Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 4 Study Notes
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 7 September 10, 2006 Lincolnton, NC
20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?
1901 ASV Translation:
20 And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down: and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21 And he began to say unto them, To-day hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears.
22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the words of grace which proceeded out of his mouth: and they said, Is not this Joseph's son?
I. The Issues...
A. He finished the "reader's" task.
1. Having rolled up the scroll...
a. This is the only time in the New Testament that the word translated "closed/rolled up" is used.
b. The word for "book/scroll" typically refers to a small document. In this text it refers to a portion of the Word of God.
2. Having given it back to the servant...
a. The act of "giving it back" simply refers to the fact that it was originally handed to Him.
b. The "servant" is one who "serves" (not the typical word for servant) and Luke uses it only here and in 1:2. In both places, the persons to which he refers have duties in respect to the Word of God.
3. He sat down.
a. The word is used to refer to someone who...
1) Has finished his task...
2) Is about to engage in a task.
b. Edersheim says it was typical for the person to "sit down" as he prepared to speak about the text that he had read. It might be fruitful to ask what the typical signals...standing to read, sitting to explain.
4. Luke is setting the stage: Jesus has just read a text that focuses upon the task of giving sight to the blind so that they may be able to enjoy the Jubilee/salvation of God and He establishes a kind of "finale" by rolling up the scroll and handing it back to the man who had originally given it to him and sitting down.
B. He had everyone's attention -- their "eyes" were fastened upon Him.
1. The chiastic focus of Jesus' ministry upon restoring sight to the blind is reinforced in this statement regarding the eyes of those who had heard Him.
2. Clearly they were unwilling to "miss" anything.
a. Jesus' reputation had preceded Him and everyone was watching to see some act of power...a natural curiosity.
b. There is a problem: the curiosity is not as great regarding the "Word" as it is the possibility of a "show".
c. In "seeing" everything depends upon focus. All through the Scriptures men are faulted for not "wanting" what is truly valuable and for "wanting" what is not valuable. When it comes to "seeing clearly" everything hinges upon that which creates "focus". Paul said that the mind set upon the flesh was death, but the mind set upon the Spirit was life and peace. This is focus.
3. Luke deliberately included the phrase "in the synagogue".
a. This cannot help but be a re-reference to the "religious" setting.
b. This serves to call attention to the fact that this setting was what was wrong in the second place (the first wrong is always motive/focus of desire; the second wrong is always the way one goes about attempting to obtain it) -- the synagogue had become a means to self-exaltation in order to erase the stigma of being a "Nazarene". The legal theology of all Israel was specifically designed to exalt oneself over others. Its roots were in a demonic fixation of the "eyes" upon "life" as the outworking of the obtaining of personal glory.
4. The "problem" of restoring sight to the blind is huge. It has to do with creating an inner desire for Truth that is strong enough to overcome "distractions". ADHD is a good example of the difficulty...attention deficit coupled to hyper-activity makes it pretty much impossible to create the kind of "focus" necessary for real learning.
C. He claimed to be the fulfillment of the selected Scripture.
1. This is a massive "focus" issue: I am the embodiment of Isaiah 61:1-2 and 58:6.
2. He had already gotten everyone's attention, but now His "focus" was upon the issue of getting right with God through the means of the "Gospel" and His audience's "focus" was upon getting to "see" a miracle. This carnal focus is deadly.
D. His audience was focused, but sceptical.
1. The first issue: is Luke's "all were wondering and marvelling upon the words of the grace which were proceeding from His mouth" a statement of willingness to hear or a statement of surprised scepticism?
a. If they were of humble heart and had a desire to "hear", Jesus' reaction is hard to explain. This does not automatically mean that they were not so (as the record of Mark 7:26ff reveals -- Jesus' response is hardly seen as polite in the face of a woman whose faith got her what she wanted). But, their later reaction is beyond dispute as a hostile rejection.
b. Claiming that He was "Joseph's son" went all the way back to their rejection of His identity as "the Son of God" [Note particularly Luke 1:35 and give thought to the "attitude" of the Nazarenes toward Mary and Joseph if Jesus was "Joseph's son".]
c. The possibility exists that Jesus had "explained" (He taught in their synagogues) the meaning of the Isaiah texts prior to His claim that "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears" so that the "grace" teaching was clear and the people knew what He was claiming the text taught.
d. Regardless of this possibility, the fact remains that whatever He had said had led them to a quandary: how could this "son of Joseph" be anything close to the divine messenger? There are echoes here of John 9:34 -- people rejecting Truth because of the "lack of qualification" of the messenger.
1) "Bearing witness to Him" does not mean that they "liked" what He was saying; it only means that they were paying close enough attention to be able to "witness" it: see Luke 11:48.
2) "Marvelling" does not indicate any predisposition to "like" what caused it either: see Luke 11:38.
3) Luke's use of "bearing witness" and "marvelling" in the same context only happens twice in Luke and both times it is in the context of killing the messengers of God.
2. There is always the huge danger of what moderns call "defense mechanisms" -- the immediate distraction that has nothing to do with anything.
a. What possible difference could it make that Jesus was Joseph's "son"?
b. The implication: He is no better than I am...what right has he to summon me to repentance? Yet John was the "son" of Zacharias and no one seemed to have a problem with him as he called people to repentance. What is different here? John did not claim to be the One; he was just a "voice" of the One. Yet, a prophet is normally without honor in his own setting because people tend to seek self-elevation among their contemporaries, not strangers.
3. They recognized the "words" were "of the grace of God" -- the avowed enemy of legal theology. The problem of Jubilee was that everyone who had profited off of their "brother's" misfortune lost their privileges when all was returned. A hard blow to the greedy and self-exalting (the prosperous are always better than the poor in their own eyes).