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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Fourth Sunday After Epiphany
Series C

Option #1: "Attempted Murder at the Nazareth Synagogue!"
Luke 4:21-32

Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

INTRODUCTION: If there had been police radio in Jesus’ time and people listening on scanners, they would have heard that there was an attempted murder near the Nazareth synagogue. It was yet another example of religious fervor reaching a murderous boiling point. But Jesus’ time had not yet come. Let us investigate the incident in question.

 I. The near-victim was Jesus, foster son of Joseph, one of the speakers for the day

    A. He claimed in His message to be the One of whom Isaiah wrote--4:18-20, Prov 25:11; Isa 50:4, Mk 6:2ff, John 7:46

    B. They rejected His claims to be the Messiah because of their familiarity with Him--Matt 13:54-58; John 6:42; but He is God come down from the Father to appear in human flesh--John 1:14, 5:31-40, 8:21-27

 II. The trouble began when He refused to perform a miracle because of their faithless state--text, vv23-27, Matt 13:57-58; Mark 6:4-5

III. The attempted murder took place upon the brow of the hill where Nazareth was built--text, v29

    A. He walked through the crowd and went on his way--v30, John 8:59, 10:34-39, 18:6-7

    B. His time had not yet come--Mark 14:41

    C. His teaching ministry had just begun--text, vv31-32, Matt 4:13ff, 7:29; Mark 1:21ff

Albert Barnes: Luke 4:28; filled with wrath--they were enraged, probably for the following reasons:

    1. They saw that the cases applied to themselves because they would not receive the miraculous evidences of his mission;

    2. That he would direct his attention to others and not to them;

    3. That the "Gentiles" were objects of compassion with God, and that God often showed more favor to a "single" Gentile than to multitudes of Jews in the same circumstances;

    4. That they might be "worse" than the Gentiles; and,

    5. That it was a part of his design to preach the gospel to the Gentiles and not confine his labors to them only.

On these accounts their favor was soon turned to wrath, and the whole affair shows us:

    1. That popular applause is of little value;

    2. That the slightest circumstances may soon turn the warmest professed friendship to hatred; and,

    3. That people are exceedingly unreasonable in being unwilling to hear the truth and profit by it.

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An old friend of mine loves to tell this story--and I do too: There was a man who thought he was dead. His friends tried to prove to him that he could not possibly be dead, well, for one reason, he was walking around and talking to people. Dead men don’t do that. But he wouldn’t listen to them.

So they tried something else. They told him that dead men do not bleed. You have to have a heart beating in order to bleed, and dead men have no heartbeat. They brought him many textbooks that a doctor would study. They put paper clips marking the pages of each book which proved once and for all that DEAD MEN DO NOT BLEED.

Finally he told them: "I’m not going to read another word. I am convinced that DEAD MEN DO NOT BLEED!" This was the moment that his friends had been waiting for. One of them had a needle in the sleeve of his suit coat. He took the needle and poked his friend in the wrist and the blood started to flow.

The man looked down and his face was turning white. Finally he said, "I would never have believed it. DEAD MEN BLEED AFTER ALL!"

When Jesus told a story, it always had a meaning to it. Here is the meaning to this little story. It’s easy for us to avoid believing the truth if there is a reason we don’t want to believe it. There are people who don’t believe in hell because they are afraid of going there. Jesus tells us that He came here to save those who were lost. There are people who can’t believe that God created all things, even though we see His fingerprints, His design, the beauty of His work, all around us. There are parts of the Bible people just don’t want to believe, and like the man who thought he was dead, they just won’t believe it, even though the Bible says it is true in 20 different places. When Jesus gave a message at Nazareth, people got so angry with Him that they tried to kill him!

So I tell you, believe God when He tells you something, even though you may not want to do what He wants you to do. Obey Him and He will bless you in ways that you can’t imagine right now. Walk with Jesus all the way and you will never be sorry that you did.

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Option #2: "Between The Rock And A Hard Place"
Jeremiah 1:4-10
Rev. Kelly Bedard., B.A., M.Div.

The Point: God has an eternal plan for your life as a prophet in His Kingdom
The Problem: false humility, pre-occupation with eloquency, knowledge and maturity
The Promise: God is with us and will ultimately rescue us from all trials and temptations
1. God isn't [necessarily] looking for people of ability but of availability. God calls people to work in the power of His Spirit, not in their own strength. (Chuck Smith)
2. Others may be between a rock and a hard place, but God's chosen ones are always between THE Rock and a hard place. 
(Joyce Meyer)
3. God's knowledge of us is both affectionate and effective, embracing intellect, emotion, and will. (Theodore Laetsch)
4. [The prophet] is placed [over the nations and over the kingdoms] for a twofold purpose, that of destruction and construction. The destruction of the proud nations must come first; their self-satisfaction, their pride, their opposition to the true God, must be utterly destroyed before really constructive work can begin. (Theodore Laetsch)
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