Christ preaches at Nazareth and is Rejected

Christ preaches at Nazareth and is Rejected

Teaching at Nazareth. Rejected.

(The Gospel History, Section 27)

Now when Jesus had heard that John was delivered up, he returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and a fame went out concerning him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.

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. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the book, and found the place where it was written,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor:
He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovering of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty them that are bruised,
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

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. And he began to say unto them, To-day hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears. 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? And he said unto them, Doubtless ye will say unto me this parable, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done at Capernaum, do also here in thine own country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is acceptable in his own country. But of a truth I say unto you. There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; and unto none of them was Elijah sent, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian. And they were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things; and they rose up, and cast him forth out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way.

Christ preaches at Nazareth and is Rejected

(The Saviour of the World, Vol II Book I Poem II)

News came to Christ of John delivered up;
And yet the more He went about and preached,
Urged by the Spirit, throughout Galilee.
In all the villages men talked of Him
And in the towns, wherever two or three
Gathered in a little group;—What think ye then
Of prophet in our midst who thus and thus
Hath done and spoken only yesterday?
There was none other talk in all those parts.

So, as He went from place to place, He taught
Ever, as custom was, in synagogue,
An open teaching every man might hear;
And all the people praised Him for His words.
Came He to Nazareth where He was brought up:
Entering the synagogue on Sabbath day,
As was His wont, He stood, the usual way
Of one prepared to read: attendant came
And brought Him roll of book assigned that day,
Book of the Prophet Isaiah; straight He took,
And found the place where it is written, thus:
“The Spirit of the Lord on me is come;
“He hath anointed me to preach good news
“To all the poor; to captives, liberty;
“Recovered sight to them who have no light;
“That happy year when God shall walk with men
“To proclaim to whomsoe’er hath ear to hear.”

The words, how many a Sabbath had they heard,
Were new this day, as never heard before!
All eyes were fastened on the Reader’s face;
And people knew a word had come to them,
Not from the parchment roll, but from His lips
Of whom the prophet spake so gracious words.
And when He closed the book and gave it back
To him in attendance, and sat down to teach,
Hung they all on His words as very meat
Morsel by morsel dropped in famished mouths.
“This day,” saith He, “this Scripture is fulfilled
“In all men’s ears.” What more, we know not: here,
The Secret, had they wit to know. Not eye
Fed on the pride of life, nor greedy mouth,
Nor grasping hands all covetous of good:—
The ear shall carry healing for our hurt;
The Word shall bring good tidings to the poor;
Shall loose the bonds of captives chained to dreams;
Shall ope the eyes of him who sees amiss,—
Sees little things as great, that which is not
As filling space and standing in the way;—
Shall heal the bruiséd soul, fretting in chain
Of vicious habit corroding the hurt life.
They looked for glorious era of Messias?
Messias is the Word should set them free!
And every man bare witness in himself,
As words of grace, such words as no man spake
Since the world was, fell, healing, on his ear
And proved them to his heart the very words
That all his days he had been waiting for
As child at show waits for the curtain’s rise:
Hunger, agape, was filled with words of life;
What matter for the rest when here was all?

Alas for that uneasy sea each man
Carries in his own breast! Now is the cry,
“Is this not Joseph’s son, the man we know?
“Who gave him right to move with mighty words
“And send poor souls away full as from feast?
“What be his words to us? Away with him!”
He takes up their own word—common proverb,
“Physician, heal thyself!” (how good it is,
Endearing, human, in our Lord to use
Those pithy texts in which the people wrap
Wisdom of ages,—glorified by Him),
“Ye say, not words we want, but do thou here
“In thine own country where thou wast brought up
“Such mighty works as in Capernaum.”

Nay, but, another word of theirs shows cause—
(Both proverbs issuing from bitter hearts)—
And He said: “Verily, to you I say,
“Your own hard word is true; no prophet can
“Do that for his own, for others he may work;
“His own will not accept him; goes he forth
“To strangers for the liberal mind, frank trust,
“Alone make possible his mighty works.
“Was it not so of old? In truth, I say,
“Full many widows were in Israel
“In days when Elijah closed the heavens up
“And famine fell on the land: but not to these,
“To her of Zarepheth, widow of Sidon,
“Was Prophet sent. And, in Elisha’s day,
“Israel had many lepers; none was cleansed
“But Syrian Naaman!” The word went home;
They knew themselves condemned, a faithless crew
With hearts too shallow to hold word of God:
As trees by summer breeze swayed to and fro,
Hearts of the people but an instant past;
As trees uprooted, whirled with fury on
Whither they know not, devastating all,
The furious crowd uprose and thrust Him forth,
(Whose words but now had dropped as tender dew
On hearts burnt up and parchèd of the world);
Now forth from synagogue, from city forth,
Proud city, set on hill, to brow of hill
In headlong passion, brought, to hurl Him down
That precipice behind the town, whence none
Could be cast down and live. For what? The truth,— —
Capernaum readier for the Word than they;
Strangers more graced than Jews, for they were fit,—
Intolerable truth to men who lived
Bolstered with national pride, impervious
To searching words discovering each man’s sin.
How ’scaped the Lord? He, passing through the midst,
Went on His way. We very well know how:
Just so, through imminent peril, brings He us.

St. Luke iv. 14-30;
St. Matthew iv. 12;
St. Mark i. 14;
Isaiah lxi. 1, 2;
1 Kings xvii. 9;
2 Kings v. 14