What really happened in Nazareth?
by Robert Randle
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Matthew 13: 54-58
Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in the synagogue in a way that amazed them. People were asking, “Where did this man get this wisdom and the power to do these miracles? Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother named Mary? Aren’t His brothers’ names James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? And aren’t all His sisters here with us? Where, then, did this man get all this?” So they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “The only place a prophet isn’t honored is in his hometown and in his own house.” He didn’t work ‘many’ miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Mark 6: 1-6
Jesus left that place and went to His hometown. His disciples followed Him. When the day of worship came, He began to teach in the synagogue. He amazed many who heard Him. They asked, “Where did this man get His doctrine? Who gave Him this kind of wisdom and the ability to do such great miracles? Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t His sisters here with us? So they took offense at Him. But Jesus told them, “The only place a prophet isn’t honored is in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house.” He couldn’t work ‘any’ miracles there except to lay His hands on a few sick people and cure them. Their unbelief amazed Him.
NOTE: In the narrative accounts up to this point some interesting contrasts as well as points emerge. Mary’s husband Joseph is not mentioned and in one version Jesus is called the carpenter’s son as well as being a carpenter Himself. The birth orders of Jesus’ brothers are reversed as in: Simon then Judas being the youngest or Judas then Simon. Did this attitude from the synagogue attendees occur on this one particular day or had it been building up to this outburst for some time now.
Jesus seems to have lived in a dysfunctional family environment, to say the least, and relations among the relatives or kinfolk of Mary and Joseph might not have been so great either. Jesus seems to be portrayed here as basically just a faith healer instead of the miracle-working Son of God. Also, the above narratives do not mention that Jesus’ family was present and who knows how faithfully they attended worship services anyway. Lastly, only Mark’s narrative mentions about Jesus’ disciples accompanying Him to his hometown.
Luke 4: 16-19
Then Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. As usual He went into the synagogue on the day of worship. He stood up and read the lesson. The attendant gave Him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened and found the place where it read: “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME. HE HAS ANOINTED ME TO TELL THE GOOD NEWS TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO ANNOUNCE FORGIVENESS TO THE PRISONERS OF SIN AND THE RESTORING OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND; TO FORGIVE THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SHATTERED BY SIN; TO ANNOUNCE THE YEAR OF THE LORD’S FAVOR (Cp. Isaiah 61: 1-2).”
Jesus closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue watched Him closely [why??]. Then He said to them, “This passage came true today when you heard Me read it.” All the people spoke well of Him. They were amazed to hear the gracious words flowing from His lips. They said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” So He said to them, “You’ll probably quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician heal yourself!’ and then say to me, ‘Do all the things in your hometown that we’ve heard you’ve done in Capernaum.’ ” Then Jesus added, “I can guarantee this truth: A prophet isn’t accepted in his hometown. “I can guarantee this truth: There were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time. It had not rained for three-and-a-half years, and the famine was severe everywhere in the country. But God didn’t send Elijah to anyone except a widow of Zarepath in the territory of Sidon. There were also many people with skin diseases (leprosy) in Israel in the Prophet Elisha’s time, but God cured no one except Naaman from Syria.” Everyone became furious when they heard this. Their city was built on a hill with a cliff. So they got up, forced Jesus out of the city and led Him to the cliff. They intended to throw Him off of it [to the bottom]. But Jesus [having gone thru their numbers] walked right by them and went away.
COMMENTARY: Luke’s narrative is the more comprehensive account and fills in some of the gaps that the other “Synoptic” accounts leave out. It is interesting that in this version Jesus is identified as Joseph’s son instead of Mary’s. This inauguration of Jesus’ public ministry commenced during the ‘Jubilee Year’ or the “acceptable year of the LORD (Cp. Leviticus 25: 10) of which is practiced in Jewish synagogues today with the reading of this passage from Isaiah. Jesus left out the part about the “Day of the LORD’S Vengeance” because that will happen in the future at the end of the age (world). Isaiah 61: 1-2 incorporates parts of Isaiah 42: 7 and Psalms 102: 20; 103: 6, as well. Luke does not include Jesus saying anything about: “The only place a prophet isn’t honored is in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house.”
Jesus purposely antagonizes the congregation with His stinging sarcasm and any attempted miracles or mundane healings are not mentioned here, too. It seems that up to this point the only miracles performed in Capernaum were: The healing of the Centurion’s servant or son (Matthew 8: 5-13); Jesus healing the man with an unclean spirit (Mark 1: 21-28); Jesus healing Simon Peter’s mother-in-law’s fever and then others who were sick, had diseases and were demon possessed (Mark 1: 29-34). Lastly, Jesus forgives a paralytic’s sin and then heals him in Nazareth and then afterward His hometown congregants wanted to throw Him over a steep cliff or hill to His death or at the very least, life-threatening, serious bodily injury (Matthew 9: 1-7).
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