Category Archives: Luke

Luke 5:17-26

Who can forgive sins but God alone?


Luke has carried us from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and the calling of his first disciples with examples of his preaching, his healing and his casting out impure spirits. Crowds have come to him to hear the word of God and individuals have left everything to follow him. He has welcomed the attention but also resisted unnecessary and misdirected praise by regularly taking solitude to meditate and pray.



  • 17-19 A man brought to Jesus
  • 20-21 A man who can forgive sins?
  • 22-26 A man walks out forgiven

17-19 A man brought to Jesus

“One day…” An obvious thing to mention, I know, but these types of words mark the beginning of a new story. ‘One day’ means a brand new event that doesn’t directly relate to the one before it, while ‘after this’ draws attention to an event that followed. Yes, obvious, I said that but it helps to notice how the bible is put together and the bulk of it is in story form.

“Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there.” This is the first introduction by Luke to the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Forgetting what we think we know about these men, Luke tells us that they had come from all over Judea to listen to Jesus. This speaks again of Jesus’ growing reputation and he had pricked the ears of those who knew their bibles like scholars. Teachers of the law were like lawyers of religion who knew the Old Testament and made decisions on how to apply the Old Testament in specific areas of life. Pharisees were a certain breed of Jew who took their bibles seriously and applied every letter to their lives. Although we must not assume that they are bad guys and let the story lead us, they will show themselves to be hard against Jesus’ teaching in the long run.

“…the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.” It is strange to think that there might be times when the power of the Lord not be with Jesus. Isn’t he the Son of God through whom the universe was made? How can he have limited powers? Luke is preparing us as the reader for Jesus to do something powerful in this story and to say that perhaps he was already healing people that day. This would explain why the men in the story will be so desperate to get their friend to Jesus. Today was a healing day for Jesus. (See Luke 6:19 also).

“Some men came carrying a paralyzed man…” The context of this story is set and now we are ready for the adventure. A man is paralyzed and being brought to Jesus who is ready to heal.

“When they could not…they went up on the roof…lowered him…right in front of Jesus.” Notice the determination of the men and the desperation they displayed to have their friend get to Jesus. When they met an obstacle, they pushed harder to find a way. This is the type of attitude we ought to have about meeting with Jesus and mending our souls. The men could easily have abandoned their mission if they either didn’t see a great problem to be solved nor knew that the solution was just inside that house.

20-21 A man who can forgive sins?

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said…” The man on the mat has not been the centre of attention until now. It is the four friends who carried him who showed their faith. Jesus saw it. James 2:14-26 instructs us to have faith that is seen – because there is no other type of faith! The word means TRUST and you cannot simply trust in theory. If the man and his friends had stayed at home, believing that Jesus could heal, but not leaving home to act – where is their faith?

“…friend, your sins are forgiven.” The paralyzed man must have shared the faith of his four friends. The startling part of this story though is that after all this effort in coming to Jesus, the Lord grants him forgiveness! No healing. Just forgiveness. This is a clear illustration of what Jesus deems to be more important to a person.

“Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy?” The folk who knew their bibles back to front tapped into a clear issue in this event. Jesus of Nazareth has just declared a fellow man’s sins to be forgiven. They heard clearly that Jesus is putting himself on equal footing with God – able to pardon men of crimes of the soul. This is the foundation of our Christian faith – that Jesus is God.

22-26 A man walks out forgiven

“Jesus knew what they were thinking…” It seems to be more than a case of “I know what you’re thinking” but a case of Jesus understanding the hearts and responses of these men. Jesus knew what is in a man and had understanding beyond any other mere mortal.

“Which is easier…” Jesus lays down a simple test of logic for the men. Anyone can say a crazy thing like “your sins are forgiven” and pretend to know what others are thinking. But here is the test. If he can make this person walk with just his words, that would be pretty good evidence that his words mean something. In other words, he can’t prove that the man’s sins are forgiven – they need to believe that. But he can order the man to walk and that will either be proved right or wrong straight away. As a claim to be made, it is harder to say ‘get up and walk’ than it is to say ‘your sins are forgiven.’

