Luke 4:16

I. HIS PREACHING BEGAN IN GALILEE. Though our Lord's public ministry may be regarded as having commenced at that Passover at Jerusalem to which reference has been already made, yet his public appearance as a preacher was in Galilee. The place, the date, the subject are all distinctly marked by St. Peter in the tenth chapter of the Acts, at the thirty-seventh verse, as we read, "That word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching the gospel [good tidings] of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all) - that saying ye yourselves know, which was published throughout all Judaea, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached."

II. A FAVOURABLE FIELD. Now commence our Lord's labours among the towns and villages of Galilee - a sphere of operation of the most promising kind at that period. Of the four provinces of Palestine in the time of Roman rule, while Judaea was south, Samaria central, and Pereea east, Galilee was in the north. Originally it comprehended only a limited circle or circuit, as the name Galil imports, round Kedesh-Naphtali, including the twenty towns which Solomon gave to Hiram, but it grew into much larger dimensions till it included the four northern tribes, Asher and Naphtali, Zebulun, and Issachar, embracing an oblong twenty-five miles from north to south and twenty-seven from east to west. It was divided into Lower and Upper Galilee; the former district consisted mainly of the plain of Esdraelon or Jezreel, and the latter, containing the district between the Upper Jordan and Phoenicia, was called Galilee of the Gentiles because of its mixed population - Greeks, Arabs, Phoenicians, as well as Jews. This northern province of the Holy Land in the days of our Lord was studded with towns and even cities, had a thriving population, and abounded in hives of busy industry. Speaking of our Lord selecting this district as the scene of his labours, the late Dean Stanley says, "It was no retired mountain-lake by whose shore he took up his abode, such as might have attracted the Eastern sage or Western hermit. It was to the Roman Palestine almost what the manufacturing districts are to England. Nowhere, except in the capital itself, could he have found such a sphere for his works and words of mercy." The husbandman that tilled the fields, the merchantman that traded in the towns or villages, the fisherman that plied his craft on the waters of the lake, and labourers standing in the market-place, - all these and many such abounded in this populous region; and while easily accessible, and willing to wait on our Lord's ministry, they were more free from prejudice - less bigoted and less exclusive than their brethren of the southern province.

III. THE DISTRICT POINTED OUT IN PROPHECY. Ancient prophecy had marked this region out as that where gospel light would shine most brightly. These northern tribes, Zebulun and Naphtali, had soonest sunk into idolatry through the influence of their idolatrous neighbors, the Phoenicians, on the west, and had suffered sorest from Assyrian invaders from the east, most of them having been carried captive by Tiglath-pileser and their land repeopled in large part by strangers. The prophet, however, in order to console and in some measure compensate, foretold a good time coming in Isaiah 9:1, 2, which rightly rendered reads thus: "There shall not hereafter be darkness in the land which was distressed; as in the former time he brought to shame the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, so in the time to come he bringeth it to honor, even the tract by the sea [i.e. the western shore], the other side of Jordan [the eastern side], Galilee of the nations [i.e. district north of the sea]. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." Thus henceforth the scene of the Saviour's ministry lies by the Jordan, the Lake of Gennesaret, and in Galilee of the Gentiles -

"What went ye out to see
O'er the rude sandy lea,
Where stately Jordan flows by many a palm,
Or where Gennesaret's wave
Delights the flowers to lave
That o'er her western slope breathe airs of balm?

"Here may we sit and dream
Over the heavenly theme,
Till to our souls the former days return;
Till on the grassy bed,
Where thousands once he fed,
The world's incarnate Maker we discern."

IV. THE SUBJECTS OF OUR SAVIOUR'S PREACHING. The precursor had been imprisoned in the castle of Machsaerus, some nine miles east of the Dead Sea, in the district of Persia; but the Prophet himself takes up the work. Thus it ever is. God buries his workmen, but carries on his work. The great theme of the Baptist, as we have seen, was repentance and correspondent reformation, yet with faith implied. The theme of repentance was resumed by Jesus, but with the other doctrine of faith not implicitly but explicitly taught. The doctrine of faith now comes into prominence - the doctrine of faith, and that not merely have credence or simple assent to the good news, but faith in - reliance on the gospel as the great and only means of safety and salvation. He proclaims, moreover, the advent of Messiah's reign. That critical epoch had now come; that greatest era in all human history had arrived.

