Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered October 15, 2011 by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

The Unfinished Sermon

Luke 4:16-19

(RealAudio available)

Jesus Christ did not graduate from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan.  So who is Jesus?  Moslems say that Jesus was a prophet but not as good as Mohamed.  Mormons say that he was a man who became the God of this world.  Buddhists say that he was a wise man.  Jehovah's Witnesses say that he was the first creation of Jehovah. 

Seventh-day Adventists say that Jesus Christ was and is our eternal God.  He is part of the Trinity.  The father, son and Holy Spirit.  Every bit God as the father. 

In John 7  you can see that one day Jesus entered the Pharisee's temple to teach.  John 7:14.  Jesus was not a graduate of their seminary, so they had a problem.  Jesus wasn't born in the right place.  Jesus did not heal on the right day, in the right way.  Jesus did everything wrong, and this bends the teachers out of shape.  The Israelites couldn't stand it.  He can't be the Messiah because we know his latitude and his longitude.  We know his parents.  We know his brothers.  He's from a carpenter shop.  He can't be the Messiah.  There's no way. 

Well, that day Jesus stirred up some wrath.  Now what a preacher says can result in pain or praise, depending on how people take it.  One day after Jesus had been preaching for about a year or two, he decided to go back to his hometown, Nazareth.  It would be good to see his mother and his brothers and his sisters.  Desire of Ages says he had sisters.  Perhaps he wondered if his brothers were still running the carpenter shop.  He looked forward to being in church on Sabbath, and where was he born?  He wasn't born in Nazareth.  He was born in Bethlehem.  But your hometown is not necessarily where you were born, it's where you grew up.  That's your hometown, really. 

As a boy Jesus enjoyed climbing that big hill just outside of town.  From there he could see where Gideon fought and Gideon won.  He could see where Josiah had been killed in battle.  He could see where Jehu had slaughtered Jezebel.  He could see all these exciting things.  His hometown had been a good place to grow up.  A good place to pray and meditate. 

Now that day there was nothing on Jesus' agenda anymore than attending church.  That's what we need to do on the Sabbath.  Look here at Luke 4.  He says that it is his custom.  Luke 4:16.  He went to Nazareth where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue as was his custom.  Jesus had some good habits, didn't he?  He liked to be in church on the Sabbath day.  It was his custom.  Is it your custom?  It's a good thing.  Jesus sets an example for regular worship on the Sabbath day.  In Hebrews 10:25, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.  As we enter the last days. 

Now this particular day Jesus had a very good reason to skip church.  To not go.  There must've been dozens of things that he disagreed with.  He and the Pharisees were not on the same plane at all.  Several things grated on his mind.  Things that went wrong.  And yet he went to church.  It might be far from perfect but he joined himself to God's worshiping people on God's holy Sabbath day.  That's a good thing to do.  You might not agree with everything, but you need to be in church on Sabbath. 

I suspect a very large crowd was there.  They wanted to see Jesus because he was becoming famous with all of his miracles and his teachings, and eventually Jesus himself was asked to read the scroll.  Jesus was given the Isaiah scroll which was handed to him by an elder and Jesus read it in Hebrew and then he paraphrased it in Aramaic, himself.  The Bible should still to this day be read in church.  Attend church with your Bible.  It's a good thing.  Either an electronic Bible or a Bible book. 

This shows his great respect for the Bible.  As he read, the Bible says here in Luke, that he stood to read.  Every time I read the Bible to you I am standing.  Jesus stood to read.  He had great reverence for the Bible.  In fact, the Pharisees had a custom.  They also would stand whenever the law or the prophets were read.  Whenever they would read the writings they would not stand.  But when they read the law or the prophets they would always stand.  Why not the writings.  You know, maybe that's why to this day I don't especially relish red letter Bibles.  To me, you might as well have every word in here red because we ought to read it all.  It's all important.  There's none of it that's more important than the other parts of it. 