“But I want you to know…” Here Jesus announced bluntly what he wants the crowd to learn that day. Not that he can heal – they all knew that. He has already done that over and over. He wants the crowd to increase their understanding of his character, authority and identity. He is able to forgive sins. He knows what is going on in their hearts and he wants them to know that he is able to forgive sins.

“Son of Man” This title encampasses a few things simaultaneously. It speaks of Jesus’ humanity. That’s what the title at face value tells us. He is a child of the human race. But this title took on another layer of meaning in the books of Ezekiel and Daniel. In Ezekiel, it is used repeatedly to refer to the man of God who was sent to speak to the people of God. In Daniel, a vision is given to this prophet of someone like a ‘son of man’ who is equal with God, standing in his presence. Jesus identifies himself as a type of man who is equality with God.

“Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.” As easy as speaking, Jesus could undo the permanent damage of this man’s legs and restored to full strength. Not only is the fault removed but muscle tone is given! The man came to Jesus with faith and left with strengthened faith in God!


Jesus is greater than a teacher of the law and his concern for humanity is more than skin deep. He knows what our hearts are thinking and has the power to forgive sins in response to faith. From our perspective, we need to see coming to Jesus as the highest calling in our life. From Jesus perspective, Forgiveness of sins is of greater importance than any other need we have. We need to praise God that our sins can be forgiven and that Jesus can make us right with God.


  • Topic A: Making every effort to save our souls. Just as the men worked hard and earnestly to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus, we ought to make no excuses for putting our life with Jesus first. Prayer, bible reading, church and Christians fellowship are means of grace through which God blesses us and grows our faith. How often do we allow other things in life to get in our way and without much of a battle from us, we neglect them. How important is your soul to you?
  • Topic B: Jesus is able to forgive sins because he is God. He is not our mate or equal. He is our saviour and Lord and we need him or else our sins cannot be forgiven. The cross is the means by which we can be forgiven but it is God’s favour on us that grants us the forgiveness. Remembering our sins before God is a valuable discipline. Read 1 John 1:8-9 and enjoy the knowledge that Jesus forgives sin.
  • Topic C: Jesus knew what they were thinking. Let’s never forget that our God operates on the level of the heart and not on external appearance. There are no secrets that we can keep from him. We may easily fool our fellow man on how we are going in life but God knows better. This truth gives us further motivation to walk closely with our God. He already knows what is going on in our hearts so share more honestly with him about our hopes and worries, our angers and our desires.

Prayer of the Week

Our Father in heaven, we praise you that you know us and you know our greatest needs. Please help us to persevere in our relationship with you. To create time to read your word and to pray earnestly with you. Give us hearts that desire to know you and rejoice because we are forgiven. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Luke 5:1-16

So they left everything and followed him.


Checking off where Luke has brought us so far, we know that Jesus is the promised Messiah who will bring freedom and redemption to God’s people. The birth of Jesus and of John were both surrounded by acts of God and promises fulfilled and the baptism of Jesus introduced the 30 year old child of Mary as a man approved by God. Ready for ministry and proven to reject the tests of the devil, Jesus began preaching in Synagogues around Judea and people were blown away by his words, saying that he spoke with authority and power. People equally loved his ability to heal and cast out impure spirits. Word of Jesus was spreading fast and he was freely able to speak although not everybody loved what he had to say. This man from a poor family in Nazareth was making an impression on all the people in the country areas of Galilee.



  • 1-5 Jesus takes on fishing
  • 6-11 Jesus takes on a fisherman
  • 12-13 Jesus is willing to heal
  • 14-16 Jesus is forced to be a healer

1-5 Jesus takes on fishing

“One day…” We don’t need to know the exact moment of this story and it doesn’t follow directly from the last. It was just one day.

“…by the Lake of Gennesaret…” This is Lake Galilee.

