He came to his own and his own received him not. (John 1:11, NIV)
Jesus left Nazareth and He never returned. Poor Nazareth! No mighty works were done there. No peace with God was found there. The people who were angry with Jesus spent the rest of their lives without him.
Think about the people in this town. Their debts to God were not canceled. Their lost inheritance was not restored. They remained in the grip of their own hostility—angry with a distant Jesus.
That’s the Nazareth story. And it is the story of our world. You can’t make sense of the Christmas story or of our world today without this piece: “He came to his own and his own received him not.”
Growing levels of anger are a defining mark of our fragile culture. You see it is our politics, on our roads, and in our courts. You see it between children and parents, wives and husbands.
A lady in our congregation spoke to me during our series on the Beatitudes. She had found the message on meekness helpful and she said, “I lead a women’s Bible study, and there is so much anger.”
Once in a while the hostility that lies in the human heart erupts in a spree of violence, as it did on Friday, and we all say, “How in the world could that have happened?”
The sinful nature is hostile toward God, and if you are hostile to God you will be hostile to others as well. Only when we have peace with God can we begin to experience the peace of God.
The people who became so angry with Jesus were people who knew Him well. Some of you are students. Your parents bring you along to church.
They love Christ but you don’t. In your heart you are angry with God. Your heart is hostile towards Him. If you follow your present path, your whole life, and your whole eternity will be outside the blessing of God.
Some of you are parents. You have a son or a daughter, or a spouse who loves Christ. But you don’t. In your heart you are angry with God. Your heart is hostile towards Him. If you follow your present path, your whole life and your whole eternity will be outside the blessing of God.
Christmas comes and Christmas goes, and you remain resistant to the claim of Jesus Christ on your life. There is a real consequence to this.
Christ came to Nazareth, but no mighty works were done there. Don’t let it that be said of your life!
The Only Cure for Anger Towards Jesus
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. (Matthew 21:42, NIV)
Jesus is speaking about Himself. He is the rejected stone, and He speaks of something that God would do which would be marvelous in the eyes of faithful people: The rejected stone would become the cornerstone.
This rejected Jesus, hunted in Bethlehem, hounded out of Nazareth, ejected from the Gerasenes, threatened with stoning in Jerusalem by the officials and by ordinary people, and ultimately crucified outside the city.
This Jesus is the centerpiece of all the redeeming work of God. God has exalted this rejected Jesus to the highest place. The only cure for anger towards Jesus is to make the stone over which you have stumbled the cornerstone of your life.
That means that you have to repent. You have to do a complete 180 with regard to Jesus, instead of taking offense at what Jesus says about His unique glory, your desperate need, and the sovereign freedom of God. Make these truths, over which you once stumbled, the cornerstone of your life.
Once you resented the unique claims of Jesus Christ. Now you bow before him like Thomas and confess Him as your Lord and Savior.
Once you took offense at being called a “sinner.” Now you confess your need and ask Him to cleanse you and give you peace with God.
Once you resented God’s claim over your life. “It’s my life!” Now you yield that life gladly and freely to Him, as you ask Him to save you and redeem you.
The stone you once rejected becomes the cornerstone of your life: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” (Romans 9:33, NIV).
Christmas tells us that God has come into the world in Jesus Christ. He is the stumbling stone to some; He is the cornerstone to others. Either way, the life and the eternity of every person is ultimately determined by our response to Him.
He came to His own and His own received Him not, but to as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to be called children of God. (John 1:11-12, NIV)