By Alan Bean
If you can’t trust Jesus, who can you trust?
Unfortunately, you can’t trust Jesus.
Unless, that is, you are open to shocking new ideas about God, a counter-intuitive take on the created order, and a topsy-turvy understanding of the human condition.
When Jesus arrived in his hometown of Nazareth, everybody wanted to be impressed. When a local boy makes good, small towns announce their association with the local-boy-made-good for the edification of passing motorists. “We might look like just another hick town,” the sign suggests, “but Bob Wills grew up here.”
Even if you’ve never heard of Bob Wills, you can’t help being a little bit impressed.
Immediately after his wilderness encounter with the devil, Matthew tells us, Jesus took up residence in the little fishing village of Capernaum, on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, (or the Sea of Tiberias as Herod Antipas insisted on calling it). From there, he moved into the surrounding communities, eventually arriving at his home town of Nazareth.
By this time, Jesus had acquired a reputation as a teacher with, it was widely rumored, the power to heal. Nobody was thinking “Messiah” or “Son of God” at this point; but Rabbi was a distinct possibility. Which explains why, when the hometown boy showed up for Sabbath worship, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and asked to read a passage of his choosing.
Turning to what we call the 61st Chapter (there were no chapters or verses in his day), Jesus intoned a startling message that, like the Lord’s Prayer, had been domesticated by frequent repetition.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Then he handed the scroll back to the attendant and sat down.
Folks were impressed. “He reads very well for a kid from Nazareth,” some thought. “Good intonation, not too fast or too slow, and he fills the synagogue with his voice without appearing to shout. Not bad for a rookie.” (more…)