“…the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God.” While he had gained his reputation preaching in Synagogues, people were seeking him out now. We are not given any impression that he drew a crowd to himself but rather than a crowd gathered and he spoke to them. Although Jesus IS the Word of God (John 1:1), it is best to understand Jesus as simply speaking to the people about all that is written in the Scriptures and explaining what it means. We know that his preaching was about the Kingdom of God (Luke 4:43) and that he will use story-telling and parables to persuade his hearers of the truths of the kingdom but he also uses the Scriptures to teach (Luke 4:4, 8, 10, 17-21; 24:27).

“He saw…two boats…got into one of them…” Nothing spiritual to get out of this but they clearly belonged to Simon Peter and his fishing partners James and John Zebedeeson :o) (Luke 5:10). Also that Jesus has previously met Simon (Luke 4:38; 5:5) and so is not simply stealing some boats.

“…put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.” Again, Jesus is just being practical. When the crowd had grown, he saw a good place to preach from – a makeshift platform. See Matthew 13:2.

“…Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” What was Jesus’ motivation here? Surely the answer lies in the end result of the story: that Peter is blown away and ready to leave everything for Jesus! The request was for Peter to get a catch but really Jesus was fishing for Peter. Not such a clever pun when we later hear Jesus use the same joke (Luke 5:10)

“Simon answered, “Master”” Why does Simon call him master (Luke 8:24,45; 9:33, 49; 17:33)? It is a phrase of respect to someone of higher status. It is not the same word Simon uses in verse 8 which means and is translated as ‘lord’. Simon calls Jesus Master several times in the gospel but Lord only in verse 8 after being dreadfully impressed and after the resurrection (Luke 24:34). Jesus is not just a travelling preacher to Simon. They know each other to some extent, Jesus rescued his Mother-in-law from death, and Simon speaks to him with respect and obedience.

The story here had begun as another moment for Jesus to impress a crowd but has turned into a fishing expedition. The question is: what is Jesus doing?

6-11 Jesus takes on a fisherman

“When they had done so…” Not such and incidental phrase. We see in the context of this story that Simon Peter worked alongside other men (5:9) and was a business partner (5:10) but also that what he was willing to do was easily adopted by his workers. This makes Simon Peter a leader.

“…such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” Note that this is the first of two occasions we know of where Jesus performs a large-fish-catch miracle. The other is recorded in John 21 but they are clearly two different events. We mustn’t merge the two stories together to get an incorrect account but knowing that Jesus did this at the beginning of his ministry perhaps helps us understand something of its repeat after the resurrection. Namely, that Jesus wants the same men to get back to the mission.

“…filled both boats so full that they began to sink.” Talk about overkill! Just a large catch wouldn’t be enough to know that this was a miracle! When Jesus wanted to demonstrate his authority to Peter, he chose to control the very environment that Peter was used to mastering. Jesus not only fired a shot to get Peter but he filled two guns and unloaded the whole magazine on him! I can testify that when Jesus means to call a sinner to himself, he doesn’t mess around.

“When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said…” This is surely the whole reason Jesus sent Peter on this fishing trip! He wanted Peter to surrender his future to him. The reaction from Peter is astounding. He doesn’t just see a clever man but the Lord his God. Now, I’m not suggesting that Peter knew Jesus to be God there and then, but he certainly sees Jesus on a whole different level to himself! He acknowledges that Jesus is sinless. He is blessed and sent and empowered by God.

“…and so were James and John…” While Simon Peter is the focus of this calling, we see that he got not just one but three men who formed the triple centre core of his ministry team (Luke 9:28).

“Don’t be afraid…” Jesus is about to invite Peter on an adventure of a lifetime – he will help change the world! But the show that Jesus just performed for Peter was not to scare him, but to convince him that he will be leaving everything for the right future. Jesus hasn’t come to condemn a sinner such as Peter but to call him to follow.

