This Sunday we”ll continue in Luke’s gospel, reading chapter 4:14-30.
Many scholars believe Luke’s gospel intentionally reverses Mark’s order of Jesus’ return home and his ministry in Capernaum in order to provide a sort of overview of what will characterize Jesus’ ministry all through the story. It’s sort of a microcosm of the whole thing.
In the text we’ll read, Jesus is the Homeboy who returns to the neighborhood after generating quite a bit of interest in his ministry while in the larger town of Capernaum in Galilee. As he goes to church with his old friends and neighbors, he is offered the customary honor of being the reader of the Scriptures that day. The Synagogue of that time was structured in a very similar way to our present day order of any given church service – with songs, prayers, the reading of the Torah and a short talk on how it should be applied to a person’s life. If a rabbi or honored guest was in town, he was asked to read the Torah for the group, and share any insights he may have.
So, Jesus is handed a scroll (a seemingly random affair which held such huge significance), and he reads from Isaiah 61. He hands back the scroll, sits in the chair of honor, and with everyone waiting in rapt silence, announces that the prophecy he just read is being fulfilled at that moment.
Cut to pandemonium: Everyone is marching Jesus out of the synagogue toward a cliff outside of town…brandishing pitchforks and baseball bats, crying out for Jesus’ death.
So what happened? Why did the people of Jesus’ own home town react like this toward him? As you read it, and consider the place, the people (including their racial heritage) and the implications of Jesus’ words…what do you think made them so mad? In wanting to follow Jesus, how would we avoid doing what the fine religious folks of Nazareth did?
Stuff to chew on….see you Sunday.