Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. (Luke 4:14-17)
In the Synagogue there is a time-honored tradition of reading the Torah in a systematic way. We might call it liturgical. When Jesus visited His hometown in Nazareth He stood up to read the appointed scripture. Not only did the reader read from scripture but he was authorized to give the theological and spiritual sense of what he had read.
After the exiles had returned from Babylon and the wall around Jerusalem had been rebuilt, the Israelites came together in a solemn assembly:
And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. (Nehemiah 8:5-6, 8)
When the people heard the law read they wept because they understand more than ever how valuable God’s law was to them. They lost everything because they had failed to follow God’s law. Now they were seeing the law in a new light. The Psalmist wrote:
The law of the LORD is perfect
and revives the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure
and gives wisdom to the innocent.
The statutes of the LORD are just
and rejoice the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is clear
and gives light to the eyes. (Psalm 19:7-9)
We are living in an age of lawlessness. People have little respect for God’s law. Many people do not want any form of moral teaching because they wish to live any way that they might please:
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. (Psalm 2:2)
This is true of the world. Why should we have lawlessness in the Church? Do we value God’s law today? How are we to witness to the world if we live in the same way that the world lives? We show our faith in God and our love for God by keeping His commandments.
What may be difficult for people of faith is seeing the wicked prosper. The temptation may be to join them. But this is a very short-sighted view. Again, the psalmist wrote:
Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. (Psalm 37:1-9)