Was Jesus treated as someone to be avoided or punished because of what he did and said and because of who he was? To ask the question another way, was Jesus queer?
This is a retelling of Luke 4:16-30 from the perspective of an imaginary eyewitness.
When Jesus Came Out
We had high hopes for Jesus. He was a good talker. He made you think. However, he was different. Some would say “weird.” He definitely “had his ways.”
He didn’t follow the lifestyle that we’ve followed for generations.
When a child doesn’t “fit in,” it’s the father’s job to make sure the kid straightens up.
That didn’t happen with Jesus. To be frank, we’re still not sure who his father is. As he was growing up some kids would shout, “Hey Jesus, who’s your daddy?”
We’ve heard he’s done some miracles, but why isn’t he home raising a family?
He’s almost 30; he’s not married; he goes around with other men.
It makes you wonder.
He spends time with people who are better left alone. We don’t want our kids hanging out with him. He’d be a bad influence on young minds.
I remember when he came back to Nazareth after he’d been wandering around. He’d developed a reputation, but not one that I’d want a son of mine to have. Nevertheless, we didn’t ask him any embarrassing questions. We let him take a turn at reading the Bible as we gathered to worship. He picked a reading from the prophet Isaiah. It was about the Messiah – just a short reading. Then he sat down, the way rabbis do when they start their teaching.
We all looked at him. We didn’t know what to expect. He shocked us more than he’d ever done before. He actually claimed that he was anointed by God to bring good news. He was saying that he was the Messiah!
He certainly didn’t live or act like the real Messiah would. We were stunned! We just sat there. Someone threw down the challenge.
“If you’re the Messiah, do a miracle. Heal my sick mother; turn these rocks into bread, jump off that building without getting hurt.”
Things were getting nasty. Then Jesus made it worse.
He started talking about how God cared about and helped the unimportant people and the ones who are not part of our people – the ones who don’t follow our laws, who don’t believe what we do, who don’t have an acceptable lifestyle.
That did it! A riot started. We were ready to kill him! That would have been justified; however, in the turmoil, no one took charge. Jesus walked through the crowd and left.
We haven’t seen him since. We hope he stays away.
He’s not “our kind.” He’s not going to have a successful life.
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- What is your gut response to this narrative retelling? (shock, anger, intrigue, fear, relief, etc.)
- What sits well and what sits uneasy with you? Where do you sense these reactions are coming from?
- How is Jesus’ "coming out" in this narrative similar to (or a metaphor for) coming out as LGBTQ?
If you know other passages that could be read as “coming out” metaphors, or that speak of God’s inclusive love, please share them.
Luke 4:16-30 (NIV)
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
Note: Luke 4:18-19 is from Isaiah 61:1-2