Jesus in the Synagogue
Jesus spent a lot of time in synagogues (Matt. 4:23). He taught in them (Matt. 13:54), healed in them (Luke 4:33’35; Mark 3:1-5), and debated the interpretation of Torah in them (John 6:28-59).
His life seems to have followed Jewish education patterns closely. He likely studied and memorized the Torah in the local school of Nazareth. His encounter with teachers in the Temple courts was unusual not so much because of his age, but because of the wise questions he asked (Luke 2:41-47). Jesus probably studied under great rabbis, and he was eventually recognized as a rabbi himself.
Jesus learned a trade from his father and worked in that trade before his ministry began at age 30. Like other rabbis of his day, he selected a group of disciples who traveled and studied under him. And everywhere Jesus taught, his audience had knowledge of the Bible on which he could base his teaching.
God used synagogue practices to advance Jesus’ ministry in a compelling way. Jesus belonged to the synagogue community and the Gospels record that he read from the Haphtarah during a visit to his hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30). In God’s divine plan, the passage Jesus was assigned to read was exactly the passage that he used to explain his ministry.
Imagine the listeners reaction when Jesus’ read, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news”, and then went on to give a provocative sermon saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” What a remarkable example of God’s preparation!
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