The Book of Luke, Jesus in the Synagogue at Nazareth – Lesson 45
From the experience of Jesus Christ at the synagogue at Nazareth we learn how to distinguish between true prophets and false prophets.
As you read through the Bible you will discover that false prophets are more popular that true prophets and there are more of them.
For the immediate it is a more likable task to be a false prophet.
False prophets tell people what they want to hear; true prophets speak truths from God which men need to hear, but hate to hear.
False prophets appeal to the flesh, and not to the spirit.
False prophets justify sin, rather than condemn it.
This is rampant today as religious leaders justify the sin of Sodom.
We learn that in the giving of truth men do not naturally accept the things of God, but rather reject them.
We learn that true prophets will be hated because the fallen nature of man hates truth.
Truth and fallen man are always opposed.
True prophets are dividers. False prophets are uniters.
False prophets major in addition and multplication while true prophets major in division and subtraction.
Jesus Christ was a divider for he was the true prophet and he would have none of the praise that was based upon a lack of understanding of who he was.
So he preached a divisive message in spite of the effect on the crowd who intended to kill him.
Over and over again in the gospels we see the work of the true prophet as we see Jesus work.
Jesus said in Luke 12:51,52, Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
That passage is full of division. 3 to 2, 2 to 3, 1 to 1.
We read of the results of his preaching in:
John 7:42, So there was a division among the people because of him. 44And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.
John 9:16, Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.
John 10:19, There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. 20And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? 21Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?
Jesus Christ saves a remnant which is the result of division.
And Jesus Christ saves a remnant only because a miracle has to take place in the heart and that miracle is the result of the gospel for the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
The gospel will only be effective in the salvation of men as the Spirit of God works a miracle in the heart, convincing men and women of the truth of His word and giving them new hearts to respond to it and receive Jesus Christ.
When the gospel is clearly told, natural men will always reject it, unless drawn by the Spirit of God in the new birth and given salvation.
Just witnessing will not save men, but it will often make them mad, it will often cause division.
Only the working of the Spirit saves men.
Luke 4:30-44, But he passing through the midst of them went his way, And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. 32And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power. 33And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, 34Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. 35And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. 36And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. 37And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about. 38And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her. 39And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them. 40Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. 41And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ. 42And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them. 43And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. 44And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.
Leaving Nazareth’s most unwelcome center, Jesus arrived at Capernaum.
Capernaum was a small city, located about 25 miles from Nazareth on the western shores of the Sea of Galilee, and a long days journey.
Capernaum was the chief Jewish town, as Tiberias was the chief Roman town, of the northern part of Israel.
It was a busy city because commercial traders from all parts met there.
We learn in Matthew 4:12,13, that Jesus moved to Capernaum when he heard of the arrest of John the Baptist.
Matthew 4:12-13, Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:
Nazareth could have been his home but they of his hometown did not have a heart for Jesus Christ as we have seen displayed in the previous passage of Luke 4.
So Capernaum came to be known as Jesus’ home and the verse in Matt. 9:1 reveals this where Capernaum is mentioned as his own city.
Matt. 9:1, And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. At that time he was in Capernaum.
Capernaum is also the city where Simon and Andrew, James and John lived (Mk. 1:21, 29).
Verses 31 and 32 of Luke 4 begin with a summary of Jesus’ teaching ministry in the synagogue on the Sabbath days.
He left Nazareth: And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. 32And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.
His teaching resulted in astonishment on the part of His listeners, similar to the initial response of the people of Nazareth.
Luke sums up the cause for the amazement of the audience with these words:
Luke 4:32, For his word was with power.
This is a similar statement to that found in Matthew’s gospel, immediately after Jesus had delivered the “Sermon on the Mount”:
The result was that when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes (Matt. 7:28-29).
They compared his teaching to the scribes who were students of the law, who interpreted the law, who taught it to disciples, and were experts in cases where people were accused of breaking the law of Moses.
The scribes were simply interpreters of the law and in their teaching there were many diverse opinions given and because of
this they did not speak with authority.
It was obvious that there was something in the preaching of Jesus Christ that was different from that of the scribes and Pharisees, that made His teaching authoritative, when the scribes teaching was not.
The difference between himself and the scribes does not seem to be a matter of style, so much as of substance.
We see this again in Matthew 7:28,29,
And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Teaching as one having authority did not mean that Jesus was carrying on emotionally and pounding the pulpit and forcing his words down people’s throats.
But teaching them as one having authority means He taught them as one who authored the words he spoke.
This was compared to the scribes who were simply students of the law.
But Jesus Christ taught them as one having authorship and not as one who interpreted the author.
The word authority has in it the word “author”.
We attach the word “author” in most cases today to someone who writes an article, or composes a book.
But the real definition of the word “author” is much broader than just the writing of an article or a book.
The Latin word for the word “author” is “auctor” which is from the root of the word augeo, which means to increase, or cause to enlarge.
The latin word for the word authority is auctoritas which shows that author and authority are connected.
The primary sense in the word “author” is one who brings or causes to come forth or causes to enlarge.
Authority then is the power to author or the power to bring forth or to enlarge.
So then those having authority have the power to bring forth or to enlarge.
This certainly describes the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is not one who interprets the law for when Jesus Christ speaks it is “Thus sayest the Lord!”
It is easy to conclude that Jesus’ teaching was simple and straightforward, while that of scribes and Pharisees was academic, scholarly, and hard to understand.
