“Sent To None Of Them” ( Luke 4: 25 – 27, ESV ) by Carley Evans

Jesus apparently is not sent to his hometown to perform miracles, but to tell his neighbors that He is not going to be accepted by them. He says to them, “No prophet is acceptable in his hometown.” (Luke 4:24) Then He proceeds to provide two examples of this truth. Jesus speaks of the widows in Israel that Elijah was not sent to “when the heavens were shut up for three years and six months.” (Luke 4:25) Instead Elijah was sent to Zarephath, a widow from the land of Sidon. Jesus also speaks of the many lepers in Israel that Elisha was not sent to cleanse. Instead Elisha was sent “only to Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:27)

Yet, when the Canaanite woman asks Jesus to have mercy on her and drive out a demon from her daughter, Jesus ignores her completely. So, she cries out to His disciples. They beg Jesus to “send her away.” (Matthew 15:23) He says to them (and not to her), “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24) The Canaanite woman persists, saying: “Lord, help me.” (Matthew 15:25) Jesus responds, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (Matthew 15:26) The woman does not appear to be insulted or even surprised by our Lord’s attitude. Instead she agrees with Him. She says, “Yes, Lord.” But then she uses a perfectly logical argument with Him. She continues, “Yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (Matthew 15:27) Jesus is impressed with the level of this Gentile’s faith, and He proclaims, “Be it done for you as you desire.” (Matthew 15:28) He gives her the desire of her heart because of her persistence and her logic.

The Canaanite woman’s persistence, her acceptance of Jesus’ rejection, and her logical argument are opposites from the reaction of the crowd in Nazareth when Jesus finishes reading from “the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.” (Luke 4:17) When Jesus tells His friends and neighbors that He fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah, at first the crowd “speaks well of Him and marvels at the gracious words that are coming from His mouth.” (Luke 4:22) But when Jesus gives examples of how the prophets Elijah and Elisha were sent to persons not within the house of Israel, “all in the synagogue are filled with wrath.” (Luke 4:28)

Jesus’ neighbors “rise up and drive Him out of the town and bring Him to the brow of the hill on which their town is built, so they can throw Him down the cliff.” (Luke 4:29)

Jesus “passes through their midst” and literally leaves them behind. With the Canaanite woman, He turns the tables just as Elijah and Elisha once did; He gives her that which is meant only for Israel, only for the children of God. He gives her the desire of her heart.

8 thoughts on ““Sent To None Of Them” ( Luke 4: 25 – 27, ESV ) by Carley Evans

  1. “No prophet is acceptable in his home town.” Seems very, very true in the case of Jesus. He sure turned out to be unacceptable to Judaism, his ethnic and spiritual home town. Wonder, in his omnipotence, if he had knowledge at the beginning that that was the way it would turn out? He seemed to have knowledge of his impending death well in advance.

    With its direct avowal that God intended Jesus for the Jews this scripture is pretty scary. Ironically, the Jews didn’t take him, but the gentiles did, became Christians, and, in too many cases appear to have taken this scripture as permission to do some really bad stuff–like anti-Semitism. It might well be scripture of this kind that provided firm footing for much of the anti-Semitism that has marred the “goodness” of Christianity almost from the first.

    Take it a bit farther and we can posit Christianity as a “mongrel” religion–made of the “scraps” that fell from the intended table and into the mouths of “dogs.” And, I guess, from a generous point of view, any Christian worth his/her salt would be humble enough not to mind being equated to dogs. Faithful, loving creatures. Would that mankind could rise to their level.

    1. Tom,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Yes, Jesus was intended ONLY for the Hebrews when He came to earth. Now, due to His omniscience; yes, I believe He knew before the creation of the world, that He would be rejected in His “hometown.”
      You need to go further, however, because the New Testament also states that “all Israel will be saved.” Jesus never gave up (and never will give up) on His Jewish brothers and sisters; and most Christians know that Israel is the chosen nation of God. (See Romans 11 – yes, the whole chapter deals with this very issue and quite eloquently, too.)
      Our (i.e. the Gentiles) coming to Jesus is actually designed to make Israel jealous — as a whole, the Jews are supposed to “want what they’ve got.”
      As a matter of fact, the whole world is supposed to want whatever it is that we Christians have that makes us different — like you say — it’d be really swell if we were fundamentally set apart from the world and therefore different in a good way!
      Carley

  2. Tom,
    Since Jesus is speaking here to His closest disciples — the twelve — and of being
    the Good Shepherd, the One who knows His sheep and the One who is known by His sheep, I suspect the “other sheep” are the Gentiles. He must bring them into the fold as well; then “there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16, ESV)

    Paul writes about this uniting of the Jews and the Gentiles into one people of God in his letter to the Ephesians. In Ephesians 2, Paul writes of how the Gentile Christian was once “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God.” (Ephesians 2:12) But Jesus comes and abolishes the Law of commandments…”that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace.” (Ephesians 2:15)

    Therefore, Gentiles — sheep of the other fold — “are fellow heirs, members of the same body; and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (Ephesians 3:6)
    Carley

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