14. After this, Jesus returned to Galilee full of the power of the Holy Spirit, and His fame spread through the whole region and surrounding area.
15. And He conducted a series of well-received teachings in their synagogues, because at this point in His ministry He was being accepted, recognized and highly honored by just about everyone.
16. So one particular day He came to Nazareth where He had been brought up, and He entered the synagogue, as was His custom on the Sabbath. And at the appropriate time in the service He stood up to read in the congregation.
17. Without hesitation they handed Him the scroll of the book of the prophet Isaiah, and He reverently but authoritatively unrolled it. Then He immediately found the place where it was written,
18. "The very Spirit of the Lord is resting upon Me, because He has anointed and qualified Me to proclaim the Good News to the disenfranchised; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives, and total recovery of sight to the blind...to bring relief to those who are oppressed, outcast and broken down by the hardships of life;
19. To reveal the true meaning of the Year of Jubilee, and to become its physical fulfillment...to personify the year of God's favor in the now."
20. Then He calmly rolled up the book and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. But on this day the service didn't progress as usual. On this day, something was very different about the reading of Isaiah's prophecy. Something about the way Jesus read those familiar words made them seem simultaneously eternal and fresh...both ancient and newborn. You could hear a pin drop in the place as everyone fixed their attention on Him, waiting for Him to say something else. No one could take their eyes off Him.
21. So He responded to their expectancy, and stood back up to speak. Looking around the room He boldly said something that had never been said before in the Synagogue: "Today this Scripture has actually been fulfilled in your presence...right here...right now...the word has been made flesh in your hearing."
22. Everyone was taken aback at these words, but they were initially open and receptive to them, in general. But as His statement began to sink in with them, and as they considered the implication of it, they weren't exactly sure how to respond. It wasn't just the boldness of the declaration, but when they considered the source, they said among themselves, "Isn't this Joseph's son? Isn't this man the boy that we saw grow up right here in the neighborhood?
23. He answered them, "I suppose now you're going to quote to Me the proverb, 'Doctor, go heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we heard you did in Capernaum.'
24. Well, let me tell you something...it's a fact that no prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown.
25. I mean, isn't it true that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land?
26. But isn't it also true that the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Zarephath in the country of Sidon?
27. By the same token, there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, but the only one of them that was cleansed by being healed was Naaman, the Syrian.
28. With these statements, Jesus went from being provocative to being antagonistic...even blasphemous...as far as they were concerned, and all the people in the synagogue were instantly filled with rage for Him.
29. And they jumped up and grabbed Him, carrying Him to the projecting upper part of the hill on which their town was built, with the intention of hurling Him headlong over the cliff to His death.
30. But when they got there, He somehow miraculously passed right through their midst without injury, and went on His way.
31. Without missing a beat He went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath He taught the people, undaunted by what had just happened in Nazareth.
32. And the people there were absolutely amazed at His teaching, because His words had authority...He had a command and understanding of His own message that was undeniable.
33. In the synagogue there was a man under the influence and control of a rebel spirit, and recognizing who Jesus really was (as the spirits always did) He cried out at the top of his voice,
34. "Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy our authority and domain? I know who you are...You are the Holy One of God!"
35. "All right, that's enough...be quiet!" Jesus said, directly. "Get out of this man's life!" Then the spirit threw the man down before them all, and released him without injury.
36. All the people were even more amazed at this, and said to each other, "What's this all about? How does this man control the environment by simply using His words? He even tells rebel spirits what to do, and they obey Him!"
37. And the news about him spread like wildfire throughout the surrounding area.
38. After this, Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon, where Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever. He went because they asked Him to help her.
39. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her...just like that. She got right up and began to wait on Jesus, and those who were with Him.
40. At sunset, the people brought to Jesus a steady stream of people who had all kinds of sicknesses and diseases, and, laying his hands on every one of them, He healed everyone that He touched.
41. And many rebel spirits yielded to his authority, leaving the people that they had been controlling and shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow the revelation of His true identity to come through them.
42. This went on all through the night, but at daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. And the people were looking for him, and when they finally found Him, they tried to prevent Him from leaving them.
43. But he said, "Listen, I need to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the rest of the population...it's my destiny to do so."
44. And He continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea.