Visit To Nazareth
Christ never forgot the place where He had spent His childhood years. We are not given many facts of His life there .. in Nazareth.
Nothing to indicate that there was anything unusual in those thirty years. His life in Nazareth, from boy to young man, appeared to be simple and normal, without anything unusual happening to him as he grew up in this small village.
Our passage today tells of His visit to His home after He had been away for many months.
He came to Nazareth, where He had been raised. It was not an easy place for Jesus to visit. Everybody knew Him. He had lived there for thirty years. He had been playmate and schoolmate with the people of Him own age.
A carpenter .. doing work for many years in the shops and homes in the small villages and towns surrounding his village of Nazareth.
He was just one of many young men in the area. No better .. No worse. Just one of the guys.
But this time .. on his return home to Nazareth .. something has changed. The other young men had been hearing the news and stories that preceded Jesus. A prophet .. the miracles. Many of the men, Jesus boyhood friends, were not in the mood to receive him, let alone have him preach to them. Its easy to understand the prejudice and envy of the crowd of people that came to listen to Jesus that day.
So he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. As his custom, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus know their thoughts and could feel the tension that ran through the crowd that day. The synagogue rabbi invited Jesus to read the days scripture lesson. He stood up to read.
Here we have a glimpse of Jesus religious habits. From childhood His custom had been to attend service on the Sabbath. From the time of his youth he had attended church. Habits formed early will stay with us all our life.
Jesus opened the book and located the scripture. The book he was reading from was part of the Old Testament. Some people have the feeling that the Old Testament is dry and uninteresting. But we see here the precious things that Jesus found that day in the synagogue.
The passage which He quoted drips with the sweetness and tenderness of divine love. A honeycomb of gospel grace.
Honeycomb of grace … this brings to mind a story. Some men were about to tear down an old farm house, long unoccupied. When they began to remove the weather boarding they found a mass of honey within the walls. As they began to remove boards at different points they discovered that the whole side of the house was filled with honey. Then they investigated the wall on the other side of the house .. more honey.
People regard the Old Testament as an old, worn-out book, a relic of old ceremonial days. But when they begin to open it .. they find honey, and as they look into it at other points they find that all the passages, in among the histories, the chronicles of war, and the descriptions of ceremonial rites, are full of sweet honey.
Jesus is about to reveal pure sweetness … pure honey. We do not know what we lose when we do not study the Old Testament. Now .. back to Nazareth and Jesus.
Jesus was sent by the Father to minister to the poor .. the captives .. the blind .. those who are bruised .. release the captives, and recover the sight to the blind. These are the special people Jesus came to help and care for. Suffering and sorrow, hearts and lives crushed and bruised by the hardship of life under Roman occupation. To set at liberty those who where bruised. Christ is the restorer.
Christ had come to restore the ruined souls, and by the power of His love and grace He would give them salvation.
Back to the synagogue. Jesus reads, “To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”. For some this ‘acceptable year’ would mean the time the prophets had spoke about had arrived. The time when God willed and fixed goodwill and pleasure unto the sinful man. The time when the redemption of God’s people had arrived.
When Jesus spoke these words, there was a rush of tears and loud outcry of grief.
A hush fell over the crowd. Was Jesus saying the ‘acceptable year’ has closed and the redemption of God’s people had arrived.
The crowd sat in silence .. stunned. What was Jesus saying? This was Jesus, son of Joseph the carpenter. What was He telling the crowd? After a moment a few in the crowd began to glance back and forth between each other. Hatred was building in their eyes and hearts.
Jesus spoke again saying, ‘This day this scripture is fulfilled in your ears.’
Seven hundred years before these words had been written. 700 years the world has waited to hear these words.
Now Jesus reads them and says to the people: I am the One to whom the description refers. He was saying .. I am the One the prophets spoke of years earlier.
The Old Testament was full of Christ, and the New Testament is full of correspondences and fulfillments.
Christ indeed fulfilled in His life and ministry the mission which the prophets marked out for Him. He preached to the poor, He healed the broken-hearted. Where ever He went, the sorrowing and the troubled flocked about Him. As a magnet draws steel filings to itself out of a heap of rubbish, so did the heart of Christ draw to him the needy, the sad, the suffering, the oppressed.
He was a friend of sinners. He brought deliverance to the sinner .. you .. me. He set the captives free … and broke their chains. He opened the blind eyes; not just the blind natural eyes to see, but also blind spiritual eyes to see spiritual things.
He lifted the yoke of the oppressed .. Inviting all the weary to Himself to find rest. His whole life was a fulfillment of prophesies.
Now; back to the synagogue. They crowd rose up and thrust Jesus out of the building and down the narrow roads of the village. They pushed, and led Him to the edge of a steep hill. Their intent was to cast Him over the edge and down onto the jagged rocks below.
Their envy grew into murderous rage. Hatred flowing through their bitter hearts.
We see first the danger of allowing envious feelings to stay in our hearts; they are sure to grow into greater bitterness, and may lead us into terrible sin. We should instantly cast out any feeling of anger from our heart. Envy, begets anger, anger beget hatred. We can not harbor these feeling in our heart. They will corrupt our soul.
They tried to kill Jesus. They did not succeed. As the crowd approached the edge of the cliff with Jesus in their grasp, he simple vanished, leaving the people shocked and speechless.
They would have killed Jesus if they could, but he disappeared. Who is this man?
All things hearken to His words and obeyed them.
Diseases fled at His commend. The winds and waves were quieted and hushed at His words.
The water changed to wine at His bidding. The dead were raises to life at His very call. Evil spirits obeyed is command. Nothing resisted His authority. Nothing but Man. Man resisted His authority. Man still resist he authority.
Christ word has always been the rule set by His Father for us to follow. Why do we resist?
Let us make Christ’s words .. the rule of our life.