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….

Holy Land to Go

Monday, April 21, 2014

And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD” (2 Kings 5:17 KJV).

What valuable lesson did Naaman learn before he desired to have some Holy Land “to go?”

Captain of the Syrian army, Naaman (a Gentile, non-Jew), is “a mighty man in valour [courage, heroism]” and “a leper” (suffering from a skin disease) (verse 1). When Naaman hears of a prophet (Elisha) in Israel who can heal him of his disease, the king of Syria permits Naaman to visit the land of Israel (verses 2-9). Naaman arrives at Elisha’s home to hear some rather strange advice: he is to wash in the (filthy) Jordan River seven times and be healed of JEHOVAH (verses 10,11). Naaman questions, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage” (verse 12). Upset and disappointed, Naaman refuses to go to Jordan.

A servant of Naaman reasons with him, encouraging him to obey God’s Word through Elisha (verse 13). Naaman finally goes to the Jordan River, still thinking Israel’s God is quite bizarre. “Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (verse 14).

Naaman, utterly shocked, returns to give Elisha a gift, but the prophet refuses (verses 15,16). Representative of the few Gentiles who have faith in Israel’s God, Naaman confesses, “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.” Earlier, recall that Naaman said Syria’s rivers were better than all of Israel’s bodies of waters (verse 12). After his healing, Naaman recognized JEHOVAH, Israel’s God, was the one true God (today’s Scripture). He learned that the land of Israel was unique because the God of Israel was incomparable. In fact, he asked if he could take two loads of Israel’s holy soil back home to Syria!