The Path of Life: Messiah

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Worship: Jesus


That Day in Nazareth
A Narrative

Luke 4:28-30 NKJV
So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.

The Event
No one saw it coming. They all knew Him—Jesus, the son of the carpenter Joseph of blessed memory. The young man had earned the respect of the community because of his cheerful disposition, his obvious adoration and care for His mother, Mary, the loveliest widow in the village whom no man dare approach. The quality of His carpentry was without peer. His character was beyond question. He had never lost His temper, or cheated anyone, or showed disrespect to the elders. There was not the slightest shadow of scandal, unlike Mary and Joseph when they were young.

The gossips would not forget the events of more than 30 years past. Was His strict but effortless goodness a charge given Him to make up for the sins of His parents? There was strife in the home; everyone had heard that his younger brother James resented Jesus’ recent departure to go out preaching, leaving the bulk of the work to him. What must it be like to be younger brother or sister to such a gloriously good person?

Now He was home and the Sabbath found Him just where He should be—in the Synagogue. The Rabbi asked Him to read the scriptures for the day and handed Him the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. In the shadows, his brother James wondered if they were now to hear of the exploits of Jesus’ latest foray into the regions around Galilee. Rumors of miracles at His hand and strange new teachings had preceded His return to Nazareth.

Jesus stood to read and with steady hands Jesus turned through the scroll until He reached the place marked for today. He began to read without looking at the text. These were words He memorized long before as a child. He had taken them into the countryside with Him on His frequent long solitary walks. He had meditated on them as he lay quietly at might waiting for sleep to visit. They had often been the first thoughts of the morning after He prayed the Shema, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ And ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me…” He began reading.

There was still some restlessness in the congregation but the slight pause in Jesus’ reading stifled the extraneous noise. This had to be heard by those who knew Him best.

“to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted…”

The thoughts of the sharpest thinkers among them began to race ahead of Jesus’ words. Surely he means Messiah—everyone knows this prophecy concerns the Messiah! When He comes He will do these things. We must wait for Him…

“…He has anointed me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind…”

Rumors say that such things had happened in the crowd that came to hear him preach out in Galilee. God must be praised for such miracles!

“ set at liberty those who are bruised and oppressed by evil…”

Surely Jesus isn’t taking credit for what God has done! He needs to let God be God and not interfere with Romans or the Elders. It is not wise to speak of oppression. Finally we have peace, such as it is—but this is not the time of rebellion…

“…to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

That wasn’t the end of the passage but it was where Jesus stopped. He closed the scroll, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.

In the silence hearts beat so loud you could not hear them. Breathing did not stop but it slowed to a deep stillness. This was the carpenter’s son, a tradesman himself! He was a fine young man to be sure but he always was a little strange. Had his mind snapped? Had the acclaim of the crowd shaken his good sense? Awakened his long-suppressed pride? Tradition called for Him to comment on the passage…

“…Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

The Reaction
The silence did not immediately relent. Heads began to turn as hometown worshipers looked at each other. They began to whisper.

“His words!—There is a power in them.”

“And authority, not like our Rab—not like what we usually hear.”

“Is this not Joseph the carpenter’s son?”

No one knows what Jesus expected of His friends, patrons, and fellow citizens of Nazareth. Quickly He sensed their unbelief, their skepticism, their suspicion. His whole life He had ignored their snubs and their whispered abuse of Joseph and Mary. He had watched Joseph do a quality work among the people of this village without honor and recognition and with tense silence keeping the peace when payment was promised but not delivered.

But Jesus was a forgiving person and His rebuke did not spring from any such petty though oft-repeated offences. He loved these people who did not love Him. He wanted them to understand what He had read and prophesied—the time was now! Messiah had come! Things were about to change forever and they could be witnesses to it all. They could testify to the world of the life He had lived before them. They could finally reinterpret the rumors and believe the truth about Joseph and Mary as prophecies fulfilled. But they would not listen. They would not believe.

Every face He looked at represented a story about Him.

  • Things He made were in their homes, tables, chairs, cabinets, all crafted with care by His hands.
  • Some of the men plowed their fields with plows He built or them.
  • He saw men with whom He had played as children.
  • A few still owed Him money for His work.