“…from now on you will fish for people.” ‘Catch’ is the word better used since it pictures living fish being gathered rather than fish approaching a hook and the fisherman waiting for a bite. In a very effective way, Jesus has persuaded a bunch of professional fishermen that they can commit their future to him. He didn’t just ask them to follow him but told them what type of business they will be involved in. He doesn’t ask them at all! He knows that this is what they will do!

“So they…left everything and followed him.” What a picture of discipleship! There comes a point when dancing around Jesus and church needs to change and a person must surrender everything to him. Is this to be taken as a prescription for Christians? That we walk away from everything and become solid disciples of Jesus? No and Yes. No because this is Simon Peter’s story and not a prescription for us. Yes because we are so eager to keep hold of ourselves, our reputation, our identities, our ambitions, our incomes and our self-importance and only give Jesus our thanks and cries for help when needed. A disciple of Christ (any Christian) must ask constantly, what am I refusing to let go of. Or, what do I love more than being a follower of Christ?

12-13 Jesus is willing to heal

“…a man…covered with leprosy.” The only description needed of this man was his illness. Leprosy was a disease which needed to be quarantined. It is a broad term which meant more than what we refer to as leprosy today. See Leviticus 13 for a lengthy description of all sorts of skin diseases and especially 13:45-46 for the religious, social and spiritual consequences. A leper was unclean, unable to engage with God in the Temple and cast away from society. This man was covered in skin disease. When it came to being an outcast, this guy was king.

“While Jesus was in one of the towns….[a leper] saw Jesus…” Begs the question how a leper spotted Jesus while inside the town unless the town was willing to live with men of this illness. Jesus is in the northern remote towns of Judea. It just says something about where Jesus was doing ministry.

“…begged him, “Lord, if you are willing…”” This is a literal example of prayer. A man coming to the Lord and begging to be heard and helped. See Psalm 4 as an example of this. It’s not a man of great faith we are seeing here but a man who is pleading earnestly to a great man of God. “Lord” is simply a term of high respect to someone above your status.

“Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.” I love that he touches him before he answers the question. Picture someone holding out an insect and asking you as a dare, “are you willing to eat this?” and you answer first, “I am willing” and then proceed slowly to touch the insect and your face screwed up in disgust! But Jesus touches the man and then speaks. Are you willing to eat this insect? GULP “You bet”.

“I am willing…” Note that Jesus’ ability is never in question here but simply his desire. If God is willing to heal, he can heal. If God is willing to forgive, he can forgive! Our relationship with God must not be on the basis of whether he is able to do, but whether he is willing and our duty is to come to him in prayer.

“…immediately the leprosy left him.” It’s been noted earlier that Jesus’ ministry is not veiled in half miracles. Even the fishing trip was Jesus blowing the minds of fishermen. Jesus is no two-bit magician or conjurer. He is, and Luke needs us to be confident of this, the Holy One of God.

14-16 Jesus is forced to be a healer

“Don’t tell anyone…” The priority for Jesus at this point in his ministry was not to keep growing his healing ministry. He wasn’t trying to stay unheard of but he had better plans for this man…

“…go, show yourself to the priest…” See Leviticus 14 about the religious response to recovering from a skin disease. Jesus knew the Mosaic Law and did not wish to abandon it. The right response for this man now was to do what is lawful in the eyes of men and God. Jesus told him that doing this is a testimony to the priests. They ought to see what Jesus is doing.

“Yet the news about his spread…” Despite Jesus wanting the man to go discreetly to the priests, the news of this healing could not be contained. Many people flocked to Jesus as a result.

“But Jesus often withdrew…” As noted in the last study, it was important for Jesus to keep connected and meditative with God in order to stick to what is important and true. Jesus demonstrates what it looks like to be determined and stay the path despite the pulls and attention of people.


In the midst of a “crowd rush” Jesus honed in on one man to become a committed follower and in the midst of second “crowd rush” Jesus was determined to stay connected and directed by his personal communion with God. He was a man focused on his mission and determined not to be swayed by the whims or motivations of the people. Peter shows us what it looks like to surrender everything to follow Jesus and the leper shows us what it looks like for someone who has nothing to come to Jesus and find life.


