The Life of Jesus

Notes for December 8-9, 2018
Luke 4:16-30   

Biblical Background

  • Nazareth: Jesus was born in Bethlehem (House of Bread), fled to Egypt as a toddler with his parents, and once Herod was dead, his parents moved back to their home town of Nazareth. It is in the north of Israel to the West of the Sea of Galilee. It is estimated that it had between 1,600 – 2,000 people and so was a small town in which Jesus would have been known as one of the boys who had grown up there to be a man.

  • Reading of Scriptures: Since Jesus had grown up in Nazareth, people knew that he could read and he had most likely read before. One read the Torah Scroll standing up, but would sit down to teach (sitting in the seat of Moses). Often readers would read in Hebrew and then paraphrase it in Aramaic so that all could understand.

  • Torah Scroll: Synagogues had a special scroll that was kept in a box or closet for safe keeping. It was brought out for the reading of the Torah and often would be opened up to a passage for that day to read. So, it may be that Jesus just read the passage assigned or chose the passage from Isaiah. The scroll would be rolled open to a particular passage – thus one couldn’t flip to pages of another book very quickly as in our books.

  • Isaiah 61:1-2: the future of Israel is described as a Year of Jubilee, a concept developed in Leviticus 25. This was a year in which debts were forgiven, land given back, etc… It was a year to celebrate and start fresh again.

  • Fulfilled in your hearing: Jesus is stating clearly that He has is the fulfillment of this prophecy that had been written approximately 700 years prior to this reading. Imagine waiting that long for something to happen – you’d be surprised too!

  • Isn’t this Joseph’s son?: In Judaism, one was known by one’s father. They are surprised that a local boy, would make such a claim, after all, they had known him all of his life. How could he be so special?

  • Israel rejects its prophets: Israel had a history of rejecting and mistreating its prophets i.e. Jeremiah.

  • The marginalized of society: Jesus mentions the widows, sick, and even the non-Jews – the dirty Gentiles from Sidon and Syria.

  • Anger of the masses: Crowd rage takes over and they seek to throw him off a cliff or stone him. This wasn’t legal, but rage took over.

  • Jesus unharmed: Jesus is protected supernaturally by the Lord.

Discussion Questions

  1. Read Luke 4:14-15 to get the context of Jesus’ reading of the Torah.  What change takes place from the way he is treated prior to returning to Nazareth versus the way he is treated in his home town?  Why do you think this happens?

  2. What is significant about Jesus reading from Isaiah 61:1-2?  What is Jesus stating after he finishes the reading from the Torah scroll?

  3. What is the 5-fold mission of Jesus according to this passage in Isaiah that he reads?

  4. How does Jesus fulfill this mission during his time on earth?  Now?

  5. How did the people respond to Jesus’ statement that He had fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 61?

  6. What do the proverbs that Jesus states in vv. 23 mean? 

  7. Have you ever noted that people are treated differently in their home town than in a new place? Why is this?

  8. Why do the people go from amazement to anger?

  9. Who are the Gentiles?  Why were they despised by the Jews?

  10. What can we learn from this story about Jesus’ view of people?

  11. How are we to carry on Jesus’ 5-fold mission?

  12. How can we carry out Jesus’ 5-fold mission in Greater Washington, the US and the world?