150.5.1 One evening at Shunem, after John's apostles had returned to Hebron, and after Jesus' apostles had been sent out two and two, when the Master was engaged in teaching a group of twelve of the younger evangelists who were laboring under the direction of Jacob, together with the twelve women, Rachel asked Jesus this question: “Master, what shall we answer when women ask us, What shall I do to be saved?” When Jesus heard this question, he answered:
150.5.2 “When men and women ask what shall we do to be saved, you shall answer, Believe this gospel of the kingdom; accept divine forgiveness. By faith recognize the indwelling spirit of God, whose acceptance makes you a son of God. Have you not read in the Scriptures where it says, ‘In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.' Also where the Father says, ‘My righteousness is near; my salvation has gone forth, and my arms shall enfold my people.' ‘My soul shall be joyful in the love of my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation and has covered me with the robe of his righteousness.' Have you not also read of the Father that his name ‘shall be called the Lord our righteousness.' ‘Take away the filthy rags of self-righteousness and clothe my son with the robe of divine righteousness and eternal salvation.' It is forever true, ‘the just shall live by faith.' Entrance into the Father's kingdom is wholly free, but progress - growth in grace - is essential to continuance therein.
150.5.3 “Salvation is the gift of the Father and is revealed by his Sons. Acceptance by faith on your part makes you a partaker of the divine nature, a son or a daughter of God. By faith you are justified; by faith are you saved; and by this same faith are you eternally advanced in the way of progressive and divine perfection. By faith was Abraham justified and made aware of salvation by the teachings of Melchizedek. All down through the ages has this same faith saved the sons of men, but now has a Son come forth from the Father to make salvation more real and acceptable.”
150.5.4 When Jesus had left off speaking, there was great rejoicing among those who had heard these gracious words, and they all went on in the days that followed proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom with new power and with renewed energy and enthusiasm. And the women rejoiced all the more to know they were included in these plans for the establishment of the kingdom on earth.
150.5.5 In summing up his final statement, Jesus said: “You cannot buy salvation; you cannot earn righteousness. Salvation is the gift of God, and righteousness is the natural fruit of the spirit-born life of sonship in the kingdom. You are not to be saved because you live a righteous life; rather is it that you live a righteous life because you have already been saved, have recognized sonship as the gift of God and service in the kingdom as the supreme delight of life on earth. When men believe this gospel, which is a revelation of the goodness of God, they will be led to voluntary repentance of all known sin. Realization of sonship is incompatible with the desire to sin. Kingdom believers hunger for righteousness and thirst for divine perfection.”
150.6.1 At the evening discussions Jesus talked upon many subjects. During the remainder of this tour - before they all reunited at Nazareth - he discussed “The Love of God,” “Dreams and Visions,” “Malice,” “Humility and Meekness,” “Courage and Loyalty,” “Music and Worship,” “Service and Obedience,” “Pride and Presumption,” “Forgiveness in Relation to Repentance,” “Peace and Perfection,” “Evil Speaking and Envy,” “Evil, Sin, and Temptation,” “Doubts and Unbelief,” “Wisdom and Worship.” With the older apostles away, these younger groups of both men and women more freely entered into these discussions with the Master.
150.6.2 After spending two or three days with one group of twelve evangelists, Jesus would move on to join another group, being informed as to the whereabouts and movements of all these workers by David's messengers. This being their first tour, the women remained much of the time with Jesus. Through the messenger service each of these groups was kept fully informed concerning the progress of the tour, and the receipt of news from other groups was always a source of encouragement to these scattered and separated workers.
150.6.3 Before their separation it had been arranged that the twelve apostles, together with the evangelists and the women's corps, should assemble at Nazareth to meet the Master on Friday, March 4. Accordingly, about this time, from all parts of central and southern Galilee these various groups of apostles and evangelists began moving toward Nazareth. By midafternoon, Andrew and Peter, the last to arrive, had reached the encampment prepared by the early arrivals and situated on the highlands to the north of the city. And this was the first time Jesus had visited Nazareth since the beginning of his public ministry.
150.7.1 This Friday afternoon Jesus walked about Nazareth quite unobserved and wholly unrecognized. He passed by the home of his childhood and the carpenter shop and spent a half hour on the hill which he so much enjoyed when a lad. Not since the day of his baptism by John in the Jordan had the Son of Man had such a flood of human emotion stirred up within his soul. While coming down from the mount, he heard the familiar sounds of the trumpet blast announcing the going down of the sun, just as he had so many, many times heard it when a boy growing up in Nazareth. Before returning to the encampment, he walked down by the synagogue where he had gone to school and indulged his mind in many reminiscences of his childhood days. Earlier in the day Jesus had sent Thomas to arrange with the ruler of the synagogue for his preaching at the Sabbath morning service.
