There is an almost palpable sense of expectancy among the people of Nazareth in the public appearance of Jesus in the synagogue that day. When he "opens the scriptures," they recognize his words as ones that are filled with "grace." So what did they expect from his words? At the heart of epiphany (revelation) is the promise that we are being brought into the very presence of Jesus our Lord. So what do we expect from that promise?
And yet when Jesus speaks of "fulfillment," we sense that expectations and fulfillment are not always harmonious. Grace then and now often comes in strange and unexpected ways. We long for a glimpse of God's grace. But in the familiar guise of this "son of Joseph," whom we have watched grow up from infancy? To believe that may be to stretch our credulity a bit. We long deeply for God's grace, but the question remains: Will we be ready or willing to respond to the direction in which it may lead us?
O God of grace, we long for your presence, but that grace often comes to lead us in surprising directions. Open our hearts to trust the ways of your work among us, most surprisingly in the gift of your son, Jesus. Amen.
Luke 4:21-30 (NRSV)
21 Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
22 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?"
23 He said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Doctor, cure yourself!' And you will say, 'Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'"
24 And he said, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown.
25 "But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land;
26 "yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon.
27" There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian."
28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.
29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff.
30 But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.