12 Jesus answered, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Don't try to test the Lord your God!’ ”
13After the devil had finished testing Jesus in every way possible, he left him for a while.
Jesus Begins His Work
(Matthew 4.12-17; Mark 1.14,15)
14Jesus returned to Galilee with the power of the Spirit. News about him spread everywhere. 15He taught in the Jewish synagogues, and everyone praised him.
The People of Nazareth
(Matthew 13.53-58; Mark 6.1-6)
16Jesus went back to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and as usual he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. When he stood up to read from the Scriptures, 17he was given the book of Isaiah the prophet. He opened it and read,
18 “The Lord's Spirit
has come to me,
because he has chosen me
to tell the good news
to the poor.
The Lord has sent me
to announce freedom
to give sight to the blind,
to free everyone
19and to say, ‘This is the year
the Lord has chosen.’ ”
20Jesus closed the book, then handed it back to the man in charge and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue looked straight at Jesus.
21Then Jesus said to them, “What you have just heard me read has come true today.”
“Everyone in the meeting place looked straight at Jesus.”
That’s a good posture, looking straight at Jesus. Whatever we bring to that gaze – adoration, curiosity, puzzlement – the face of Christ is the world’s best focal point. Everything else gets clearer, sometimes by fading away entirely, when we cast our eyes upon him. This is the heart of worship, looking straight at him.
And what a thing the people of Nazareth see that day. “What you have just heard me read has come true today.” They behold, in real time, the embodiment and fulfillment of ancient promise. Broken lives are, here and now, being made whole. Before their very eyes, the Shalom of God invades the ruin of creation. An act of heavenly subversion has just occurred, and all it took was two verses.
Notice again the setting: “Jesus went back to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and as usual he went to the meeting place on the Sabbath.” Went back, brought up, as usual. It’s the same old same old. It’s just another day in church with those tedious folks back home. Funny old Aunt Mildred. Grumpy old Farmer Smith. Those bored, fidgeting teenagers. Those children itching in their starches.
And then, Ka-boom.
He can show up anytime, anywhere. Whenever in the midst of the ordinary—the usual song and dance with the usual suspects—our eyes suddenly rivet on Jesus, God’s Shalom begins a fresh invasion of creation’s ruin. Whenever the word is made flesh—fulfilled, becomes true, is lived out—heaven’s subversion is enacted.
It could happen this Sunday, in your church.
Plan to look straight at him.
Yes. May you rivet my attention fresh with the person and the work of Jesus. May I dare to look straight at him. And in that looking, make me as he is: good news to the poor, sight to the blind, freedom for prisoners.
In Christ’s name I ask, Amen