Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit. News that he was back spread through the countryside. He taught in their meeting places to everyone’s acclaim and pleasure.
He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,
God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”
All who were there, watching and listening, were surprised at how well he spoke. But they also said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son, the one we’ve known since he was a youngster?”
He answered, “I suppose you’re going to quote the proverb, ‘Doctor, go heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we heard you did in Capernaum.’ Well, let me tell you something: No prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown. Isn’t it a fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land, but the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Sarepta in Sidon? And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of the prophet Elisha but the only one cleansed was Naaman the Syrian.”
That set everyone in the meeting place seething with anger. They threw him out, banishing him from the village, then took him to a mountain cliff at the edge of the village to throw him to his doom, but he gave them the slip and was on his way.
He went down to Capernaum, a village in Galilee. He was teaching the people on the Sabbath. They were surprised and impressed—his teaching was so forthright, so confident, so authoritative, not the quibbling and quoting they were used to.” Luke 4: 14-32 (The Message)
by Bill Mallonee
People tend to forget just how “disowned” he was. Right off the top.
We forget that he was disowned by the authorities, both political & religious.
God scandalizes us by deciding to appear among the meek, the lowly, the poor, the marginalized.
God scandalizes our sensibilities still to this day.
We’re scandalized by Jesus to this very minute;
Scandalized and offended as a nation, and mostly likely as individuals, as well.
There are hard truths to reckon with.
At least I find them hard.
It helps to remind ourselves that often human history is one set by trajectories; that a move in one direction can have a domino-effect for good or evil.
I remind myself that push back against the world’s darkness & despair starts with little acts because they can reset the trajectories of our lives personally, as a nation and as the people of God–little acts like loving your spouse, your children, doing your job with integrity and goodwill.
Still, (sadly) we live in a world of static; one that screams other values that compete for our heart’s affections.
A world that makes idols out of Mammon, power & distraction, will likely always be scandalized by Jesus’s words, message, and love.
It’s hard to reconcile Kingdom values with what we tend to call the real world.
In fact, much of Jesus’s message, and the message of the apostolic letters, is God’s way of awakening us to what real life is (versus the world-illusion and its counterfeits.)
We tend to try to steer a middle course.
We wear our symbols of the faith, be they visible or invisible.
We champion our faith…but then hedge our bets by building and employing massive war machines—in the name of the Prince of Peace.
We hide behind the walls of our gated communities.
We call into service rhetoric that diminishes our responsibility towards the poor, the lowly, and the marginalized of society;
the very people Jesus seems to have taken such and interest in.
We fail to address systemic evil and fail to ask our leaders to do the same.
Let us ask the Lord for grace on these matters.
And courage, as well.
Because it will take courage to ask of ourselves, our leaders, both religious and political, for the discernment and the action that are demanded as we wrestle with the implications of Jesus’s Kingdom message.
Bill Mallonee is an Americana artist with 70+ albums, spanning a 20 year career. Paste Music Magazine named him #65 in their prestigious “Top 100 Living Songwriters” poll. He fronted the band Vigilantes of Love from 1991-2001. Bill and his wife, Muriah, live in New Mexico. His work can be found, listened to, and purchased at www.billmalloneemusic.bandcamp.com