On hearing this, all the people in the synagogue were enraged.
I. THEIR SUBSTANCE. They were not, indeed, without seriousness, and at times not without severity. Christ did say, when the occasion required it, things which startled his hearers, things which are well fitted to make us pause and even tremble if we are obnoxious to their severity. He is, as a Divine Teacher and Revealer of God, as far as possible removed from the easy good-naturedness which would represent it as a matter of indifference what men hold and how they live, - the "good God" will make it all right in the end. No man can listen attentively and reverently to Christ and settle down into comfortable unbelief or self-complacent sin. Yet were his words predominantly and pre-eminently "words of grace." By the truths he preached he made known to mankind that:
1. God is accessible to all; the Approachable One, who is always willing to receive his children, and who welcomes back those who have wandered farthest away.
2. That a noble life is open to all; we may be in character and spirit, as well as in name and in position, the children of God (Matthew 5:45-48); we are to be "the light of the world," "the salt of the earth."
3. That a glorious future is within the reach of all; "in the Father's house are many mansions."
4. That salvation is very near to all; the Scripture is fulfilled; the Redeemer is come; the blind may see; the captives may be delivered; this is "the acceptable year," "the accepted time;" "to-day is the day of salvation." Or whether we consider -
II. THEIR FORM. There is about the gracious words of Christ:
1. An accent of persuasiveness. He does not angrily threaten, he cordially invites us; he says, winningly, "Come unto me... I am meek and lowly;" "Abide in me, and I [will abide] in you;" "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock," etc.
2. A note of considerateness. "Come into a desert place, and rest awhile;" "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now;" "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
3. A touch of tenderness. "I will not leave you comfortless;" "Because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart."
(1.) It is perilous to abuse the grace of Christ. There is such a thing as "the wrath of the Lamb."
(2.) It is perfectly safe to trust in his grace. He means everything he says; the worst may obtain his mercy, the most diffident may confide in his redemption of his word. - C.
And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath.I. WHO WERE THESE REJECTORS OF CHRIST? They have their types and representatives now.
1. They were those who were nearest related to the Saviour. They were the people of His own town.
2. They were those who knew most about Christ. The whole story of the wondrous Child was known to them.
3. They were people who supposed that they had a claim upon Christ. They no doubt argued, "He is a Nazareth man, and of course He is in duty bound to help Nazareth."
II. WHY THEY THUS REJECT THE MESSIAH.
1. I should not wonder but what the groundwork of their dissatisfaction was laid in the fact that they did not feel themselves to be the persons to whom the Saviour claimed to have a commission. Observe, He said, in the eighteenth verse, that He was " anointed to preach the gospel to the poor." Now, the poorest ones in the synagogue may have felt pleased at that word; but as it was almost a maxim with the Jewish doctors that it did not signify what became of the poor — for few but the rich could enter heaven — the very announcement of a gospel for the poor must have sounded to them awfully democratical and extreme, and must have laid in their minds the foundation of a prejudice. Did not some of them say, "We have worn our phylacteries, and made broad the borders of our garments; we have not eaten except with washen hands; we have strained out all gnats from our wine; we have kept the fasts, and the feasts, and we have made long prayers, why should we feel any poverty of spirit? " Hence they felt there was nothing in Christ's mission for them. When He next mentioned the broken-hearted, they were not at all conscious of any need of a broken heart. They felt heart-whole, self-satisfied, perfectly content. What is the acceptable year of the Lord to us, if it is only for bruised captive ones? We are not such. At a glance you perceive, my brethren, the reason why in these days Jesus Christ is rejected by so many church-going and chapel-going people.
2. I entertain little doubt but what the men of Nazareth were angry with Christ because of His exceeding high claims. He said, "The spirit of Jehovah is upon Me." They started at that. And so men now reject Christ because He sets Himself too high, and asks more of them than they are willing to give.
