Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.
He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.
He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’
‘as he usually did’
So, there was a time when Jesus was just one of the crowd – an everyman in the everyday; versed in the scripture and the tradition of Israel. A good Jew, an ordinary Jew, who fitted into the society that he belonged to. Like us, he had gone to school, learnt to pray and to worship, he had been shown how to include God in his daily life. Like us, and Luke is very clear about this, Jesus was ‘ordinary’, in his life and in his faith.
No wonder we never heard anything about him. All the wonderful mysticism and prophecy around his birth seems to have been forgotten. How? I often wonder. Why weren’t there tales of angels and wise men enlivening the words of the storytellers? Why did no-one listen when he was brought to the temple as a baby? Whether it was a choice to disbelieve – after all,’ nothing good has ever come out of Nazareth’ – or a smokescreen by God to guarantee his Son this anonymity – it worked. Jesus was no –one special when he left his village in search of his fortune.
We all have to start somewhere, and that somewhere should have something to teach us. The idea that, without any basics of faith, we can decide about God all by ourselves is very suspect. Imagine suddenly trying to decide if God is:
Love, Hate, Power, Revenge,
all of the above –
none of the above
don’t really know
All based only on however you feel at the moment and your own jaundiced view of the world. You can’t - you need a starting point – an a,b,c of God that hopefully gives us all a language we can understand and use with God and between ourselves. A way of life that makes faith so much a part of ourselves that it seems commonplace, ordinary….
with the power of the Spirit’
Jesus didn’t stay ordinary. With the foundations put in, the walls and roof built – with his faith that had taught him love, trust and integrity – he had, within him, a place of invitation, a place waiting to be filled. And he set out to find the One who would change his life. Then Jesus became Extraordinary.
The Holy Spirit could have come on him in Nazareth, while he was in the workshop, John the Baptist could have come and found him. But God appreciates people making the effort – even His Son; the journeys of Abraham and Moses, pilgrimages that feed the body and the spirit through experience, trials, failure and fulfilment. We need to make this same commitment. Our spiritual journey can take many forms –prayer, meditation, study, retreat and pilgrimage – it informs our daily lives and relationships, once we have the eyes and understanding to see it.
As human beings we grow through the achievements and failures of journey, becoming more and more aware of our own personal strengths; and realising our need for an intimate relationship with God. God holding us and God within us. Armoured and fed by God we become less reliant on ‘what the world thinks’.
The Holy Spirit always finds a way –whether it is the drip, drip, drip of a prayerful life, or a dam-busting conversion when there is nowhere else to go – the Spirit comes upon us - and we become filled with God’s power – we become like Jesus - Extraordinary- filled with Grace, we become linked to the One who is greater than us – but who needs us to be His hands, His eyes, His mouth– to bring liberty to the captives, Good News to the poor and proclaim the Lord’s favour.
Jesus speaks Isaiah’s words – a man speaking man’s words because he shares our humanity and our destiny with us. The responsibility is now ours. The Word is fulfilled every day that we remember this – that even as we speak, see, hear and act we do so as the Body of Christ.