Here we have preserved, the very spot where the Bible tells us that Jesus stood at the head of the synagogue and taking the scroll, recited from Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God.”
We read in Luke 4:21 that having recited these words,
he turned, handed the scroll back to the Gabai, the attendant, and said—“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
A hush came over the congregation. For a moment they seemed stunned. Then someone asked, “How can this be? Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Wasn’t it Joshua, the boy they had known growing up? Hadn’t they watched him play with their own son’s and daughters? Many had entertained him and his family for holiday meals in their own homes.
There were those among them who remembered when Jesus as a boy had eloquently led the synagogue services reciting the Sabbath readings with similar earnestness and sincerity. But now he was a full grown man and he spoke with such authority. Suddenly members of the synagogue began to taunt him. “Why don’t you do some of those healings we heard about, over in Capernaum?”
Then Jesus responded: “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.” He then spoke of how Elijah was sent to a widow in the region of Sidon and how Elisha was only able to heal Naaman the Syrian.
As you stand today in this unadorned stone chamber beneath its fine old arches, you can imagine the crowd of worshippers begin to gather around Jesus, dragging him from his seat and pushing him toward the door.
Stand aside as they violently force the Master out to the ledge of a cliff, ready to push him off. The Bible tells us
(Luke 4:28-30): “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”
But let the last image that you take away be one of hope and grace, remembering the message that Jesus brought to this small sanctuary two thousand years ago, when he came to set the captives free.
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