Look at Luke 4:17.  It says here, he opened the word.  He opened it.  He unrolled it to Isaiah 61.  The one who would read this section from the prophets was also expected to preach.  Now I'm going to read what Jesus read.  He read Isaiah 61:1 and 2.  I do not want you to read Isaiah 61:1 and 2.  I want you to read Luke 4:18 and 19 and I'm going to read what Jesus read.  I want you to see if there are any differences.  So you're going to be in Luke 4:18, I'm going to be in Isaiah 61. 

The spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.  To proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prisons to them that are bound.  To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God. 

Do you see any differences?  There are several differences aren't there.  Jesus added something about giving sight to the blind.  That's not in Isaiah and Jesus left out the last phrase about vengeance.  Actually Jesus was reading his own personal job description here.  Then in verse 20 of Luke four, he rolled up the scroll.  Why did he do that?  He had reverence for that scroll.  Then he sat down.  He always preached sitting in church on a high chair.  He would sit.  You can read this in Matthew 5:1, Matthew 26:55.  He taught from a chair often times when he was in church.  The crowd was spellbound.  Every eye was focused on Jesus.

We need today to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.  On the speaker when you're in church.  Not on your magazine.  Not on your cell phone.  On the text and not the texting.  The eye affects what the brain thinks about, and so that's what your heart will be.  Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. 

Now Luke 4:21, Jesus started to preach and to explain the meaning of the text.  That particular Sabbath morning was their golden opportunity to accept him as their savior.  This is their chance.  Jesus came to his hometown to try to save them.  How you respond to just one sermon could make the difference in your entire destiny.  Up to this point, Jesus was probably getting fervent amens and praises to God.  We do admire good preaching, as long as it agrees with our opinions, and Jesus could not have chosen a better text. 

In fact, this text was their proof text.  If you were a good Jew back in those days, this text, of all the texts in your Bible, in your scroll, would have been marked there in Isaiah 61.  That's their proof text.  That proved that the Messiah would come as a five-star general, to liberate them from the hated Romans.  Jewish prisoners would be released.  That's what the captive part meant.  Do you get that?  The day of vengeance of God would begin.  In other words, the warrior Messiah, the rambo Messiah would come and would slaughter or subdue all non-Jews and God's true people would finally live happily ever after.  This is their proof text. 

But Jesus didn't use it the way they used it.  When Jesus started to apply the freedom as being free from sin and not to be free from the Romans, the hometown congregation stopped saying amen.  They came unglued as they listened.  He was saying that they were slaves to sin.  He was saying they were blind.  They were poor.  They were prisoners of Satan, not the Romans.  This is all about spirituality.  So often we get mixed up.  They were mixed up.  He had come to help them and set them free, and that's, by the way, what he wants to do today to you, is to set you free from sin.  That's his greatest wish. 

Jesus did not read the very phrase they thought was the most important.  He intentionally left out the words, the day of vengeance of our God.  He left it out.  That's their proof text, proving Jesus would come as a military liberator, slaughtering those hated Romans by the thousands.  Had they all owned Bibles, that would've been highlighted.  So the amens changed to frowns and scowls and it probably started with the self-appointed judges. 

In every church there are self-appointed judges.  They're here today.  They are here to make sure that the good old message is preached.  Some sit to make sure that righteousness by faith is preached.  Others sit to make sure that righteousness by faith is not preached.  Others sit to judge the speaker by some other standard.  I wonder what would happen if we all came hungry and we all just studied our Bibles during the sermon and we all wanted God to save us from the needs of our lives and the sins of our lives.  That's sort of what I think should happen. 

Now look at Luke 4:23.  Jesus said to them, surely you will quote this proverb to me.  He's reading their minds.  This is exactly what they're thinking.  Physician heal yourself.  Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.  This is not what they're saying.  This is what he's saying that they're thinking.  That should have given them evidence right there that he was divine.  He's reading their minds.  But they were thinking, if you are the true Messiah, why don't you heal some of our hometown folks here and just prove it.  There's an old proverb that says, physician heal thyself.  Heal your family first. 

