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ed to his employment on the lake of Galilee, and did not become a constant companion of Jesus until some time after the feast of Tabernacles. If it be asked, why, in the subsequent narrative, he continued to confine himself to what occurred at the festivals, the answer is obvious. The other Evangelists, who wrote before he did, had related all else that was important, and it was apparently his plan to tell chiefly what they had omitted. Or perhaps, as they had given chiefly their Lord's ministry in the provinces, it was his plan to record his ministry in the city. The circumstances here mentioned are interesting in themselves, and they tend strongly to prove the probable correctness of the arrangement followed in the present work,
IMPRISONMENT OF JOHN THE BAPTIST-JESUS BEGINS HIS PUBLIC MINISTRY IN GALILEE-SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
Ir was about this time, that John the Baptist gave that offence to Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee, which occasioned his imprisonment, and finally led to his death. Herod had married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. John censured this as a sin; and Herodias, angry at his boldness and rebuke, instigated Herod to cast him into prison. Herod himself, we are told by Mark, had a great respect for John, and would willingly have spared him.
When Jesus heard of this, he left Jerusalem, and returned to Galilee. The ministry of his Forerunner was finished; and it was therefore time to commence his own in a more public and active form. Hitherto he had confined himself to a few places. His labor thus far seems to have been preliminary, a gradual preparation for that zealous action which was to distinguish the later months of his life. Hitherto his forerunner, John, had been occupied in preaching and preparing the way before him. But his mission was now ended; Mark vi. 17, i. 14. Luke iv. 14, iii. 19.
Matthew xiv. 3., iv. 12.
and therefore, as Mark declares, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent ye, and believe the gospel."
Thus he passed on, preaching in the synagogues, till he reached Nazareth, his own town. Here too he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, according to his custom. It proved to be a memorable visit. He had been for some time absent, and the report of what had taken place during his visit at Jerusalem had undoubtedly reached the ears of his townsmen. They were naturally curious to see him on his return. They were very incredulous that this humble mechanic, whom they had known from his childhood as one of themselves, should turn out a prophet, and excite the wonder and attention of the whole people at the feast. They were eager to have the matter explained.
The synagogue was the Jewish place of worship, answering to our churches. The desk, or pulpit, from which the law was read and explained, stood in the centre of the building. The book of the law was kept in an ark, or chest, at one end (either the eastern end, or that which faced the Temple,) and was brought from it, at the time of worship, with great form. In front of this ark were placed the seats for the elders, called by our
Saviour"the chief seats;" and facing them were the seats for the congregation. The women sat in a gallery apart, concealed from view by a lattice.
The service of the synagogue, like that of the Christian church, consisted of prayers, the reading of the law, and the expounding it, or preaching. It was the custom to read through their sacred books once every year, a certain portion being allotted to every sabbath. The Scriptures, like all ancient books, were written throughout on long strips of parchment, like long pieces of narrow cloth. These were rolled upon round pieces of wood, as ribbons are at the present day. When a person read the book, he unrolled it as he went on, and wound it up again on another roller. So that when he stopped reading, and laid down the book, it was partly on one roller and partly on another; and when he took it up again, and opened it, his eye fell at once on the place where he had left off. Whoever therefore was appointed to read the portion of the law on the sabbath, found the place without difficulty, by merely opening the roll. There were no regularly appointed readers, but the rulers of the synagogue called upon any competent person to read the portion for the day.
When the rulers of the synagogue in Nazareth saw Jesus come in, they gave the book to him
and requested him to read. Jesus took the volume, and stood up. It opened of course, at the stated place. It was that celebrated passage in Isaiah (chapter Ixi,) in which the offices of the Messiah are described. We may imagine with what breathless silence he was listened to, as he read:-" The spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that were bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." And he closed the book, and gave it to the minister, that is, the attendant who brought it to him, and sat down. His sitting down was a signal that he intended to speak. And the eyes of all that were in the synagogue were fastened on him,―eager to know what he had to say respecting this prophecy. His first words were,"This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And he went on to prove and illustrate this in such a manner, that he excited their admiration at the gracious words which he uttered, and they expressed their amazement at hearing such things from "Joseph's son." 'Is not this the carpenter," said they, "the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joses and Juda and Simon? and are not his sisters with us?" Therefore they were offended at him, says Mark. And