In Jesus’ Hometown Synagogue
THERE is no doubt a stir of excitement in Nazareth when Jesus returns home. Before he left to be baptized by John a little over a year before, Jesus was known as a carpenter. But now he is known far and wide as a miracle worker. The local residents are eager to see him do some of these marvelous works among them.
Their anticipation rises as Jesus, according to his custom, goes to the local synagogue. During the services, he stands up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah is handed to him. He finds the place where it tells of the One anointed by Jehovah’s spirit, which place in our Bible today is Isa chapter 61.
After reading about how this One would preach a release to the captives, a recovery of sight to the blind, and about Jehovah’s acceptable year, Jesus hands the scroll back to the attendant and sits down. All eyes are intently fixed upon him. Then he speaks, probably at some length, explaining: “Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.”
The people marvel at his “winsome words” and say to one another: “This is a son of Joseph, is it not?” But knowing that they want to see him perform miracles, Jesus continues: “No doubt you will apply this illustration to me, ‘Physician, cure yourself; the things we heard as having happened in Capernaum do also here in your home territory.’” Evidently, Jesus’ former neighbors feel that healing should begin at home, for the benefit of his own people first. So they feel they have been slighted by Jesus.
Realizing their thinking, Jesus relates some applicable history. There were many widows in Israel during the days of Elijah, he notes, but Elijah was sent to none of those. Rather, he went to a non-Israelite widow in Sidon, where he performed a lifesaving miracle. And in the days of Elisha, there were many lepers, but Elisha cleansed only Naaman from Syria.
Angered by these unfavorable historical comparisons that expose their selfishness and lack of faith, those in the synagogue rise up and rush Jesus outside the city. There, on the brow of the mountain upon which Nazareth is built, they try to throw him over the edge. But Jesus escapes from their grasp and gets away safely. Luke 4:16-30; 1 Kings 17:8-16; 2 Kings 5:8-14.
▪ Why is there a stir of excitement in Nazareth?
▪ What do the people think of Jesus’ speech, but then what makes them so angry?
▪ What do the people try to do to Jesus?