Free Bible Study Magazine
Jesus Begins His Mission
4:14–15 Then Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and news about him spread throughout the surrounding countryside. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by all.
Having faced and defeated Satan, Jesus began his mission in his home area of Galilee. So far Luke has told us that Jesus was born by the power of the Holy Spirit (), and that he received the Holy Spirit at his baptism (); here he emphasises that Jesus was empowered by the Holy Spirit. This was seen as Jesus began his ministry; as he taught in all the Jewish synagogues his message accompanied by miraculous works done in the power of the Spirit won him acclaim throughout the whole region.
4:16 Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read.
When eventually he reached the town of Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue (as he was accustomed to doing every Sabbath day) and stood up to read the scriptures.
4:17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written.
It is possible that Jesus requested this scroll of Isaiah. In any case he deliberately looked for a particular scripture within the scroll and began to read aloud.
4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed.
Jesus read from In Isaiah 61:1, where we read of the Anointed One. As Luke has already made clear, this anointed one was the long awaited descendent of David, the Messiah, who would have the Spirit of the Lord upon him. This verse about the anointing makes clear what the people could expect from the messiah’s ministry. Jesus was anointed to make known the good news to those who are poor – both the materially and spiritually poor. He is anointed to set free those that are bound by sin and Satan, an idea which includes the salvation of our souls and also deliverance from physical affliction and demonic possession. Jesus brings the light of the revelation of God and gives sight to both the spiritually and physically blind; setting free all who are oppressed (Acts 10:38).
4:19 To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord is to announce that the day of salvation has arrived (2 Cor. 6:2). In Lev. 25:10 the year of release or jubilee is described as the time when debts are cancelled and slaves are set free. The coming of salvation means forgiveness of sins and liberation from sin’s slavery (Rom. 8:2).
4:20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him.
When Jesus had closed the scroll and gave it back to the attendant, he sat down; and every eye in the synagogue was on him, waiting to hear what he would say concerning this portion of scripture.
4:21–22 Then he began to tell them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read.” All were speaking well of him, and were amazed at the gracious words coming out of his mouth. They said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
Jesus began by announcing that Isaiah’s prophecy had been fulfilled; by implication, through his own ministry. The people were all astounded by the message of God’s grace, being amazed initially it seems, that a local boy, Joseph’s son, had become such a great teacher – nothing more. Jesus knew the unbelief of their hearts; that they did not accept him as the Christ, the Son of God, and so he begins to challenge them directly, perhaps even harshly.
Unbelief and its Consequences
4:23 Jesus said to them, “No doubt you will quote to me the proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ and say, ‘What we have heard that you did in Capernaum, do here in your hometown too.’ “
Jesus, knowing the hearts of the people of Nazareth better (it seems) than they did reveals to them their unbelief (see Luke 2:34-35) by quoting to them this familiar proverb; the meaning being “Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum” (NLT).
4:24 And he added, “I tell you the truth, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.
Jesus affirms that it is because he had been brought up among them that they were not prepared to accept that he was sent by God. The saying “familiarity breeds contempt” would seem appropriate. They might have accepted a stranger but not one of their own.
4:25–26 But in truth I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s days, when the sky was shut up three and a half years, and there was a great famine over all the land. Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to a woman who was a widow at Zarephath in Sidon.
He reminds them of what happened in the days of Elijah the prophet (1 Kings 17:9-16). During those days there was a great famine as Elijah had prayed that it would not rain for three and half years. As a result, many people died, and so there were many widows in Israel. Yet God did not send Elijah to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath, which is in the county of Sidon. There the Lord miraculously provided for Elijah, the widow and her son.
4:27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, yet none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.
At the time of Elisha the prophet there were many lepers in Israel but none of them were healed except Naaman the Syrian. The reason for this was that there was unbelief in the people of Israel. It seems that Luke records what Jesus says here, not only to show the reaction of the men of Nazareth, but to progress his account of how Jesus brought a gospel that would reach all nations and not just Israel.
4:28 When they heard this, all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage.
We are not sure what made the men of Nazareth so angry. Was it because Jesus had revealed to them the sin of unbelief and hardness in their hearts? Or was it because Jesus was seemingly prepared to allow non-Jews into God’s blessings? Surely, since they were Israelites, God’s blessings were for them alone? They didn’t like to hear the truth that God values the response of obedience and faith more than he values lineage, and became furious with Jesus.
4:29 They got up, forced him out of the town, and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.
This put an end to the service that day, as they grabbed hold of Jesus and took Him out of the city intending to throw Him over a cliff. This was preparatory to stoning.
4:30 But he passed through the crowd and went on his way.
However, the people of Nazareth were not able to accomplish their objective, for since his hour had not yet come, no man could take His life (John 7:30 and John 10:15-18). As a result of divine protection, Jesus passed through them peacefully and went on His way to another village.