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The Scriptorium

Good News and Bad

The Gospel is not all fun and games. Luke 4.23-30

Luke 4: Part 1(6)

Pray Psalm 67.1, 2.
God be merciful to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us,
That Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.

Sing Psalm 67.1-3.
(Solid Rock: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)
O bless us, Savior, by Your grace, and shine upon us with Your face,
that we Your way may loud proclaim and tell to all the earth Your fame!
Refrain v. 3 (5)
Let all the peoples praise You, Lord, rejoicing in Your holy Word,
rejoicing in Your holy Word!

Read Luke 4.1-30; meditate on verses 23-30.


1. Nice sermon, but what were the people of Nazareth really seeking from Jesus?

2. How did they respond to His explanation?

For many people, the Gospel is Good News until it isn’t. It’s Good News when it promises forgiveness of sins, eternal life, assurance of salvation here and now, and a fun church. The Gospel ceases to be Good News, however, when it meddles in their settled way of life. Exposing their secret desires. Rebuking their deep-seated hatreds and animosities. Directing them to good works beyond their comfort zone. Suggesting that their “faith” is not genuine. That sort of thing.

This is what Jesus did here. He knew that, while the people spoke graciously about His reading and the one-sentence exposition of Isaiah’s prophecy (vv. 21, 22), what they were really hoping for was miracles (v. 23). Jesus exposed their desire for entertainment rather than truth. That wasn’t the Good News He was bringing. And He questioned the sincerity of their praise and admiration (v. 24).

Then He went on to expose their racial prejudice and sense of spiritual superiority, suggesting that God’s blessing would never settle on them while they harbored such sins (vv. 25-27). Yeah, not Good. God intends to bless all nations with His salvation, beginning with the Jews, but not stopping with them.

People love the Gospel until the Gospel exposes them for who they are – self-centered, frivolous, shallow, loveless, and manipulative. Then the Gospel makes them angry, and they want to throw Jesus off the nearest cliff (vv. 28, 29).

If we want the Gospel, we must take it all, not just what suits us. The Gospel is Good News because it overcomes the bad news that keeps us from knowing, loving, and serving the Lord. If we try to hold on to the bad news, we’ll shut the Good News and Jesus Himself out of our lives.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Jesus really angered those local churchgoers by telling them the stories about Elijah and Elisha. Out of all the famine sufferers, one widow was intentionally helped. And for all those plagued with leprosy, only one received the prophet’s undivided attention and healing. All didn’t get a treat or a trophy. “And similarly, folks,” He meant, “not all of you will either.” And for that bit of truth, all bets were off, and they “thrust Him out of the city…that they might throw Him down over the cliff” (Lk. 4.29).

But here is the sweet and powerful thing that happened during the townspeople’s murderous rage: Jesus passed right through the midst of them, and He went His way unharmed (Lk. 4.30). He was not tempting God with this disastrous situation nor was He intentionally putting Himself in danger. The danger arose, and they wanted to kill Him then, but it was not His time. Here we see Psalm 91.11, 12 on full display: “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

As we recall, the devil quoted this Scripture as a taunt, but God performed it for Jesus as the triumphant truth (Lk. 4.10, 11). The image here of Jesus passing through this raging mob recalls the angels leading Lot and his family out of Sodom (Gen. 19.15, 16 where the “men” are angels).

Our lives are overseen by this same God. These truths are written for us as well. To those of us who love Him, He says, “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because He has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation” (Ps. 91.14-16).

Time is in God’s hands, and it is always done His way. A long life may seem short in our minds, but in His Kingdom, it is a good life, long or short. Either way. It is as long for each of us as He has planned it. We, too, will walk through trouble safely until it is the time for us to be with Him, and then we will pass through death unscathed.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15.58).

Jesus trusted His Father every second of His life on earth. And God was faithful. When we trust Him, He will do the same for us. “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1.7).

For reflection
1. What is the “bad news” about the Good News?

2. God protected Jesus, as we see here. How do you expect Him to protect and provide for you today? Give Him thanks and praise!

3. Why can believers face threats, dangers, and death with the calm confidence of Jesus?

They perceived that the object of those two examples, which Christ had produced, was to show, that the grace of God would be removed from them to others: and therefore they considered that he had spoken to their dishonor. But, instead of having their consciences stung to the quick, and seeking a remedy for their vices by correcting them, they are only driven to madness. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Luke 4.23-30

Pray Psalm 67.3-7.
Pray for the worldwide spread of the Gospel, that God would revive and renew His people and send them into their Personal Mission Fields as witnesses for Jesus Christ. Pray the same for yourself as you prepare for the day ahead.

Sing Psalm 67.3-7.
(Solid Rock: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)
Let all the nations gladly sing and joyous praise before You bring.
You judge them by Your holy worth and guide the nations of the earth.
Refrain v. 3 (5)
Let all the peoples praise You, Lord, rejoicing in Your holy Word,
rejoicing in Your holy Word!

The earth in full its bounty yields – the blessed harvest of the fields.
We gather blessings from Your Word that all the earth may fear You, Lord.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download all the studies in our Luke series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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