Rejected at Nazareth

 Harmony of the Gospels

-AD 27-
(2) Rejected at Nazareth
(Isaiah 61:1-2) Luke 4:16-30


Jesus opened His public ministry in Nazareth, by reading these verses from Isaiah.

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn. (Isaiah 61:1-2)

Who is he talking about?  Who is it who says, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me?”  This verse refers to Jesus Christ, but is it talking about His First or Second Coming?  Well, actually it is talking about both.  Isaiah did not make a distinction between the First and Second Coming of Christ, but Jesus did.  He will lend His interpretation to these verses, when He speaks at the synagogue in His hometown.  We will read about that in Luke 4:16-30.  In Isaiah’s prophesy, a little “and” separates the first and second comings of Christ.  You could say that that “and” currently represents 2100 years.  The prophets were blessed to be able to look into the future and see these two great events, but they couldn’t tell how long it would be between them.  The apostle Paul confirms this, “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesized of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (1 Peter 11:10-11)  Peter says that the prophets spoke of both the glory and suffering of Christ; the First Coming and the Second Coming of Christ.

We have an advantage over the prophets, because to them both the First Coming and Second Coming were in the future.  Our advantage is that we stand in the valley between the two events.  We can look back to His First Coming, when He came to save and to fulfill Isaiah 53.  We can look forward to His Second Coming, but before that happens, the church will be removed from the earth.  In John 14:3 Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

“To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God.”  When He comes to earth the second time, it will be to establish His kingdom.  At that time, He will put down all rebellion.  It will not be a pretty sight.  The kingdom will be established with vengeance and the wrath of God will come to bear on sinful man.  Jesus Christ is in control, and when He comes the second time, that will be “the day of vengeance of our God.”

“To comfort all that mourn.”  Right after He announces the day of vengeance, He says that He will comfort all that mourn-those that mourn over their sin, and want to be obedient to Him.

Now we can look at one of the most scintillating events in the Gospels.  It is full of meaning and rich with drama.  Dr. Luke is the one who recorded it.

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 was upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, He hath sent me to the broken hearted, 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.  And 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.  And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.  (Luke 4:16-21)

This incident is recorded only in Luke’s Gospel, and it is remarkable.  He begins by telling us that He has returned to His hometown, Nazareth.  There would be family, friends and acquaintances there.  He was well known by many and you would think that they would be proud of Him, because there was not much good that had come out of Nazareth, before Jesus.

It was the Sabbath day, or Saturday, for the Jews worshipped on the last day of the week.  He was in the synagogue, because that was His custom.  Remember that Jesus was a Jew and He kept the law.  “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; But the seventh day is the Sabbath day of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor his daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8-11)  I believe that both Jesus and Paul made it clear that we are not under the Sabbath day laws anymore, and I do not follow a strict observance of the Sabbath.  But this is a special day for me.  It is a day to worship with others and to rest.  It is a shame that there is so much going on, on Sundays.  Today, sports and entertainment keep many people out of the house of God.  We will get deeper into the Sabbath day question later, but for now let’s note that Jesus made it a custom to be in the synagogue on the Sabbath.

At this time, the synagogue was the center of Jewish life.  It probably came about during the time of the Babylonian captivity.  The people were far away from the temple in Jerusalem, and probably felt the need to gather around those who were pious and could speak about God’s word.  After they returned to Israel, synagogues were established in all of the larger cities.  At first, they were only for instruction in the law.  Later, there was added a time for prayer and preaching.  However, the teaching of the law was always the primary function of the synagogue, and it was available for all of the people.

I now know something about the “silent years” of Jesus’ life.  I can fill in one day of each week.  I don’t know what He did on the other six days; other than He worked as a carpenter.  But I know that He was in the synagogue on then seventh day.

Now Jesus is in the synagogue, in His hometown.  He is the featured speaker and all eyes are on Him, when He is handed the book of Isaiah.  He turns the pages and begins to read.  In those days scripture was not divided into chapters and verses, but if it had been, He would have read Isaiah 61:1-2.  The important thing to notice is where He broke off reading.  He did not read “…..and the day of vengeance of our God…..”  He closed the book and gave it back to the minister.  The amazing thing is that He did not stop reading at the end of a sentence.  In our translation, He stopped at a comma, but there was no comma in the text that He was reading.  Do you know why He stopped there?  He looked at the crowd and said, “This day is the scripture fulfilled in your eyes.”  The message could not be clearer.  Here was a prophecy that would be fulfilled down to a comma.  The one that they were looking at was the fulfillment of all that came before the comma.  What followed the comma, was in the future.  What is the day of vengeance?  It is the time of which God said, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thine possession.” (Psalms 2:8)  How is the Lord going to get the heathen for their inheritance?  “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them into pieces like a potted vessel.” (Psalms 2:9)  That is the way the Lord will come to power, when He comes the second time.  He will crush all opposition and establish His kingdom.  That is the Great Day of the Lord.  He came the first time to preach the Gospel to the poor, that they might be saved.  He was anointed by the Holy Spirit to preach the glorious message of salvation.  We are still living in the glorious day of the Gospel, but when He comes again it will be the day of vengeance.  Jesus taught the people who were present that day, some good truths.  He clearly identified Himself and His mission.  Also, He revealed to them the wrath of God that awaits all those who refuse the Gospel.

And all bear him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.  And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son. (Luke 4:22)

I believe that He had more to say than what Dr. Luke recorded.  They needed more, because they thought of Him as Joseph’s son and as the carpenter.

And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever ye have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.  And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.  But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent save unto Sarepta, a city in Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.  And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them were cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian. (Luke 4:23-27)

The illustrations that Jesus gives are of two Gentiles that lived outside of the land of Israel.  God did miraculous things in the lives of both of them.  He is trying to tell them that His own people could miss a great blessing, if they did not believe in Him.  They would be like the many widows and lepers who were not healed during the time of Elijah.  This was more than an illustration, it was prophesy, because He was rejected by Israel, and as a result the Gospel went to the Gentiles.

All they that were 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 hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.  But he passing through the midst of them went his way. (Luke 4:28-30)

The people of His hometown rejected him.  This was a rugged area, and they took Him to the top of a hill, where they intended to push Him off to his death.  His escape was a miracle.  Did He cause their eyes not to see Him?  Did He make it so that their arms would not work to hold on to Him?  Did some in the crowd conceal Him?  We are not given the details of His escape, because that is not important for us to know.  The important thing is that His time had not yet come.


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