Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups
09/30/16 – 582 – Jesus Declares Himself the Messiah
Not that anyone should have notice, but I’ve been trying my very best to keep these stories about Jesus in chronological order. That is, in the order they happened, as best as we can determine. This one slipped by me a little bit though, it seems to have taken place just after the wedding at Cana and before He went to Samaria and met the woman at the well.
In the ruins of the town of Capernaum, where this story took place, just a few yards from the house belonging to Peter’s mother-in-law, stands the foundation and several walls of a synagogue built in the Byzantine period about 400 years later. However, it was built on the same model, and on the exact spot where the original stood. It’s just about 4 feet higher than the one in our story.
Still, when you stand where Jesus stood, and read these words of scripture, it’s almost as though you’re hearing them from Christ’s own lips. There is a power like no other that seems to flow from the floor into your body, into your soul. The presence of the Holy Spirit is never more real than when you read these words:
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
Here’s the picture. The synagogue would have been filled with people ready to worship. There were gallery benches all around (like bleachers), and on balconies. A large ‘center court’ for standing room only. (Maybe we should have that in our modern churches. Get there late, and you have to stand in the middle, hmmm.) There was a small seat toward one side for the rabbi to sit while he taught.
An attendant would have already chosen the appropriate scroll from a rack near the door, and the rabbi would take it from him. Out of pure joy for the privilege and honor of being the one to read it, the rabbi would often wave it above his head and dance down the aisle, through the crowd, to his seat. Which means folks, that Jesus danced in church! (Shhhhh. It’s OK, as long as we don’t tell the Baptists! Just kidding about the Baptists.)
By the time the teacher spoke, everyone wanted to hear what he had to say! But they didn’t expect this. This passage is a direct prophesy from God, written in the book of Isaiah some 700 years earlier, yet there was Jesus saying it was fulfilled by Him and no one else!
To them, he was just Jesus, Joseph the carpenter’s kid. They had watched Him grow up, or had grown up with Him. They had not yet witnessed many of His miracles as proof, and their memories were that of a normal kid playing normal kid games and helping His dad & mother. (I know – what’s normal about that, right?)
We’ll talk more about this tomorrow, but for today let’s pray that God would grant us the discretion to know when He is speaking to us, no matter what form He chooses to take.