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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

JESUS PREACHES IN NAZARETH

Luke 4:16-19 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. And 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, 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, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

In John 2:1-11 we find Jesus' first visit to Cana after beginning His personal ministry to the Jewish nation. There he performed His first miracle at a marriage feast by turning water into wine. After this He visited Capernaum (John 2:12), He descended into Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Passover, followed by a discourse with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. Desiring to return to Galilee, it was necessary for Jesus and His disciples to journey through Samaria. At Sychar, He met the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, convinced her, and many of her townspeople, that He was the promised Messiah and converted them to follow His teaching. Then, rather than go into His own country, the city of Nazareth, He returned to Cana where He met a nobleman, and, after hearing his plea, healed his son that was then in Capernaum (John 4:43-54).

It seems that it was at this point that Luke takes up the narration of Jesus ministry as He traveled from place to place preaching His gospel message of salvation to the men and women of Palestine. In the two verses preceding the lesson text we find that Jesus returned ...into Galilee, ...and ...taught in their synagogues. In the Gospel message recorded by John, we previously knew that Jesus avoided going into Nazareth by first going into the city of Cana. At that time He justified not entering this city by using this truism: a prophet hath no honor in his own country (John 4:44). The truth of this saying is confirmed and strengthened by Jesus because He uses the same, or a similar, quotation in Matthew 13:57, Mark 6:4, as well as in Luke 4:24, following the lesson text.

Having already received fame for His preaching and the miracles He performed to confirm the doctrine that He taught, it seems natural that he would also be known and accepted in Nazareth. However, after spending a few days teachingin Galilee, and disregarding the ineffectiveness that He expected to receive, He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. It was here that our Lord lived for the majority of His life before beginning His public ministry, probably until He was 30 years old. We know from Acts 13:15 that some Jews, besides Rabbis, were allowed to address the congregation and read from God's inspired word. So did Jesus. As He customarily did in His ministry, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

After it was given to Him by a synagogue minister, Jesus read from the book of the prophet Esaias (Isaiah). The passage He read paraphrased Isaiah 61:1-2: 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, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. There can be no doubt that this passagewas prophesied about the promised Messiah. The following verses tell us that after this reading He closed the book, and He gave it again to the minister, and sat down. It seems that the manner in which Jesus read this prophesy, He directly applied it to Himself, because the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him (Vs. 20).

Jesus left no doubt in their minds when He confessed that on this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears (Vs. 21). Realizing that Jesus grew up in their city of Nazareth as the son of a carpenter, and had lived among them for about thirty years, they refused to accept Him as the Messiah of Isaiah's prophesy. Defying Jesus claim, and recognizing Him only as their neighbor, they answered with this question: Is not this Joseph's son (Vs. 22)? No doubt they were astonished at Jesus' claim to be the promised Savior. But they were also angry; even incensed that a "lowly" son of a carpenter; one from their own city whom they witnessed growing from a child into manhood, would attempt to "deceive" them with such a preposterous, unbelievable claim to be the Son of God.

With the godly ability to look into their hearts, Jesus could hear them applying this old Jewish proverb to Him within their minds: Physician, heal thyself (Vs. 23). For a physician to gain the approval of his patients, he first must be free from the same injuries and diseases that, through his medical training, he attempts to cure and heal among them. It is evident that news of miracles Jesus performed in Capernaum had reached Nazareth. And it is also evident that they ignored the fact that these miracles served to prove His claim of being the promised Messiah. They desired His miraculous power to heal the lame, deaf, blind, and those having other maladies within their city of Nazareth. But they would not accept these miracles as proof that Jesus was the Savior of the world or acknowledge Him as being the Son of God. Realizing their unyielding minds, He said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country (Vs. 23). With full knowledge of one's lowly estate, and having familiarity with one's human life, often results in the teaching of a family member, friend, neighbor, or fellow Christian being rejected by his or her peers. Such was the case with Jesus and the people of Nazareth - the city in which He had lived most of His life.

Jesus offers examples of hard-hearted Jews being passed over by the saving power of God's prophets in favor of extending their inspired healing hands of kindness and mercy to men and women of Gentile nations. Many Israelite families, especially widows, bore much suffering due to a severe drought that lasted for three and a half years. Due to their rebelliousness, God sent Elijah, not to administer to the needs of these Jews, but to relieve a heathen widow that lived in Sarepta (Zarephath), a city of Sidon (Vs. 25-26; See 1 Kings 17:8-24; 18:1-45). The Jewish nation had many that suffered from the disease of leprosy. There were even areas established where they were required to live in order to separate them from society. Instead of sending Eliseus (Elisha) to heal these Jews, God sent him to heal one of a foreign country - Naaman, the Syrian (Vs. 27; Also see 2 Kings 5).

Realizing that Jesus was pointing His finger of condemnation at them, they refused even to a greater extent of accepting Him as the promised Messiah, the Son of God. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and 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 (Vss. 28-29). It appears that God intervened on behalf of His Son, Jesus, and in some miraculous manner, Jesus passed through the midst of them, and being unseen by them, went His way (Vs. 30).

The world is filled with men and women that are still looking for a personal miracle before they accept God's plan of salvation, believe Jesus Christ to be His Son,obey His will by repenting of their sinful ways and submit to baptismfor the remission of their sins. They continue to live by the Satan-inspired tradition that no prophet is accepted in his own country.