In Luke 4, Jesus is in Nazareth speaking to the people there. He says that a prophet is not welcomed in his hometown.

Luke 4:24-27:

And He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” (NASB)

Why did that reply upset them?

Luke 4:28:

And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; (NASB)

6 Answers 6


Why did the reply in Luke 4:24 make the people furious?

There are three reasons. These reasons build on each other.

  1. Luke 4:24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.

Jesus accuses the people of rejecting a prophet (himself)

  1. Luke 4:25-26 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; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.

Jesus compares the people he is talking with to the hard-hearted people from the time of Elijah.

  1. Luke 4:27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

Jesus compare the people he is talking with to the hard-hearted people from the time of Elisha.

There is also the implication that God's favor is withdrawn from hard-hearted people. The people took what Jesus was saying as an insult. It never occurred to them to ask if it was true.

  • Not from "people" but "peoples" (nations) is how they interpreted it.
    – fumanchu
    May 14, 2015 at 20:59

I agree largely with @timf, that one of the elements of Jesus' rebuke of his fellow Jews which stuck in their craw was Jesus' implication that their ancestors during the days of Elijah and Elisha were just as full of unbelief as were Jesus' fellow Jews and Nazarenes who had just been astonished by the wisdom, authority, and power with which he communicated God's word.

Mark 6:5-6 tells us that Jesus

"could do no miracle there [i.e., Nazareth] except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their disbelief."

Another significant--if not the most significant--element of offense was Jesus' implication that two Gentile dogs, a Sidonian widow and a leprous Syrian army commander were more worthy of God's ministrations in their day than were his fellow Jews and Nazarenes. What a low blow to Jesus' proud, hometown crowd.

We can understand at least some of the psychology at work in Jesus' audience here in the narrative in Luke 4 when we stop to consider that Jesus' fellow synagogue members were witnesses to Jesus' development from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. They had seen Jesus attend the local yeshiva, where he would have been instructed in the Hebrew Scripture just as other little Jewish boys his age.

They had seen Jesus as he attended shul each Shabbat with his father, his mother, and perhaps other relatives, neighbors, and friends. Now here he was, a fully grown man taking his rightful turn at reading the Scripture at shul and even commenting on what he read by saying,

"Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21).

His audience did not miss his meaning, to be sure. "Here is Yeshua, all grown up," they likely said to themselves condescendingly.

"Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon . . .. Are not His sisters here with us?" they asked (Mark 6:3a).

And then comes Mark's understated comment:

"And they took offense at Him" (6:3b).

In conclusion, Jesus fully realized that he was a pretty big pill for his fellow Nazarenes to swallow. No wonder he and his message stuck in their craw. And though Jesus knew the depravity which was in their hearts, I'm sure that still his great heart of love went out to them, hoping they would repent and allow God's word to take root in their lives.

Alas, however, by and large their minds were closed to what Jesus would gladly have offered them: good news, release from captivity to sin, recovery of physical and spiritual sight, and freedom from the oppressive and burdensome rules and regulations which neither they nor their leaders could bear (Luke 4:18; cf. Matthew 23:3-4 and Luke 11:46).

Truly, there are none so blind as they who will not see.


The people were upset NOT because, having read Isaiah's messianic prophesy, Jesus asserted that it was about Him and that He was the promised Messiah. On the contrary, as we read, they took this note from Him with acceptance and even enthusiasm.

The reason for their radical and abrupt change of minds was that what Jesus said afterwards was completely at odds with their expectation of what the Messiah should be up to: they expected a political-national Messiah who would have led a successful rebellion against the Romans (like Judas the Galilean, for instance in 6 AD), the very success itself of this rebellion to be the proof that He was really the God-chosen Messiah.

However, Jesus destroys all their expectations by asserting that He did not come exclusively to Jews, and not for sure to lead any revolution against Romans, and that's why brought an example of the Old Testament prophets, who were received by non-Jews, who had good hearts. By those examples He radically changes the semantics of "salvation": "I came to save representatives of all nations, to all people who will accept me with good hearts, not only those of the Jewish nation". But then also the representatives of Romans, to be sure, that is to say, of the conquerors and oppressors. Now, what does it mean that He came to bring "salvation" also to Romans who are not oppressed politically at all, being the most powerful Imperial power of the epoch? It can only mean that He came to save all mankind from a non-political oppression, from the oppression and infection of sin, of Satan, of the fallen nature and its self-destructive inclinations. Now, by these the entire humanity is oppressed and only Jesus can provide a rescue, a salvation.

But this universal messianship was not acceptable from the nationalistic expectations of Jews present in this synagogue. In fact, it was killing in them their most cherished dream of a delectation that would follow a just national vengeance against the Roman oppressors, for, in fact, what can be a greater enjoyment and delectation than to see your enemy prostrated before you, in front of the glorious Messiah-King, who would decisively beat them in a pitched battle and subdue them so as to make them lick the dust from His feet (Isaiah 49:23).

Now, Jesus says that, yes, He is the very Messiah promised by Isaiah, but not with such a crude exegesis of Isaiah's prophesy, for it is not at all in His agenda to fulfil the political-national expectations of Jews.

