14. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
15. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.
16. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor: he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21. And he began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.
ORIGEN. The Lord having overcome the tempter, power was added to Him, i. e. as far as regards the manifestation of it. Hence it is said, And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit.
BEDE. By the power of the Spirit he means shewing forth of miracles.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now He performed miracles not from any external power, and from having as it were the acquired grace of the Holy Spirit, as other saints, but rather as being by nature the Son of God, and partaking of all things which are the Father’s, He exercises as by His own power and operation that grace which is of the Holy Spirit. But it was right that from that time He should become known, and that the mystery of His humanity should shine forth among those who were of the seed of Israel. It therefore follows, And his fame went out.
BEDE. And because wisdom belongs to teaching, but power to works, both are joined here, as it follows, And he taught in the synagogue.
Synagogue, which is a Greek word, is rendered in Latin congregatio. By this name then the Jews were accustomed to call not only the gathering together of people, but also the house where they met together to hear the word of God; as we call by the name of Church, both the place and the company of the faithful. But there is this difference between the synagogue which is called congregation, and the Church which is interpreted convocation, that flocks and cattle, and any thing else can be gathered together in one, but only rational beings can be called together. Accordingly the Apostolical doctors thought right to call a people which was distinguished by the superior dignity of a new grace rather by the name of Church, than Synagogue. But rightly also was the fact of His being magnified by those present proved, by actual evidence of word and deed, as it follows, And he was magnified by all.
ORIGEN. But you must not think that they only were happy, and that you are deprived of Christ’s teaching. For now also throughout the world He teaches through His instruments, and is now more glorified by all men, than at that time when those only in one province were gathered together.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. He communicates the knowledge of Himself to those among whom He was brought up according to the flesh. As it follows, And he came to Nazareth.
THEOPHYLACT. That He might teach us to benefit and instruct first our brethren, then to extend our kindness to the rest of our friends.
BEDE. They flocked together on the Sabbath day in the synagogues, that, resting from all worldly occupations, they might set themselves down with a quiet mind to meditate on the precepts of the Law. Hence it follows, And he entered as was his custom on the Sabbath day into the synagogue.
AMBROSE. The Lord in every thing so humbled Himself to obedience, that He did not despise even the office of a reader, as it follows, And he rose up to read, and there was delivered unto him the book, &c. He received the book indeed, that He might shew Himself to be the same who spoke in the Prophets, and that He might stop the blasphemies of the wicked, who say that there is one God of the Old Testament, another of the New; or who say that Christ had His beginning from a virgin. For how did He begin from a virgin, who spoke before that virgin was?
ORIGEN. He opens not the book by chance, and finds a chapter containing a prophecy of Himself, but by the providence of God. Hence it follows, And when he had opened the book, he found the place, &c. (Is. 61:1.)
ATHANASIUS. (Orat. 2. cont. Arian.) He says this to explain to us the cause of the revelation made to the world, and of His taking upon Him the human nature. For as the Son, though He is the giver of the Spirit, does not refuse to confess as man that by the Spirit He casts out devils, so, inasmuch as He was made man, He does not refuse to say, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. In like manner we confess Him to have been anointed, inasmuch as He took upon Him our flesh, as it follows, Because he hath anointed me. For the Divine nature is not anointed, but that which is cognate to us. So also when He says that He was sent, we must suppose Him speaking of His human nature. For it follows, He hath sent me to preach the gospel to the poor.
AMBROSE. You see the Trinity coeternal and perfect. The Scripture speaks of Jesus as perfect God and perfect man. It speaks of the Father, and the Holy Spirit, who was shewn to be a cooperator, when in a bodily form as a dove He descended upon Christ.
ORIGEN. By the poor He means the Gentile nations, for they were poor, possessing nothing at all, having neither God, nor Law, nor Prophets, nor justice, and the other virtues.
AMBROSE. Or, He is anointed all over with spiritual oil, and heavenly virtue, that He might enrich the poverty of man’s condition with the everlasting treasure of His resurrection.
BEDE. He is sent also to preach the Gospel to the poor, saying, Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For perhaps to the poor in spirit He declares in these words, that among all the gifts which are obtained through Christ, upon them was bestowed a free gift. It follows, To heal the broken hearted. He calls those broken hearted, who are weak, of an infirm mind, and unable to resist the assaults of the passions, and to them He promises a healing remedy.