  • Topic A: Leaving everything for Jesus. When you think of leaving everything for Jesus do you picture going overseas as a missionary? Or do you picture, rather, regarding no other relationship or thing as more valuable than serving Jesus where you are at? Read Philippians 3:7-11 and consider what “gains” you may be still clinging to. Peter seemed to drop everything and leave it where it was to follow his Lord. He didn’t wait to tie up loose ends or finish something else he had started. Is this the type of response you are making to Christ?
  • Topic B: Praying as pleading. Peter bowed his knees to Jesus and the leper begged him for healing. Psalm 4:1; 27:7; 69:16; 86:7; 102:2. These passages describe prayers as cries for help and pleading for God to listen. They also purvey a trust that God is the only real source of help and the One they can turn to for help. Genesis 4:27 is perhaps the first evidence of prayer to God and it is described as calling on the name of the Lord (to be saved from the curse of sin). Philippians 4:6 tells us to petition God and 1 Peter 5:7 instructs us to cast our worries on God because he cares. All of these help us to treat prayer as a passionate, persistent plea to God for help. Are your prayers directed in this way?
  • Topic C: Gaining everything. The leper was an outcast and destined for an early grave. He could not participate in going to the Temple to worship and offer sacrifices. But he could come to Jesus and he was willing to restore his health and his soul. We can talk about leaving everything for Jesus but we must confess that we gain everything too. This world is passing away and the world trains us to make something of ourselves when the fact is that anything we achieve will be short lived. The chances are that you are not going to be famous or rich or important in the world’s eyes. But you are important to God and knowing him through Jesus is the only reward that is important. Christians call this finding your “identity in Christ” and not in what you can make of yourself. The former is eternal while the latter is like mist (Ecclesiastes). Read Colossians 3:1-4 for our view of everything in Christ.

Prayer of the Week

Lord Jesus Christ, our Master and our friend, thank you for showing us your true nature and allowing us to worship you as Lord of all. We praise you for your love, kindness, power and authority. Help us to forsake all for the pursuit of knowing you. Teach us to walk with you daily and to trust you in all of life’s circumstances. Hear our prayers Lord. Amen.

Luke 4:14-30

Yet not one of them was cleansed.


Jesus grew up in Galilee with his earthly parents, Mary and Joseph. He impressed the Jewish teachers at a very young age but waited until about 30 before his public ministry would begin. Jesus was blessed by God the Father and the Holy Spirit on the day he was baptised by John. He was full of the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit into the wilderness where he was tested and approved like no other person ever before him. The devil, failing to persuade Jesus to bow to him, fled to wait for an opportune moment to return.



14-21 The preaching ministry of Jesus

22-30 The hometown reaction

14-21 The preaching ministry of Jesus

“Jesus returned to Galilee…” We know very well that this is the region of Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth (Luke 1:27, 2:4, 39, 51). Jesus had gone to the Jordon and been baptised, then to the wilderness, and had begun to preach in various places before returning to Nazareth (see 4:23). The area of Galilee included Capernaum, the Jordan, Lake Galilee and Nazareth (

“…in the power of the Spirit…” As mentioned in the previous passage, this speaks to us of how he is walking with God and not independently nor aimlessly.

“…news about him spread through the whole countryside.” From a narrative point of view, we are being told that Jesus is becoming somebody. People are taking notice of him. Luke is telling us without giving us all the details that Jesus had become a public figure and not hiding his voice any more. Matthew expands a little on events that happened during this time.

