But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in His own hometown. “Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”Luke 4:24-27
This passage leads to some interesting questions but we will concentrate on two only:
Why is a prophet not accepted in his hometown?
The answer to this is found in the verses above. Those we know and are most familiar with, we find hard to accept they could become someone special in God hands. After all we know them, we grew up with them. We know their weaknesses, we know their foibles. We know their sins and we know their past mistakes. This becomes a barrier to accepting what it is they have to say. The closer the nature of the relationship the harder it is to accept that maybe, just maybe, God might be speaking through that person we know and love. Those of our family are hardest to convince maybe God has given us a Word or a task or assignment. The main reason is because they know all about us. They are not fooled by the masks we might wear in public. They see us at our best but they also see us at our worst. Thus when we come out with a “Thus sayeth the Lord . . . “, those who know the prophet are more prone to question it and wonder where they got “that” from. How could one who does what they know we do, or who has the habits we know we have, dare to think they might be speaking on the LORD’s behalf? It seems incredible to think that the little boy we knew playing on the floor of the carpenter’s house in the wood chips and shavings carving a model out of scrap wood could turn into the Messiah. Or even a prophet of the nature of the famous Old Testament prophets who spoke the Word of the Lord to Israel. How could that be? Somehow the mismatch of God speaking through frail human flesh is an anathema.
Well get over it and get used to it. Because that is indeed the way God speaks. God deems to use the weak things to confound the strong, the foolish to leave the wise without a word to say because He has shared His wisdom with the one least likely to be thought to come up with anything deep. God likes to surprise us with treasure hidden in jars of clay, so that this all surpassing power might be seen to be from God and not from us (2 Cor 4:7). Isn’t it interesting that when His spiritual gifts are manifest or put on display, we humans immediately give praise to the one who is so gifted. The fantastic preacher, the one who comes with a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom or prophecy. But hang on a moment and consider we are not seeing the real source of the “word” but rather we give praise to the vessel, the clay jar, the conduit through which it came. Isn’t that a little foolish? Haven’t we got our perspective a little skewed. Then when the vessel messes up and returns to being like they are, or returns to habitual patterns of behaviour that is them, we criticize God for the aberration. Also foolish. Don’t throw out potential prophets just because you know how they usually act or behave and this prophet mode is something that is “not them”. Learn to leave room for God to work through human beings.
Why does Luke use Elijah and Elisha as examples? Examples of what?
With every word picture or example chosen to teach us we need to learn to look for the point of comparison. There are multiple facets to the analogy or the metaphor or the example. Which particular facet is in focus in the example before us. Not long ago in Deeper Bible I demonstrated to the participants that when the Bible writers use “sheep” in Scripture to illustrate something we need to know which aspect of the characteristic or feature of sheep is in focus in the particular example we are dealing with. When we do that we get the point of what the writer or speaker is saying when they use sheep as the example. The same is true in this case of the use of Elijah and Elisha as examples. If I read the commentaries many of the commentators talk about the demonstration of God’s power that was seen in Elijah or Elisha ministry. They were known to be mighty prophets who showed the people of their day the manifestation of the power of God. That is true, and of course the manifestation of God’s power is what we expect from a prophet. This what the people are asking of Jesus, “Demonstrate your miracles if you are prophet”. But is that really why Jesus or Luke chose Elijah or Elisha in this context. I don’t think so. I say Jesus or Luke because while it is clear it is Jesus who said it in the first place, it may be Luke who is choosing to place it in this pericope in this example before us. That is plucking the Jesus saying from a different context and placing it here to teach us something. Or from a wider perspective for God to teach us something.
Isn’t the point here spelled out for us that Elisha was sent to a foreigner? God will often send His prophets to a people not their own. God may not always use His prophets in their own backyard because the people around them are apt to spurn what they have to say, unable to get past the fact that they know this prophet so well”. We then, as the people in Nazareth, tend to want proof of our credentials as a prophet of the Lord or our right to say what we are saying as prophets. Their personal knowledge of us gets in the way of what we are saying as a prophet. Isn’t that the point here with the use of Elijah and Elisha as examples? I am convinced it is because that feature of each prophet’s track record is spelled out in these verses. Luke records for us that Jesus said “No prophet is accepted in his hometown.” Then effectively He said or Luke arranged the material to say “it was like that with Elijah and Elisha.” Do you see they were not sent by God to their home town: Elijah was sent to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath, a Sidonite; Elisha was sent to Naaman, a Syrian even though there were lots of lepers in Israel at the time.
God doesn’t send prophets to their home towns because He knows what the hometown response is likely to be. But in this case Messiah has to go to the people of His hometown because there is only One Messiah and because the people of Nazareth have to realize it is their Yeshua who is indeed the Messiah. Get over it people and learn to accept instruction from your own home grown prophet.
Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.Anon
It’s easy to give people what they deserve, but it’s a privilege to give them mercy.Joyce Meyer
True success can never be measured by the outer appearance; true success is more a matter of the inner self and character!Anon
Talent is what God gives to each of us; A good character is what we give back to our God.Jeffrey Rachmat
Reputation is the photograph, character is the face.Jussar Badudu
Talent [gifts and abilities] can take you to heights where only character can sustain you.A R Bernard