Launching Out, Part 2
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; [H] with you I am well pleased.” 12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news[I] of God,[J] 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; [K] repent, and believe in the good news.”–Mark 1:9-15a | NRSV
I left home at 18 years of age. I was not put out nor did I run away. Quite the contrary, I left with my family’s blessings. What’s more, I left for Morehouse College in August of 1984 with the intention of never returning to live under my parents roof again. I never moved back, except a couple of times during summer breaks, to the Bay Area, which is where all of my immediate family lived at the time and where a few of them still live. It was an unspoken, yet very real, familial expectation that I would make my way into the world. As a young man from the Brown-Trufant clan, I was expected to evidence self-sufficiency, home-training, and self-discipline. At least, that was the familial message which I internalized prior to leaving home and which informed most of the life-making decisions I made.
According to the Luke, one of the spiritual biographers of Jesus, Jesus was about thirty (see Luke 3:23) when he left home. No one is completely sure why he left home. However, some scholars have suggested that he experienced a spiritual awakening, which was either triggered by or—at the very least–coincided with the revival movement John the Baptist began out in the wilderness of Judea. John invited his fellow citizens and believers to join his new God movement, through personal repentance and the public ritual of baptism, a ritual which had previously been reserved only for non-Jewish converts to Judaism. Jesus responds to the invitation, submits to baptism, and receive a call to ministry. After this, he spends forty days out in the wilderness clarifying his sense of call as he wrestled with the devils repeated overtures to do things his way, not God’s. Concluding this period, he discovers John, his cousin, has been imprisoned by King Herod, which Jesus takes as his signal to start the ministry and mission God has given him.
To do all of this, Jesus had to leave his mother in the care of his brothers and sisters, distancing himself from his childhood home, Nazareth, and the family business, which he inherited from his adoptive father Joseph. Jesus, by doing this, swam against the current of familial expectations and cultural traditions. He was clear that his calling would take him well being home, a fact with which had grown increasingly comfortable over time. In fact, he resists his mother and brother’s attempt to take him back to the familiarity and safety of Nazareth, when they caught wind of the fact that he was running afoul of the powers that be in Jerusalem, namely, the Pharisees and Scribes (see Mark 3:22-35). And, he only returns to home once, with the hopes of blessing his hometown in the miraculous ways he had blessed others. However, his visit home was one of his most frustrating and unsuccessful attempts to convert people to the kingdom to date (see Mark 6:1-6). To be the prophet, priest, and king God called him to be, Jesus had to leave home.
How old were you when you left home? When you broke the news you were leaving, how did you parent’s take it? Name two or three ways leaving home help you grew up as person and go forward as professional. How did leaving home change your relationship with Jesus? Are you barrier or a bride to people discovering and fulfilling their God-given destiny? In which ways might you need to make adjustments in your perspectives and practices so that you can be more of a bridge and less of a barrier? For whom should you start praying because he is still living according to other expectations of others rather than God’s?