And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way, and came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power. (Luke 4:28-32 KJV)
I have an old saying that I use all the time that deals with folks who complain about sermons. I use this saying often when identifying those who were convicted but refuse to surrender to God on the issue at hand. Usually it applies perfectly. I always say that when you throw a rock in a pack of dogs the one that yelps is the one you hit.
Now, friends, I never seek to be politically correct nor popular, yet neither do I desire arrogance or cruelty. I do want to tell the truth when I preach and exhort the lost to salvation and the saved to growth in Christ. When you do that faithfully by the whole and inerrant word of God, sometimes folks get mad at you.
Recently I preached a sermon to a group of folks about the subject of encouragement. I was rather frank and I thought the sermon itself was very encouraging. I had no more said “amen” when a lady rushed toward me and began to berate my style – too forthright; complain about my language – she said I talked too fast; question my education – obviously not enough in her opinion; carp about the message – not what people needed to hear; and criticize every other thing she could think of – and believe me, it was a long list. She even told me I ought to shave my beard off! I said to myself, “I know where the rock hit!”
Jesus hit a few dogs in Nazareth! The folks there got so mad that they ran Jesus out of town. They wanted to pitch him off of a hill, but he just walked right through them and on to Capernaum.
God pierces my heart with brokenness when I read this passage. God chastens those whom he loves and he loves this world full of sinners (ref. Revelation 3:19 and John 3:16). He chastens us so that he can show us our sin, point us to Christ who is the solution, and draw us to himself. I become broken at the very thought of God communicating with people and people refusing to respond. I hear his holy voice calling to sinful people; “Come to me all ye who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” The rest he wants to give us is from the bondage of sin. He must point out that which holds us away from him.
The sad thing is that he will call and if we do not respond, he may move on (ref. Romans 11). Now that is a sad thought, but no less a reality. I’ll tell you something I find sad; I can find no record of Christ ever returning to Nazareth after this point. Many people respond to God, but not in brokenness; rather in pride and anger.
How do we respond to convicting messages? They come in many forms; through a preacher, another believer, by bible reading, through times of prayer with other believers, in the singing of good gospel oriented songs, or in our circumstances of life. Just as Jesus did in Nazareth, he is speaking to hearts today. He is calling us on our sins and desiring us to respond in brokenness (see Psalm 51:16-17).
Do you get so mad that you refuse to change? Or, are you open to hear the voice of God and experience transformation? It does no good to get mad at the messenger. One of my former pastors would say that when we encounter God one of two things happen; “You either change or die.” Which will it be? Will we change and draw nearer to him? Will we deny his message and see our relationship with him pass away?
The people of Nazareth got mad; Jesus walked away. The people of Capernaum were astonished; Christ healed there.