And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
Jesus had a history of astounding religious leaders with his grasp of the scriptures. He was the Jewish boy wonder of Nazareth and when he was twelve, he went to Jerusalem and amazed them there as well. Having a grasp of the scriptures earned him respect and awe as the gifted son of Joseph and Mary. But this day in Nazareth, just as his public ministry began, the Jewish world was shaken up. They thought they knew Jesus but to hear Him pronounce Himself as the fulfillment of Isaiah 61 was shocking. Did Jesus have to take a deep breath to make this announcement? Did He momentarily deal with fear? He probably knew that rejection and controversy would follow.
At what actual point did Jesus learn that He was the Messiah? Perhaps Mary told him as a child but maybe not. Did He know it as He astounded religious leaders in Jerusalem at twelve years of age? We’re not told but there was a good indication that He was self-aware of His identity at that point. He referred to the temple as ‘His Father’s house.’ My husband, Ron, believes He always knew it since He was filled with the Holy Spirit from conception. Perhaps.
Fast forward to Luke and today’s scripture. To announce His divinity to family and friends had to shake up every relationship He had except the one with his mother and Joseph. How did He feel about that day? As One divine, we know He was bold to declare the truth and didn’t think twice about following God’s lead. But as Incarnate, did He experience any emotions that we might feel when we announce something we know will be controversial? Did He sleep the night before? Was it agonizing to think about possibly losing friends and long standing relationships? This would change everything. His brothers would be embarrassed by His claims and remain so until after the resurrection. Three years is a long time to feel the scorn of your siblings. Jesus was gone before his brother, James, called himself a bond slave of Christ.
We are called to do bold things. Jesus paved the way for us in showing us how to weather the extreme fickleness of people. Those who hate you one day can align with you the next. Those who claim to love you today can turn, oftentimes on a dime, over your strong Christian beliefs. No matter how comfortable our life is today, we follow a Savior who shakes up with world with the many implications of the Gospel. Many are warmed by our unwavering allegiance to Christ but many more are repelled. God gives us grace to walk the walk – whether with family or strangers.
You infuse me with the grace and courage to follow Your lead. Amen