Summary: Why are God's people so dull of hearing?
Jesus Comes to Nazareth: An Exposition of Luke 4:14-30
In the previous passage, we saw that after His baptism by John, He was driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness of Judaea. There he had fasted for forty days. At the end of this period, while he was as humanly weak as was possible, He was tempted three times by Satan. Unlike the Children of Israel who had succumbed to temptation in the wilderness, Jesus resisted Satan and rebuked Him. The Devil then departed looking for an even better opportunity to tempt Him. We will see that it would be at the Garden that Jesus, in a moment of even greater weakness facing the horrible death on the cross would be tempted again to save Himself.
In-between these two events was the vast bulk of Jesus’ earthly ministry. He would teach and heal the people. He would cast out demons. This He would do by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus could have performed these miracles and wonders in His own authority as the Son of God. But at the Temptation, He refused to use His own power. Instead, He relied on the power of the Holy Spirit. In this way, He became the example of the Christian believer. We cannot stop Satan in our own authority, but the Holy Spirit is able to deliver us from him. If Jesus expects His church to minister in the power of the Spirit, then He, as our example, chose to rely on the same power. Acts 1:8 talks about the Gospel of Luke as being what “Jesus began to do and to teach,” Acts is the continuation of the ministry of Jesus. Acts ends at chapter 28, but as someone has said, we are in the 29th chapter of Acts.
Verse 14 sets up Jesus’s return to Nazareth where he had been raised. His mother came from there. Joseph moved there when he married Mary. Other than a short stay in Bethlehem and another one in Egypt, Jesus had lived most of his thirty years there. The text states that Jesus came back to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. Why did He not just return to Nazareth first? I think that at some point in Jesus’s life, the family had moved to Capernaum. There is some evidence in this from the Gospel accounts. If I were trying to harmonize the four gospels, His return to Galilee probably took Him through Samaria first. This would make sense of Jesus’s becoming exhausted at the well there if His body had been so depleted by the extended fast in the wilderness. But this is only speculation.
Jesus began to publicly teach in the synagogues around Galilee in the power of the Spirit. The people were amazed at the authority of His teaching. Luke does not mention His performing miracles, but this is explained by the fact that Jesus considered His teaching more important than the miracles. The miracles were signs which reinforced the authority of His preaching. The signs and wonders were to be mentioned later, but what it says that the fame of His teaching spread throughout the region. The people glorified Him. The word in Greek is the verb form of “doxa” from which we get terms like “orthodox.” It is different than today when someone doxes someone on the internet. Internet trolls do the exact opposite of giving good credit to someone. It is used to publicly humiliate people. It is strange how the meaning of words get twisted.
The fame of Jesus’s ministry in His adopted home in Galilee was quite different from the one He was to receive in His home town of Nazareth. There He would get “doxed.” The account starts innocuously enough. It just says that He returned to Nazareth where He had been raised. It then says that it was His customary habit to go to synagogue on the Sabbath. We have earlier learned in Luke that Jesus’s family made a custom of going to Passover in Jerusalem. Jesus in every way kept the Law, and this is demonstrated here.
Any male of age could request to read and expound the Scripture in the synagogue. The Scripture was read while the reader stood. Then he would sit down and explain the Scripture. As Dr. Van Der Laan mentions, one stands up in the synagogue for the Word of God and sits down for his own explanation of God’s Word. So when Jesus stands to read, this would have not been unusual. But it is implied that there is also something which makes Jesus’s request unusual. His fame has spread around he region. We can only surmise that the report of what Jesus was doing had gotten to Nazareth. So there would have been more than ordinary interest among the congregation like people attend today for a famous person.