The young rabbi was barely 32 years old but the appearance of his hands made him look fifty. They were rough, leather worn and scarred from many years of sawing, chiseling and general carpentry work with his father Joseph. He had just returned to Nazareth from a trip he had taken around the Sea of Galilee with a couple close friends. The young rabbi had been gaining popularity over the last couple of months while rumors of him performing miracles began to circulate. It was said all the young man had to do was just touch someone and they were healed!
The young rabbi was barely 32 years old but the appearance of his hands made him look fifty. They were rough, leather worn and scarred from many years of sawing, chiseling and general carpentry work with his father Joseph. He had just returned to Nazareth from a trip he had taken around the Sea of Galilee with a couple close friends. The young rabbi had been gaining popularity over the last couple of months while rumors of him performing miracles began to circulate. It was said all the young man had to do was just touch someone and they were healed! These stories had taken birth when an old leper had showed up at the temple to present his body for inspection and to offer the required sacrifice for his cleansing.
The trip around the great inland sea had taken several weeks and every day the villages would be filled with crowds wanting to see, listen to and some had hopes of being touched by this newly discovered prophet. There hadn’t been this much of a ruckus since John started baptizing down by the Jordan River a couple of years ago. Many eyewitnesses to these miracles believed this man had an anointing from God but the skeptics outnumbered them and there was even a small gathering that had begun plotting against his apparent popularity.
The hot summer winds had withered all but the sturdiest late spring wild flowers. Yellow flax and white trumpet flowers dotted the hillside as Jesus left Galilee to return home to Nazareth. He was alone now as his two traveling companions from home had stayed at a relative’s home in Capernaum. The winds on this uphill stretch of road whipped violently at an endless landscape of tall swaying grass. It swirled and twirled the long grass into cyclonic eddies that reminded Jesus of turbulent ocean waves he remembered seeing along the western coast.
Jesus grabbed the leather strap holding the skin, filled with water, on his back and poured some down his parched throat. The blowing dust had also made his eyes hurt as he washed them with some of the water before returning the skin to his shoulder. Some fishermen had offered him some dried fish that they were drying in the sun, as he had left the last village at the water’s edge. It tasted wonderful and as he chewed on the dry, salted meat he remembered the men’s kindness. Surely, he would be back this way and offer them something in return.
With any luck he would be home in Nazareth before nightfall. His mother Mary still lived in the family’s ancestral home that had an attached workshop his father had built. Sadly, Joseph had passed on a few years ago from some unknown reason. Now it was Jesus’ and James’s responsibility to take care of their mother. As he walked he remembered that tomorrow was the Sabbath and how he had been looking forward to attending the morning reading in the village’s synagogue with his mother and brother.
“Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. So 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 to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,’ then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
What’s so incredible about all of this? Jesus stopped that morning in the middle of a sentence, at a comma in the original text, and sat down. He was proclaiming that he was indeed the long awaited for Messiah and that he was fulfilling everything he had just read. If you look at the text he was reading in Isaiah 61:1-11 you can read what is written after the comma and what Jesus is destined to return to finish.