Without Honour #6

Monday, March 23, 2020

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house (Mark 6:4 KJV).

What valuable lesson can we learn from Nazareth—a moral the Nazarenes deliberately failed to learn?

The word “Nazareth” means “the despised place.” Its stigma is evident from John 1:45,46. Here, Jesus spent nearly all His childhood and adulthood until around age 30 (see Matthew 2:19-23). This entire time, Israel has been comfortable in having Gentile rulers govern them. Unfortunately, they do not want Him as their King! Apparently, even Nazareth—the very place where Israel has sent the “despised” Son of God to live out His first three decades—has no interest in Him. Leaving Nazareth, He travels south to be water baptized of John at the Jordan River. After His temptations, He moves north, returning to Galilee to start His earthly ministry. Leaving Capernaum, He comes back to Nazareth (delivering His synagogue sermon there in Luke chapter 4).

Situated on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, the fishing town of Capernaum featured a heavy Gentile population because of Israel’s Assyrian Captivity seven centuries earlier (cf. 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:24). It was home to a Roman garrison or fort, thus explaining the presence of a Gentile military commander (Matthew 8:5; Luke 7:1,2). The Nazarenes therefore took offense that Jesus ministered in Gentile Capernaum when He should have been “at home” among them “His family and friends” (Luke 4:23)! Yet, remember, Nazareth had treated Him with such disrespect for all the years previous. Verse 24, “And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country” (cf. today’s Scripture).

Recall our earlier comments about the Prophets Elijah and Elisha who lived many centuries earlier. Using Luke 4:25-27, its context, and the pertinent Old Testament quotes, we can infer these spokesmen of God were rejected of apostate Israel (unbelievers). God therefore guided them to minister amongst Gentiles (who were ready to believe Him!). Likewise, the Lord Jesus Himself was “without honour” among His own people. As the old adage says, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Extensive but unappreciated exposure to the truth is more damning than contact with error….

Without Honour #5

Sunday, March 22, 2020

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house (Mark 6:4 KJV).

What valuable lesson can we learn from Nazareth—a moral the Nazarenes deliberately failed to learn?

Read Luke 4:14,15: “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.” Then, He travels to and preaches in the synagogue of Nazareth (verses 16ff.). In light of verse 23, we understand that He ministered in Capernaum before preaching here in Nazareth. He apparently performed miracles in Capernaum, but not Nazareth.

Answering the Nazarenes when they would whine about this “unfairness,” Jesus skillfully selected two Old Testament passages (see Luke 4:23-27). Firstly, He reminds them of the Prophet Elijah’s ministry to the Sidonian/Gentile widow woman (1 Kings 17:8-24). Secondly, He has His audience recall the Prophet Elisha’s ministry to the Syrian/Gentile military man called Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-14). Now, watch how Nazareth replies to Jesus’ final comments.

Back to Luke chapter 4: “[28] And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, [29] And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. [30] But he passing through the midst of them went his way, [31] And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.” The people in Nazareth did not warmly receive Jesus’ sermon, did they? Actually, they were ready to murder (!!) Him by throwing Him headfirst off a cliff! Why?

Think critically of all we have discussed thus far. Elijah and Elisha were performing miracles—not among Israelites—but among Gentiles. Many widow women were in Israel, but Elijah ministered to a non-Jewish widow woman in Sidon. Why? Also, numerous lepers were in Israel, yet Elisha ministered to a non-Jewish leper of Syria. Why? God exposes Israel’s apostasy, her unbelief, by working with these Gentiles. So it is during Christ’s earthly ministry, and the Nazarenes are convicted….

Death in the Pot!

Friday, August 24, 2018

So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot (2 Kings 4:40 KJV).

Why is there “death in the pot?” What is the remedy?

“[38] And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth [famine] in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets. [39] And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage: for they knew them not. [40] So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof.”

Elisha, God’s prophet, instructed his servant to boil a soup for the sons of the prophets. One “son” scouted and unwittingly collected gourds from “a wild vine.” He tossed them into the pot without their knowledge. Later, the men realized they were eating toxic food! Verse 41 continues, “But [Elisha] said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot.” Elisha had them bring “meal” (flour), which he threw into the soup to make it harmless. Strange! What is being communicated by this miracle?

Israel is called God’s “vine” (Isaiah 5:7; Psalm 80:8); in contrast, the wild vine is sinful, man’s efforts (note the “wild grapes” of Isaiah 5:2). Human works corrupt God’s work. However, when God’s Word is added, the evil is overcome. Scripture is likened unto bread, flour (Matthew 4:4). God’s Word can transform sinful (spiritually deadly) Israel into a blessing! “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:27). Israel has a glorious hope indeed! 🙂