A Bible Study by Paula Yingst …
We must always keep in mind that the Bible was meant to be a record of the genealogy and family history of the descendants of Adam through Seth through Abraham through Jacob (a.k.a. ISRAEL) through Judah through David through Joseph (and Mary) through Jesus and His followers, plus eye-witnesses and researchers who wrote testimonies about the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, and what happened during the years immediately following Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
* * *
We know from Dr. Luke’s research that the boy Jesus was already on the radar of those who had taught in the temple courts before him. Luke 2 tells about the time when Mary and Joseph had to backtrack after heading home from a festival in Jerusalem, because their son could not be found among the many relatives who’d been traveling together. And by the time they located Jesus, it had been three days since they last saw him.
There he was sitting among the teachers, listening and asking questions. The Son of God in human form was twelve years old at the time, so it would be another 18 years before he officially launched his ministry as a thirty-year-old. Even so, I imagine there were those who remembered the bright young man and his time among the teachers at the temple “back in the day.”
Following his baptism and forty days of fasting in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil, Jesus returned to Galilee and people began talking …
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. (Luke 4:14)
But the tide turned when Jesus went back to Nazareth, where he had been raised. Mark, an eye witness, reported what individuals there were saying to each other …
“Where did this man get these things”‘ they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?“ And they took offense at him. (Mark 6:2-3)
Dr. Luke shared this account of something significant that took place in Nazareth’s synagogue …
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:15-21, NIV)
With that simple (yet utterly complex) statement, Jesus announced the journey that would end with many of his peers shouting, “Crucify!” Ultimately, they could not grasp what Jesus would imply and state repeatedly over the next few years — he was (and IS) equal with God the Father.
Something interesting happened then, according to gospel writer Mark …
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. (Mark 6:2b-6, NIV)
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Imagine that someone you have known since childhood suddenly began claiming that he is the Messiah, favored by God. What would be your initial gut reaction? This situation is presenting itself in your city, in your neighborhood, at your family gatherings … in your face! How would you respond?
Now think about what Jesus did. His actions spoke in conjunction with the prophecies that everyone in that culture and community had been forced to memorize from childhood. His life reflected fulfillment of words written down by revered servants of God — he proclaimed good news to the poor, freedom for prisoners held captive by oppression and fear, and recovery of sight for the blind — both physically and spiritually. He insisted that God loved everyone, no matter who they were or what they had done. And he assured them that they could be made right with God and spend eternity with him, by believing IN HIS SON, “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) — the Messiah, whose coming was foretold by the ancient prophets.
With that in mind, how should you respond to anyone in modern times who might claim to be the promised Messiah? Understanding prophecy connections in Hebrew scriptures gives us a firm foundation on which to stand when we’re faced with similar challenges. Especially as the time approaches when Revelation 13 — the prophecy of the Antichrist and his False Prophet — will be fulfilled on the global stage.
Do you believe it?