You live in the small town of Nazareth.
It is the Sabbath, and you have made your way to the synagogue for worship. You enter the synagogue, chat with some friends who are standing near the entrance, and then you find a place to sit. As you look around, linger briefly on the faces you recognize. You realize that you know almost everyone. More people arrive, sit, and ready themselves. What do you notice about the people around you? Across the room, you see a young man you think you recognize. You nudge your neighbor. “Isn't that Jesus, Joseph and Mary's son, over there?”
Then Jesus stands, walks to the front, and receives the scroll for the reading. A hush comes over the group.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” he reads, “because he has anointed me to preach the good news.”
You recognize the passage - Isaiah 61 – as one of your favorites, with all the prophecies about the Messiah who will come and rescue your people. This reminds you of the Roman soldiers who hassled you yesterday. “Oh, Lord,” you pray silently to yourself, “free us from these wretched Romans!”
Jesus continues reading: “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoner, recovery of sight for the blind, release for the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour!
What does Jesus look like as he says this?
When Jesus finishes reading, he hands the scroll back to the rabbi. As everyone watches him and waits, the silence in the room grows heavy. You wonder what Jesus will say next. You try to remember what the rabbis usually say about this passage.
Then Jesus says, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
You can hear a pin drop. You wonder what this son of Joseph, a local carpenter from across town, is saying?
What do his words stir in you? How do they make you feel? How are the people around you responding?
Jesus continues, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me – Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we heard you did in Capernaum. I tell you the truth no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time when the famine came and people were suffering. But Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed – only Naaman the Syrian.”
You look around as the crowd shifts and murmurs. “What is he trying to say?” you hear someone close to you sneer. Voices are raised, people get to their feet and move menacingly toward Jesus. He walks calmly to the door and walks outside. You follow the crowd, wondering what Jesus will do.
As you get outside you see the crowd is swelling around Jesus, pushing and jostling one another. The group is getting dangerously close to the cliff. “Away with you, Jesus!” Who are you, Jesus?” “Send him over the cliff. We don’t need another prophet here!”
You feel the tension rising. You stand up on your toes to try to see Jesus in the crowd. Then, a pathway opens up and Jesus walks toward you, away from the cliff. He passes you and continues on his way, not saying a word.
What do you feel as you watch Jesus? If you could talk to him, what would you say?
Allow the scene to close naturally. And spend a few minutes talking with Jesus about your experience at the synagogue today.
Photo: Dorsa Masghati on Unsplash
Music: Once Again by Benjamin Tissot on bensound.com