150.7.2 The people of Nazareth were never reputed for piety and righteous living. As the years passed, this village became increasingly contaminated by the low moral standards of near-by Sepphoris. Throughout Jesus' youth and young manhood there had been a division of opinion in Nazareth regarding him; there was much resentment when he moved to Capernaum. While the inhabitants of Nazareth had heard much about the doings of their former carpenter, they were offended that he had never included his native village in any of his earlier preaching tours. They had indeed heard of Jesus' fame, but the majority of the citizens were angry because he had done none of his great works in the city of his youth. For months the people of Nazareth had discussed Jesus much, but their opinions were, on the whole, unfavorable to him.
150.7.3 Thus did the Master find himself in the midst of, not a welcome homecoming, but a decidedly hostile and hypercritical atmosphere. But this was not all. His enemies, knowing that he was to spend this Sabbath day in Nazareth and supposing that he would speak in the synagogue, had hired numerous rough and uncouth men to harass him and in every way possible make trouble.
150.7.4 Most of the older of Jesus' friends, including the doting chazan teacher of his youth, were dead or had left Nazareth, and the younger generation was prone to resent his fame with strong jealousy. They failed to remember his early devotion to his father's family, and they were bitter in their criticism of his neglect to visit his brother and his married sisters living in Nazareth. The attitude of Jesus' family toward him had also tended to increase this unkind feeling of the citizenry. The orthodox among the Jews even presumed to criticize Jesus because he walked too fast on the way to the synagogue this Sabbath morning.
150.8.1 This Sabbath was a beautiful day, and all Nazareth, friends and foes, turned out to hear this former citizen of their town discourse in the synagogue. Many of the apostolic retinue had to remain without the synagogue; there was not room for all who had come to hear him. As a young man Jesus had often spoken in this place of worship, and this morning, when the ruler of the synagogue handed him the roll of sacred writings from which to read the Scripture lesson, none present seemed to recall that this was the very manuscript which he had presented to this synagogue.
150.8.2 The services on this day were conducted just as when Jesus had attended them as a boy. He ascended the speaking platform with the ruler of the synagogue, and the service was begun by the recital of two prayers: “Blessed is the Lord, King of the world, who forms the light and creates the darkness, who makes peace and creates everything; who, in mercy, gives light to the earth and to those who dwell upon it and in goodness, day by day and every day, renews the works of creation. Blessed is the Lord our God for the glory of his handiworks and for the light-giving lights which he has made for his praise. Selah. Blessed is the Lord our God, who has formed the lights.”
150.8.3 After a moment's pause they again prayed: “With great love has the Lord our God loved us, and with much overflowing pity has he pitied us, our Father and our King, for the sake of our fathers who trusted in him. You taught them the statutes of life; have mercy upon us and teach us. Enlighten our eyes in the law; cause our hearts to cleave to your commandments; unite our hearts to love and fear your name, and we shall not be put to shame, world without end. For you are a God who prepares salvation, and us have you chosen from among all nations and tongues, and in truth have you brought us near your great name - selah - that we may lovingly praise your unity. Blessed is the Lord, who in love chose his people Israel.”
150.8.4 The congregation then recited the Shema, the Jewish creed of faith. This ritual consisted in repeating numerous passages from the law and indicated that the worshipers took upon themselves the yoke of the kingdom of heaven, also the yoke of the commandments as applied to the day and the night.
150.8.5 And then followed the third prayer: “True it is that you are Yahweh, our God and the God of our fathers; our King and the King of our fathers; our Savior and the Savior of our fathers; our Creator and the rock of our salvation; our help and our deliverer. Your name is from everlasting, and there is no God beside you. A new song did they that were delivered sing to your name by the seashore; together did all praise and own you King and say, Yahweh shall reign, world without end. Blessed is the Lord who saves Israel.”
150.8.6 The ruler of the synagogue then took his place before the ark, or chest, containing the sacred writings and began the recitation of the nineteen prayer eulogies, or benedictions. But on this occasion it was desirable to shorten the service in order that the distinguished guest might have more time for his discourse; accordingly, only the first and last of the benedictions were recited. The first was: “Blessed is the Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who shows mercy and kindness, who creates all things, who remembers the gracious promises to the fathers and brings a savior to their children's children for his own name's sake, in love. O King, helper, savior, and shield! Blessed are you, O Yahweh, the shield of Abraham.”
