The Congregants’ Account

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

The Congregants’ Account, Audio Version

Here’s my proposed headline, from The Galilee Gazette, perhaps:

Carpenter’s Claim to Fulfill Old Prophesy Infuriates Hometown Congregation

Nazareth – This past Sabbath, Yeshua Ben-Yosef, an unemployed local man, was accosted, forcibly ejected from the village synagogue, and nearly killed by a group of livid congregants after he assumed the Rabbi’s chair and strangely claimed to personally fulfill a prophecy from the Prophet Isaiah. He somehow managed to elude the angry crowd, though, and currently cannot be located. 

Authorities are asking anyone who may have knowledge of his whereabouts to contact them immediately. They hope to carefully question him, and, if possible, find out what might explain his grandiose claims. His family does not believe Ben-Yosef poses an immediate danger to anyone; but they are concerned about his inexplicable, bizarre behavior in recent months.    

According to congregants familiar with both him and his family, Ben-Yosef regularly attended the village synagogue most of his life. However, within the last six months, Ben-Yosef abruptly quit his occupation as a wood-working craftsman, and went absent from the village for long periods of time. His family says that Ben-Yosef left his job to become an itinerant rabbi. His brothers say he became obsessed with something he calls “the Kingdom of God,” which he claims is “at hand.” Even his family is unsure of what he means by “the Kingdom of God,” and why he believes it is worth abandoning everything to pursue with such urgency. They are concerned about his mental health.

When asked what infuriated them so much about Yeshua Ben-Yosef’s message, Nazarene congregants used words like “arrogance,” “audacity,” and even “blasphemy.”

One witness said, “Look, we’ve known him for about thirty years — his whole life, actually. Yet he presumed to stand up, walk up in front of us like that, and say what he said! I mean, he sat himself casually in the Rabbi’s chair, took a synagogue scroll, carefully found and slowly read that passage. He claimed in all seriousness that Isaiah had spoken of him!”

Another added, “No, it is wasn’t just that. I mean, he did all that, yes. And that did seem very arrogant of him. Who does something like that? But he did more than just claim to fulfill any prophecy. He claimed to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy about the Anointed! About the Anointed! The prophecy he read is about the Anointed One! Does he actually think he is the Messiah?!?”

A third congregant elaborated, “We are all from the same synagogue! We’ve heard the same messages he has! We’ve listened to the same rabbis! We’ve made the same pilgrimages! Does Yeshua really think that he is somehow more knowledgeable about the scriptures than we are? We all know that the Messiah cannot be a former carpenter from Nazareth.” 

A fourth congregant nodded and asserted, “It was both arrogant and blasphemous of him. He claimed to be the Lord’s Anointed One, when we all know that Elijah must come first. The scriptures clearly and unambiguously say so. The Prophet Malachi says so. Elijah must come first. If Yeshua had been listening to the rabbis, like us, he would have known that. Where is Elijah? Elijah should have personally introduced Yeshua the Self-Proclaimed Messiah! But Elijah was nowhere to be seen! How can Yeshua possibly be the Lord’s Messiah?”   

A fifth, visibly upset, person yelled, “And he even had the chutzpah to insult us! He sat there on the Sabbath, in the Rabbi’s chair, and proceeded to insult us! He said that we are inferior to the Gentiles, that the Lord somehow prefers the Gentiles to us, the children of Abraham!”   

Ben-Yosef’s mother said she does not know exactly what to make of her son’s behavior, but does not believe he is arrogant, audacious, or blasphemous. She wonders if he is instead just misunderstood.

This has been an imaginative elaboration on Luke 4:16-30. Please read it.