The scroll was chosen by the leaders of the synagogue long before the day Jesus read it. It was chosen before anyone could have known Jesus would be passing through, and then it was tucked away in a sacred hiding place. That was the tradition.
The service proceeded as it always did. The attendant took the scroll from its cabinet and walked it around the room. Everyone faced the scroll as it moved about them, symbolizing its centrality to their lives and their desire to obediently live its words.
Then the attendant handed the scroll to Jesus. He unrolled it and started reading the words of Isaiah assigned to him.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
A perfect promise for a beleaguered impoverished crowd.
Anointed. Set apart for a task. Purposed. Chosen.
Anointed to make announcements that would be “good” for poor people:
Freedom for those in prison – most for debts that couldn’t be repaid.
Healing for the sick – poverty made a long healthy life improbable.
Release for the unjustly ruled – there was a long history of oppressors Israel hadn’t been able to wriggle out from under – and now Rome.
The fabled year of God’s freedom, healing, release.
The crowd knew this passage: An old and treasured promise they prayed God would keep. Someday.
“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,” Jesus said.
With that one simple sentence could Jesus have been saying…
It’s here! Today!
The time has come when things will be done below the way they’re done up there! Crooked will be made straight! The weak will be made strong!
Good news! The kingdom of heaven is here on earth right now!
What if he means that? What if it’s true? What if-
Wait a minute. Isn’t this Joseph’s son?
God, I want to see You, hear from You, worship You this Easter season. Not the God of my expectations. Give me eyes and ears to experience You in the traditions of my faith and outside of them, through the beautiful and powerful and in the ugly and weak, in the extraordinary and the everyday. Help me. Amen.