“Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. 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 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.’ And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’”Luke 4:14-22
Who do you think you are? Oftentimes our self-image is very close to what we took in from the reactions of other people in our growing up years. Our view of ourselves gets fixed in our minds and shown out in our actions. In a way it’s a survival-based view – we have to find a way to get along with the people in our world and so we go along to get along. Or we rebel, which is just the same self-concept only in reverse. Spiritual growth calls us to look deeper within ourselves. As we develop our spiritual understanding we find that there is a lot more to us than our often one-dimensional self-image. We start our shift from surviving to thriving.
That’s what this story about Jesus tells us. He had been doing some serious spiritual development and had discovered the power within him. Jesus began teaching in the synagogues across the countryside and was getting rave reviews. Then he decided to go to his own hometown synagogue—where everybody had known him since he was knee high to a grasshopper. For his discourse that day Jesus chose a passage which was familiar to the congregation – Isaiah 61:1. That’s where the great Hebrew prophet spoke of the promise of God’s powerful Presence expressing in a human life. After reading the passage and handing the scroll back to the attendant, Jesus got really gutsy. He told the congregation that they had today witnessed that scripture fulfilled – the implication being that it was fulfilled through him. Can’t you just see the people, mouths hanging open, looking intently at Jesus and wondering what had just happened. These good folks were rightly astonished at his startling understanding. Yet at the same time they said, “but isn’t this Joseph’s son, the little kid we watched grow up?” In the end they couldn’t accept that Jesus was any greater than that. Then they went into a rage and tried to throw him off a cliff. Jesus simply passed through the mob and went on his way.
Both Jesus and that hometown congregation live within us. We get to work that relationship out. We are both human and divine. We are spiritual beings having a human experience and human beings learning to express the spiritual power within us. The Christ in us keeps us from living lives that are much too small. The hometown congregation keeps us from becoming a bloated ego floating off into air. We learn as Jesus did to honor our humanness and bless it, not letting its fears and anxieties destroy us. We keep going on our way, developing our inner life. We let the divine within us shine out more brightly every day bringing healing, light, and abundance to ourselves and others. We come to understand who we are – we are thrivers. We are blessings.
In the Love and Light of the Risen Christ,