Scripture reading – Luke 4

We have considered the temptation of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 4:1-17), and find the same recorded by Luke in his Gospel (4:1-13). I will not take time for a thorough examination of the temptations, other than invite you to consider one difference. The second temptation in Luke’s gospel, in which the devil tempted Jesus to worship him and be ruler of the kingdoms of the world (4:5-8), was the third temptation recorded by Matthew (Matthew 4:9-12). That is not a discrepancy, but the order probably suggests where each author wanted to put an emphasis.

The Commencement of Jesus’ Public Ministry (4:13-15)

The temptation being ended, Matthew continued his narrative with Jesus leaving Nazareth for Capernaum (Matthew 4:13). Luke, however, filled in details of what transpired before and after Jesus was in Nazareth (4:14-32).

His temptation being ended, Jesus departed the wilderness and with “the power of the Spirit” upon Him, began to minister in Galilee (4:14). Before His arrival in Nazareth, Jesus’ fame had spread “through all the region round about” (4:14b). Jesus had begun teaching in synagogues in that region, and when He came to Nazareth the homecoming of their native son was much anticipated (4:15).

Nazareth: A Homecoming (4:16-31)

A Hometown Response (4:16-27)

On the Sabbath, Jesus entered the synagogue of Nazareth, the one He attended as a child. Faithful to worship in “the synagogue on the sabbath day,” as was His custom, Jesus was chosen to read the Scriptures (4:16b). Standing as a sign of respect for the Scriptures (4:17), Jesus read the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah (4:17-19; Isaiah 6:1-2), and then sat down (the traditional posture of a teacher, 4:20). With all eyes upon Him, Jesus “began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (4:21).

The people understood the passage Jesus read foretold the coming of the Messiah. Many in the audience had known Jesus as a child, and understood He lacked the formal training of a scribe, yet, He spoke with eloquence and understanding (4:22). They were astonished, and some asked, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” (4:22)

Though they were impressed with His words, the people expressed their disbelief, and demanded proof to support His claim to be the Messiah (4:22). They had heard of His miracles in other places, and desired to see those things He was said to have done in Capernaum (4:23). Jesus refused, and declared, “No prophet is accepted in his own country” (4:24).

Jesus then gave two historical illustrations to support his refusal, and reminded the people the unbelief of their ancestors had limited God’s work among His people (4:24-27). The first illustration was of a time of drought and famine in Israel. At that time, the prophet Elijah fled to the home of a widow of Sarepta (a Phoenician city). While Israel suffered hunger, the LORD supplied food for Elijah and the widow’s household (4:25-26; 1 Kings 17:8-24). A second illustration was when Elisha healed the leper Naaman, a Syrian, though there were many lepers in Israel (4:27; 2 Kings 5).

A Hometown Rejection (4:28-30)

Rather than rejoicing, Jesus’ neighbors “were filled with wrath” (4:28), and drove Him out of the village (4:29). Pushing him toward a cliff, they would have “cast Him down headlong” (4:29). By a miracle, Jesus passed through their midst” (4:30) and journeyed to Capernaum (4:31).

Christ’s Ministry in Capernaum (4:31-44)

Capernaum, located on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, would be the base of Christ’s ministry in Galilee. The people of that village were amazed at His doctrine (teachings), and that Jesus taught with power and authority (4:32). In Capernaum, He performed many miracles, and healed many diseases (4:33-44). He demonstrated His authority over demons (4:33-37). When a man indwelt by a demon testified, “I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God” (4:34), Jesus rebuked the demon and commanded, “Hold thy peace, and come out of him” (4:25).

Jesus also healed Peter’s mother-in-law, who was ill (4:38-39). As news of His miracles spread, people from all over brought their sick, “and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them” (4:40).

Closing thoughts – What must it have been like to live in Capernaum? Jesus had power and authority to heal all sickness, and cast demons out of men (4:40-41). Yet, though He was incarnate Son of God, we are reminded He was a man, for He sought solitude for rest and prayer (4:42). The citizens of Capernaum would have Him continue in their midst, but Jesus was on a mission, and said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. 44And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee” (4:43-44).

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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