Upon returning from the desert place in the “power of the spirit” (Luke 4:14) scripture reveals that Jesus began teaching in synagogues, “being glorified of all” (vs. 15). However, it is revealed from John’s gospel that Jesus did not immediately return to Nazareth nor immediately begin teaching in synagogues. A true, “event-by-event” narrative is provided in Mark 1:9-13:
Mark 1:9-13 (KJV)
9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. 10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: 11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. 13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
When you enter into the narrative of Luke we are brought immediately into the teaching at the synagogues and the incident in Nazareth but there is a key phrase which stands out in Luke 4:14:
Luke 4:14 (KJV)
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
Transitioning into the Gospel of John, one recognizes from the words, “this is the record of John” (John 1:19), that the narrative is speaking in past tense. John is describing events that have already taken place in relation to his encounters with Christ at the Jordan. Thus, the reconciliation of events would go as follows:
- Jesus was baptized by John then immediately went into the desert for 40 days and was tempted
- Jesus returns from the temptation back to where John is baptizing (Jn. 1:29-34).
- John points Jesus out declaring again, “Behold the Lamb of God”
- Two disciples take note (one being Andrew the brother of Simon Peter) and follow Jesus.
- Jesus tells the disciples to come with Him and Andrew goes and brings Peter to Christ and proceeds to also interact with Andrew, Philip, and Nathaniel while on His way to Galilee (Jn. 1:37-51)
- Jesus then arrives in Galilee and performed His first miracle in Cana (Jn. 2:1-11) Jesus then traveled to Capernaum (Jn. 2:12),
- Jerusalem (vs. 13), the Judean countryside (3:22) and Samaria (4:4) before finally returning to Galilee (4:43-45).
- John had not yet been taken prisoner while Jesus was in Judea (Jn. 3:22-24;4:1-3)
- At some point, when John was imprisoned, Jesus hears about it and returns to Galilee
Scholars are divided on the chronological sequence of events which begin at the Jordan River and eventually bring us to Nazareth for the first time. However, I strongly believe that quite a bit of events had occurred after the miracle in Cana and before Jesus arrived in Nazareth which I will list below:
- Jesus cleansed the Temple (first time) – John 2:13-25
- Jesus confronted by Nicodemus- John 3:1-21
- Confrontation between Johns disciples and the Jews – John 3:22-36
- Jesus leaves Judea – John 4:1-4
- The Woman at the Well- John 4:1-43
- Nobleman’s Son (second miracle)- John 4:43-54
- John is imprisoned…
Matthew 4:12-13 (KJV)
12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13 And leaving Nazareth….
It would seem, based upon scripture, that Jesus visited Nazareth alone after John had been imprisoned, since we know that Jesus doesn’t reconnect with Peter and Andrew until walking by the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11). However, though time will not allow, there does appear to be a SECOND VISIT into Nazareth, which at that time was marked by Jesus` disciples going with him (Mark 6:1). The second visit was also marked by rejection.
However, let us focus on the first visit to Nazareth and the proclamation that Jesus made there. John has been imprisoned and Jesus comes into Nazareth, His fame already spread abroad, having taught in multiple synagogues and, “as was his custom, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.” By this time Jesus was heralded as a brilliant Teacher and word would have spread of His synagogue experiences. Jesus is more than likely invited to speak in His hometown synagogue, at which point Jesus stands to read:
Luke 4:17-20 (KJV)
17 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, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 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.
It is important to note that this would have been the second sermon, for already a sermon would have been presented from the Pentateuch, and now his reading and sermon would be from the prophets. Once Jesus read His text He sits down and with the eyes of the people fastened on him begins to interpret the text; he begins to deliver His sermon:
Luke 4:21 (KJV)
21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
His sermon begins with the words, “this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears,” and yet immediately, as the people begin to put the dots together from the opening statement of His sermon, they began to trivialize and marginalize the Preacher based upon “is this not he carpenter’s son?” What is important is that more than likely this was not a verbalized response but rather an internalized thought process that was happening the moment Jesus began to deliver His sermon. Therefore, as the sermon progresses, Jesus “knowing what is in their hearts” continues His sermon without an actual break between “this day is this scripture fulfilled in your eyes” and “ye will surely say unto me this proverb…”
Luke 4:23-27 (KJV)
23 And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. 24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 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; 26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.
What was it that caused such anger and wrath that followed Jesus` teaching by His hometown community? The simple fact is often overlooked: No prophet is accepted in his OWN country. Jesus is speaking of Israel as a nation which then leads to His amazing truth that in the days of Elijah, there were many widows IN ISRAEL but none of them was Elijah sent, save a gentile woman of Sarepta. Likewise, there were many lepers IN ISRAEL but none were cleansed SAVE Naaman a gentile!
What drove them over the edge? It was the same thing that pushed the Jews listening to Paul over the edge in the book of Acts when Paul referred to going to the Gentiles at God’s command.
Acts 22:21-22 (KJV)
21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. 22 And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.
The Jews couldn’t stand that God would go to Gentile “dogs!” They were the chosen people! They were the “called out in the wilderness.” They were the receivers of God’s Laws; they were the people of David! How dare this man Christ threaten them with turning to the Gentiles with miracles and signs and wonders! This concept challenged everything in them regarding their personal pride as a people.
Matthew 13:53-58 (KJV)
53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. 54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. 58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
In his own country (Israel) and His own house a prophet has not honor given him! How sad the fact that the Almighty God in the flesh could do but seldom few mighty works.
However, more than likely, about a year later Jesus returned once again to His hometown of Nazareth. This time, scripture reveals He returned with His disciples, John already having been slain:
Mark 6:1-6 (KJV)
1 And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.
There is no telling in this instance what Jesus taught…but instead, regardless of His teaching, they were again astonished, having recognized the wisdom and having heard of the mighty works wrought by His hands. They began to wrestle with familiarity… “There is no way that anything like this could come out of Nazareth, from common people such as Joseph and the harlot***** Mary!” (*****many perhaps viewed Mary through tainted eyes due to the pregnancy and birth of Christ which later Christ would be called a bastard child by some men).
What they recognized on Him is found in Isaiah 11:2:
Isaiah 11:2 (KJV)
2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
They obviously, like Nicodemus, saw something in Christ; heard something in His teachings that astonished them. It caused them to marvel…this was indeed the Anointing Christ referred to.
Continued in Part Two