Now I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life when I am sure that God is either speaking directly to me or speaking through me. Now, it’s not necessarily a voice in my head (though that has happened once – I’ll tell you about that another time), nor is it me being directed to do something. But from time to time, I can look back at conversations, events and situations and say – God was in that!
We usually don’t share those sorts of things because they can be seen as our egos speaking rather than God, and people really don’t like to hear us talk ourselves up. We can make others feel uncomfortable in many different ways.
That’s exactly what happened at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Last week we heard of Jesus’ baptism and in the verses following our reading Jesus heads into the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the devil. Our reading this morning comes immediately after this time in the wilderness and Jesus’ growing notoriety and his teachings that connected with the people.
Jesus returns to Nazareth and expectations are high. He stood up to read in the synagogue and all looked to see and hear what he would preach about. He reads from the prophet Isaiah and words that announce the Spirit of the Lord is upon the prophet because he had been anointed to bring good news. This good news was going to be brought to the poor, captives were to be released, the blind would see and the oppressive would go free. All great stuff for a great prophet such as Isaiah to say. But then Jesus spoils it all by declaring that this scripture has been fulfilled in their hearing. What? This is one of us! He’s Joseph son, who does he think he is? It really didn’t go well. From this reception we are reminded that no prophet is accepted in their own hometown.
None of us likes to see people get ahead of themselves, hold themselves up to be better or superior. Particularly people we know well, that we’ve known for some time and of whom we’ve seen the good and the bad. And I’d be so bold to say that when we might be shown to not being as good as we should be, we get more than a little abusive and doubting regarding that person. We can get angry, sometimes angry enough to distance ourselves from that person, maybe even angry enough to remove that person from our circle of friends.
Jesus didn’t try to dampen down the anger those around him were feeling. He tried to show them that God was present and that things were changing, that the Good News was coming. His examples of Elijah helping the widow at Zarephath instead of an Israelite widow didn’t help. Jesus was trying to broaden their minds and tell them God was in everything they do. Everything that we do proclaims God. God works behind and in between all our actions and thoughts. We are challenged to remember that all we do proclaims God and we need to be aware of that.