The young man looked intently at the markings on the scroll that he was about to read. Individual letters seemed to grasp a hold of him, like an anchors holding a fishing boat in place on wind-blown, choppy waters. His heart was pounding, his hands trembling slightly from the excitement of the moment. His mouth suddenly felt dry. He waited, the letters commanding his gaze.
He had always known that this moment would come, here, in the synagogue of his home town. He understood very well that a prophet is not honored in his own community, because of the challenge to the status quo that a man of God inevitably brings. People do not like to be confronted, especially not by one of their own. What he did not anticipate was how these letters would speak to (i)him(/i)----they suddenly contained tremendous mystery and power that united him with a vast sea of peace. Outwardly he felt his bodily weakness, but inwardly he felt strengthened, and he knew: he was in the right place, at the right time, for the right reason. He was to read the Word of God in Nazareth.
As his eyes examined the lines, dots, and squiggles of the letters, wonder and amazement seized him. That Father could have man’s mind devise and organize mere marks in such a way that they could be learned and understood; that concepts full of meaning could be conveyed by them; that communication may be had---not only to reveal the thoughts of men to men, but to reveal His Mind to men. An influx of Love suddenly surged through him and shot tears to his soft eyes. He looked up at his silent audience.
“O, my Father, let your Name be sanctified in these hearts,” he silently prayed, as he scanned the faces the men seated around him. With great clarity he read their minds, and saw their hardness of heart. “Let your Kingdom come to rule their hearts and minds.” Their faces were mostly familiar to him, but not because he had grown up among them. He saw their countenances darkened with the same evil and despair of sinful men everywhere, and as they now looked upon him, he saw mostly resentment. His purity and the beauty of his holiness overwhelmed and unsettled them. “Your will be done here, today, in this place, as it is in heaven.” The true light of the world, that gives light to every man, was in the house, and they knew it not.
When he had stood up to read, the scroll of the prophet Isaiah had been handed to him, and by the time he was opening it, the only sound to be heard was the soft unfolding of the papyrus. Some there had heard rumors about him, about strange things he had been up to, and how he had taught in synagogues elsewhere. And now, here he was, this Sabbath, right there in front of them. They looked at him, and he looked at them.
He looked down again at the place he had found to read. He was ready.
He started to read, slowly, deliberately. Calmness had settled his body and he felt his voice rush forth like a river, charged with the spirit of life.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me…”
He hesitated a moment, almost startled at the unmistakable way in which the words came forth as a declaration, rather than a reading of Isaiah’s words.
“..because he has anointed me..”
Jesus of Nazareth looked up. The Spirit of Truth was transforming those mere marks into words of power; dead letters came to life and addressed the spirits of men. He was no longer reading. He was quoting from memory. He had completely identified himself with the prophesy of the servant of the Lord, and it had identified him as its fulfillment. It was his calling, and now, he called it forth into the reality of his home town.
Upon finishing, he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.
With everyone still staring at him, the silence holding them captive, Jesus said to them, gracefully, yet in that tone of authority that only truth has, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
He knew that soon all hell would break loose. But he was completely happy in that moment, joy radiating from him: (i)it was the best read he had ever had.(/i)
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