Why couldn't Jesus heal them, by the way, in Nazareth?  Because they didn't have faith.  They didn't believe in him.  Didn't believe at all.  Look at verse 24.  I tell you the truth, he continued, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.  I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time when the sky was shut for three and half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land, and yet Elijah was not sent to any of them but to the widow of Zerapheth in the region of Sidon.  There were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed, only Naaman the Syrian. 

He was saying, you know you're as bad as the Israelites back there in the days of Elijah.  None of the church members of that day offered to feed this great prophet of God, so God sent him to the heathen who were kinder than the Jews.  All the amens had stopped by then.  They probably had some stones in their hands getting ready. 

It's the same today.  Our standing with God does not depend on the amount of light that we have, but upon the use that we make of the light that we do have.  The Jews lived dark lives even though they were given light as bright as 100,000,000 candlepower light bulb.  Jesus was right there.  The light of the world was in their church, and all they could see was that they wanted to kill him.  At this point they were about as mad as a hungry beaver with a toothache.  Every word that Jesus spoke was like a stick thrust into a hornet's nest. 

But Jesus continued.  In verse 27, he said, hundreds of Israelites in Elisha's day had leprosy but the one and only person healed was that heathen man from Syria named Naaman.  That's the only one who was healed. 

That did it.  Here in their own church in Nazareth, Jesus was comparing himself with the great prophet and comparing them with the heathen who bowed the knee to baal.  It seemed that Jesus was saying that the Gentiles had more faith, in Elijah's day, than they did.  A real Jew believed that the Gentiles were created for a purpose.  There's one purpose that God created Gentiles for and that is to fuel the fires of hell.  They were nasty people. 

Every word in Jesus' sermon cut like a knife exposing their own real condition.  He had found to his own.  He was pointing out their sin and I think he would've pointed out the answer, but they disowned him.  Now they were ready to commit murder.  Preachers who step on toes, risk their lives.  Why do we always want to kill those who we mis-judge?  What did Joseph's brothers want to do with Joseph?  What did Saul want to do with David?  Daniel was almost lion food. 

Jesus was next.  I want to read verse 28 according to The Clear Word.  When the people heard Jesus say that non-Israelites had more faith than they did,  they took it as a gross insult and instantly turned against him.  Jesus had a problem on his hands.  Verse 29.  All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.  He had stirred up their wrath.  With zealous tempers flaring they stood to their feet shouting at him.  These legalists were out to kill him so they had to temporarily suspend the sixth Commandment, thou shall not kill.  This is more important.  That is negated here for the moment.  We're going to kill him.  Killing was okay.

So they dragged him from the synagogue, through the streets to the brow of the hill outside the city that the city was built on and they were determined to push him off headfirst and kill him.  They were going to kill the Savior.  The Savior was in their own pulpit.  In their own church, and they were going to kill him because they didn't agree with what he said. 

Do we get that mad?  Do we have tempers like that?  You may say, no we don't.  Then why are we wearing these purple ribbons today?  There are a lot of people who are very violent and very much out of control and this Sabbath we are trying to emphasize here in our church, no violence.  Does that make sense?  Let's be at peace with the preacher.  Let's be at peace with our wives.  Life is short.  We don't have time to hate.  Let's love each other.  Let's be tender to each other and kind to each other.  Let's be like Jesus would be to us and not like the devil wants us to be. 

Well Jesus never had a chance to finish the sermon.  That's why the title of this sermon today is The Unfinished Sermon.  Because Jesus never had a chance to finish it.  I think that his sermon, I firmly believe, that he was establishing their need, their sinful condition and then I think Jesus would have appealed to their hearts to change.  What a reformation could have happened that day in Nazareth, on that Sabbath morning. 