V. DIFFERENCE IN THE USE OF TWO SYNONYMOUS TERMS. The kingdom is usually called by St. Matthew the "kingdom of heaven," and not "kingdom of God," lest the latter expression might confirm the Jews, for whom in the first instance the evangelist wrote, in their erroneous apprehension of it as a great kingdom of a worldly and temporal kind, as by a Hebrew idiom the name "God" is joined to anything excessively great or extremely grand; thus, we read of the "river of God," of "the cedars of God," and other similar expressions. By St. Luke, on the other hand, it is called the "kingdom of God" and not the "kingdom of heaven," lest the Gentiles, for whom this evangelist specially wrote, should misapprehend the expression as countenancing local divinities, as they were accustomed to gods and goddesses of different localities or quarters of the universe, such as Naiads, Nereids, Dryads, Hamadryads; gods of the ocean and of rivers; deities of the ethereal and infernal regions. This kingdom had been foreshadowed by Daniel in his vision of the great world-powers. - J.J.G.







And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.
The moment was overcharged with a certain sad intensity. Since last He stood upon that spot, a change had passed upon Him; a light, long struggling with the clouds, and often drowned in a golden haze of mystery, had cleared itself within Him; He was no longer at His own disposal, nor free to rest upon the trodden paths; but the sacred dove was ever on the wing before Him; and now alighted on the synagogue of Nazareth, and there, where He naturally fell into the attitude of docility, left Him to speak the word of supernatural power. Never is it so hard to follow and trust a higher inspiration, as amid the crowd of customary things. If ever Jesus could yield to misgivings of what was committed to Him it would be in that place. There, in the presence of those at whose feet He used to sit — there, where He first heard and pondered Israel's hope, and watched a holy light on other faces, not knowing that it was reflected from His own — how could He stand up and draw the great words of Isaiah upon Himself, and say aloud, "This is the hour. Lo! it is I." But He had emerged from the desert that lay between the old life and the new. The very Spirit of God had driven Him thither to hear what could be said against itself. And now, He was no longer His own. No flitting of the Spirit, off and on. It rested with Him now. And so He could bear those native scenes again, for they lay in another light; the hills of Nazareth were transfigured before Him; from all things round the chill and weary aspect had fled, that makes them press with the weight of usage; and He stood amid the well-known groups, as some immortal friend might return and look in among us here, with unabated love, but with saintly insight into meanings hid from us. Lifted then into the full power of the Spirit, whither, as least congenial, does He take His heavenly point of view? To the village synagogue, on the stated day of rest; nothing newer, nothing higher; but just the place and time which had been sacred to the fathers. The first thing which He did, under freshest inspiration, was to resume the dear old ways, to fall in with the well-known season, to unroll the same venerable page; only to find a new meaning in words that had long carried their rhythm to His heart. We are sustained then by the sympathy of the highest inspiration, when we make it our "custom," too, to illuminate in our calendar some holy day, and to raise near every cluster of our dwellings a house where "prayer is wont to be made." Against the Christian habit of seasonal and local worship the truth is often urged that God is a Spirit, eternal and omniscient, abiding neither in "this mountain" nor in that "Jerusalem," and bearing equal relation into every mind and moment. In the occasionalism of piety I see, however, not its shame but its distinctive glory. For of all God's agencies and manifestations, it is the lowest that are least mutable, and most remain the same from first to last; whilst the highest have ever a tidal ebb and flow — moving in waves of time, and surprising hidden inlets of space with their flood. Be assured then that in your ancient usages of seasonal and local worship, in seeking here to meet at intervals the high tides of God's Spirit, you are in harmony with His sublimest providence — with a law of variation transcending any physical uniformity over which "it sweeps. Reverence the holy custom, shelter from heedless slight the living impulse that week by week calls you hither to remember, to aspire, to pray. Bring only the pure, lowly, childlike hearts, tender to everything except the sins you must confess — full of hope for the world and trust in God; spread out an eager and a gentle spirit for the dropping of fruitful seeds from Holy Writ and saintly hymn; freshen the fading vow of self-sacrificing love; and your worship here will not only resemble His who, in fulness of the Spirit, "went as His custom was," &c., but prepare for a higher communion where "your life is hid with Him in God."

(J. Martineau, LL. D.)

The Jewish synagogues were open every day for three services, but as those of the afternoon and evening were always joined, there were, in reality, only two. It was the duty of every godly Jew to go to each service, for so sacred was daily attendance that the Rabbis taught that "he who practised it saved Israel from the heathen." The two market days, Monday and Thursday, when the country people came into town, and when the courts were held, and the Sabbaths, were the special times of public worship. Feast days and fasts were also marked by similar sacredness.

(Dr. Geikie.)

Of good Archbishop Leighton it is said, that the Sabbath was his delight, and no slight hindrance could detain him from the house of prayer. Upon one occasion, when he was indisposed, the day being stormy, his friends urged him, on account of his health, not to venture to church. "Were the weather fair," was the reply, "I would stay at home but since it is otherwise, I must go, lest I be thought to countenance by my example, the irreligious practice of allowing trivial hindrances to keep me back from public worship."

(Life of Leighton.)

