Perhaps it was in the way he carried himself, the way he strode confidently to the front of the room to take his place before the gathered assembly of friends and neighbors. Maybe it was the way he looked out over his audience with calm and serene eyes that sparkled with an inner certainty, as if he was the keeper of a great secret. Or maybe it was the quality of his voice that was different, a ring of certainty they had never noticed before, the unmistakable authority with which he spoke, the powerful authenticity of words coming from one who knows whereof he speaks.
Whatever it was, when Jesus rose to read and comment on the scriptures in the synagogue of his hometown of Nazareth, those present fell silent, fixed their eyes on him and listened. They knew who he was, of course, but there was something different about him that day, something they had never seen before, or – if it had been present – they had completely failed to notice.
With the certainty of a man on a mission, he asks for the scroll of the book of the prophet Isaiah, confidently unrolls it to the 61st chapter, and reads,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
With every eye now fixed upon him, he carefully rolls up the scroll, hands it back to the attendant, and sits down. “TODAY,” he says, boldly and clearly and with unmistakable authority, “this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”