That Moment, Part I

Luke 4:14-21 – the Third Sunday after Epiphany – for January 27, 2013

“The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.” (Luke 4:20)

Reading ScrollIt is that moment.

Jesus stands in a synagogue on the Sabbath, the people in the crowded space gazing at him, and reads from Isaiah.

But this is not just any synagogue in the backwaters of the Roman Empire, it is the place of worship in Jesus’ hometown . . . where he had been brought up, the Gospel reminds the reader. He is in a familiar room, once seen through the eager or bored eyes of youth, once a place where his mother and father were protectively near him, once a place where—like all children—he could easily vanish behind an adult’s broad back or say something insightful and have everyone focus their attention on him. This was home. These were friends.

He’s Joseph and Mary’s kid.

He’s the carpenter’s son.

In a village, wouldn’t everyone have a memory? He’s the kid with the quick wit, the far-away look, the sad eyes and infectious laugh. A hundred distinctive voices could say, I remember when . . . Jesus ran home, chased by an angry hive of bees or when he stayed by Joseph’s side and helped his old man finish a carpentry project or was the one who found that lost lamb after it wandered away from the flock. They would remember. He was one of theirs. All of them in the sweltering, stark place of worship had yelled at, nodded to, chatted with, scolded, praised and greeted the boy Jesus.

Now something’s different.

He’s a man. Grown. Up.

Rumors about Joseph and Mary’s son include an encounter with the oddball John in the River Jordan.

There are snippets of discussion about the length of time he wandered in the wilderness. All by himself, some said. Didn’t take any food, others said. Gone for weeks. No, it was only for days. Never happened, a few are convinced. They might argue this, but no one had asked Jesus how long, where, why, or even if. Sometimes, isn’t it more fun to gossip and speculate? Continue reading →

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