And he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
Sometimes I have very vivid dreams. Last night I dreamt that I had a second job, stacking shelves at Tesco on a Friday night, after my day job teaching History. In the dream, my boss had sent me to tidy the CD display, and I ended up having an argument with him about how best to arrange the shelves. It was all very strange. I don’t know if it was prophetic, and I’ll find myself working at Tesco one day, but I suspect probably not. Most of my dreams, thank goodness, are not prophetic! If I told people that I thought they were, they would probably think that I was nuts.
Jesus makes an even bolder claim than this, however. He has just returned to his home town, Nazareth, and given a reading at his synagogue, in what is probably Luke’s parallel account of the passage featured in our current Mark Marathon article. The reading that Jesus had just given was from Isaiah, and states, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor, … to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, [and] to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Jesus’ claim here is not simply that he has dreams himself that are prophecies, but that he is the fulfillment of prophecies dating back centuries. He claims that this passage from the great prophet Isaiah was about him. He states that this prophecy, written about 800 years earlier, has been fulfilled with Jesus’ coming. Quite a bold claim, and one which quite a few of the people present that day found hard to accept, since they would have known Jesus since he was a boy; they would have known his mother, his father, his brothers and sisters. If one of your childhood friends suddenly started making such bold claims, you would probably think that they had mental issues – but Jesus has already gone some way to demonstrate his amazing power with incredible healings, fantastic miracles, and astonishing teaching. Luke tells us that all spoke well of Jesus and were amazed by his words, but even so could not accept Jesus’ claim; he goes on to say how the people rose up and drove Jesus out of the town.
The people in the synagogue that day were unable to put their prejudices aside and consider the evidence available to them when considering Jesus’ true identity. Will you join them, and simply disregard Jesus, or will you take a more thoughtful approach, and consider for yourself whether, just maybe, Jesus might have been correct in his assertion?