Jesus Proclaims Himself to be the Messiah
After His baptism by John in the river Jordan, Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, was compelled by the Spirit into the desert where He was tempted for forty days and nights. Because He ate nothing during these days of prayer and fasting, Satan found another opportunity to tempt Him. Armed with Scripture, Jesus met the final three temptations of this period, and then returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee. “And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. 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” (Luke 4:13-14). An important concept is observed. The whole life of Christ was guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
It was the Spirit who led Jesus into the place of temptation for the purpose of testing for approval.
It was the Spirit that enabled Jesus to resist temptation by the power of His indwelling presence, and bringing to mind Scripture.
It was the Spirit who guided Jesus into Galilee, and empowered Him with spiritual power. It was the Spirit that made Jesus famous. A principle is established. If the Lord does not promote your ministry, you will not be promoted, no matter what you do to attract attention to yourself. Self-promotion does not please the Spirit of God. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” (1 Peter 5:6).
The Spirit guided Jesus into Galilee where He would give His first sermon as an itinerant Rabbi. Jesus had no fixed campus. He had no podium. But He had the synagogues to speak in, and He had as His text, the words of the prophet Isaiah. “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” (Luke 4:18-19).
As the Lord began His sermon, His first point was that prophesy was being fulfilled. “This day is the Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” The Lord continued to expound the words of Isaiah, to the point that those who were present began to be amazed “at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, is not this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22).
The people were astonished because they thought they knew Jesus. They thought they knew His family, and his father Joseph. Why, Joseph was a carpenter, and Jesus was a carpenter’s son. However gifted He might have been in His craft, no one expected the son of Joseph to have some intimate knowledge of Scripture and deep understanding of the words of Isaiah the prophet. It was an amazing moment to the people of Nazareth.
But the astonishment of the people who heard Jesus speak turned to anger as Jesus continued to talk. The words that aroused the wrath of the people that day are recorded, for Jesus 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” (Luke 4:23-27).
With about 125 words, Jesus turned an astonished gathering into an angry group of people who were so angry, they arose as a body, to throw him out of the city. The congregation gathered around Jesus, and shoved, and pushed Him to the brow of the city with the intent of throwing Him to His death onto the jagged rocks before.
There was no reason for the anger of the people. In fact, initially, Jesus was treated with respect, for He was being recognized as a Rabbi when He was given the prescribed scripture to read and explain. In Isaiah 61:1-2, which Luke 4:18-19 quotes, a description is given of what the Messiah would do.
The Messiah would preach the gospel to the poor.
The Messiah would heal the brokenhearted.
The Messiah would preach deliverance to the captives.
The Messiah would preach recovering of sight to the blind.
The Messiah would set at liberty them that are bruised.
The Messiah would preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Having stood to read the Scripture, Jesus closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down in the place of honor to teach. While the people sat on the floor, Jesus, the Rabbi, gave the understanding of the text He had read from the prophet Isaiah. The posture for teaching was to be seated on a bench, or a chair. The people sat at His feet. The eyes of all the people were fixed on Him. Their ears were eager to hear what Jesus had to say. However, they never expected Jesus to say, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). Jesus continued to elaborate upon that theme. While He talked, the people were amazed at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And the people understood what Jesus was saying. The words of the prophet Isaiah concerning the Messiah was fulfilled in Him.
The immediate reaction of the people present was unbelief. “How was it possible that Jesus was the Messiah?” “Was not this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22). The unbelief of the people was obvious to Jesus. It was manifested in looks of skepticism. It was verbalized in the insinuation that Jesus was only the son of a carpenter.
What is to be said to the unbeliever? Jesus had proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah, and there are only two choices. Faith that He is who He claimed to be, or unbelieve. Later, Jesus would say of the Messiah, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). John Mark would write, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). Indifference is not an option. No one can be neutral about Jesus.
As Jesus gazed upon the people and saw their reaction, as He listened to the words to one another, He also discerned what they wanted, and that was visible proof that He was the Messiah. They wanted to see a miracle. “Jesus, you say you are the Messiah, prove it!”
The Lord’s discernment of the hearts of the people led Him to cite a familiar proverb. “You will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal yourself; whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.” Jesus knew the people wanted a sign that the words of the prophet were being fulfilled that day, and He could have performed any number of miracles in support of His assertion. But Jesus did not do a miracle for the people, and for this reason.
Had Jesus performed a miracle at this point the people would have transferred their faith from Himself as a person, to whatever sign He gave. That would cause faith to be misplaced. Faith is believing what we cannot see, and the reward of faith is to see what we have believed. But first there must be faith.
The moment is the same as when Moses stood before the burning bush and said to God, “And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them? 14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:13-14). As Moses was to tell people to believe in God and His Word, so Jesus was telling His audience to believe Him and believe in His Word.
But the people wanted a miracle. Jesus told them plainly they would not get what they wanted, and a principle is established. Men must meet God on His terms. The gospel demands faith alone in Christ alone. “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” (Luke 4:24-27).
When the people understood that Jesus was not going to perform a miracle, and give visible evidence that He was fulfilling the words of the prophet Isaiah, the emotions of the people changed in an instant.
No longer were the people interested in the itinerant Rabbi. No longer were the people amazed at His gracious words. In a flash the people were angry. They were outraged that what they wanted would not be given to them.
In their emotional state of hostility, the people in the synagogue rose up and began to push Jesus out the door of the synagogue. The frenzy of the mob grew. Murder gripped the hearts of the people. Someone suggested Jesus be taken to the brow of the hill on which the city was built. They would throw Jesus into the valley below, dashing His body on the rocks, and killing Him.
But then a miracle did occur. Jesus passed through the midst of the religious and self righteous mob, and went His way and came to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. There, on the following Sabbath, Jesus found a new audience, and taught the people. And the people were astonished at his doctrine: for His word was with power.
The gospel message the people of Nazareth rejected, was well received by the people in Capernaum. In Capernaum, and elsewhere, Jesus would preach the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind. As the Messiah, Jesus would set at liberty them that are bruised, and preach the acceptable year of the Lord.