Sunday, February 3, 2013

Isn't this Joseph's son?

Thought you might be interested in the sermon I preached today at St. Andrew's in Mer Rouge and Church of the Redeemer in Oak Ridge, La.

View from "The Precipice" at Nazareth

Today’s Gospel story (Luke 4:21-20) sounds to me like nothing so much as overheard gossip at a family reunion.. perhaps especially a family reunion here in the deep south, where family pedigree matters so much!

“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” the great aunts and uncles cluck. “I mean, the son of the carpenter? Who’d ever have thought he’d turn out like this!”

This lesson is a continuation of last Sunday’s lesson, so we know the context. Jesus has returned home to Nazareth from being baptized by John in the Jordan River and spending 40 days in the wilderness in a meet up with both the devil and God.

In Nazareth, he goes to the synagogue in keeping with custom, stands up to read from the prophet Isaiah—a passage we today categorize as one of “the servant passages”—then proceeds to claim for himself the identity of The Servant as laid out in Isaiah.

Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” he says. And the hometown community beams with pride. Everyone is amazed that the carpenter’s son speaks so well.
But… how quickly the clucks of surprised approval from the small-town “family” turn into murderous rage! What in the world does Jesus say in those few intervening verses that his own people go from adoring family to angry mob?