“He was teaching in their synagogues…” There were many synagogues but only one Temple. It is easiest to think of the synagogue as the local gathering centre for learning about God and for regular worship whereas the Temple was unique and designed for worship and sacrifice. Jesus was being treated and addressed as someone equipped and worthy to preach. [*** find a quote or something to explain what is the custom here ***]

“…and everyone praised him.” It’s funny how we use words in different ways and need to remember how words capture ideas for us. Praise, bless, worship and glorify and four different words which we can use quite easily of God. But we can praise our children for being obedient. Jesus is being received with joy and approval by the people at this point. NB how people can receive Jesus and yet not receive him entirely. We and Jesus are not seeking simple approval but to receive Him as Lord. By the end of this story, the people in his home town will be ready to kill him. In verses 14-15 we are introduced to the ministry of Jesus in the greater area of Galilee where he was, by and large, accepted and approved. We then move to his hometown of Nazareth.

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up.” This sentence gives us the image of a community who watched Jesus grow. They are familiar with his family. This is the privileged township who spent 30 years with the Messiah! Ten times longer than Jesus’ ministry lasted. How will the people who lived with the promised child respond when the mature Jesus brings them the good news? We shall see that Luke’s point is that the gospel will be more effective abroad than among those who presume to know.

“…as was his custom…stood up to read.” It was Jesus’ habit to attend synagogue on the Sabbath day. It may not have been his custom or regular weekly habit to read but he got up to read on this Sabbath. [*** something about customs in the synagogue on a Sabbath ***]

“…found the place where it was written…” Although the scroll of Isaiah was chosen for him, he deliberately found this piece of scripture to read.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” The scripture read is from Isaiah 61:1-2. Jesus read from what is known as the LXX which is a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures and differs to suggest that it was originally translated from manuscripts that differ from the Hebrew ones we have access to.

“…the year of the Lord’s favour.” This refers on one level to the year of Jubilee as described in Leviticus 25 where the nation of Israel is to reset all trades and sales that have happened in the previous 50 years. But as Isaiah uses it, is a prediction of God’s restored stated in an age to come.

“…gave it back …sat down…all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him.” It was expected that he would speak to the room concerning the passage just read. The tension in the narrative though is sweet. In Luke’s account, what Jesus says next are the first words from Jesus’ lips which are both public (not in the wilderness) and not simply reading scripture (or recounting it in the wilderness). This is the moment in Luke when Jesus speaks.

“Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” This must be the shortest sermon since Moses preached “let my people go!” All of the substance in the message was in the word of God and Jesus simply gave the passage’s application. This is no longer a hope but a reality! The first section of this passage is climaxed at what Jesus’ preaching and teaching is about. It is about the good news of God’s anointed who will proclaim (teach) and bring healing. The good news is that God’s favour is here.

22-30 The hometown reaction

“…all spoke well of him and…the gracious words…from his lips.” This verse has been chosen as the passage division marker on the thematic basis of moving from what Jesus ministry looked like to what the response from his home town was like. There are many ways and reasons to subdivide a passage. The first impression the people had of Jesus was pleasing. They spoke well of him. They approved of him. Isn’t it funny how we jump to judging a speaker. This is just their initial response however. The people will next start to analyse Jesus and dig deeper to see whether they should accept him. It seems easy to imagine that they judged Jesus on more than what is quoted in verse 21. But his words are described as gracious. It is indeed good to be a person who packages their words with kindness and gentleness and words that build others up.

“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Here we see the people look past the words Jesus was speaking and the manner in which he spoke them and to who the man was himself. Should it matter where he came from? Did any of the prophets come from good stock? The people new Jesus and his family and we see here that Joseph was treated as his father.

“…you will quote this proverb…” This is not a quote from the book of Proverbs but rather a well known saying of Jesus’ time.

“Physician, heal yourself!” The point of this proverb is perhaps explained in what Jesus went on to say although it does seem like it doesn’t fit like a glove.  Something like, perform your skills at home! You can do amazing things but you fail to perform them in your own life. “You profess, so now produce!” That’s something of the gist of the phrase which fits it’s language and context.

