Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 4 Study Notes
Luke 4:16 (1)
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2 August 6, 2006 Lincolnton, NC
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 Nazareth.
A. "Nazareth" has no "certain origin", but when Matthew comments upon Jesus' "dwelling there", he says it was a "fulfillment" of a prophetic utterance that "He shall be called a Nazarene."
1. This claim is somewhat problematical because there is no specific prophecy in the words Matthew chose to use to be found in the Old Testament.
2. Thus, there are several "possibilities" of interpretation, but John 1:46 seems to strongly imply that "Nazareth" refers to a kind of "scoffing dismissal" that is rooted in an attitude in which the scoffer holds something in very light esteem.
a. The characteristic that is preserved in the Word of God regarding "Nazareth" is this issue of "insignificance/incapacity" in regard to "producing anything good." A "Nazarene", then, would be someone considered insignificant and/or powerless.
b. This issue -- the Messiah being regarded dismissively -- is clearly the subject of multiple Old Testament "prophecies", not the least of which is Isaiah 53:3.
c. Thus, it is clearly within the "boundaries" to consider that being a "Nazarene" means to be considered of no import.
3. In Isaiah 11:1 there is a Hebrew word translated "Branch" that is pronounced "netzer", which has vocal similarities to Nazareth [the vocalization of Nazareth given by Strong's is "Nad-zar-eth" and the vocalization for "netzer" is "nay-tser"].
4. The text which Jesus read in Nazareth was from Isaiah 61:1ff, which is an echo of Isaiah 11:2. It is notable that Isaiah 60:21 uses the word "netzer" (branch) just two verses before the quote Jesus used and the verse stuck in-between (60:22) is deliberately addressing the "dismissed" in terms of Yahweh's action's of making "the dismissed" a "strong" nation.
5. The Isaiah text, though it looks forward to Messiah, also had clear "Davidic" overtones, one of which was Yahweh's comment to him in 2 Samuel 7:8 ... a statement that clearly has the notion of being elevated from being a "nobody" to being a "primary person".
a. Even David's own father "dismissed" him when Samuel summoned him to present himself with his sons in 1 Samuel 16:11.
b. David was a "lowly" boy in the eyes of his peers [Note 1 Samuel 17:28], but he was the "branch" out of the roots of Jesse who was to have the Spirit of God upon him for the majority of his life. And, his downline offspring would include the "Branch".
B. The context is very clearly a contrast between the way Jesus was received outside of Nazareth and the way He was received in Nazareth.
1. It is very clear in Luke's record of Jesus in Nazareth that even the inhabitants of the town thought dismissively of Jesus (Note 4:22).
2. And, once that "dismissive" attitude was addressed, it turned murderous (4:29).
a. Often those who are treated "dismissively" by others develop a penchant for trying to overcome that by "competing with one another" for "glory" -- a tactic which seldom results in anything but contention.
b. Apparently, the "Nazarethites" had developed that contentious spirit to a marked degree.
C. Also, the terminology involved in "where He had been brought up" includes a participle which focuses upon "being fed".
1. The word is primarily used in the New Testament to refer to "feeding" (i.e., providing food). Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon says the word is used of a boy as long as he was under the dominion of women.
a. This word has the same root as the word "returned" (used in 4:14).
b. There are overtones of "cycles" (those "nourished" or "brought up" or "fed" are "subject to" the provision [or lack thereof] for the cyclical reality of "hunger, eating, hunger" as that cycle is fundamental to life and growth).
2. It probably has its roots in 2:51-52 where He "was subject to" Joseph and Mary.
a. This issue (being "subject to" someone) is precisely what is "at issue" in the whole "Nazareth" mindset. The "struggle" for status is, in fallen man, the struggle for supremacy and having to "submit" to others is the most "degrading" of all things for the supremacist.
b. The only real issue here is whether Jesus was to be "subject" to His Father, or to Joseph and Mary. For many years, it was "both", but that could not continue when it was time to "do His Father's business."
3. The point is this: the "Branch" was "fed" by the roots of Jesse in a setting of dismissal in the eyes of men.