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The Power of Today

The Power of Today

The Gospel story begins with a rather dull, truly typical event in ancient Jewish synagogue life. On the Sabbath, a preacher, not a rabbi or some other formal religious authority, but a person known as a darshanim, a "speaker" or a "teller" reads from the scroll and comments on the verses. This preaching style of Jesus' day was widely practiced and expected by congregations--that the speaker would take biblical verses literally out of their textual context--such historical criticism as understanding contextual context is, of course, a modern development--and the speaker would apply them to the religious, political, and ethical questions all around. Preaching involved making an ancient story, the wisdom of the prophets, alive for the day.
Jesus was a darshanim in his hometown on this particular day. A synagogue leader handed him the scroll, and Jesus finds the place where the reading last week left off and reads from the words of the prophet Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,