The Book of Luke, The Beginning of Jesus Christ’s Ministry, Part I – Lesson 41
Luke 4:14-30, And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 16And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. 22And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? 23And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: (shoemaker, bring home shoes for your family, butcher, put meat on your own table, carpenter, build a house for your wife and children) whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. 24And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 25But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, (Elijah) when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 26But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. 27And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus (Elisha) the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. 28And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. 30But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
Verses 14 and 15 summarize the ministry of the Lord Jesus in Galilee, and serves as an background to His arrival at Nazareth.
In verses 16-21 Luke has recorded the appearance of Jesus Christ at the synagogue, His reading of a portion from the prophecy of Isaiah, and His amazing claim that this prophecy has been fulfilled in the hearing of those in the synagogue.
The response of the people is described in verse 22, which is immediately challenged by the Lord Jesus in verses 23-27.
The result is a near riot, verses 28-29, where the people led him to the projecting part of the hill on which their town was built with the intention of casting him down and killing him.
Satan will not give up his goal of killing Jesus Christ and he, by this event uses his own stationed in Nazareth to do his will.
The first two verses of our text for today concern the ministry of Jesus that takes place after the temptations of Satan occurred and this ministry happens in Galilee.
This Galilean ministry summarized in just two verses involves about one year of the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry.
And during that first year of his ministry we are told that there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
Luke 4:14,15, And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.
Our Lord’s ministry in Galilee resulted in a growing popularity.
The people of Nazareth had heard the reports of His preaching and power, and were eager to see what He could do amongst them.
Certainly he would do more for his home country!
There is very little record of the Lord Jesus' first year of His public ministry, and what we do know comes to us from John’s gospel.
From the book of John we learn that before He appeared at the synagogue in Nazareth, He had ministered publicly for about a year.
During this year of ministry He had been introduced as the Messiah by John (John 1:19-34), He called some of His disciples (John 1:35-51), He cleansed the temple in Jerusalem (John 2:13-22), He talked with Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews and a prominent Jewish teacher (John 3:1-21), and He preached the gospel in Samaria (John 4:4-42).
When He returned to Galilee (John 4:43-45), He healed the nobleman’s son while he was in Cana while the son was ill in Capernaum (John 4:46-54).
So his appearance at Nazareth was preceded by the fame of him that went before him throughout the region.
This is the background that we should keep in mind while we study this event that took place in Nazareth.
Luke in verses 4:14-15 tells us that our Lord’s ministry in Galilee had been in the power of the Spirit.
During this first year of ministry miracles are not mentioned, or are they emphasized but what is emphasized is the preaching ministry of the Lord Jesus in Galilee as he taught in their synagogues, and as a result his fame spread throughout the region.
So no doubt, reports of the preaching and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ reached the people of Nazareth before He did.
So by the time He finally arrived in Nazareth there was great excitement because he was coming and great expectation of what he would do for them.
When you think of it this is a normal reaction of the unrepentant heart, what is God going to do for you?
No thinking about your responsibilities to God.
God is not the servant, you are to be the servant.
God is not to worship you, you are to worship God.
Luke 4:16-21, And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
If ever there was a bombshell of a message this was one for by this message he declared that he was was the sent one of God, the Messiah.
Now Jesus’ arrival at the synagogue in Nazareth, seems to be His first public appearance as Messiah in Nazareth.
All the gospels mention that Jesus frequently taught in the synagogues, and this is certainly not Jesus’ first visit to this synagogue, for this was his hometown.
And Luke in this passage tells us that it was his custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day.
Because Nazareth was a small town and probably had only one Synagogue it is likely it was this synagogue that Jesus attended in the years he and His parents lived in Nazareth.
Luke in Luke 2:41-51, has already told us of Jesus’ discussion with the teachers in Jerusalem at the early age of 12 and it would be reasonable to consider the likelihood that Jesus did the same kind of thing with the Jewish teachers in the synagogue at Nazareth.
So Jesus would have been a very familiar face in that place.
Luke tells us the question was asked, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”, showing that he was known as a resident of this town.
But this question is stated not as a sign of recognition but more as a comment regarding any claim to messiahship by Jesus, being only the son of Joseph, the lowly carpenter.
They certainly expected the Messiah to have more credentials than to be only the son of a lowly carpenter.
Synagogues were not a a requirement of the Old Testament, but were rather the outgrowth of the captivity of Israel.
J. W. Shepard the writer of The Christ of the Gospels provides us some background information about the synagogue of that day and how the service was conducted.
“In the worship of the synagogues, which since the restoration from Babylonian captivity had played so large a part in Jewish life, there were three persons who participated: the reader, the interpreter, and the expounder or preacher. On the Sabbath and certain festive occasions there were several readers. Two lessons were read: one the parashah was from the Law and the other called the haphtorah from the prophets. Two prayers preceded the first reading. When the selection from the Law had been read, Jesus, invited by the chief of the ten leading elders, took His place to read the lesson from the prophets. The Chazzan, or school-master clerk of the synagogue, took from the ark of painted wood the roll of the prophet Isaiah, and handed it to Him. 17And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. In the chief seats before Him were the ten leading elders, and behind them ranged the congregation, the men on one side and the women on the other of a lattice division in the middle of the synagogue.”
So Luke tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ stood up to read and the scroll containing the prophecy of Isaiah was handed to Him.
He turned to the text in Isaiah, where these words were written:
Luke 4:18, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord
He did not finish the phrase after the words, acceptable year of the Lord, which ends in this manner “and the day of vengeance of our God;” because his first coming does not include the day of vengenance:
This is a quotation of Isaiah 61:1, and a portion of verse 2 although there are other parts of Isaiah also included.
The essence of these words, along with the statement, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears, is that the Messiah has come and is before them.
In his reading and interpretation of this text in Isaiah, the Lord Jesus is claiming, on Old Testament grounds, to be Israel’s Messiah.
This is based upon several areas of fulfillment.
One important area is that Jesus’ life and ministry was marked by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We have read in many places in Luke that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him.
Luke has emphasized the fact that Jesus Christ was empowered and led of the Spirit, and when he read Isaiah 61:1 which says the Spirit of the Lord is upon me he was speaking of himself.
His ministry up to this point had been a ministry of preaching.
And when he read the scripture of Isaiah it heavily emphasized that the Messiah’s ministry will be one of preaching and proclamation.
He was also engaged in a ministry to the poor, to the distressed, to the downtrodden.
His ministry was to the sick and not to the well.
Mark quotes Christ in this regard.
Mark 2:17, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
He did not address the future ministry of the Messiah of bringing vengeance on the enemies of God.
His reading from Isaiah stops just before this statement: “And a day of vengeance of our God” (Isa. 61:2b).
Jesus’ first coming was not a coming of condemnation but of salvation.
He understood that His role as Messiah was to come twice, the first time to reveal God to men, and to provide a way of salvation.
The second coming is to bring God’s judgment to the earth and to destroy His enemies.
So his careful and precise reading of the scripture in Isaiah shows this distinction between His first coming as Messiah, and His second coming.
The words of the Lord Jesus Christ which were spoken in the synagogue at Nazareth were at first received well.
Listen to Luke’s description of the people’s response:
Luke 4:22, And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?
Wonder speaks of astonishment, not necessarily appreciation or even belief
As shown by their hatred that was later displayed they wondered but did not take his words to heart.
It appears that they were like a lot of church members, looking for a good sermon but having no aptitude of accepting the words spoken.
The people responded very positively to Jesus’ claim.
At first there were no objections or resistance.
They spoke well of Jesus.