Baxendale's Anecdotes.
Of the late venerable Dr. Waugh, his biographer records that, in his ministerial visitations, his nationality was often strongly displayed, and this with most beneficial effect, both in sentiment and language. When, without any adequate cause, any of his hearers had failed to attend public ordinances so regularly as he could have wished, and would plead their distance from the chapel as an excuse, he would exclaim in the emphatic northern dialect, which he used on familiar occasions to employ, "What, you from Scotland! from Melrose! from Gala Water! from Selkirk! and it's a hard matter to walk a mile or two to serve your Maker one day in the week! How many miles did you walk at Selkirk?" "Five." "Five!" "And can ye no walk twa here? Man!your father walked ten or twal (twelve) out, and as many hame, every Sunday i' the year; and your mither too, aften. I've seen a hunder folk and muir, that aye walked six or seven — men, women, and bairns too: and at the sacraments folk walked fifteen, and some twenty miles. How far will you walk the morn to mak' half-a-crown? Fie! fie I But ye'll be out wi' a' your household next Sabbath, I ken. O my man, mind the bairns I If you love their souls, dinna let them get into the habit of biding awa' In the kirk. All the evils among young folk in London arise from their not attending God's house." Such remonstrances, it may easily be imagined, were not often urged in vain.

(Baxendale's Anecdotes.)

The order of service was certainly fixed and invariable in the time of Christ. The supreme moment of the service was that of the reading of the law, for the great end of meeting was to hear and study the law. Prayer preceded this exercise, and the reading of a passage chosen from the prophets, followed by the benediction, closed the service. In the opening prayer there were several distinct portions. It began with the recitation of the Shema (three passages of the law, viz., Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21; Numbers 15:37-41). Then came the eighteen blessings. During this solemn recitation, the people remained standing with their faces turned towards Jerusalem and the Holy Place. The reciter stood before the chest containing the manuscripts. Any member of the assembly could be called on by the president to perform this important duty. Minors alone were excepted, and Christ may have very likely taken His turn in these introductory prayers, both at Nazareth and at Capernaum. The people responded with a loud Amen at the close of each prayer. The reading of the law followed. The Chazzan took the sacred scroll out of the chest, removed its case, and placed it before the first reader. The seven members who had been chosen, rose, and read in turn at least three verses each. The first reader before beginning used a short formula of benediction, which he repeated also at the end. The Torah was divided into one hundred and fifty-three sections. In three years the whole was read through. Subsequently these sections were made three times as long, and the whole law was read through in one year. The Chazzan remained all the time close to the reader, and watched that he made no mistake, and read nothing unsuitable for a general audience. To the reading and its translation was always added a commentary, a sort of homily, to which great importance came to be attached in the Christian Churches, and which subsequently developed into the sermon. The reading of the law being over, the one who had recited the opening prayer read a portion from one of the prophets. This was called the closing lesson, because it completed the service. The reader was chosen by the head of the synagogue. He read three verses in succession, and then translated them (into Aramaic). Christ one day read one of these closing lessons in the synagogue at Nazareth. It is possible, however, that He may have chosen the passage Himself. We notice that it consists of only two verses. This was allowable, because He proposed to make some comment on it. The final benediction was then pronounced, and the assembly broke up.

(E. Stapfer, D. D.)

If we were to single out one place as illustrating more perhaps than any other place St. John's remark, "He came to His own and His own received Him not," that place would surely be Nazareth.

I. Observe THE VALUE WHICH THE LORD PUTS UPON THE PUBLIC MEANS OF GRACE — "As His custom was." Although there was very little life or spirituality in the synagogue services, yet Jesus was a habitual worshipper there. What a lesson for those who excuse themselves on such grounds as that —

1. They can pray as well at home. Do they?

2. The service is not quite to their mind (Hebrews 10:25).

II. THE ACCOUNT WHICH CHRIST GAVE AT NAZARETH OF HIS OWN OFFICE AND MINISTRY.

III. THE EFFECT PRODUCED BY OUR OUR'S DISCOURSE AT NAZARETH,

1. Admiration and astonishment.

2. But, mingled with this, contempt.

3. And so Christ and His salvation are rejected.

(G. T. Harding, M. A.)

The first sermon of Jesus at Nazareth, a standard for the minister of the gospel at the beginning of His work. The narrative imparts to the minister of the gospel pregnant suggestions.

I. In reference to the POINT OF VIEW from which he is to consider his work.

1. Origin.

2. Matter.

3. Object of preaching.

II. In relation to the MANNER in which he must perform his work. His preaching must be, as here —

1. Grounded on Scripture.

2. Accommodated to the necessity of the hearers.

3. Presented in an attractive manner.

III. In relation to the FRUIT upon which he can reckon in this labour. Nazareth shows us —

1. That blossoms are as yet no certain signs of fruit.

2. That this fruit may be blasted by the most unhappy causes.

3. That the harvest may turn out yet better than at the beginning it appears (there in the synagogue were Mary, and also the "Lord's brethren," who afterwards believed; and if the Saviour did not work many miracles at Nazareth, He yet wrought some) (Matthew 13:58).

