, so that He is an 'epiphany' to them. Take what God's Word has shared with us about our Savior, Jesus. His time had not yet come, during the course of our text for today. But, His time did come. It was at the cross that Jesus showed a very forgiving spirit to us, forgiving us of all of our sin, so that we could have everlasting life with Him in Heaven.