3. Another reason might be found in the fact that they were not for receiving Christ until He had exhibited some great wonder. They craved for miracles. Their minds were in a sickly state. A young man yonder has said to himself, "If I had a dream, as I hear So-and-so had, or if there should happen to me some very remarkable event in providence, which should just meet my taste; or if I could feel to-day some sudden shock of I know not what, then I would believe." Thus you dream that my Lord and Master is to be dictated to by you! You are beggars at His gate, asking for mercy, and you must needs draw up rules and regulations as to how He shall give that mercy.
4. Again, and perhaps this time I may hit the head of the nail in some cases, though I suppose not in many in this place, part of the irritation which existed in the minds of the men of Nazareth was caused by the peculiar doctrine which the Saviour preached upon the subject of election. He laid it down that God had a right to dispense His favours just as He pleased, and that in doing so He often selected the most unlikely objects. They did not like this. The doctrine of free grace to the needy is ever a stumbling-block to men.
5. They loved not such plain personal speaking as the Saviour gave them.
6. They could not bear to hear Him hint that He meant to bless the Gentiles.
III. And now, WHAT CAME OF IT?
1. They thrust the Saviour out of the synagogue, and then they tried to hurl Him down the brow of the hill. These were His friends, good, respectable people: who would have believed it of them? You saw that goodly company in the synagogue who sang so sweetly, and listened so attentively, would you have guessed that there was a murderer inside every one of their coats? It only needed the opportunity to bring the murderer out; for there they are all trying to throw Jesus down the hill. We do not know how much devil there is inside any one of us; if we. are not renewed and changed by grace, we are heirs of wrath even as others.
2. But what came of it? Why, though they thus thrust Him out, they could not hurt the Saviour. The hurt was all their own.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(T. T. Munger.)
(J. Baring. Gould, M. A.)
(Dr. Geikie.)Dr. Robinson, Captain Conder, and others place the site of Capernaum at Khan Mingeh, a spot of unique interest and beauty. Captain Conder certainly adduces strong reasons in favour of this hypothesis.
(L. Oliphant.)Not far from the banks of the Jordan stands Capernaum (now Tell. Hum), and here we find ourselves in the very centre of the Lord's Galilean ministry. It was at Capernaum that He dwelt. This was the "startingpoint of His journeys, and to this He returned after going about from place to place doing good.
(E. Stapfer, D. D.)
Baxendale's Anecdotes.A lady who excelled in making wax flowers and fruit was often criticised severely by her friends, and her work decried, as she thought, unjustly. She convicted them by showing an apple, which they as usual found fault with, one as to the shape, another as to colour, and so on. When they had finished, the lady cut the apple and ate it.
(Bate's Influence of Mind on Mind.)— A missionary who had been sent to a strange land to proclaim the "gospel of the kingdom of God" and who had passed through many hardships and was often in danger of losing his life, through the persecutions excited against him, came to a place where he had often before, at no small risk, preached Christ crucified. About fifty people who had received good impressions from the Word of God, assembled: he began his discourse; and after he had preached about thirty minutes, an outrageous mob surrounded the house, armed with different instruments of death, and breathing the most sanguinary purposes. The preacher then addressed his little flock to this effect, "These outrageous people seek not you but me, if I continue in the house, they will soon pull it down and we shall be all buried in its ruins, I will therefore in the name of God go out to them and you will be safe. As soon as the preacher made his appearance the savages became instantly as silent and as still as night: he walked forward and they divided to the right and to the left, leaving a passage about four feet wide for himself and a young man who followed him to walk in. The narrator who was present on the occasion goes on to say, This was one of the most affecting spectacles I ever witnessed, an infuriated mob without any visible cause (for the preacher spoke not one word) became in a moment as calm as lambs. They seemed struck with amazement bordering on stupefaction; they stared and stood speechless, and after they had fallen back to right and left to leave him a free passage, they were as motionless as statues. They assembled with the full purpose to destroy the man who came to show them the way of salvation, but he, passing through the midst of them, went his way.
(Dr. Adam Clarke.)
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