IV. In relation to the TEMPER in which he is to begin a new work.

1. With thankful recollections of the past.

2. With holy spiritual might for the present.

3. With joyful hope for the future.Happy the teacher who is permitted to begin his preaching under more favourable presages than Jesus began His in the city where He was brought up.

(J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)

Sheets of smooth rock; fields of hinge boulders, between which, at times, there was scarcely room to pass; acres of loose stones of all sizes, no path or track visible — parts so steep that to hold on to the horse's mane was a help — everything unspeakably rough and difficult — such was the way up the face of the rocks to get to the table-land on which Nazareth stands. After a time spots of green appeared on the wide, unearthly desolation, and some lean cattle were to be seen picking up poor mouthfuls among the stones. Further on was a larger, but still very small, spot of green. Goats and sheep alone could find sustenance in such a weird place. After an hour's ride, during which we passed both camels and donkeys toiling up the face of the hill with heavy loads, we came to a spring at the wayside, now running, but dry in summer. At last, all at once, a small valley opened below, set round with hills, and a pleasant little town appeared to the west. Its straggling houses, of white, soft limestone, and mostly new, rose row over row up "the steep slope. A fine large building, with slender cypresses growing around it, stood nearest to us; a minaret looked down a little to the rear. Fig-trees, single and in clumps, were growing here and there in the valley, which was covered with crops of grain, lentils, and beans. Above the town the hills were steep and high, with thin pasture, sheets of rock, fig-trees, and now and then an enclosed spot. The small domed tomb-shrine of a Mahommedan saint crowned the upper end of the western slope. Such was Nazareth, the home of our Lord Numerous hills, not grassy like those of England, but bare, white, and rocky, though here and there faintly green, shut in Nazareth from the outer world; the last heights of Galilee, as they melt away into the plain of Esdraelon. Their long, rounded tops have no wild beauty, and there are no ravines or shady woods to make' them romantic or picturesque; indeed, so far as the eye reaches, they are treeless, or very nearly so... The water of Nazareth is mainly derived from rain-cisterns, for there is only one spring, and in autumn its supply is precarious. A momentous interest, however, gathers around this single fountain, for it has been in use for immemorial ages, and, no doubt, often saw the Virgin and her Divine Child among those who frequented it morning and evening, as the mothers of the town, many with children at their side, do now. The water comes through spouts in a stone wall, under an arched recess built for shelter, and falls into a trough at which a dozen persons can stand side by side. Thence it runs into a square stone tank at the side, against which gossips at all hours delight to lean. The water that flows over the top of the trough below the spouts makes a small pool immediately beneath them, and there women wash their linen, and even their children; standing in the water, ankle-deep, their baggy trousers — striped pink or green — tucked between their knees, while those coming for water are continually passing and repassing with their jars, empty or full, on their heads. The spring lies under the town, and as the Nazareth of ancient times, as shown by old cisterns and tombs, was rather higher up the hill than at present, the fountain must in those days have been still farther away from the houses.

(C. Geikie, D. D.)

A synagogue generally stood on the highest piece of ground in a city, or near it; it was oblong, and the end opposite to the entrance pointed towards Jerusalem. There were the seats of the elders, and in the midst, at this end, was the ark with a lamp always burning before it, in which was preserved the roll of the Law. Before it also was an eight-branched candlestick, lighted on the highest festivals. A little way down was a raised platform, on which several persons could stand at once, and in the middle rose a pulpit, in which the reader stood to read those lessons which were not from the books of Moses. The roll of the Law was taken with great solemnity out of the ark, and unrolled by the Rabbi, so that the congregation might not look on the writing. The lessons from Moses were so arranged that the books of the Law were read through once in three years. Much less ceremony was shown about the second lesson, which was taken from the prophets and historical books. On week-days, not less than twenty-one verses were read; on the Sabbath, not more than three, five, or seven. After this lesson followed the exposition, or interpretation. The Scriptures were read in Hebrew, but the Hebrew was unintelligible to the Jews after their return from the Babylonish captivity, consequently the interpreter translated or expounded what he had read in the Aramaic or Syro-Chaldee tongue. The reader stood when reading the prophets, but was allowed to sit or stand for the historical books. Originally the prophets and historical books had not been read in the synagogue service, but when Antiochus Epiphanes forbade the reading of the Law, in the services of the Sabbath, the prophets and other books had been substituted for those of Moses, and when this restriction was withdrawn the Jews continued reading the prophets, but read the Law as well, as of old, in the place of honour.

(S. Baring. Gould, M. A.)

I. THE GREAT DISTINCTION IN WHICH OUR LORD EXALTED — "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me." As this was what distinguished the Lord, so it ought to distinguish His Church.

