The One Year Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), September 29
Isaiah sees the scope of the Messiah’s ministry five hundred years before He walks upon the earth and begins His earthly ministry:
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound,
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD” (Is. 61:1-2).
Jesus reads from Isaiah’s text in the synagogue on the Sabbath in Nazareth, claiming, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk. 4:21). Ignoring their open excitement, Jesus sees their private unbelief and points back to the unbelief of their forefathers and the faith of a Sidonian widow and a Syrian leper. Their hidden unbelief is exposed, “So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath” (Lk. 4:28).
Those within the synagogue fail to connect the dots and miss His coming, but many outside of the synagogue receive His ministry—“They brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them” (Mt. 4:24). Jesus comes to shake things up in the synagogues and to bring Life into spiritually dead institutions and people, regardless of their race or social standing. The Gospel of Mark captures the intentionality and immediacy of Jesus’ ministry:
Jesus doesn’t soften His message to gain an audience, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mk. 1:14-5).
Though Jesus teaches in the synagogue, He chooses His first disciples from the seashore, “And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men’” (Mk. 1:16-17).
Jesus doesn’t wait until the synagogue service is over to liberate a man inhabited by an evil spirit, “Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught . . . . Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out . . . but Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’” (Mk. 1:21, 23, 25).
Jesus ignores socio-economic, religious, and cultural barriers. He interacts with a religious man one day and a Samaritan woman, a nobleman, and a disciple’s sick mother-in-law another day, “But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her” (Mark 1:30-31).
Jesus doesn’t keep to a schedule, “At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed . . . . Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (Mk. 1:32, 34).
Jesus is not enamored with fame and adulation, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth” (Mk. 1:38).
Many miss Christ and His activity today when they expect Him to be and do other than what was prophesied in the Old Testament. Jesus didn’t come to affirm moral people, endorse religion, do social ministry or make a name for Himself. He came to redeem those who acknowledged their wrecked and ruined lives. He came to regenerate and transform sinners. He came to glorify His Father in heaven!
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Mk. 1:14-15, 21-39; Mt. 4:12-25; 8:14-17; Jn. 4:46-54; Lk. 4:16-44):
Describe the difference between the reception of Jesus inside and outside the synagogue. What does this reveal about religious institutions in Jesus’ day?