Scripture Reference: Luke 4:14-31
Suggested Emphasis: Encourage those who preach the word of God.
For the first time in his ministry, Jesus preached at his home synagogue. At first, the listeners liked the message that Jesus preached. When the people began to disagree with God’s message, they got mad at Jesus and tried to throw him off of a cliff. Even though the whole crowd was trying to kill him, Jesus miraculously walked right through them and left. It can be difficult to share God’s message.
Jesus began to rise in popularity as he preached more and more. One Sabbath (most probably a year after he had started his ministry) Jesus was invited to speak at the synagogue in Nazareth. Although he was born in Bethlehem, he grew up in Nazareth. This was his hometown. The people who had watched Jesus grow up would have been excited that such a popular preacher had come from their town. It was the custom to allow visiting teachers to speak to the congregation with the special invitation of the synagogue leaders.
Notice in verse 16 that it was Jesus’ custom to attend the synagogue every Sabbath. This is a lesson in itself that the children can relate to.
Jesus read from the book of Isaiah. The custom was to read from the Hebrew and then he or someone else paraphrased it in Aramaic, one of the other common languages of the day. The scrolls were kept in a special place in the synagogue and handed to the reader by a special attendant. The passage Jesus read about the Messiah (Isaiah 61:1-2) may have been one he chose to read, or it may have been the assigned passage for the day. The verse tells of the Messiah’s ministry of preaching and healing—to meet every human need. Jesus was proclaiming liberation form sin and all its consequences.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.
Isaiah 61:1-2, NIV
It was customary to stand while reading Scripture but to sit while teaching.
In verses 26-27 Jesus refers to 1 Kings 17:1-15 and 2 Kings 5:1-14 to mention Gentiles who God helped. Jesus’ point was that when Israel rejected God’s messenger of redemption, God sent him to the Gentiles—and so it would be again if they refused to accept Jesus. This is the point when the Jews became so furious with the message that they tried to take Jesus to a cliff and throw him off.
Verse 30 does not say whether Jesus escaped miraculously or whether he was able to simply walk through the crowd as a result of his commanding presence. In any case, his time to die had not yet come (John 7:30).
- What happened before this story?
- What happens after this story?
- List of all Bible stories and themes on this website.
Way to Introduce the Story:
If possible have some pictures of someone preaching. Show the class and discuss what it must be like to get up in front of people and talk. Share your own experiences of making speeches and ask the children to share. “In the lesson today we will be talking about a time when Jesus preached in the town of Nazareth.”
Jesus went to many places to tell people about God. After he had been doing that for a while he decided to go back to the town of Nazareth. Nazareth was the town where Jesus had grown up. That was the town where his old friends and teachers lived.
People in Nazareth had heard about Jesus. They knew that he was a preacher and that lots of people liked him. They were proud of Jesus and were glad that he was from Nazareth. Maybe he would do a miracle in Nazareth.
Jesus was in Nazareth on the Sabbath – the day of worship. Guess what Jesus did? Do you think he went to sport? Do you think he slept in or went to the beach? No, of course not! Jesus did what he did every Sabbath day. He went to the synagogue to worship.
The leaders of the synagogue were so happy to see Jesus that they asked him to read a Scripture and then preach about it.
Jesus stood up picked up the scroll where the Word of God was written. He unrolled the scroll and read from it. Then he sat down and began to preach.
The Jews in the synagogue really liked what Jesus was preaching. They were glad that Jesus was a Jew like them. Some of them even thought that Jews were better than anyone else. Then Jesus said something that they did not like. He said that God loves everyone. God loves the Jews but God also loves the people that are not Jews. God wants everyone to learn about him.
The Jews got very angry. They did not want anyone but the Jews to hear about God. Even though Jesus was preaching the truth, the people got mad at him.
The people started pushing Jesus and telling him he had to leave. They followed him and kept pushing him forward until he got to a big cliff. There was nowhere else for Jesus to go. It seemed everyone was going to push him off of the cliff!
Then something amazing happened. The bible said that Jesus just walked right through the crowd and left.
How did he do that? How could he just walk right through a crowd that was trying to push him off of a cliff? He could do that because Jesus is the Son of God. He has the power of God. He can do anything!
Jesus was not sorry that he preached the things that God wanted him to preach. He did it even if people did not like him.
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
Click here to download these illustrations and slideshow. Be selective. Each teacher is unique so only use the illustrations that best relate to the way YOU are telling the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.
- In what city did Jesus preach a sermon in a synagogue? Nazareth
- Did the crowd in the synagogue at Nazareth like Jesus’ sermon at first? Yes
- What did the crowd at Nazareth try to do to Jesus when they did not like what he said in his sermon? They tried to throw him off of a cliff.
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Ask a preacher to visit class and tell about the work he does. He could also give the class a tour of his office or library.
- Make a gift for someone who preaches. Present it to them at the end of class or put it on the pulpit.
- Talk about the special things a preacher’s family does to help him: wife encourages, feeds, mends clothes, and takes care of children while he preaches. Children sometimes don’t have him at home because he is preaching somewhere or helping someone. Write cards to the preacher’s family.
- After the lesson let the children take turns getting behind a pulpit and “preaching a sermon” about today’s lesson. You could also let them do a puppet show and let the puppets “preach”.
- Older children can learn how to take notes during a sermon. Provide paper to do this with in worship.
- Make a scroll and write something about today’s lesson on it.
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.