II. THE GREAT MESSAGE OUR LORD HAD TO DELIVER — "TO preach the gospel to the poor," &c.

III. THE GREAT WORK OUR LORD HAD TO ACCOMPLISH — "To heal the broken-hearted," &c.

(J. P. Chown.)

Christ read the appointed lesson for the day (which happened to be the day of Atonement), but not the whole of it. He had not come to proclaim the day of the vengeance of our God. The gospel is primarily a deliverance shadowed by the year of Jubilee; it embraces the physical and social ills of men, and their spiritual ills. The inextricableness with which they are united in the words of Christ suggests the profound mystery of body and spirit, mind and matter, environment and spiritual history. In these words we find a theology and a life, a doctrine and a practice, and that the two are inseparable. Pass now to this preaching of Christ.

I. ITS SUBSTANCE. Without doubt we have here the key-note to His entire teaching. It is the peculiarity of Christ's preaching that He pierces at once to the centre of His great delivering system, and plants His ministry upon it. The peculiar feature of this quotation from Isaiah, which Christ makes His own, is its doubleness: poor, captives, blind, bruised physically and morally, but chiefly morally. Let no man think that there is any gospel of deliverance or helpfulness for him, except as it is grounded in a cure of whatever evil there may be in him — evil habits, or selfish aims, or a worldly spirit.

II. ITS PHILOSOPHY. Suppose some questioner had arisen in that synagogue of Nazareth and asked Jesus, not as to the substance of His preaching, for that was plain enough, but what was the ground of it, on what ultimate fact or reason it rested. I think the answer would have been of this sort: " I am making in this gospel a revelation of God, showing you His very heart. This is what God feels for you; this is how He loves and pities you; this is what God proposes to do for you, to cheer you with good news, and open your blind eyes, and free your bruised souls and bodies from the captivity of evil."

III. ITS POWER. In one sense its power lay in its substance; m another, in the philosophy or ground of it; but there was more than come from these; there was the power that resided in Him who spoke these truths. In what lay the commanding power which made them wonder at His words? Not in any impressiveness of manner, or felicity of presentation. These are elements of power, but they do not constitute power. The main element of power in one who speaks is, an entire, or the largest possible comprehension of the subject. Here we have the key to the power with which Christ preached. He saw the meaning of the Jewish system. He knew what the acceptable year of the Lord meant. He pierced the whole symbolism to its centre, and drew out its significance. He saw that God was a deliverer from first to last, and measured the significance of the fact. The whole heart and mind of God were open to Him. This was the power of Christ's preaching; He saw God; He understood God; He knew what God had done, and would do; the whole purpose and plan of deliverance and redemption lay before Him as an open page. We cannot measure this knowledge of the Christ, we can but faintly conceive it. But the measure of our conception of it is the measure of our spiritual power over others.

( T. T. Munger.)

Observe

I. THE PLACE SPECIFIED IN THE TEXT.

1. The obscurity of Christ's private life.

2. We see in it God's estimation of the world's pomp and glory.

3. We see honest industry honoured by the Saviour.

II. WHAT JESUS DID ON HIS VISIT TO NAZARETH.

1. The place to which He resorted. "The synagogue."

2. This place was identified with former associations. "As His custom was."

3. The time when Christ went into the synagogue was the Sabbath.

4. What Jesus did in the synagogue.

5. The portion of the Sacred Scriptures which HE read.Application:

1. Give especial heed, &c., to the Holy Scriptures.

2. Let Scripture be the test of all your views and doctrines, &c.

3. The rule of your life, &c.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

I. THE ACCOUNT WHICH JESUS GAVE OF HIS MISSION.

1. He refers to His Divine qualification.

(1)The Spirit was upon Him in unbroken plenitude.

(2)He had the Spirit always with Him.

2. He refers to the fulfilment of a striking prophecy. Every word of God is pure, true, unalterable.

3. He declares the character of His work.

(1)To preach the gospel to the poor.

(2)To heal the broken-hearted.

(3)Deliverance to the captives.

(4)Recovering of sight to the blind.

(5)He sets at liberty those that are bruised.

(6)He proclaimed the year of jubilee to the people.The very reverse of their former state, made known the joyful sound of peace and plenty, of rest and festivity. The gospel era is emphatically "the acceptable year of the Lord."

II. THE EFFECT IT PRODUCED UPON HIS AUDITORY.

1. They listened with marked attention. This was proper, necessary, pleasing. Some have their eyes closed in sleep, some gaze about, some look into their Bibles and hymn books; but they fixed their eyes upon the speaker.

2. They were filled with astonishment and wonder. No doubt at His wisdom, but equally so at the tenderness, condescension, and love with which He spake.

