<< Luke IV: In the Synagogue at Nazareth >>
WE remember the town of Nazareth with its little meadow high up among the hills of Galilee. There was the village spring, and near by, the streets and houses clustered on the sunny hill-side. This was the Lord’s home from the time when He was brought back from Egypt as a little child. From here He went to the Passover when He was twelve years old, and returned to be subject to Mary and Joseph. Here He worked with Joseph as a carpenter, and day by day, all unknown to those about Him, He brought the Divine love and power down into the world. From Nazareth, when the Lord was about thirty years old, He went to the Jordan to be baptized by John. And now on a Sabbath day He came back to the town which had been His home, to the people who had seen Him so often but known Him so little.
There was a synagogue in Nazareth, a Jewish church, where the Scriptures were read on Sabbath days, and perhaps on other days the synagogue was used as a school. On the Sabbath morning the people hurried through the street, for they were taught to go quickly, not stopping to speak by the way. They left their sandals at the door, and each man bound his phylacteries on his forehead and arm, — little boxes in which were folded away strips of parchment with verses from the law. This was the way they kept the command to bind the law for a sign upon their hands, and to make it as frontlets between their eyes. Inside, the synagogue was a plain, large hall, with a flat roof supported on rows of columns. At one end was a case where the rolls of the Bible were carefully kept in their covers. Before it hung an ever-burning lamp. At this end, facing the rest of the people, those who loved the chief seats in the synagogue took their places. Near the middle of the room was a platform on which stood a reading desk, and around this the men were sitting on the stone paved Moor. The women had a part to themselves, perhaps in a gallery at the end of the room.
The services were opened by a reader standing at the desk on the platform, who read certain prayers followed by verses from the law and by more prayers. During the prayer the people stood. The rest of the time they sat on the floor. They all joined in some sentences of praise, and often responded “Amen” to the reader’s words. Later in the service a sacred roll was reverently taken from the case by the keeper of the synagogue and its covers tenderly removed. It was a roll of parchment or of soft leather written very neatly by hand. It was as if the pages of a book were written only on one side and were fastened together edge to edge in one long strip. A stick was attached to each end, and as the reader found his place he unrolled the scroll from one stick and rolled it up on the other. Some one from the company was invited to read the lessons for the day, and afterwards the reader usually sat down upon the platform to teach the people from what had been read.
On that Sabbath in Nazareth the keeper took from the case the roll of the Prophet Isaiah, and it was given to the Lord to read. When he had opened the roll he found the place where it is written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.” And when he had finished reading he closed the roll, gave it again to the keeper, and sat down to teach the people, “and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. “Imagine yourself in the synagogue as you read the story.
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. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 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, and stood up for to read. 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 brokenhearted,
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.
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. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? 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. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 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; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way, And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.—Luke IV. 14-32.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
No prophet is accepted in his own country >> The Truth is not accepted by the lower mind
When they heard these things, they were filled with wrath >> Divine Truth is rejected by the natural man
But he passing through the midst of them went his way >> Truth is entirely hidden from those who do not believe
Pictures: James Tissot —-Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum