|Jan. 18, 2018
Dear Hyde Park Family,
HOMETOWN MAN PREACHES; CAUSES UPROAR
Mathias Avram, Nazareth Gazette Special Correspondent
Nazareth, Galilee – Tensions flared as hometown product Jesus ben-Joseph made his first preaching appearance at the synagogue, offering a controversial message of inclusion and diversity.
In a sermon titled, “The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me,” Jesus was initially received with thunderous approval by the standing room-only crowd.
“I remember him when he was just barely old enough to pick up a hammer,” said Zachariah Yousseff, a next-door neighbor. “Who knew he would grow up to become a preacher? His message really resonated with me. At first.”
Jesus’ opening was filled with populist messages of liberation for the oppressed, recovery of sight to the blind, good news for the poor, and freedom for the enslaved, all issues that rank high among the latest opinion polls, according to several recent surveys.
“It definitely started out as a rousing speech,” said Reuben Aretz, holding a large sign emblazoned with “I’m with Jesus” in giant letters. “He set the scroll aside, sat down, and said ‘Today the Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ There was so much cheering I couldn’t hear myself think. We were right there with him.”
But according to several eyewitness accounts, the speech then took a surprising turn.
“Suddenly, he started talking about blessing foreigners. And that made me uncomfortable,” said Yousseff.
A written transcript obtained by the Gazette reveals that Jesus then referred to several ancient Hebrew stories involving immigrants from foreign countries. He mentioned God’s blessing of the widow of Zarephath, from the country of Sidon, a long-time oppressor of the Hebrew people and birthplace of evil queen Jezebel. He then described God’s healing of Naaman, a leper from Syria, a stronghold of the troublesome Canaanites.
“Clearly, that’s when Jesus started to lose the crowd,” said Aretz. “People’s signs started to droop, and the mumbling got louder. One guy next to me said, ‘Why would we want to allow people from Sidon, Syria, and all those other dung-hole countries? Get ’em out of here.'”
Tempers then flared as Jesus concluded his sermon, with people having expected Jesus to return to a more populist message.
“Things really got out of hand,” said Yousseff. “People started pressing in on the guy, threatening to lock him up in jail. At one point, people chased him out of the synagogue and over toward the ravine. I thought for sure people were going to pick him up and toss him over.”
But according to officials who later appeared on the scene, Jesus was able to escape the crowd, calmly passing through them without saying a word.
“I don’t know what happened there at the end,” said Aretz. “One minute we all wanted to kill him. And then, just like that, he was gone.”
“I just don’t know. Gives you something to think about, I guess.”
(This is a developing story. For the latest updates, visit Luke 4:16-30).
Grace and peace,