There was not a stranger in the synagogue that day.

“ You say to me, ‘Physician, heal yourself—do the same things here that you did Capernaum.’ The saying is true that a prophet never finds honor in His own country.”

Using Bible stories of people who missed their opportunities He scolded them from a broken heart, not an angry one.

Like lightning, the crowd turned violent. They rose as one and seized Jesus, dragging Him out of the synagogue smashing pots and jars, spilling their contents into the streets and smashing the ancient laws of behavior on the Sabbath.

Through the narrows streets, out the town gates, and to the brow of a nearby hill they wrestled Jesus though He did not resist them. This very hill, so near the town, had been a favorite thinking spot for Jesus as a boy, a youth, and when He had time, as a man.

The time had come, but not for this.

We are not told how, but somehow Jesus stopped and silenced the mob. Those who held Him simply let Him go. Perhaps it was His eyes, so gentle to them day by day, now shining with wrath—like the wrath the Temple merchants would see in a short while—but whatever it was, something disarmed the mob.

Jesus stood there, staring deep into each set of familiar eyes. No one could return His stare for long. Gradually a lane cleared before Him. Quietly, peacefully, Jesus walked through the mob. No one tried to stop Him but no one could take their eyes from Him either. The Bible closes the incident like this: “Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.”

The people of Nazareth missed their opportunity. Unbelief settled into the village, even into the home of Mary, His mother. Jesus moved His residence to Capernaum. From this point Nazareth could be called the Capitol of Irony. In Nazareth:

  • Gabriel announced the coming of Messiah to the virgin Mary.
  • Joseph and Mary established their home and business upon their return from Egypt.
  • Jesus grew from childhood to manhood, learning a trade as He learned about the Kingdom of God at the local Rabbinical school.
  • Jesus was violently rejected by the people who thought they knew Him.

They could see Him as Joseph’s son but not as Messiah, God’s Son. They were never to learn that all the fullness of the One True God could be seen in Jesus:

  • Jehovah Jireh—the Lord who provides,
  • Jehovah McKaddish—the Lord who sanctifies,
  • Jehovah Nissi—the Lord our who is the Victor,
  • Jehovah Rapha—the Lord who heals,
  • Jehovah Roi—the Lord who is my Shepherd,
  • Jehovah Shalom—the Lord who my peace,
  • Jehovah Shammah—the Lord who is present,
  • Jehovah Tsidekenu—the Lord who is my righteousness, and
  • Jehovah Saboath—the Lord of Hosts.

To be fair, no one could have foreseen this then. But now—now we know!

The Opportunity
This concludes our study of the Covenantal Names of God. Beginning with a pronouncement from a flaming tree to the celebration of the victory seen in an empty tree—The Cross of Calvary.

We must do better than the hapless congregation at Nazareth. We must not miss our opportunity.

  • I hope we now can put to rest questions about one God in the Old Testament and a different God in the New Testament.
  • In the story of Jesus we see the Triune God at work and embrace the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
  • In the New Covenant we welcome the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, our Helper in prayer and witness, the teacher who writes the Word in our hearts, and our sanctifier in appropriating daily the victory of Jesus Christ in whom the fullness of the Godhead abides.

Seeing Jesus as He truly is at this moment in our lives, we must also hear Him and obey. We must see Him

  • in the manger,
  • in the synagogue at Nazareth,
  • at summit of the Mountain preaching,
  • in the avenues of life in His day with a healing touch and a word of Truth,
  • in tender moments with the men and women who answered His call,
  • standing innocent before Pilate,
  • falling guiltless beneath the lash,
  • pinned without justification to the cross,
  • lying lifeless in the tomb,
  • rising triumphant at the sunrise of New Creation, re-entering the lives of His disciples without the need for a door,
  • rising in clouds of glory with a promise of a Comforter,
  • and reigning in power and peace on Heaven’s Throne.

With such a One leading us we will seize this opportunity to serve Him well.

Luke 4:16-30 NKJV
So 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 to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. 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 has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”

He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.'” Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”

So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.

Colossians 2:8-10;1:19-20 NKJV
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

Revelation 1:17-19 NKJV
“Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

The Path of Life: Messiah

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