b) The Beginning of Jesus’ Galilean Ministry (Lk 4:14-15)

Translation from the book:

Στεργίου Ν. Σάκκου, ρμηνεία στό κατά Λουκν Εαγγέλιο, τόμ. Α΄, 

ἐκδ. «ΧΡΙΣΤΙΑΝΙΚΗ ΕΛΠΙΣ» ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΗ ΑΔΕΛΦΟΤΗΤΑ, Θεσ/νίκη 2008, σσ. 179-183

(Stergios N. Sakkos [Read CV]A Commentary on the Gospel according to St. Lukevol. A', pp. 179-183)


  After the description of Jesus' temptations, the three synoptic evangelists recount the beginning of his public ministry in Galilee. From the evangelist John we learn that Jesus' public appearance in Judea (see 2:23) and a period of parallel activity with John the Baptist (see 3:22) preceded his public appearance in Galilee. Judea was abandoned by the Lord when the Baptist was imprisoned (cf. Mt 4:12; Mk 1:14), in order to eliminate the envy of the Pharisees, who were learning of the continued increase of his disciples (see Jn 4:1-3). According to St. John Chrysostom, the Lord, by his departure, also teaches us a prudent attitude towards temptations. The believer must not arrogantly challenge the devil, but avoid him as much as possible. The terrible thing is not to resist when temptation offends and to throw oneself into temptation. When you were baptized “you took up arms to fight and not to be inactive"!
  Jesus’ first sermon is identical with the Baptist’s sermon; "repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mt 4:17; cf. Mk 1:15). Thus, as Zigavinos observes, the Lord wanted to honour John as his genuine emissary and forerunner. Moreover, he confirmed the need for repentance and the coming of God’s kingdom.
  Long slavery to various conquerors had created in the pious Jews a strong desire to throw off the foreign yoke and to establish at last an earthly theocratic kingdom. This was what they expected from the Messiah, whom they were waiting for according to the prophecies of the Old Testament. Jesus, with his gospel, revealed that God’s kingdom differs from Jewish expectations and set the conditions of entry into it.

4,14. Καὶ ὑπέστρεψεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐν τῇ δυνάμει τοῦ Πνεύματος εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν· καὶ φήμη ἐξῆλθε καθ᾿ ὅλης τῆς περιχώρου περὶ αὐτοῦ.
4:14 Then Jesus returned in the Spirit's power to Galilee; and His fame spread through all the adjacent districts.

  In the wilderness, where the Lord withdrew after his baptism, he crushed Satan as a man, without making use of his divine power. Then, after the temptations, he returned to Galilee “in the Spirit's power”, making the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. 4:1) most evident by his miraculous signs, which testified to his divine-human being.
  As Luke begins to recount Jesus’ public ministry, he notes that his fame had already spread; “His fame spread through all the adjacent districts”. This reputation is due to the activity that Jesus had developed in Judea, which the synoptic evangelists presuppose. The evangelist John explains: “Then when he came into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went to the feast” (4:45). The evangelist Matthew also testifies to the spread of Jesus' fame throughout Galilee and the surrounding region (4:24).

4,15. Καὶ αὐτὸς ἐδίδασκεν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν δοξαζόμενος ὑπὸ πάντων.
4:15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

 didaskalos 1 Jesus began his work of teaching in the synagogues. Just as the hunter goes to the lakes and rivers, where the animals go to drink water, to find their prey so Jesus goes to the synagogues to meet the faithful Jews, the remnant of Israel who came to quench their thirst with the divine water of his word. But he was not confined there. He preached on the hillsides of Galilee (see Mt 5:1) and in lowland places (see Lk 6:17), on the shores of Gennesaret (see Mt 13:1), on a boat (see Lk 5:3), by a well (see Jn 4:6e), in desert places (see Mt 14:13), in various houses (see Mk 2:1; 9:33; Lk 7:36; 10:38; 11:37; 14:1), in towns and villages (see Lk 8:1; 13:22), in the Temple of Jerusalem (see Mt 21:23; Jn 7:14; 8:20), in the upper room shortly before his arrest (see Jn chs. 13-17), even on the cross (see Lk 23:34. 43 etc.). For Jesus every place could become a pulpit.
  "Synagogue" was called the gathering of the Jews and the place of their gathering. The Jews had their only Temple in Jerusalem, where the sacrifices, offerings and promises to God were made. At the same time, however, the institution of the synagogue played an important role in religious life, especially in towns and villages where access to the Temple was not easy. In the synagogue the Jews gathered to hear God speak to them through his law. The Jewish synagogue was housed in simple halls, which were called synagogues or havres (safe places). There, in a special room, symbolically called the “ark”, they kept the precious scrolls of the Holy Scriptures wrapped in linen and leather casings. There was also a lectern or pulpit from which the texts were read and interpreted.
  The Sabbath was the main day of assembly in the synagogue. The assembly began with the recitation of prayers and then the reading of the law. The first reading was from the Pentateuch and the second from the Prophets. After each reading there was an interpretation. The reader and interpreter of the texts could be any Jew. Usually, however, this work was carried out by the more educated, the scribes.
  After the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, the synagogues acquired a special importance for the Jewish religion. They existed and still exist today, scattered all over the world. Through the word of the Old Testament, they prepared not only the Jews but also the Gentile converts for the coming of the Messiah, because like a magnet they attracted the best men in the pagan world. Moreover, these were the foundations, the suitable ground which the apostles used to establish and spread the Church of Christ.
  Jesus “being glorified by all”. It was not only his miracles that caused the admiration of the people, but also his teaching, which was completely different from that of the scribes. Those carried to them the teachings of the rabbis, often burdened them with heavy loads, spoke to them about divine things without having experience themselves. Jesus, on the contrary, was a unique and unparalleled teacher in universal human history, both in the content and in the manner and in the authority of his teaching. The incident narrated by John is characteristic; when once the Pharisees and the chief priests sent their men to arrest Jesus, they returned empty-handed and confessed, "Never man spoke as this man" (Jn 7:46).
  Jesus’ words were not even like those of the prophets. The prophets used to use the following expressions; "thus says the Lord", "the mouth of the Lord has spoken these things". Jesus taught with a divine authority (see Mt 7:29; Mk 1:22; Lk 4:32). In the Sermon on the Mountain he repeated; "You have heard that it came to the ancients... But I say unto you" (Mt 5:22. 28. 32. 34. 39. 44). To the reasonable question- “To the ancients, our ancestors, God spoke via Moses. Who are you who says these things?”, the Lord answered with the signs which he performed. He offered them as credentials of his divinity.


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