Jesus’ first public appearance following his baptism was in the Capernaum synagogue on Sabbath, March 2, A.D. 26. The synagogue was crowded to overflowing. The story of the baptism in the Jordan was now augmented by the fresh news from Cana about the water and the wine. Jesus gave seats of honor to his six apostles, and seated with them were his brothers in the flesh James and Jude. His mother, having returned to Capernaum with James the evening before, was also present, being seated in the women’s section of the synagogue. The entire audience was on edge; they expected to behold some extraordinary manifestation of supernatural power which would be a fitting testimony to the nature and authority of him who was that day to speak to them. But they were destined to disappointment.
When Jesus stood up, the ruler of the synagogue handed him the Scripture roll, and he read from the Prophet Isaiah: “Thus says the Lord: ‘The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house that you built for me? And where is the place of my dwelling? All these things have my hands made,’ says the Lord. ‘But to this man will I look, even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word.’ Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble and fear: ‘Your brethren hated you and cast you out for my name’s sake.’ But let the Lord be glorified. He shall appear to you in joy, and all others shall be ashamed. A voice from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice from the Lord says: ‘Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.’ Who has heard such a thing? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or can a nation be born at once? But thus says the Lord: ‘Behold I will extend peace like a river, and the glory of even the gentiles shall be like a flowing stream. As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you. And you shall be comforted even in Jerusalem. And when you see these things, your heart shall rejoice.’”
When he had finished this reading, Jesus handed the roll back to its keeper. Before sitting down, he simply said: “Be patient and you shall see the glory of God; even so shall it be with all those who tarry with me and thus learn to do the will of my Father who is in heaven.” And the people went to their homes, wondering what was the meaning of all this.
That afternoon Jesus and his apostles, with James and Jude, entered a boat and pulled down the shore a little way, where they anchored while he talked to them about the coming kingdom. And they understood more than they had on Thursday night.
Jesus instructed them to take up their regular duties until “the hour of the kingdom comes.” And to encourage them, he set an example by going back regularly to work in the boatshop. In explaining that they should spend three hours every evening in study and preparation for their future work, Jesus further said: “We will all remain hereabout until the Father bids me call you. Each of you must now return to his accustomed work just as if nothing had happened. Tell no man about me and remember that my kingdom is not to come with noise and glamor, but rather must it come through the great change which my Father will have wrought in your hearts and in the hearts of those who shall be called to join you in the councils of the kingdom. You are now my friends; I trust you and I love you; you are soon to become my personal associates. Be patient, be gentle. Be ever obedient to the Father’s will. Make yourselves ready for the call of the kingdom. While you will experience great joy in the service of my Father, you should also be prepared for trouble, for I warn you that it will be only through much tribulation that many will enter the kingdom. But those who have found the kingdom, their joy will be full, and they shall be called the blest of all the earth. But do not entertain false hope; the world will stumble at my words. Even you, my friends, do not fully perceive what I am unfolding to your confused minds. Make no mistake; we go forth to labor for a generation of sign seekers. They will demand wonder-working as the proof that I am sent by my Father, and they will be slow to recognize in the revelation of my Father’s love the credentials of my mission.”
That evening, when they had returned to the land, before they went their way, Jesus, standing by the water’s edge, prayed: “My Father, I thank you for these little ones who, in spite of their doubts, even now believe. And for their sakes have I set myself apart to do your will. And now may they learn to be one, even as we are one.”