Christ used the people of his hometown of Nazareth to teach us valuable lessons in Luke 4. He was gracious and loving enough to share with them the gospel of salvation, but also exposed their hardened hearts in the process to try to bring them to humility. As he drew his sermon to a close he spoke the following words:
23 …Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.
Familiarity breeds contempt, as the saying goes, and the citizens of Nazareth had plenty of contempt to throw at Jesus. They assumed that since they watched Jesus grow up in their midst, it should give them the special advantage of God’s good miraculous graces as if it was owed them. Their expectations to see the Lord’s miracles showered down on them were based on a self-righteous entitlement mentality.
Christ showed them that he had the sovereignty as Lord to choose whomever he pleased to experience his miracles. Based on the examples he used from the Old Testament to make his point, his miracles were done in a way that the Lord knew would have the most impact, even if he chose to bypass the Jews, his chosen people, to do it. The miracles were done for people he foreknew would be humbled by the in the process, making them appropriate vessels for God’s use.
How does this lesson apply to us today? Simply put, we should never assume that we are entitled for the Lord to give us special treatment just because we belong to a certain church, are related to a pastor, priest, or other church official, grew up in a Christian home, come from a wealthy family, or come from a poor family, etc., etc. Ultimately, Christ is interested in people who are humble or can be humbled since it is only when we are abased, or humbled, that God can exalt us through his salvation (Luke 14:11).
When we read past the verses in Luke 4 quoted above, we find that the Lord Jesus Christ was spot on with his assessment of the hearts of his fellow citizens of Nazareth. They were filled with so much pride that instead of humbly repenting of the sins Christ lovingly showed them, they chose to try to murder him instead. But they failed. So the Lord passed out of their midst and they missed out on his blessings because they proved by their actions that they were unworthy. It demonstrates that a self-righteous entitlement mentality can be dangerous to the individual who cultivates that attitude. When unchecked, it can also be a threat to the lives and livelihood of others as it fuels envy, jealousy, and spite that prompts a person to lash out. Lord, give us the wisdom to avoid it.