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The Acceptable Year of the Lord.

The Acceptable Year of the Lord.

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Published by glennpease

Luke iv. 16-30.

Luke iv. 16-30.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 05, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.ALEXADER BALMAI BRUCE, D.D.,Luke iv. 16-30.Every Christian would wish to know whatwere the first words spoken by Jesus as apreacher of the good tidings of the kingdom.Two of the Evangelists seem to gratify thisnatural curiosity. The " Sermon on the Mount "comes in at a very early point in Matthew'snarrative, as if the intention of the writer wereto present it to his readers as the first discoursepronounced by Christ after entering on Hispublic ministry. On this view, ** the Beatitudes "were the inaugural utterances of the GalileanGospel, and they are certainly well worthy tostrike the key-note of the heavenly music whichushered in the era of Redemption. Accordingto the third Evangelist, not the Sermon on theMount, but the sermon in the synagogue of azareth on the acceptable year of the Lord,appears to have had the honour of being thefirst embodiment in solemn speech of the goodnews of God. Luke certainly does give to thatsermon the same place of prominence, near theTHE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD. 2 Ibeginning of his narrative, assigned by Matthewto the Sermon on the Mount ; and the fact isnot without significance, as indicative of thedistinctive character of his Gospel, as comparedwith that of the first Evangelist. The spirit of the two Evangelists is indicated by what theyplace first ; all the more if what they set in theforefront of their story did not occur so earlyin the actual history. Judged by this test, thebias of Luke was to regard Christ's work asemphatically a ministry of love, and His wordsas "words of grace." Matthew, on the otherhand, by the same rule, while not insensible, as
the Beatitudes show, to the gracious side of Christ's doctrine, recognised in it a legal element,which finds expression in the body of the greatdiscourse.There is reason to believe that neither of thesermons occupied the place of an inaugural dis-course. There is the less reason to doubt thisin the case of the sermon in the synagogue of azareth, that the Evangelist himself allows usto see he is aware that the ministry of Jesus didnot begin there and then, and in the mannerdescribed. He knows of things previouslydone, and we may assume said also, in Caper-naum.* Though he puts this scene in the fore-front, he knows that it is not actually the firstscene. It is important to note this fact, as it* Ver. 23.22 THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.helps to obviate objections that might be takento the utterances and bearing of Jesus in hisnative town, assuming the incidents recorded tobelong to the early period of His ministry. Thewords, "This day is this scripture fulfilled inyour ears," involve a distinct claim to Messiah-ship ; the references to the history of the pro-phets Elijah and Elisha indicate a preference of heathens to Jews ; the reflections provoked bythe not unnatural surprise of the villagers at thetalents displayed in the discourse to which theyhad listened seem to betray a certain tone of impatience or irritation. These things, it maybe said, it has indeed been said, do not suit theinitial stage, but could only appropriately hap-pen at an advanced stage in the ministry.They make the end the beginning, to the injuryof the history, and even of the character of Jesus.*All this may be granted without prejudice tothe good faith or the accuracy of the Evangelist.For though, for some reason, he placed this
scene at the commencement of his story, hedoes not mislead his readers. His narrativeis quite compatible with the supposition thatthe events recorded really occurred at the lateperiod implied in the accounts of the first andsecond Gospels ;f that is to say, after a ministry* So Keim in his " History of Jesus of azareth.**t Matt. xiii. 54-58; Mark vi. i-6.THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD. 23of some duration in the neighbourhood of Caper-naum, including the working of many miraclesand the utterance of many weighty words, suchas the parables recorded in the thirteenth chap-ter of Matthew.Why it was that Luke transferred to the be-ginning what actually belonged to a late time,we shall see immediately. Meantime it willserve a good purpose to endeavour to form asclear a conception as possible of the probablesituation — the historical setting of the dis-course in the synagogue of azareth, And inthe first place, we remark that a visit to azareth,accompanied by some such incidents as arerecorded by Luke, is clearly implied in the nar-ratives of all the three synoptical Evangelists.All relate how Jesus came to His own nativeplace, entered into the synagogue there, anddelivered an address which created generalastonishment, yet failed to win for the speakera sympathetic believing reception from hisfellow-townsmen, but, on the contrary, had forits final issue deep and permanent alienation.The story in these its main lines has a sure placein the evangelic tradition, distinctly thoughbriefly recognised even in the fourth Gospel.*But in what circumstances did this visit toazareth take place ? when did Jesus ascendfrom the sea-shore to His native village, and in* John iv. 43-45«

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