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This topic is collecting lesson ideas for Luke 4:14-29
"Jesus' Rejection in his hometown of Nazareth"

The story takes place immediately after his temptation in the wilderness. By quoting Isaiah 58 and 61 and saying it is fulfilled, Jesus is announcing his identity and mission as the Messiah.

This collection doesn't have much in it because Rotation Model Sunday Schools (for whom this site was originally created) do not typically include this passage as one of the "major" stories they teach about Jesus to their students. That's simply because some 30 to other 40 stories, like the parables or the Cross, are considered more "major" and because we can only teach 8 to 12 stories a year when you spend four or five weeks in a row on one major story (to really learn it)JesusEncountersOthers. That said, it's an important story, and we do have some resources for it! Feel free to add yours.

Who are the "poor," "blind," "captives" that Jesus is speaking about in today's world?  In your community? How are you "poor," "captive," or "blind"?

What kinds of sight and freedom do Jesus and his follower want the world to have?

How do people reject Jesus today without saying the word "reject"?

How does a person "reject" Jesus with the way they live their life, talk about others, spend their time and money?

How was it possible for his hometown people to reject him when he was standing right in front of them?


Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

Luke 4:14-29

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”

24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy[g] in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

Jesus, the preacher of freedom and release from captivity

I don't know the source of this starling image of Jesus behind barbed wire illustrated in the style of an icon, but it illustrates a form of "the rejection of Jesus" when we do not proclaim the freedom Jesus says he has come to proclaim in Luke 4. Fascinatingly, we are reminded of Jesus' opening declaration once again after his resurrection in Matthew 25:

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’


The story of Peter's denial and Jesus' arrest and crucifixion more fully explore WHY Jesus was rejected. Check out those lesson forums for some great lesson ideas.


Images (3)
  • Jesus-BarbedWire
  • JesusinNazareth
  • JesusEncountersOthers
Last edited by Neil MacQueen
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A member in our Teachers Help Lounge asked for a game activity to help teach the story of Jesus' rejection in Nazareth. Here was my response

I was thinking about the OPPOSITION Jesus seems to have faced when in LUKE he revealed his Messiahship at the synagogue in his hometown. In terms of games, that immediately makes me think of an obstacle course (or "challenges").

  • Each section of the obstacle course illustrates something different.See my starter suggestions below.
  • After each student has taken a turn running the course one at a time, the class could then walk and stop at each obstacle for discussion with you about its life application.
  • Then let them run the course again, maybe making it a little harder and timing them for fun. As a further option, you could also pair them up and require them to hold hands as they go through the course (part of being faithful means helping each other be faithful too --church metaphor!)

Brainstorming Some Possible Obstacles/Challenges

1. Doubt: Jesus isn't really the messiah. A bunch of index cards with doubt comments are turned face down. One of them says, "I believe in Jesus." Kids turn over cards until they find that one. The other card-comments-doubts become something to talk about after the game.  (I doubt he's real, I doubt he cares, I doubt I'm worthy of his help, I doubt the stories about him --etc etc)

2. People trying to hold you back or send you the wrong way. Represent this by creating a spiderweb with yarn. Kids have to get through the web to the other side. How did people try to hold Jesus back? How about you?

3. Following Jesus means making time to read the Bible and Pray (kids slide a Bible or roll a ball trying to get it across and into the correct slot labeled "you made it a priority" and the other slots are labeled "too boring" "too busy."  (Note: Jesus took the time! He reads scripture in the story!)

4. Leap of Luke 4 Faith (jumping from one verse square to another in the corrrect order). Take the Luke 4:18-19 quote of Isaiah and turn it into a series of "verse" squares (that have the verse parts written on them) that must then be jumped on in the correct verse order for the challenge to be completed. Step on the wrong one and you have to start over. In this way they learn the verse Jesus used to describe his mission!

Verse squares on floor something like this:

These individual verses are on the cards. You add some erroneous verses are scattered in to confuse the students:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

When you are done playing the verse challenge, you can then ask students what each square/verse means, and how we can do the same thing that Jesus has said he has come to do.

Some Bible study notes of mine:

The Luke 4 rejection story is a bit of a mess. A professor of mine said that Luke's version of the story "reads like the Cliff Notes version" --pun intended.

Luke's text says they "marveled" at his words, and maybe even marveled, "isn't this Joseph's son?" --i.e. one of their own. Then the storyline takes an abrupt turn (like Luke has left something out). Jesus cuts off their marveling and accuses them of probably thinking, "What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’”   (Surprise: The text doesn't say the people ever said that. Maybe they murmured it?) Then he recites a litany of doubts and rejections faced by Elijah and Elisha (two of my favorite prophets).  That's when they chased him out of town. In other words, Luke's account leaves MUCH to our imagination, especially when you contrast it to Matthew 4:13 which KNOWS Jesus was in Nazareth but doesn't mention the rejection story. Why not? Matt and Luke share so much else!  Matthew 4 seems to want us to know how POPULAR Jesus was as he traveled. Luke tends to want us to know that Jesus had detractors and confrontations.   Interesting.

Mark 6, on the other hand, seems much clearer about the "dialog" and reason for his rejection in Nazareth. But Mark doesn't include Jesus quoting Isaiah, or the people running him out of town. Mark says that Jesus was "amazed at their lack of faith" which is doubly perplexing because Mark says Jesus performed a few miracles in their presence.  Taken together, the two versions of the story present a more full picture of what may have happened. (Mark 6:1-6; Matthew 13:53-58)

The stories are also a cautionary tale for those who THINK they know Jesus (are his friends and family) and have the luxury of him standing right in front of them --and still don't fully understand him. It's a bit comforting too, I suppose.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

This video features the ruins of Nazareth, the nearby cliffs, and a view down to the Sea of Galilee as the narrator walks the scenery explaining the story.

I like this kid-friendly retelling of the story in part because it features people of color (just like God's world does!)   You can also see the suggestion of an ART project in it --creating the town and story on paper.

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