More Insight from Luke

Jesus healed primarily by two different methods: (1) by teaching the Word of God to encourage sick people to have faith to be healed, and (2) by operating in “gifts of healings” as the Holy Spirit willed. Therefore, Jesus was limited by two factors in His healing ministry: (1) by the unbelief of sick people, and (2) by the will of the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself through “gifts of healings.”

Obviously, the majority of the people in Jesus’ hometown did not have faith in Him. Even though they had heard of His healing miracles in other towns, they wouldn’t believe He had power to heal, and consequently, He couldn’t heal them. Moreover, apparently the Holy Spirit didn’t grant Jesus any “gifts of healings” in Nazareth—for what reason nobody knows.

Luke records in more detail than Mark exactly what happened when Jesus visited Nazareth:

And [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” And He closed the book…and He began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:16-22).

Jesus wanted His audience to believe that He was the promised anointed one of Isaiah’s prophecy, hoping that they would believe and receive all the benefits of His anointing, which, according to Isaiah, included freedom from captivity and oppression as well as sight for the blind.[1] But they didn’t believe, and although they were impressed by His speaking ability, they wouldn’t believe Joseph’s son was anyone special. Recognizing their skepticism, Jesus responded,

No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, “Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your home town as well”….Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown (Luke 4:23-24).

The people in Jesus’ hometown were waiting to see if He would do what they heard He had done in Capernaum. Their attitude was not one of expectant faith but skepticism. By their lack of faith they limited Him from performing any miracles or major healings.

[1] All of these could well refer to physical healing. Sickness can definitely be considered to be oppression, as Scripture says that “God anointed [Jesus] with the Holy Spirit and with power, and…He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38).