Matthew R. Perry

When a Good Sermon Turns Ugly, Part I

In Preaching, Sermons on February 5, 2008 at 12:36 pm

(This sermon was preached on Sunday, February 3, 2008, at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. To listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here. You can also read over the Introduction.)

Young ministers make the hometown people so proud, don’t they? Some of you know firsthand how that is. You see a young man from the community, whether they are raised in the church or live in the community, and then God places the call not only of salvation but also of ministry on their lives. From that point on, you keep seeing how God is powerfully moving in them.

Jesus was that young minister who made them so proud. Luke 4:14-15 says,

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. [15] And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

By the time Jesus came to preach at his hometown, he had been ministering for about a year. Word had gotten around about his powerful preaching in the synagogue. In Jesus’ time, the synagogue system was firmly established. Synagogues were referred to as “houses of instruction” because rabbis (either a full-time one for that synagogue, or a part-time traveling one) would stand up, read through a passage, and then exposit and explain what this passage referred to! Jesus began doing this in Galilee and word of Jesus spread around.

‘And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up.’ He’s a pretty powerful expositor! And the reading for the day is a good one! One of the promised Messiah who would come to deliver his people. In fact, this reading was from Isaiah 61:1-2 — a highly-charged passage prophesying about the Messiah coming and what he would accomplish.

In this, he addresses four areas: the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed. Each of these areas deal with a spiritual issue. One of the verses to the hymn Just As I Am describes these issues perfectly.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

We understand that the issues Mrs. Elliot refers to are spiritual issues. Same with this passage that Jesus read from. Yet, the people listening to him thought he may be talking of cultural and political issues of the time. They were monetarily poor because of the oppressive nature of the Roman government’s taxation. They were captive to Roman law, which they resented. And this deliverer would come along and help them. So naturally, when Jesus read this, they were glad.

That is until Jesus began to interpret what it meant. In verse 20-22, we read: Luke 4:20-22

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. [21] And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” [22] 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?” (Luke 4:20-22, ESV).

The sad thing about our fleshly inner workings is that we tend to look more at the messenger than we do the message. Their first reaction was right — what gracious words he spoke! Then they thought about who He was — and a path was laid before them. Continue to accept the words He spoke and allow them to probe, or reject.

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  1. […] KY. To listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here. You can also read over the Introduction , Part I and Part […]

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