Jesus’ Homecoming, Part 1

Reading the TorahIt is that moment.

Jesus rises, standing in a synagogue on the Sabbath. His fellow Jews gaze at him as he clears his throat. He reads from Isaiah.

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

This is not just any synagogue in the backwaters of the Roman Empire, for it is the place of worship in Jesus’ hometown. Where he had been brought up, the Gospel of Luke declared. He is in a familiar room, once seen through the eager or bored eyes of youth, once a place where his father was protectively near him, once a place where—like all children—he might 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 is Joseph and Mary’s kid.

In a village, wouldn’t everyone have a memory? Was Jesus recalled as the child with the quick wit, or the far-away look, or the sad eyes, or maybe an 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 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. Continue reading →