When Jesus taught, He spoke very simply, using earthly stories, parables, and illustrations.
People heard Him, knowing what He had said, and grasping that this was what the Bible had taught in the first place.
Jesus, as the Master Teacher, made the text of Scripture clear.
Jesus taught as the author of Scripture, while the scribes and Pharisees taught as students, but not good students with a humble spirit!
The difference between Jesus’ teaching and the rest was the same as hearing the author of a book speak about his book and hearing another person speak about the same book.
Jesus taught Scripture as God, from God’s point of view and the author of scripture knowing every jot and every title.
The scribes and Pharisees taught as men, with their biases and prejudices and their opinions, obscuring the text of Scripture.
The scribes and Pharisees were known for quoting their knowledge and use of the rabbi’s material, and not for their knowledge of the Scriptures.
They were more extra biblical than Biblical.
So much of the teaching of the word is slanted by the teacher to justify the teacher.
That is why deviation from the scriptures and a turning to man’s opinion is so dangerous.
Anything can be justified apart from the truth of scripture.
Luke 4:33-37, And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, 34Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. 35And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. 36And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. 37And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.
Luke has just declared that they were astonished at his doctrine for his word was with power and now Luke relates a specific incident which illustrates his point.
We see in this incident how his word was with power.
On this Sabbath day Jesus, in the midst of His teaching, was rudely interrupted by the loud protests of a demoniac.
Picture someone in this church letting loose with a loud voice and objecting to the preaching during the service.
What a shock it would be to all but it gave opportunity for the word of Jesus Christ to be displayed with power.
The satanic and demonic evil of this man, was designed to create chaos and confusion.
The devil’s agents were up to no good and were engaged in disruption.
According to Luke’s account, however, the incident simply was used of God to demonstrate the power of our Lord’s words and to further His reputation throughout the region.
God uses the wrath of men to praise him and he also uses the wrath of demons to do the same.
This is the first instance of demonic possession in Luke’s gospel.
It is also the first report of a miracle being performed on the Sabbath without protest by the Jewish authorities.
Apparently miracles on the Sabbath are OK if your life is in danger.
All were glad to have the demoniac cured even if it was on the sabbath, especially those sitting near him.
They were glad to see him shut up.
At Nazareth, Jesus had been put out of the synagogue.
Now, at Capernaum, a demonized man had come into the synagogue, and the demon must be put out of the man.
It is a given that this was a demon dominated man.
We are told that the demon was unclean but in contrast to this the demon recognized the Lord, as “the Holy One of God” (4:34).
The demon was loud and disruptive. He cried out with a loud voice (4:33).
His intent seems to have been to interrupt and disrupt the teaching of Jesus.
It also appears that in addition to being very hostile and angry at Jesus Christ, the demon was perplexed and confused.
The demon was something like a wild animal that has been cornered.
Jesus preaching was again divisive and was about to divide the demon from the man.
His question, “Have You come to destroy us?” (4:34), could just as easily have been a statement, “You have come to destroy us!”
The “us” is significant here, for the demon saw himself as but one of the satanic force, all of which would be destroyed at Messiah’s coming.
This raised the question, spoken by the demon, “What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth?” (4:34).
Satan had been told at the time of the fall of Adam and Eve (in which Satan was instrumental) that his head would be crushed by the heel of the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15).
He knew, in other words, that when Messiah came, it would bring his destruction.
That is why the demon so quickly raised the question of what Jesus was doing there in the synagogue.
Had He not come to destroy Satan?
What was the purpose of Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue?
What was going on? Satan could not figure out the game plan of our Lord.
Not realizing that Jesus would “crush his head” by means of His substitutionary death on the cross, Satan could not fathom what was taking place.
The demon was demanding to know what was going on.
Jesus would not carry on a conversation with this demon.
He would not dignify the demon by giving it opportunity to display its devilish nature.
Thus, Jesus rebuked the demon and commanded it to be silent and to come out of the man.
The demon obeyed, but only after one final rebellious act.
He cast the man to the ground in a way that was so violent, it seemed certain that the man would have been seriously injured.
Luke, the doctor, informs us further of our Lord’s great power by indicating that the man incurred no injury from this final fit. Jesus was Lord of all.
We can see that the man was utterly overshadowed, dominated and controlled by this unclean and evil spirit.
We can see that the demon was seeking to resist the purposes of Messiah, rebellious to the end.
We can also see that our Lord was in complete control.
For Jesus cast the demon out with one short sentence.
The demon obeyed, reluctantly, but immediately, and there was no injury done to the man.
The incident had a profound impact on those who watched.
Most likely this whole event took very little time, but even the brevity of the event was significant.
At the word of Jesus, demons obeyed for word of Jesus had great power and authority.
If Jesus’ teaching was authoritative, so were His words spoken to the members of the satanic hoard.
And amazement came upon them all, and they began discussing with one another, and saying, “What is this message [literally “word”]?
For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out” (Luke 4:36).
Jesus’ words were powerful, whether in teaching, or in commanding the demon to be silent and to depart from the demoniac.
The authority of our Lord was to be seen by the power of His words.
When Jesus spoke, even the demons listened, and obeyed.
As a result of this incident in the synagogue Jesus reputation was spread abroad.
Reports of this event and many others preceded Jesus to other parts of the land.
They also brought many to Him for healing, which is described in the next section.