Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3
August 13, 2006
16 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.
1901 ASV Translation:
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read.
- I. The "Return" to the Synagogue.
- A. Luke makes sure that we understand this as a "return" in that he tells us it was "the custom" of Jesus to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath.
- 1. The "custom" issue is the issue of "returning" again and again to a given practice.
- 2. The issue of Jesus' "custom" signals His willingness to "settle into" an established "norm".
- a. Luke 2:51 tells us that Jesus was "subject" to Joseph and Mary.
- b. This "subjection" included "practicing their religion".
- 1) It was, at least superficially, the "religion" sanctioned by God as He was the One Who had laid its foundations at Sinai and commanded its practice and preservation in Deuteronomy 6:11 and 11:19.
- 2) It was a part of Jesus' own mindset that this heavenly-sanctioned "religion" was to be "practiced" -- but with a severe qualification, as shown by His command in Matthew 23:3.
- 3) Jesus' practice should not be used to "sanction" the "practice of a false religion" under the guise of "submission."
- B. However, though it was His "custom", it was clearly not something He typically enjoyed because of the people in their root-distortion of their religion.
- 1. How else do we "explain" Jesus' words of deliberate confrontation?
- 2. For 30 years Jesus had attended "synagogue" and heard "the word of God" explained away so that what was "heard" was acceptable to the demons who also often attended (Note Mark 1:23).
- a. If there had been a serious interest in the truth of God in Nazareth, Jesus' approach would have been quite different.
- b. Instead, there was a very strong antagonism to the root principle of God's Servant Kingdom -- that God highly values the humility of love -- in favor of the principle of the devil's "cast thyself off of the Temple" challenge.
- c. Instead of being "fed up" with the dismissive attitude of others, the Nazarenes should have been more like Mary in 1:29 and 1:38 -- very troubled at the thought that she was "highly favored" and very quick to submit as the "handmaid of the Lord."
- 3. The issue of "false religion" among the Jews will invariably get down to the question of motivation and that will, sooner or later, get down to Paul's question in Romans 3:27 and his declaration in Philippians 3:4.
- a. It is the very apex of ungodliness to attempt to use "godliness" as a way to "self-exalt." James, in 3:1, used this very issue as the fundamental "temptation" in the realm of the spirit of man [The book of James is designed around the issue of "how to handle temptation" and it is structured around three very basic issues -- the lust for money, the lust for status, and the lust for pleasure -- and the very basic issue of "the lust for status" has "using religion as the methodology of self-exaltation" at its very heart in 3:1ff. And not only James, but Luke himself also revealed the "temptation" by the devil to "use" the "word of God" to "self-exalt" -- having lifted Jesus higher than Jerusalem, and higher than the Temple, he suggests that Jesus "validate" the Word of God by forcing His status to the fore: "Cast thyself down"].
- b. It seems fairly clear that the "Nazarenes" were chafing at their "insignificant status" and were using the synagogue as a way to "combat" it. This is the use of religion to "self-exalt."