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(Thursday, 11/29/07) Parable 1 of the Parabolic Sayings - "Physician Heal Yourself" - Luke 4:23

"Physician Heal Yourself" - Luke 4:23

The Setting
In Luke 3 Jesus is baptized and in 4:1-13 He goes into the wilderness and is tempted by Satan. He then returns to civilization to begin His public ministry. He begins in the synagogue in Nazareth, his home town. He asks for the scroll. They give him the scroll, and he reads from it. In Luke 4:16-19 He reads Isa 61:1-2.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,

Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are downtrodden,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. “ (NASB)

There is a whole lot more we could talk about in this passage, such as why Jesus stopped where he did and didn’t even finish the verse. That suggests that the coming of Messiah would be in two phases. But for our purposes, the passage in Isaiah is about the coming of Messiah. In verse 21 Jesus says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus is plainly stating that He is the Messiah!

What is the response of the people? They say, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” Which means, “This can’t be the Messiah.” This also reveals that they don’t believe in the miraculous birth.

Notice the center of the chiasm. It is above giving sight to the blind. Where is Jesus? In Israel. What is going to be the major problem Jesus faces in his ministry? It is blindness to the truth. What was the center of the chiasm in Matt 13? They could not and would not see.

It is in this context that he quotes the proverb/parable: “Physician, heal yourself.”

The Problem
Why isn’t there a better reception of Jesus in Nazareth? Because they couldn’t accept the fact that someone they grew up with was the Messiah.

The Central Truth
The rejection at Nazareth was a failure to believe in Jesus as more than the son of Joseph. When they say “Physician, Heal Thyself,” they are saying that Jesus is “sick too.” He is no different than the rest of them.
That is the problem today. People do not think that Jesus was anything more than just a good man, a great teacher or something like that. Certainly, they don’t believe that He was God.

They had heard about his healings in Capernaum (vs. 23) and expected him to do the same at home. They are blind to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah who can do what Isa 61:1-2 says He will do. But He cannot do that for those who won’t believe. His home town wouldn’t believe.

He goes on to say, “No prophet is accepted in his home town.” Likewise, Jesus was not accepted as the Messiah in his home town. This is in fact further proof that Jesus is a prophet because they are rejecting him. Throughout history prophets were usually rejected.

Why does he go on to discuss Elijah and Elisha? Because Elijah and Elisha were rejected in Israel and ministered to Gentiles outside of Israel. Jesus was better received by Samaritans and Gentiles. This also fits the theme of Luke’s theology of Gentile opportunity for salvation.

The people understood the references to Elijah and Elisha because they were enraged (vs. 28).

After this, Luke records two miracles which illustrate Jesus bringing relief to the downtrodden (remember the quote from Isa). He casts out demons in Luk 4:31-37 which sounds very much like the first part of the quote about freeing captives. Who is more captive than a demon possessed person? He cures disease in Luke 4:38-44 and a person with a disease in that day was certainly downtrodden. They were considered unclean and alienated. He demonstrates very well that He fulfills the Isa 61 passage.

In chapter 5 Luke begins recording three calls by Jesus for disciples.

The Call of Peter
- He helps the disciples catch a boatload of fish in 5:1-11.
- He heals a leper in 5:12-16
- He heals a paralytic in 5:17-26. These miracles are designed to confirm His authority to the disciples and contrast him with the religious leaders.

The Call of Levi
- 5:27-30 Jesus calls Levi, a tax gatherer, and the Pharisees disapprove of Jesus’ associations.

The Call of the 12
- 6:12-16.

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