First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, June 26, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Jesus Rejected at His Hometown of Nazareth!”
A couple Sundays ago, we embarked on a journey together to study some of the key places that Jesus visited during His earthly life; places such as Cana of Galilee, Nazareth, Capernaum, Bethany, Bethesda, Mount of Olives, Jericho, Samaria, Caesarea Philippi and many more places. In those places, Jesus performed miracles, restored, hope, gave peace, brought wholeness, and showed God’s mercy and grace like no other Rabbi.
As we explore those places and reflect on the events took place in there, I hope we will get a fresh glimpse of the awesomeness and greatness of our God. A couple Sundays ago, we covered Christ’s visit to a wedding in Cana of Galilee where He stepped in to supply a need. At Cana of Galilee, we have come to learn two great lessons: (1) We all need Jesus. In our best we need His presence. (2) Jesus always offers us the best, the superior. In our life here on earth, we get to see a glimpse of the best that Christ offers though we wouldn’t experience it in full until we get to our Father’s House.
This morning we get to visit Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth. Nazareth was a beautiful small town in lower Galilee. It’s also the birthplace of Mary and Joseph. In Nazareth, Jesus spent His childhood and most of His adult life. I am sure that the people of Nazareth got to hear firsthand the story of the birth of Christ. They must’ve heard what happened in Bethlehem that night. I am sure that the people of Nazareth saw Jesus and his family in the synagogue every Sabbath. They must’ve seen young Yeshua around town. In short, Jesus wasn’t a stranger to Nazareth.
Yet, the story of Nazareth is a sad story. The gospel accounts tell us that Jesus was rejected in Nazareth. Though they knew Him almost all His life, the people of Nazareth showed no interest in the man nor His message. The gospel of Matthew 13:58 tells us that Jesus “Did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” After hearing Him preach, our Scripture this morning from Luke chapter 4:29 tells us, “They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff.”
How could this happen? They knew He was authentic. How come they couldn’t see the love, the grace, and the mercy of God in His words and actions? How could we be so blinded? Two observations that I would like to underscore as we consider Christ’s visit to His hometown of Nazareth:
First: Nazareth Missed Its Opportunity
The sad truth of our story today is that Christ can be right in front of our face, and we still miss Him. For centuries, Israel longed for God’s visitation, they longed for the birth of the Messiah, and when it finally happened, they missed it. The history of the nation of Israel evolved around the coming of the Messiah, and when God fulfilled His promises, they failed to be a part of it. We could be in the middle of it and yet miss it all. How could this happen? Their pride and ignorance blinded them. The people of Nazareth saw the awesomeness of God before their own eyes, still missed it.
In another visit to Nazareth, the gospel of Mark tells us these words in Mark 6:2-3, “When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.”
Yes, Jesus seemed a normal guy walking down the streets of Nazareth. He dressed as a normal Jew and ate what normal people ate. It’s in the normalcy of our lives and even through the hometown preacher that Christ comes to us; speaks to us words of mercy and grace, words of peace and comfort. He walks alongside each one of us in this journey we call life so may we never miss His presence.
Second: Nazareth Lack of Faith
While Nazareth failed to have faith and to recognize God’s visitation, others did. Jesus gives the people of Nazareth two examples of people who showed faith and eventually their faith was rewarded. The first example is the example of the widow of Zarephath found in 1 Kings 17 and the second example is the example of Naaman found in 2 Kings 5. Both the widow of Zarephath and Naaman were Gentiles. They were not Jews. Yet they showed great faith. The widow believed that God would provide for her needs, and He indeed did. Naaman, the commander of the army of Aram believed that the God of Israel can heal his leprosery and God did. The folk of Nazareth missed out on a blessing because of their lack of faith and we could fall into the same trap.
Friends, today we have the choice to either be like the people of Nazareth or like the widow of Zarephath and like Naaman. We either show faith or disbelief; loyalty and commitment or rejection and stubbornness. In the last hundred years, the landscape of the Christian faith has changed so much. Today, what used to be “Christian nations or regions”, including our own country, have largely rejected Jesus Christ but that doesn’t mean the Spirit has stopped working or Christianity has stopped growing. The Spirit is still bringing life, light and liberty to millions in Asia, Africa South America, and so many other places around the world – as they receive Christ and enter His kingdom. In the face of doubt and unbelief, may we have the faith of the widow at Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
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