Whatever We Have Heard…

17 Apr
from Google Images

from Google Images

Some folks who try to harmonize the Gospels believe that the time when Jesus came to Nazareth in Luke 4 is the same time he came to Nazareth in Matthew 13 and Mark 6, but this is not so. Rather, the other Synoptics are the fulfillment of what Jesus prophesied in Luke 4:23. Notice what Jesus said in Luke:

Luke 4:23 KJV  And he 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. (emphasis mine)

Notice that Jesus claims they “will” speak of him according to the proverb. He does not say that they were already saying this thing to him. Secondly, notice that the people in Nazareth “will” one day hear of what Jesus had done in Capernaum and demand the he also do those things in Nazareth that they heard done in Capernaum. In other words, at least according to how Jesus phrases his comment, they had not yet heard of any great work that was done by him. On the contrary, they simply demanded great works be done by him at this time in order to prove he was who he claimed, even though that was not the test of a prophet (cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-3).

When Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth in Matthew 13:54-58 and Mark 6:1-6, he had already been performing great wonders elsewhere, and the people in Nazareth had heard rumors of his deeds (Matthew 13:54b; Mark 6:2b). We know they didn’t see any of Jesus great miracles first hand, because the text later says Jesus could do no mighty work there except to heal a few sick folk (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:5). In fact, Mark says Jesus marveled at their unbelief (Mark 6:6). Luke doesn’t claim that Jesus marveled at the unbelief of the people of Nazareth. Rather, Jesus simply rebukes it with references to gentile belief in Luke 4:25-27. However, Mark’s testimony that Jesus marveled at their unbelief seems to point to the fact that, even though the people of Nazareth “heard” rumors of Jesus mighty works elsewhere, they still would not give Jesus the benefit of the doubt and trust him that he was sent by God. The very works the Nazarenes demanded Jesus do as proof of his office of Messiah in Luke, they **knew** were done elsewhere according to Matthew and Mark, but they still demanded evidence from Jesus there and then that he was who he claimed to be.

This is the demand of the first and third temptations of Luke 4. If you are the Son of God… turn these stones into bread or leap from this pinnacle. In other words, ‘show your stuff’, because the Messiah was to be a worker of mighty deeds. ‘Do a miracle’ that we may see you are the Messiah.

Today, most Jews don’t believe the Messiah will perform miracles (when he comes), yet, this is not the idea one receives from Scripture. Notice:

Isaiah 35:5-6 KJV  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  (6)  Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

In fact, it is to this Scripture that Jesus probably refers when he sends the Baptist’s disciples back to John to encourage him to not lose faith in Jesus (Luke 7:20-23). This very act shows there existed in the first century AD an understanding that the Messianic Age would be an age of miracles (see also John 7:31). Moreover, we have evidence of  this belief also from the Dead Sea Scrolls:

[For the hea]vens and the earth will listen to His Messiah, [and all] that is in them will not turn away from the holy precepts… For the Lord will observe the devout, and call the just by name, and upon the poor he will place his spirit, and the faithful he will renew with his strength. For he will honor the devout upon the throne of eternal royalty, freeing prisoners, giving sight to the blind, straightening out the twisted… And the Lord will perform marvelous acts such as have not existed, just as he sa[id] for he will heal the badly wounded and will make the dead live, he will proclaim good news to the meek, give lavishly [to the need]y, lead the exiled and enrich the hungry. [from the Messianic Apocalypse (4Q521, fragment 2), as translated in the standard scholarly edition of Florentino Garcia Martinez: The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated (Leiden: Brill, 1994), 394.]

Notice how similar this excerpt is with what Jesus told John’s disciples in Luke 7:21-23. Therefore, the Jews in Nazareth who demanded that Jesus do a miracle to prove he was the Messiah, were drawing from traditions of the current day. Although theologically unsound, their demands reflect the then current understanding of the Messianic Age.

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Posted by on April 17, 2019 in Gospel of Luke


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