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Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
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CHAPTER 4

Lu 4:1-13. Temptation of Christ.

(See on Mt 4:1-11.)

Lu 4:14-32. Jesus Entering on His Public Ministry, Makes a Circuit of GalileeRejection at Nazareth.

Note.—A large gap here occurs, embracing the important transactions in Galilee and Jerusalem which are recorded in Joh 1:29-4:54, and which occurred before John's imprisonment (Joh 3:24); whereas the transactions here recorded occurred (as appears from Mt 4:12, 13) after that event. The visit to Nazareth recorded in Mt 13:54-58 (and Mr 6:1-6) we take to be not a later visit, but the same with this first one; because we cannot think that the Nazarenes, after being so enraged at His first display of wisdom as to attempt His destruction, should, on a second display of the same, wonder at it and ask how He came by it, as if they had never witnessed it before.

16. as his custom was—Compare Ac 17:2.

stood up for to read—Others besides rabbins were allowed to address the congregation. (See Ac 13:15.)

18, 19. To have fixed on any passage announcing His sufferings (as Isa 53:1-12), would have been unsuitable at that early stage of His ministry. But He selects a passage announcing the sublime object of His whole mission, its divine character, and His special endowments for it; expressed in the first person, and so singularly adapted to the first opening of the mouth in His prophetic capacity, that it seems as if made expressly for this occasion. It is from the well-known section of Isaiah's prophecies whose burden is that mysterious "Servant of the Lord," despised of man, abhorred of the nation, but before whom kings on seeing Him are to arise, and princes to worship; in visage more marred than any man and His form than the sons of men, yet sprinkling many nations; laboring seemingly in vain, and spending His strength for naught and in vain, yet Jehovah's Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and be His Salvation to the ends of the earth (Isa 49:1-26, &c.). The quotation is chiefly from the Septuagint version, used in the synagogues.

19. acceptable year—an allusion to the jubilee year (Le 25:10), a year of universal release for person and property. (See also Isa 49:8; 2Co 6:2.) As the maladies under which humanity groans are here set forth under the names of poverty, broken-heartedness, bondage, blindness, bruisedness (or crushedness), so, as the glorious Healer of all these maladies, Christ announces Himself in the act of reading it, stopping the quotation just before it comes to "the day of vengeance," which was only to come on the rejecters of His message (Joh 3:17). The first words, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me," have been noted since the days of the Church Fathers, as an illustrious example of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost being exhibited as in distinct yet harmonious action in the scheme of salvation.

20. the minister—the chazan, or synagogue-officer.

all eyes … fastened on Him—astounded at His putting in such claims.

21. began to say, &c.—His whole address was just a detailed application to Himself of this and perhaps other like prophecies.

22. gracious words—"the words of grace," referring both to the richness of His matter and the sweetness of His manner (Ps 45:2).

Is not this, &c.—(See on Mt 13:54-56). They knew He had received no rabbinical education, and anything supernatural they seemed incapable of conceiving.

23. this proverb—like our "Charity begins at home."

whatsoever, &c.—"Strange rumors have reached our ears of Thy doings at Capernaum; but if such power resides in Thee to cure the ills of humanity, why has none of it yet come nearer home, and why is all this alleged power reserved for strangers?" His choice of Capernaum as a place of residence since entering on public life was, it seems, already well known at Nazareth; and when He did come thither, to give no displays of His power when distant places were ringing with His fame, wounded their pride. He had indeed "laid his hands on a few sick folk and healed them" (Mr 6:5); but this seems to have been done quite privately the general unbelief precluding anything more open.

24. And he said, &c.—He replies to the one proverb by another, equally familiar, which we express in a rougher form—"Too much familiarity breeds contempt." Our Lord's long residence in Nazareth merely as a townsman had made Him too common, incapacitating them for appreciating Him as others did who were less familiar with His everyday demeanor in private life. A most important principle, to which the wise will pay due regard. (See also Mt 7:6, on which our Lord Himself ever acted.)

25-27. But I tell you, &c.—falling back for support on the well-known examples of Elijah and Elisha (Eliseus), whose miraculous power, passing by those who were near, expended itself on those at a distance, yea on heathens, "the two great prophets who stand at the commencement of prophetic antiquity, and whose miracles strikingly prefigured those of our Lord. As He intended like them to feed the poor and cleanse the lepers, He points to these miracles of mercy, and not to the fire from heaven and the bears that tore the mockers" [Stier].

three years and six months—So Jas 5:17, including perhaps the six months after the last fall of rain, when there would be little or none at any rate; whereas in 1Ki 18:1, which says the rain returned "in the third year," that period is probably not reckoned.

26, 27. save … saving—"but only." (Compare Mr 13:32, Greek.)

Sarepta—"Zarephath" (1Ki 17:9), a heathen village between Tyre and Sidon. (See Mr 7:24.)

28, 29. when they heard these things—these allusions to the heathen, just as afterwards with Paul (Ac 22:21, 22).

29. rose up—broke up the service irreverently and rushed forth.

thrust him—with violence, as a prisoner in their hands.

brow, &c.—Nazareth, though not built on the ridge of a hill, is in part surrounded by one to the west, having several such precipices. (See 2Ch 25:12; 2Ki 9:33.) It was a mode of capital punishment not unusual among the Romans and others. This was the first insult which the Son of God received, and it came from "them of His own household!" (Mt 10:36).

30. passing through the midst, &c.—evidently in a miraculous way, though perhaps quite noiselessly, leading them to wonder afterwards what spell could have come over them, that they allowed Him to escape. (Similar escapes, however, in times of persecution, are not unexampled.)

31. down to Capernaum—It lay on the Sea of Galilee (Mt 4:13), whereas Nazareth lay high.

Lu 4:33-37. Demoniac Healed.

33. unclean—The frequency with which this character of impurity is applied to evil spirits is worthy of notice.

cried out, &c.—(See Mt 8:29; Mr 3:11).

35. rebuked them, &c.—(See on Lu 4:41).

thrown him, &c.—See on Mr 9:20.

36. What a word—a word from the Lord of spirits.

Lu 4:38-41. Peter's Mother-in-law and Many Others, Healed.

(See on Mt 8:14-17.)

41. suffered them not to speak—The marginal reading ("to say that they knew him to be Christ") here is wrong. Our Lord ever refused testimony from devils, for the very reason why they were eager to give it, because He and they would thus seem to be one interest, as His enemies actually alleged. (See on Mt 12:24, &c.; see also Ac 16:16-18.)

Lu 4:42-44. Jesus Sought Out at Morning Prayer, and Entreated to Stay, Declines from the Urgency of His Work.

See on Mr 1:35-39, where we learn how early He retired, and how He was engaged in solitude when they came seeking Him.

42. stayed him—"were staying Him," or sought to do it. What a contrast to the Gadarenes! The nature of His mission required Him to keep moving, that all might hear the glad tidings (Mt 8:34).

43. I must, &c.—but duty only could move Him to deny entreaties so grateful to His spirit.

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