Who do you admire? Who is someone you wish you were like? We all can think of people we admire. Sometimes we think of them as heroes! We might admire someone we’ve never met: a superhero or a professional athlete, a famous writer, a dancer or actor, or a wonderful artist. We might admire someone we know – who is very strong, or someone who knows all about carpentry, or machinery – or someone who can fix ANYTHING – or someone who is a terrific teacher, or is a wonderful person to talk to.
Jesus worshiped in synagogue every week, from the time he was very small. On every day of worship, someone would read from the ancient texts: the books we call The Old Testament. Books did not exist when Jesus was alive, and all of these ancient texts were written on scrolls. Jesus remembered the stories and messages of the ancient scrolls and tried to live like the people he admired in the ancient books.
If you look at the picture on the top of the page, you will see a picture of a man holding a sacred scroll. It is a picture of what Jesus might have looked like when he was reading the scroll in today’s message.
On Sunday, Eric Bergengren will read from the Book of Luke. After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, he was filled with God’s spirit and returned to Galilee. There he began to teach in the synagogues and everyone praised him. Galilee is a large mountainous area in the northern part of what is now Israel: here is a map of Galilee for you to explore. Can you find the village of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up? As he was traveling and teaching, Jesus also went to Nazareth. When the Sabbath day came he went to worship at the synagogue, as he did every week.
Jesus stood up to read, and the rabbi (or priest) asked Jesus to read from the scroll containing the works of Isaiah the prophet. Jesus opened the scroll and found the place where this is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is in me. This is because God chose me to bring good news to the poor. God has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken. He has sent me to tell the captives they are free, to recover sight to the blind. He has sent me to comfort all those who are sad.”
Jesus closed the scroll, gave it back to the rabbi, and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue was watching Jesus closely. He began to speak to them. He said, “While you listened to these words just now, they were coming true!”
Isaiah was a prophet, who heard the word of God in visions, and shared God’s words with others. God told Isaiah to share God’s messages with other people. Isaiah preached. He wrote down God’s words almost eight hundred years before Jesus was born; Isaiah’s words were shared with all of the Jewish people.
Jesus did not know how he would spend his life when he was 9 or 10 or even when he was 20; for many years he was a carpenter. When he was about thirty years old, Jesus realized that he wanted to share the word of God, just like the ancient prophets had. When Jesus returned to his community and read the words of Isaiah, Jesus saw what he had to do. What he was called to do:
Jesus was called to bring good news to the poor and to help set the captives free. He was called to help the oppressed and to comfort all those who are sad.
We can’t all be heroes, but we can practice what Jesus practiced in small ways. We can be kind. We can comfort people who are sad or scared. We can help other people. The small things we do each day can bring great joy to others.
You are blessed to be a blessing to those around you.