Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions. Enjoy.
We made it to Nazareth, where Jesus was brought up, visiting his family. On the Sabbath, we went to the synagogue, a community center/place of worship. They popped up after the Babylonians destroyed our temple. Jesus’ habit was to go to the synagogue in whatever town we were in on the Sabbath.
Services usually followed this order: reciting the Shema, praying the 18 Benedictions, a public reading of the Torah and the Prophets, a short sermon we call deresha, and a closing benediction. Jesus was asked to give the reading since the young rabbi had come home.
As a group we recited the Shema, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
After the Benedictions, Jesus stood to read. The community leader handed him the scroll chosen for the day. Unrolling it, he found the place he wanted and began to read. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled it up, returning it to the leader, and sat down to explain it. I recognized it from Isaiah, a prophet that lived 700 years earlier. Our eyes lock on him as he spoke, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
That was a Messianic prophecy, and it’s fulfilled? The kingdom is coming? He did tell that to the Samaritan woman, but his hometown didn’t know that.
The crowd started to compliment him, amazed at his teaching. Then the mood settled a little. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they murmured. Doubt rose.
Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of 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.”
That was a warning to the townspeople that watched him grow up to not reject him. Like in the times of Elijah and Elisha, God will leave you to your fate if you reject Him, until you’re ready to listen. The fact it’s those dirty Gentiles though…
The building erupted and charged at Jesus. “Run!” we shouted, as they drove him out of his hometown. A few grabbed him, shoving to the edge of the hill the town sat on.
Horror dawned as I realized they were going to kill him. I began to move forward before they pushed him off the edge and stoned him.
Jesus turned, looking at the crowd. They froze, and as he walked down the hill, they parted as he walked through them. I don’t know why.
He passed us, beckoning us to follow, as he left town. He looked sad, walking quietly, away from his childhood home.
“Where are we going?”
“Back to Capernaum.”