3. They were spell-bound, however, by prejudice.

4. They attempted to murder the Son of God. Truth flashed upon their minds, but they hated it; it exasperated them, and they tried to cast the messenger of mercy headlong down the hill, &c.Application:

1. To you Jesus has come with the message of life.

2. You stand in need of the blessings He bestows.

3. Do not allow prejudice to make Christ a stone of stumbling and rock of offence.

4. Embrace the message, and live.

5. Put on Christ, and profess Him to the world.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

Let us notice the chief points of interest connected with Christ's first appearance as the Messiah, proclaiming the gospel in the home of His childhood.

I. THE PLACE. He was ready to preach where He had been known all His life. Many resolve to become disciples of Christ as soon as they get away among strangers. They say they have not courage to follow Him amongst their own friends. Every one knows their past sins. Their friends would laugh at them. Their changed lives would attract general attention. But, the greater the change, the more reason for showing it at home. Jesus had no past sins laid to His charge when He went back to His own home to preach glad tidings. If your past character has been upright, the remembrance of it will give weight to your testimony as a disciple of Christ. If your past life has been evil, no one will be so moved by the genuineness of the change in you as those who knew you before your conversion.

II. THE ASSOCIATIONS. He preached in the synagogue. It was His custom to attend there. He always worked through the regularly organized channels for religious labour, and among those who professed to be religious. There are those who profess to be followers of Christ, who stand apart from the Churches because of the imperfections of Christians. They cannot work with or enter into fellowship with Christians. But they find no warrant for this in the example of Jesus. The Jewish Church was corrupt; yet He worked in and with and through it, till they cast Him out.

III. THE TIME. He preached on the Sabbath. He used holy time for holy work. His work was always holy, always appropriate to time and place. But He honoured the Sabbath in its true meaning as the day of worship.

IV. THE SUBJECT. It was a text from the Bible. No one ever expounded the Scriptures as He did. He was Himself the Word. God had spoken through the prophets. His Word of old had been the revelation of Himself. Now the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. The living speech and living speaker revealed the mind of God. His words were spirit and life. But they never thrust into the background what had been already spoken. Those who would follow Christ will love the Bible, and will grow holy by receiving and obeying it, and will persuade others through it to believe on Jesus Christ. Without it we are defenceless against the attacks of the adversary.

V. THE SOURCE OF THE PREACHER'S POWER. The Spirit of the Lord was upon Him. It empowered Him to make known the gracious message of salvation, and Himself the Saviour. Before leaving the world He bestowed this Divine gift on His disciples, and it is promised to every one who believes on Christ and seeks it. He is ready to anoint every believer for service. Whoever empties himself of pride, self-seeking, all sin, and asks for that gift simply that he may glorify God, will receive it.

VI. THE SERMON. He was Himself the explanation of His text. His presence spoke and made His words luminous.

VII. THE RECEPTION OF THE SERMON. His hearers lacked the sense of the Divine presence. They were filled with worldliness and pride, and could not appreciate the heavenly gifts which Christ brought. With no consciousness of inner want, they sought only outward things. They judged Him first by His personal appearance and manner, and the graciousness of His words; they were pleased. Then they remembered His humble position in society, and their impression began to change. Then they recalled the fame of His miracles, and they began to desire to be entertained by wonders. Then they saw that He was exposing their prevailing sins, and they were enraged. But the truth which He presented they could not discern, and they saw the frame not the picture; the vessel, not the contents. They sought entertainment, flattery, agreement with themselves, not truth. They thrust for ever salvation and their Saviour, with murder in their hearts.

VIII. THE ESCAPE. The only wonder which they would be likely to remember was that by which He separated Himself from them for ever. A mob is always unreasoning. Some sudden feeling or event may change its purpose as quickly as it was started. Many times the courage and firmness of a single man has dispersed enraged multitudes. When Marius, once the honoured consul of Rome, was being dragged to execution by a yelling, cursing crowd, he fixed his eye on the man who came forward to kill him, with the words, "Slave I dost thou dare to kill Marius?" The soldier dropped his sword and fled, and with him the panic-stricken mob. When Napoleon came back to France from exile, and met the troops sent to oppose him, they, at the sight of him, changed their purpose, and welcomed him as their commander. Jesus, with the majesty of grace and truth, so awed His enemies, that their rage was restrained, and He passed through them unharmed. But oh i had they welcomed the Prince of Peace, even at that last moment, how different their destiny would have been.

(A. E. Dunning.)