BASIL. (non occ.) Or, He came to heal the broken hearted, i. e. to afford a remedy to those that have their heart broken by Satan through sin, because beyond all other things sin lays prostrate the human heart.
BEDE. Or, because it is written, A broken and a contrite heart God will not despise. (Ps. 51:17.) He says therefore, that He is sent to heal the broken hearted, as it is written, Who heals the broken hearted. (Ps. 147:3.)
It follows, And to preach deliverance to the captives.
CHRYSOSTOM. (in Ps. 125.) The word captivity has many meanings. There is a good captivity, which St. Paul speaks of when he says, Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5.) There is a bad captivity also, of which it is said, Leading captive silly women laden with sins. (2 Tim. 3:6.) There is a captivity present to the senses, that is by our bodily enemies. But the worst captivity is that of the mind, of which he here speaks. For sin exercises the worst of all tyrannies, commanding to do evil, and destroying them that obey it. From this prison of the soul Christ lets us free.
THEOPHYLACT. But these things may be understood also of the dead, who being taken captive have been loosed from the dominion of hell by the resurrection of Christ. It follows, And recovering of sight to the blind.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For the darkness which the Devil has spread over the human heart, Christ the Sun of Righteousness has removed, making men, as the Apostle says, children not of night and darkness, but of light and the day. (1 Thess. 5:5.) For they who one time wandered have discovered the path of the righteous. It follows, To set at liberty them that are bruised.
ORIGEN. For what had been so shattered and dashed about as man, who was set at liberty by Jesus and healed?
BEDE. Or, to set at liberty them that are bruised; i. e. to relieve those who had been heavy laden with the intolerable burden of the Law.
ORIGEN. But all these things were mentioned first, in order that after the recovery of sight from blindness, after deliverance from captivity, after being healed of divers wounds, we might come to the acceptable year of the Lord. As it follows, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Some say that, according to the simple meaning of the word, the Saviour preached the Gospel throughout Judæa in one year, and that this is what is meant by preaching the acceptable year of the Lord. Or, the acceptable year of the Lord is the whole time of the Church, during which while present in the body, it is absent from the Lord.
BEDE. For not only was that year acceptable in which our Lord preached, but that also in which the Apostle preaches, saying, Behold, now is the accepted time. (2 Cor. 6:2.) After the acceptable year of the Lord, he adds, And the day of retribution;a that is, the final retribution, when the Lord shall give to every one according to his work.
AMBROSE. Or, by the acceptable year of the Lord, he means this day extended through endless ages, which knows of no return to a world of labour, and grants to men everlasting reward and rest. It follows, And he closed the book, and he gave it again.
BEDE. He read the book to those who were present to hear Him, but having read it, He returned it to the minister; for while He was in the world He spoke openly, teaching in the synagogues and in the temple; but about to return to heaven, He committed the office of preaching the Gospel to those who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word. He read standing, because while explaining those Scriptures which were written of Him, He condescended to work in the flesh; but having returned the book, He sits down, because He restored Himself to the throne of heavenly rest. For standing is the part of the workman, but sitting of one who is resting or judging. So also let the preacher of the word rise up and read and work and preach, and sit down, i. e. wait for the reward of rest. But He opens the book and reads, because sending the Spirit, He taught His Church all truth; having shut the book, He returned it to the minister, because all things were not to be said unto all, but He committed the word to the teacher to be dispensed according to the capacity of the hearers. It follows, And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him.
ORIGEN. And now also if we will, our eyes can look upon the Saviour. For when you direct your whole heart to wisdom, truth, and the contemplation of the only-begotten Son of God, your eyes behold Jesus.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But then He turned the eyes of all men upon Him, wondering how He knew the writing which He had never learnt. But since it was the custom of the Jews to say that the prophecies spoken of Christ are completed either in certain of their chiefs, i. e. their kings, or in some of their holy prophets, the Lord made this announcement; as it follows, But he began to say unto them that this Scripture is fulfilled.
BEDE. Because, in fact, as that Scripture had foretold, the Lord was both doing great things, and preaching greater.