150.8.7 Then followed the last benediction: “O bestow on your people Israel great peace forever, for you are King and the Lord of all peace. And it is good in your eyes to bless Israel at all times and at every hour with peace. Blessed are you, Yahweh, who blesses his people Israel with peace.” The congregation looked not at the ruler as he recited the benedictions. Following the benedictions he offered an informal prayer suitable for the occasion, and when this was concluded, all the congregation joined in saying amen.
150.8.8 Then the chazan went over to the ark and brought out a roll, which he presented to Jesus that he might read the Scripture lesson. It was customary to call upon seven persons to read not less than three verses of the law, but this practice was waived on this occasion that the visitor might read the lesson of his own selection. Jesus, taking the roll, stood up and began to read from Deuteronomy: “For this commandment which I give you this day is not hidden from you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, who shall go up for us to heaven and bring it down to us that we may hear and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, who will go over the sea for us to bring the commandment to us that we may hear and do it? No, the word of life is very near to you, even in your presence and in your heart, that you may know and obey it.”
150.8.9 And when he had ceased reading from the law, he turned to Isaiah and began to read: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are bruised and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
150.8.10 Jesus closed the book and, after handing it back to the ruler of the synagogue, sat down and began to discourse to the people. He began by saying: “Today are these Scriptures fulfilled.” And then Jesus spoke for almost fifteen minutes on “The Sons and Daughters of God.” Many of the people were pleased with the discourse, and they marveled at his graciousness and wisdom.
150.8.11 It was customary in the synagogue, after the conclusion of the formal service, for the speaker to remain so that those who might be interested could ask him questions. Accordingly, on this Sabbath morning Jesus stepped down into the crowd which pressed forward to ask questions. In this group were many turbulent individuals whose minds were bent on mischief, while about the fringe of this crowd there circulated those debased men who had been hired to make trouble for Jesus. Many of the disciples and evangelists who had remained without now pressed into the synagogue and were not slow to recognize that trouble was brewing. They sought to lead the Master away, but he would not go with them.
150.9.1 Jesus found himself surrounded in the synagogue by a great throng of his enemies and a sprinkling of his own followers, and in reply to their rude questions and sinister banterings he half humorously remarked: “Yes, I am Joseph's son; I am the carpenter, and I am not surprised that you remind me of the proverb, ‘Physician heal yourself,' and that you challenge me to do in Nazareth what you have heard I did at Capernaum; but I call you to witness that even the Scriptures declare that ‘a prophet is not without honor save in his own country and among his own people.'”
150.9.2 But they jostled him and, pointing accusing fingers at him, said: “You think you are better than the people of Nazareth; you moved away from us, but your brother is a common workman, and your sisters still live among us. We know your mother, Mary. Where are they today? We hear big things about you, but we notice that you do no wonders when you come back.” Jesus answered them: “I love the people who dwell in the city where I grew up, and I would rejoice to see you all enter the kingdom of heaven, but the doing of the works of God is not for me to determine. The transformations of grace are wrought in response to the living faith of those who are the beneficiaries.”
150.9.3 Jesus would have good-naturedly managed the crowd and effectively disarmed even his violent enemies had it not been for the tactical blunder of one of his own apostles, Simon Zelotes, who, with the help of Nahor, one of the younger evangelists, had meanwhile gathered together a group of Jesus' friends from among the crowd and, assuming a belligerent attitude, had served notice on the enemies of the Master to go hence. Jesus had long taught the apostles that a soft answer turns away wrath, but his followers were not accustomed to seeing their beloved teacher, whom they so willingly called Master, treated with such discourtesy and disdain. It was too much for them, and they found themselves giving expression to passionate and vehement resentment, all of which only tended to arouse the mob spirit in this ungodly and uncouth assembly. And so, under the leadership of hirelings, these ruffians laid hold upon Jesus and rushed him out of the synagogue to the brow of a near-by precipitous hill, where they were minded to shove him over the edge to his death below. But just as they were about to push him over the edge of the cliff, Jesus turned suddenly upon his captors and, facing them, quietly folded his arms. He said nothing, but his friends were more than astonished when, as he started to walk forward, the mob parted and permitted him to pass on unmolested.
150.9.4 Jesus, followed by his disciples, proceeded to their encampment, where all this was recounted. And they made ready that evening to go back to Capernaum early the next day, as Jesus had directed. This turbulent ending of the third public preaching tour had a sobering effect upon all of Jesus' followers. They were beginning to realize the meaning of some of the Master's teachings; they were awaking to the fact that the kingdom would come only through much sorrow and bitter disappointment.
150.9.5 They left Nazareth this Sunday morning, and traveling by different routes, they all finally assembled at Bethsaida by noon on Thursday, March 10. They came together as a sober and serious group of disillusioned preachers of the gospel of truth and not as an enthusiastic and all-conquering band of triumphant crusaders.