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Jesus teaches in the synagogue | Bible Trek – Nazareth Series - 03

This replica synagogue in Nazareth represents the incredible moment when Jesus, the local carpenter, announced himself to be the Messiah. As was the custom, the community would gather at the synagogue on a Friday evening and the scrolls would be read aloud. Jesus read from the Isaiah scroll and caused uproar as he presented himself as the one who would fulfil these ancient prophecies, bringing freedom to captives and peace to the oppressed.

Quick read

Luke 4.16–19

In a nutshell

‘And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.”’ Luke 4.24, ESV

Pious Jews from all over the country journeyed to the Temple in Jerusalem for major annual festivals. Weekly worship, though, took place at the local synagogue. Every Friday evening, Jesus and his fellow-Nazarenes went to synagogue and the men took turns reading from and interpreting the Holy Scriptures.

Jesus’ sermon raised eyebrows when he applied an ancient messianic prophecy to himself. The Messiah was expected to be a royal leader of the lineage of Israel’s iconic King David, sent by God to defeat Israel’s oppressors.

Understandably Nazareth’s synagogue-goers struggled to see how Jesus the carpenter could be the Messiah. Even his own disciples took a long time to realise that redemption would come not through force but suffering, and that the peace he offered was spiritual, not political, and timeless rather than instant.

Tiberius, Nero, Domitian, and Gaius are but a few names of Roman Emperors. They saw themselves as gods; this self-given divine status brought horrifying abuse and corruption. Into this world of tyrannical rulers, Jesus read the words of Isaiah 61 and declared himself as the one the passage spoke of, bringing good news to the poor. 

In Hebrew culture being poor was not just about money. It was a way of referring to outsiders, to those of low social status such as women, the sick, and even wealthy tax collectors. Jesus came for those people. Unlike the leaders of his day, King Jesus offered freedom and flourishing for all.

In Leviticus 25 we read that once every fifty years a great reset button was to be hit in Israel – the year of Jubilee when all debts were cancelled, indentured slaves were released from bondage and land was restored to its ancestral owner. Imagine being an Israelite suffering under the weight of debt to a ravenous landlord, only to experience the year of Jubilee! But when Jesus proclaimed ‘the year of the Lord’s favour’ he pointed to an even better jubilee.

Are you stuck in a negative cycle, longing for release and restoration? In Christ, we can have hope. Not necessarily because our financial debts or obligations to others will be removed in the here and now but because Jesus has released us from our greatest debt. He’s paid for our sin and released us from the power of death. 

Revelation 21 tells us there is an ultimate jubilee to look forward to when our relationship with God will be completely restored and he will make his home with us. We won’t be separated from him in any way and there will be no more pain, sickness, tragedy or suffering. 

Read on to find out more about God’s concern for the marginalised, as shown in Luke’s Gospel.

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