Sunday, February 4, 2007

Last Weekend's Sermon

The Book of Luke 4:16-4:32
16: And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17: And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19: To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20: And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21: And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
22: And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?
23: And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
24: And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
25: But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
26: But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
27: And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.
28: And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
29: And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
30: But he passing through the midst of them went his way,

Let me tell you this story a different way.

Let’s say we live in this town called Natzrat, in the hills. Nothing too special. We’re just regular synagogue-goers, at, say, Congregation Bet Elohim, in Natzrat. This guy Josh (Yeshua), a real nice hometown kid, has been out of town for a while, and we’ve heard that he’s been up to some interesting things. Josh was always a good Torah reader so when we hear he’s going to be in town for Shabbat, we say okay Josh, why don’t you read from the Torah since you were always so good at it, maybe talk to us a little bit about what you’ve been up to.

Josh goes up to the front of the room and reads from the Torah, and then he maybe reads the Haftarah portion or whatever, and it turns out the portion is from Isaiah, the part where Isaiah says that someday soon God is going to fulfill His end of the covenant, going to come back to heal the brokenhearted and the blind and to free the captives.

And Josh stops reading and everybody sits down and looks at him. And Josh says “This prophesy is fulfilled now.”

And we all go, What?

And Josh goes, You heard me.

And an old guy in the congregation’s a little confused and he asks, “You’re Joseph’s son, aren’t you?”

And Josh says “Yeah. Guys, I know you heard I did some miracles in Kefar Nachum. You’re probably ask if I can do some for you here. But listen. No prophet is ever accepted in his own country. There was a big famine in Elijah the Prophet’s time, and he only saved one widow. And there were a lot of lepers in Elisha the Prophet’s time, and he only saved one, and that one was a Syrian.”

And the synagogue-goers get really mad at Josh because he sounds like he’s crazy, I mean, this just sounds like total nonsense, and they throw him out of shul. And Josh skips town. And we think, wow, that kid sure turned out weird. Can't imagine we'll ever hear from him again.

1 comment:

E said...

I love this interpretation. I used to volunteer in my church's food pantry when I was a kid. It really used to trouble me that Jesus had been some ostensibly crazy guy. When down and out single men would come to the church for food, I used to ask myself: if Jesus had come to our pantry in the same state as these men, would I have been able to take him seriously? Invariably, the answer was no.