Ministry at Nazareth

We’re going through the New Testament and looking to see how many clues we find of the Trinity therein. Right now, we’re in the gospel of Luke. Tonight, our text will come from the fourth chapter.

14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The 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 preach good news to the poor. 
   He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners 
      and recovery of sight for the blind, 
   to release the oppressed, 
    19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

 20Then 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, 21and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

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

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

 24“I tell you the truth,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25I 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. 26Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

 28All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.29They 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 down the cliff. 30But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

This is a most interesting passage and I would like to point out some facets of it.

First, if this account is accurate, and Luke is quite accurate, then we have a response to the idea that Jesus went to India or anywhere else and picked up tricks that he returned back to Israel with. Verse 16 tells us that he went to Nazareth where he had been brought up. Personally, the idea of sending a boy to travel across the countries and then just pop up again in town and no one says a word never really struck me as coherent anyway.

Second, Jesus is teaching which was common in those days as a visitor would be the one mainly who would teach. (You can imagine church attendance dropping today if that happened.) This is how Paul and Barnabas got audiences so often in synagogues. 

Yet can we consider for a moment what has happened in this text? Jesus has quoted a text announcing a ministry of healing and of release from oppression. To a society under Roman Law, this would be something looked forward to. What does he say in response? “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Again, I do not think the words of Christ shock us enough when we read them. Imagine hearing this boy you’d seen grow up in your town suddenly come to your church, read a passage of Scripture and say “By the way, now that you’ve seen me preach, this passage of Scripture has been fulfilled.”

Do we realize how dynamic Jesus was?

And yet, he hardly makes friends. While he is preaching good news and has done many miracles, he practically refuses to do so in his hometown due to the unbelief of the people and instead speaks of the great prophets of the past and who were they sent to? Not the people of Israel. They were sent to Gentiles.

Definitely enough to tick a first century Jew off.

So much so they wanted to kill Jesus.

Now does this mean that Jesus is deity? No. It means he has a high view of himself however and we dare not think of him in a way any lower than he thought of himself. I don’t believe even the Arian would wish to say Jesus was wrong about anything. What about our views of Jesus? Are we stunned by him? Have we made him lower than he made himself?

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