“Do here in Jerusalem what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.” Jesus had been preaching all over Galilee which Capernaum is a part of. See Mark 1:21-28. Luke tells us of Jesus heading into Capernaum in 4:31-37. Either was in Capernaum earlier and returned there since he is received better out of his hometown OR Luke has deliberately placed these two stories in this order for a reason. Our present story (verses 14-30) work well to introduce the ministry of Jesus and show the two responses of acceptance and rejection. Luke uses his hometown story as a way of tying Jesus’ ministry to the promises of God and how, not only his hometown but the people of Israel need to accept him. Remember that Luke’s long arc in Luke-Acts is to show that Jesus is the salvation of God for the whole world (Acts 1:8). We will see in Luke’s account how Jesus is rejected by most of the Jews and the good news is sent out to all the earth.

“Truly I tell you.” This is a strong announcement to whatever follows. ‘Amen’ or ‘truly truly’ are other ways of seeing this translated. See Luke 9:27; 12:37, 44; 18:17, 29; 21:3, 32; 23:43.

“…no prophet is accepted in his hometown…” Making the point which Jesus will continue to show by example. Note that the theme and purpose of Luke’s account here is emerging. It’s not simply the Nazarenes who are on trial but the people of Israel who are familiar with God’s promises and have a history of presuming on God and missing the blessings.

“…widows in Israel in Elijah’s time…but…a widow in Zarephath” 1 Kings 17 tells the complete story that Jesus refers to here. The region describes Gentile area. It is just north of the northern border of Israel. It’s interesting to note the end to the story shows the woman confident that Elijah is a man of God. “Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”

“…many in Israel with leprosy…yet…only Naaman the Syrian [was cleansed].” Jesus chooses a story of Elisha (Elijah’s disciple) to show the same point. The word of God is going out to the world and the ones most familiar are missing what’s on offer.

“…furious when they heard this.” This seems either over-reacting or that we need to understand what Jesus was saying to them. Jesus was telling them they are worse off than a Phoenician widow or a Syrian leper. Jesus has poked the bear.

“…drove him out…took him…to throw him off a cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” This whole account of Jesus ministry has been a small token of Jesus’ full minstry to Israel. He came bearing good news and speaking truth and grace but will be taken to his death – only to escape from that too! After being told that he was driven and carried and about to be thrown, he simply walks away – through the angry crowd. This is surely a miracle. Ironically, God has fulfilled what the devil had prompted back in verses 9-11. Jesus had left the trials in the desert to be put on trial in his town of youth. While the first trial prompted Jesus to put God to the test, this is exactly what the people were doing in the current story. And God certainly did ‘guard him carefully’ so that he did not ‘strike his foot against a stone.’


In this first example of Jesus speaking with people, we see the way Jesus will be treated in the gospel. Right from the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus did not have high hopes for his own people putting their trust in him. He has come to proclaim freedom, sight and favour but the people of Israel will proclaim, ‘crucify him!’ The gospel is destined to go abroad and leave Israel behind.


  • Topic A: Taking God at his word. Jesus is the fulfillment of all that God has promised for mankind. When he spoke to his hometown they liked what he said but wanted to see Jesus prove himself. The question for us is whether we will receive Jesus and his message or critique him as though he is just another man. What holds you back from being a disciple of Jesus 110%?
  • Topic B: Un-domesticating the gospel. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is both a local and a global message. It fits everywhere in the world because it is the message of salvation for the world. Yet, we can attach all sorts of local cultures and customs to the message and reject the idea of Christianity taking shape and finding a home in the hearts of anybody, everywhere. How have you seen the gospel be domesticated, making it fit a certain pattern rather than leaving it powerfully in the hands of God?
  • Topic C: Words of truth delivered graciously. Jesus was praised for his gracious words and when he spoke sharply to the people he allowed his point to be carried by illustration. It can be very tricky to say what we want to say and package it well. Our aim is not to change our message to be received well by all, but to package our message so that it the truth is delivered effectively. Discuss.

Prayer of the Week

Our Father in heaven, thank you for making your gospel message known across our globe. Thank you that this message of for salvation, truth, and liberty and that it is for everybody who listens, learns and recognises your Son as Lord. May we let your word speak to us, your Son reign in our hearts, and our desire to know you grow more and more every year. Amen.