John iv: 46 to 54;
Luke iv: 16 to 31.
ROM Sychar, the village near Jacob's well, Jesus went northward into Galilee, to Cana, the place where he had made the water into wine, as we read in Story 116. The news that Jesus had come back from Jerusalem, and was again in Galilee, went through all that part of the land, and everybody wished to see the prophet who had wrought such wonders.
There was one man living in Capernaum, a town beside the Sea of Galilee, who heard with great joy that Jesus was again at Cana. He was a man of high rank, a nobleman at the court of King Herod; but he was in deep trouble over his son, who was very sick, and in danger of dying. This nobleman went up the mountains in great haste from Capernaum to Cana, to see Jesus. He rode all night, and in the morning, when he found Jesus, he begged him to come down to Capernaum and cure his son. Jesus said to the man, "You people will not believe on me as the Saviour, unless you continually see signs and wonders."
"O my lord," said the father, "do come down quickly, or my child will die."
"You may go home," said Jesus, "for your son will live."
The man believed the words of Jesus, and went home, but he did not hurry, nor did he ask Jesus to go with him. The next morning, as he was going down the mountains, his servants met him, and said, "Master, your son is living, and is better."
"At what hour did he begin to grow better?" asked the nobleman.
"It was yesterday, at seven o-clock in the morning, when the fever left him," they answered.
That was the very hour when Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live." And after that the nobleman believed in Jesus, and so did all who were living in his house.
Jesus had come to Galilee to preach to the people, and to tell them of his gospel. He thought that he would begin his preaching in the town of Nazareth, where he had lived so many years, where his brothers and sisters were living still, and where all the people had known him. He loved the men who had played with him when he and they were boys together, and he longed to give them the first news of his gospel.
The well of the wise men, near Bethlehem.
So Jesus went to Nazareth; and, as on the Sabbath-days he had always worshipped in the synagogue, he went to that place once more. He was no longer the carpenter, but the teacher, the prophet, of whom all in the land were talking, and the synagogue was filled with people eager to hear him, and, especially, hoping to see him do some wonderful works. Seated on the floor before him were men who had known him since he was a little boy, and perhaps some of his own sisters were looking down from the gallery behind the lattice-screen.
Jesus stood up, to show that he wished to read from the Scriptures, and the officer who had the care of the books handed him the roll of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus turned to the sixty-first chapter, and from it read:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor.
He hath sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives,
And recovering of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those that are bruised,
To proclaim the year of God's grace to men.
When Jesus had read these words he rolled up the book and gave it again to the keeper of the rolls, and sat down; for in the synagogue a man stood up to read the Bible, and sat down to speak to the people. He began by saying:
"This day this word of the Lord has come to pass before you."
And then he showed how he had been sent to preach to the poor, to set the captives free, to give sight to the blind, to comfort those in trouble, and to tell men the news of God's grace. At first the people listened with the deepest interest, and they were touched with the kind and tender words that he spoke.
But soon they began to whisper among themselves. One said, "Why should this carpenter try to teach us?" And another, "This man is no teacher! He is only the son of Joseph! We know his brothers, and his sisters are living here." And some began to say, "Why does he not do here the wonders that they say he has done in other places? We want to see some of his miracles!"
Jesus knew their thoughts, and he said, "I know that you will say to me, 'Let us see a miracle like that on the nobleman's son in Capernaum.' Of a truth, I say to you, 'No prophet has honour among his own people.'
"You remember what is told of Elijah the prophet; when the heavens were shut up, and there was no rain for three years and six months. There were many widows in the land of Israel at that time, but Elijah was not sent by the Lord to any one of them. The Lord sent him out of the land to Zarephath, a town near Zidon, to a widow there; and there he wrought his miracles.
"And in the time of Elisha the prophet, there were many lepers in Israel that Elisha might have cured; but the only leper that Elisha made well was Naaman the Syrian."
All this made the people in the synagogue very angry; for they cared only to see some wonderful work, and not to hear the words of Jesus. They would not listen to him; they leaped up from their seats upon the floor, they laid hold of Jesus, and dragged him out doors. They then took him up to the top of the hill above the city, and they would have thrown him down to his death. But Jesus, by the power of God, slipped quietly out of their hands and went away, for the time for him to die had not yet come.
Very sadly Jesus went away from Nazareth, for he had longed to bring God's blessings to his own people. He walked down the mountains to the city of Capernaum, by the seashore, and there on the Sabbath-days he taught the people in the synagogues.
You can read the story of Elijah the prophet and the woman of Zarephath in Story 76, and the story of Elisha healing Naaman the Syrian in Story 86. These were the stories of which Jesus spoke to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth.
Jacob's well as it is now.