Jesus had lived in that town 25 years.  About the same length of time I've been here at McDonald Road.  That's a long time.  Jesus had lived in that town 25 years but until Jesus lives in your heart there isn't going to be any change.  You can attend church here year after year.  You can listen to sermon after sermon after sermon, but folks, unless Jesus Christ is in your heart, you are a heathen.  You are lost.  It isn't just because you're sitting here.  It's because Jesus is sitting there, in your heart.  I want you, as your senior pastor, all of our pastors, we want you to give your hearts to Jesus.  To have him establish residence inside your heart.  That's what we want as pastors. 

Jesus came to them.  That's what he wanted.  He wanted to live in their hearts, but their hearts were about as hard as granite.  These people in church that day, they had murder in their eyes. 

Jesus was sitting down as he preached and they all jumped up to their feet.  There was no fair hearing.  There was no trial.  They grabbed him and they dragged him off.  They drove him out of town.  Not in some nice limousine.  They drove him out of town and it's a wonder, honestly, that fire did not fall from heaven and devour them.  I am surprised that this didn't happen.  But it didn't.  That mob carried Jesus out to the same hill that Jesus had come to as a boy to pray.  They drove him out of town and they took him to that hill where he as a boy had prayed and there was a brow on that hill overlooking a steep precipice, and their purpose was to put him to death.  To kill him.  Throw him headfirst to the rocks below and some, maybe, were throwing stones already. 

So what happened here in verse 30?  But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.  How did that happen?  How could he do that?  The Spirit of Prophecy tells us what happened.  Angels shut him in their midst and he became invisible and they couldn't find him, and he just walked right on through and went about his father's business. 

I love that text in the Bible in Psalm 34:7.  The angel of the Lord encamps around about those who fear him, who love him, and what does he do?  He delivers them.  That's what the Angels did for Jesus that day.  Those wicked church members in that synagogue there in Nazareth, could no more stop the son of God than they could stop the sun from shining.  It wasn't his time.  His time had not come.  The Angels delivered him. 

Why is it that every time Jesus tries to come home to Nazareth he has such a rough time?  Why is it that every time Jesus tries to come home to your heart he has such a rough time?  We say, well we just don't have time right now, Jesus.  I've got all these appointments.  I don't have time to read your word.  I don't have time to have worship this morning or to have prayer.  So we pray at bed time and we're sleepy and we can hardly keep our eyes open and we don't have time for God.  We have time to get on the ham radio.  We have time to get on the computer.  We have time to go to other places that are important to us, but we don't have time for Jesus.  There's a problem there.  A real problem. 

You've got to take time and allow Jesus to come into your heart.  Do you really listen to the whole sermon, or do you jump to a conclusion?  Do you turn to that still small voice or do you turn the still small voice off before it has a chance to melt your heart?  This unfinished sermon.  Let Jesus preach his full sermon to you. 

Only one more time did Jesus ever return to his hometown and that was toward the end of his ministry.  Once more they did not accept him and he went away never to return. 

Imagine the headlines in the local Nazareth Times that next day.  Congregation expels guest speaker and tries to execute him.  That would be quite a story.  Imagine the headlines if they would've listened to the whole sermon and responded properly.  These headlines would've been, Local carpenter's son converts entire church congregation.  Whole church becomes Christians.  That's what Jesus wanted.  That's what could've happened. 

Imagine what could happen if Jesus came into your heart 100% today.  Accept Jesus as your Savior.  Make time for Jesus.  He made time for you.  You can take the world, but I'll take Jesus.  If you take Jesus, you'll have the world.  You'll have everything if you put Jesus first in your life.

Hymn of Praise: #227, Jesus Shall Reign
Scripture: Luke 4:16-19
Hymn of Response: #329, Take the World, but Give Me Jesus
Sermon Notes:  Sermon notes available as PDF

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 10/23/11