Jesus emerged from the desert to enter on His great career. The season was the spring. And within as without all was spring-time. He "returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee," and Galilee felt and owned the Spirit and the power. In the homes of its peasantry and the hamlets of its fishermen, on the shores of its beautiful sea, in the towns and villages that stood on its banks, and were mirrored in its waves, He preached His gospel. Only His own Nazareth refused to hear Him. Thither, indeed, He had gone, had entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as His custom was, and had stood up to read. To Him the place was full of sacred associations. He had there, as boy and youth and man, listened for hours and days to the voice of God. But others had their associations as well as He, and theirs were not always as sacred as His. The synagogue was often the scene of strife. The conflict of opinion was not unknown there. The men of Nazareth had their personal rivalries and spites, and when One whom they knew, so far as the senses can know, rose and read, and applied to Himself the prophetic words, they received His gracious speech with incredulous wonder. But when He proceeded to speak with authority, to rebuke their unbelief, to quote against them their own proverbs, then they "were filled with wrath," &c. And He went His way, and found elsewhere men who heard gladly His words of power. The strange thing about the new Teacher was not His having been untaught and a carpenter. The great creative spirits of Israel had never been the sons of a school. The Rabbi was qualified rather than disqualified for his office by a handicraft. But the strange thing was the new Teacher Himself. He stood distinguished from all the Rabbis who had been, or then were, in Israel. Of the points that made Him pre-eminent and unique, three may be here specified.

1. The relation between His person and His word. The Teacher made the truth He taught. His teaching was His articulated person, His person His incorporated teaching.

2. The consciousness He had of Himself and His truth; its authority and creative energy.

3. His knowledge of His truth and mission, throughout perfect and self-consistent. His first word revealed His purpose, expressed His aim. "Had Christ at first a plan?" is a question often discussed. "Plan" is a word too mechanical and pragmatic. Christ had at the beginning the idea He meant to realize. The evidence lives in the phrase most frequent on His lips, "the kingdom of heaven."

(A. M. Fairbairn, D. D.)

If I read this narrative for the first time I should pause at the words, "glorified of all," knowing that there would be a thunderstorm before long. Here is Christ, with more wisdom in Him than all the world besides; and yet, "as His custom was, He went into the synagogue," &c. What did He go there for? They could teach Him nothing. Men and women now, on the plea that they learn nothing, that there is nothing fresh to hear or know or learn at church, very seldom come. And many of you who come to hear me, come not to worship God. So I turn and read this history of how Christ, who was the fountain of life, the wisest of the wise, went, "as His custom was," &c. "He stood up for to read." Here stands a teacher from whose teaching men shall date for all time, and He is about to choose a text. What it was you know. Who could wonder that the eyes of all were fastened upon Him. They had never heard the words read as He read them. "They wondered at the gracious words," &c. They found them gracious, and they said, some of them honestly, some of them meanly, "Is not this Joseph's son?" Now watch for the storm. He tells them a terrible truth which they don't like. As long as they thought He was going to preach all these things to the Jewish nation it was all right, but the moment they hear that these things are to be done to the Gentiles, oh! then the storm comes. You know what they had heard — that God's love was big enough to reach Sarepta. These people had sound right views. Think of that! And what did Christ do to anger them? He told them that God's love reached even to Sidon; that His heart was deep enough to take in the leprous Naaman. What shocking things to tell the people, weren't they? And what effect did they have? They were proud of Him ten minutes ago; but now they are going to throw Him headlong over the brow of the hill. Has there ever been any picture like that? — the sunny morning; the welcome Christ; the teacher kissed; the teacher thrown down the precipice. And what brought it about? He discussed of the largeness of God's love. I often see these things. It does not belong to this history only.

(George Dawson, M. A.)

Here, in our text, is one case of Jesus conforming to a good common custom — perhaps not only following the custom, but getting help from it to promote His own spiritual life. From this one well-authenticated custom of Jesus in regard to Sabbath observance, I purpose, in connection with the text, to set before you the value and use of habit, as an aid to holy life and character, placed by God's providence within our reach, and which we are bound, as wise men, to turn to account. The capacity of forming habits is a very valuable part of human nature, as originally framed by God. By doing a thing often, we come to do it easily, and even to contract a liking and craving to do it. Sometimes this facility and inclination grow up before we are aware of it, in matters where we did not intend it. Moreover, it is a power as ready for bad uses as for good, so that it requires observation and guidance. It is by habit and use that workroom in the various arts and trades learn to manipulate skilfully the various tools and materials which they employ. Similarly, by gradual training, both animal and vegetable natures may be wonderfully modified-by more or less light, water, warmth, food, or motion. It is the alteration of these conditions that determines life and death, beauty and deformity, success and failure. Many of the evils that give us the greatest annoyance in society are largely the result of neglected or misdirected habits or customs. It is no new thing to employ the force of habit in connection with piety; it has already been done very systematically in past ages. In fact, it is only in comparatively recent times, and in connection with Protestant Churches especially, that the power of habit has been neglected. Under the Romish system there was both great use and abuse of habit and custom. At present we are in the midst of a reaction and protest against former abuses. All the details of rule and discipline, as laid down for monks and nuns, had for their aim the utilizing of habit on the side of virtue and holiness. But, in many cases, this was carried to excess, and rules became ridiculous when emphasized as important in themselves, whereas they were only means to an end. Such rules applied to dress, to hours of devotion, to repeating certain formulae, to the period of sleep, to regulation of diet. When this was pushed beyond reasonable bounds, the system was open to ridicule, as an attempt to make virtue by machinery. But these ancient extravagances of certain branches of the Christian Church are no reason why habit should not be studied and utilized for the same purposes within proper limits. Habit, in excess, is formalism or routine, and is near of kin to hypocrisy. This was the besetting sin of the old Pharisees. In the same way, habit or custom, in excess, becomes a system of ceremony, or ritualism, which is just old Pharisaism renewing its youth, but in adaptation to the Christian System. Warned by these errors — but mindful that there is also in habit a mighty power for good — let us consider a few of those matters in which habit is desirable.

