From the Commentary on the Whole Bible (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, 1871).
Mark Chapter 6
Mr 6:1-6. Christ Rejected at Nazareth. ( = Mt 13:54-58; Lu 4:16-30).
See Lu 4:16-30.
16And 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. 17And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the book, and found the place where it was written,
18The 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,
19To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
20And 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. 21And he began to say
unto them, To-day hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears. 22And 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? 23And 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. 24And he
said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is acceptable in his own country. 25But
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; 26and unto none of them was Elijah sent, but
only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. 27And
there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of
them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian. 28And they were all filled with
wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things; 29and 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. 30But he passing
through the midst of them went his way.
Commentary on Luke 4:16-30
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.)
54And coming into his own country he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Judas? 56And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house. 58And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Commentary on Matthew 13:54-58
54. And when he was come into his own country—that is, Nazareth; as is plain from Mr 6:1. See on Joh 4:43, where also the same phrase occurs. This, according to the majority of Harmonists, was the second of two visits which our Lord paid to Nazareth during His public ministry; but in our view it was His first and only visit to it. See on Mt 4:13; and for the reasons, see Lu 4:16-30.
Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?—"these miracles." These surely are not like the questions of people who had asked precisely the same questions before, who from astonishment had proceeded to rage, and in their rage had hurried Him out of the synagogue, and away to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, to thrust Him down headlong, and who had been foiled even in that object by His passing through the midst of them, and going His way. But see on Lu 4:16, &c.
55. Is not this the carpenter's son?—In Mark (Mr 6:3) the question is, "Is not this the carpenter?" In all likelihood, our Lord, during His stay under the roof of His earthly parents, wrought along with His legal father.
is not his mother called Mary?—"Do we not know all about His parentage? Has He not grown up in the midst of us? Are not all His relatives our own townsfolk? Whence, then, such wisdom and such miracles?" These particulars of our Lord's human history constitute the most valuable testimony, first, to His true and real humanity—for they prove that during all His first thirty years His townsmen had discovered nothing about Him different from other men; secondly, to the divine character of His mission—for these Nazarenes proclaim both the unparalleled character of His teaching and the reality and glory of His miracles, as transcending human ability; and thirdly, to His wonderful humility and self-denial—in that when He was such as they now saw Him to be, He yet never gave any indications of it for thirty years, because "His hour was not yet come."
And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56. And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? An exceedingly difficult question here arises—What were these "brethren" and "sisters" to Jesus? Were they, First, His full brothers and sisters? or, Secondly, Were they His step-brothers and step-sisters, children of Joseph by a former marriage? or, Thirdly, Were they cousins, according to a common way of speaking among the Jews respecting persons of collateral descent? On this subject an immense deal has been written, nor are opinions yet by any means agreed. For the second opinion there is no ground but a vague tradition, arising probably from the wish for some such explanation. The first opinion undoubtedly suits the text best in all the places where the parties are certainly referred to (Mt 12:46; and its parallels, Mr 3:31; Lu 8:19; our present passage, and its parallels, Mr 6:3; Joh 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10; Ac 1:14). But, in addition to other objections, many of the best interpreters, thinking it in the last degree improbable that our Lord, when hanging on the cross, would have committed His mother to John if He had had full brothers of His own then alive, prefer the third opinion; although, on the other hand, it is not to be doubted that our Lord might have good reasons for entrusting the guardianship of His doubly widowed mother to the beloved disciple in preference even to full brothers of His own. Thus dubiously we prefer to leave this vexed question, encompassed as it is with difficulties. As to the names here mentioned, the first of them, "James," is afterwards called "the Lord's brother" (see on Ga 1:19), but is perhaps not to be confounded with "James the son of Alphæus," one of the Twelve, though many think their identity beyond dispute. This question also is one of considerable difficulty, and not without importance; since the James who occupies so prominent a place in the Church of Jerusalem, in the latter part of the Acts, was apparently the apostle, but is by many regarded as "the Lord's brother," while others think their identity best suits all the statements. The second of those here named, "Joses" (or Joseph), must not be confounded with "Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus" (Ac 1:23); and the third here named, "Simon," is not to be confounded with Simon the Kananite or Zealot (see on Mt 10:4). These three are nowhere else mentioned in the New Testament. The fourth and last-named, "Judas," can hardly be identical with the apostle of that name—though the brothers of both were of the name of "James"—nor (unless the two be identical, was this Judas) with the author of the catholic Epistle so called.
58. And he did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief—"save that He laid His hands on a few sick folk, and healed them" (Mr 6:5). See on Lu 4:16-30.
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