Of course, the Jews present in this synagogue got furious at the prospect of seeing this impostor debunking their most cherished religious-political-national expectations, for the latter they thought to be blessed by God Himself. Jesus, thus, appeared in their eyes as a traitor of the highest scale, that of God and God's chosen people.

Yet, since they had before that heard about Him working miracles and since they were bewildered by the grace of His words, in deep recesses of their hearts they could suspect at least that He indeed was whom He said to be, but it was so painful for them to bear such a disappointment, that they would rather kill such Messiah, even if He was the real one, rebel against God who sent Him, but not to accept the abolition of the prospect of the delectation of the vengeance over Romans and the subsequent grandeur of the restored Jewish Kingdom under the Messianic King. Jesus did not destroy, in fact, the prospect of delectation but gave to it a different, more universal and glorious dimension: all humans can participate in the delectation and joy of defeat of the kingdom of sin and Satan through Him, the Heavenly King, and become co-Kings with Him in this eternal Kingdom with victors from all nations of the world.

Something similar happened in Jonah the prophet, who rebelled against God and ran away from His order to preach to the Ninevians, the enemies of Jews; even, Jonah was ready to kill himself but not to do such an unpleasant thing. Jesus was similarly unpleasant for the Jews present in this synagogue. No surprise, in this perspective, to see them attempting to murder Him.

P.S. One philosopher said that Jesus was crucified by Jews before His actual crucifixion by their wrong and petty idea of Messiah: they saw Him not as a Heavenly King, but as an earthly king. Even His own disciples could not fully understand Him, thus crucifying Him by their wrong ideas about Him (cf. Matthew 20:21).


Jesus is in his hometown, not being accepted by his own.

He alludes to two scriptures where Gentiles were saved by God's grace instead of Hebrews.

He is drawing a parallel from the small situation (his hometown won't accept him) to a larger situation (the Hebrews won't accept their own Messiah). He explains that due to their rejection, God's grace will not only skip the people of Nazareth, but will also skip the chosen people and go to the Gentiles.

This is doubly offensive as Jesus is telling them that they are going to be doubly rejected by God and goes to the extreme, saying that in comparison to the Gentiles (pig-eaters, unchosen, unclean) -- God finds the people of Nazareth less worthy than them!


Why did the reply in Luke 4:24 make the people furious?

Recommend reading Luke 4: 6-30 NASB

Jesus visits his home town Nazareth ,and the locals are expecting him to do some miraculous healing and curing as he did in Capernaum.

The people marvel at the gracious words that he was speaking.

22 "And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” 23 And He said to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’”

It is obvious that his home town neighbors,wanted Jesus to begin his healing and curing in his own town , they also wondered why He did not perform as many miracles, in his home town,as he did elsewhere, so they felt snubbed and insulted .

Realizing this, He says to them:

Luke 4: 24-27 NASB

“Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. 25 But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; 26 and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

This unfavorable comparison with their unfaithful ,pagan forefathers of the Israelites that worshiped "Baal" in the days of prophet Elijah, did not go well with his neighbors.they became furious and wanted to kill him. Elijah's life was in danger, he fled from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:1-18) , similarly now, Jesus life was also in danger.

And Luke says, the people became angry, furious and took him to the edge of the cliff.

28 "And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; 29 and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, He went His way."


Luke 4:28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,

Why did Jesus make the people so angry telling these two stories? 1. Elijah was sent to Zarephath and miraculously provided food for a Canaanite woman when Israel was experiencing famine Luke 4:25-26; 1Kings 17:9-24 2. Elisha healed a Syrian "commander" of leprosy and did not heal Jews that had leprosy Luke 4:27; 2Kings 5:1-27

Jesus started off saying that those hearing him wanted him to act like a magician and do miracles, signs and wonder: Luke 4:23 He said to them, "You will surely say this proverb to Me, 'Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.' "

Then immediately after that he makes this statement Luke 4:24 Then He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.

Then to illustrate their rejection (those listening) he tells two historical stories about God's favor outside the Jews. In essence he has told the Jews they rejected God and God favored the dogs.

This story enraged the Jews so much they tried to kill Jesus right then and there.

  1. Jews considered Canaanites to be dogs, Jesus even used the term when speaking with a Canaanite woman begging for his help for her demon-possessed daughter, Mat 15:26 "But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."
  2. Syrians were and still are mortal enemies of the Jewish people

John the Baptist pointed out the Jewish pride "we have Abraham as our father" (Mat 3:9). Having Abraham as their father made a Jew a Jew therefore all the covenants with the blessings etc belonged to them and only to them. Gentiles could not claim Abraham as their father. God's favor was on the Jews alone. God was their God and only their God. Jesus blew this preconception up and they hated him for it. Gentiles, in general were considered outsiders when it comes to the election of God therefore not worthy of any of the covenant blessings.

Last but not least. Insults from the Middle East part of the world run really deep and create some serious rage. Retaliation and revenge rule the clans and people groups (race and religion) of a large part of the Middle East. Israel's history is full of such things. This is even true today. Is it any wonder there is so much teaching about how to love your neighbor in the New Testament?

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