1. The instance in the text applicable to Jesus — the custom of being present at public worship every Sabbath. How great an aid is this to everything that is good I It puts us in the way of the chief means of grace; it puts us in the way of the best human companionship.

2. A habit of prayer. The prayer to which I refer specially at present is family and personal prayer. Public or common prayer is implied in Sunday observance and churchgoing. If there is no habit of family prayer, the prayer is not likely to be made at all. All the details of family worship imply arrangement — a certain hour — a fixed place — books at hand — a person responsible for conducting the service. Family worship thus becomes one of the most beautiful features of domestic order in every house where it is duly attended to. Its omission becomes at once a mark and cause of disorder. Personal prayer no less depends on habit and custom for its maintenance.

3. Labour may be the subject of another of those good habits, in a religious point of view. At first sight it might seem as if a habit of labour, while good and useful in itself, had little to do with religion. These idle, aimless existences are the most unhappy condition possible for reasonable beings. Far better is it for a man to hold on steadily in his work to the end, and nobly wear out, than rust wearily and unprofitably. It is a calamity when a man cannot work by reason of old age or sickness. The man who has acquired the habit of labour has got possession of that honest power which will advance him alike in a worldly and moral point of view, and which will keep him out of many temptations.

4. A habit of learning may well form the sequel to a habit of labour. It is in always aiming to learn something new that we secure for ourselves real improvement and progress, carrying the purposes of youth and early manhood into advanced years. There are various ways in which this habit of learning may develop itself. The simplest, perhaps, is obser-ration for one's self; and the next in simplicity, conversation with one's neighbours, so as to add their observation or information to one's own. But far more valuable are books and professed teachers, who have made a specialty of some subject. A habit of spending leisure time in careful, definite reading on matters useful in ordinary life, is one of the most noble exercises in which a man can train himself.

5. The last matter that I shall at present name as a fit subject for a good habit is charity. A custom of this noble sort could not be formed or maintained save by very deliberate effort and self-sacrifice. Thus have we considered the place and utility of habit from a Christian point of view.

(J. Rankin, D. D.)

I. HIS ARRIVAL AT NAZARETH. "He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up." A man of reflection and feeling piety will always be affected when he comes to the place where he was brought up.

1. What was Nazareth? It was a small town of the Zebu-lonites, in Galilee, seventy-two miles north of Jerusalem, and west of Mount Tamar. "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?"

2. How came He to be brought up here?

3. How was He brought up there?

4. How came He to Nazareth, since He was there brought up? Because He had been absent from the place: He had been to the baptism of John. For a considerable time He visited other places, where He performed His first miracles; and having thus gained a well-deserved renown, this would serve to favour His introduction to His townsmen and His relations: and thus He came to Nazareth where He had been brought up.

II. HIS PRIVATE ENGAGEMENTS THERE BEFORE HE PREACHED — "And, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read."

1. The time was the Sabbath.

2. The place was the synagogue. Synagogues were scattered all over Judea, and were in every country where the Jews lived. They were places sacred to devotion and instruction. They were not expressly of Divine appointment, like the Temple, but they arose from the moral exigencies of the people; and were peculiarly serviceable in maintaining and perpetuating the knowledge of Moses and the prophets. They are supposed to have originated in the days of Ezra.

3. The action — "He stood up for to read." Bless God that you have the Scriptures in your own hand, and in your own language; and that you are allowed to read them, and that you are commanded to read them.

III. This brings us to HIS PREACHING. "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, 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 broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."

1. This was the text.

2. But observe the attention of the audience — " And He closed the book, and 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 very desirable to see an audience attentive, as the mind follows the eye, and the eye affecteth the heart.

3. Then observe the sermon itself — "And He began to say, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears."(1) First, He asserts His qualification for His mission — " The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me."(2) Then He asserts the design of His office — " He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor."

IV. WHAT WAS THE EFFECT OF THE SERMON? They were struck with admiration; but admiration seems to have been all that they felt — "And they wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth; and they said, Is not this Joseph's son?" What reception does Jesus Christ meet with from us?

(W. Jay.)

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