Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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January 25 – The Prophet In His Hometown

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to Me this proverb, “Physician, heal Yourself.” What we have heard You did at Capernaum, do here in Your hometown as well.’  And He said, ‘Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.  But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.  And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.'”   Luke 4:23-27

Devotional Thought For The Day

This is from the Gospel Lesson appointed for this Sunday.  Things started out so well for Jesus, when He returned to Nazareth, read the Messianic promises from Isaiah and pronounced them fulfilled in Himself.  At first the people “marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth.”  However, following these observations of Jesus, they “were filled with wrath and they rose up and drove Him out of the town and brought Him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw Him down the cliff.”  From acclamation to intended murder victim in just a few short sentences!  What got them so riled up that they immediately fulfilled exactly what He had just spoken to them about a prophet in his hometown?

The dynamic is more than just “familiarity breeds contempt,” although I’m certain that as we come to “know” our “prophet” and become aware that he is a human being with an abundance of faults and shortcomings it becomes harder to believe the wondrous things that God is working in him and through him for our great benefit. However, we might want to consider some of the weak and failing human beings that God used to accomplish great things in the record of Holy Scripture – like Moses, Samson, David, Solomon, Jonah, Peter, and Paul.  There is also the matter of pride and power – the turf we stake claim to, in regard to which we refuse to cede any prerogatives to anyone, even if God has sent him [and perhaps not even to Jesus].  Then there is also pure selfishness – our view that the “prophet” is only worth the good that he brings to us; if he will not perform the miracles he did elsewhere, or that other prophets are doing, we’ll just have to run him out of town.

We often focus on the miracles of Jesus, and those of the prophets and apostles, and wish that such miracles were commonplace today within the church.  We may even wish [or demand] that our “prophets” prove themselves with miracles and marvelous works. However, as the words of Jesus indicate [and a careful reading of His own ministry and the rest of the Bible reveal], such miracles were never commonplace but rather quite rare. Most of the time the prophets and apostles, and even Jesus, appeared rather common and unremarkable – so that these people in Nazareth concluded that Jesus was nothing special and that they could and should just run him out of town.  Others later on decided to crucify Him.  Most of the time the prophets and apostles of God were just preaching and teaching the Word of God – and God the Holy Spirit was working the miracles of faith and newness of life in those who heard and learned, although very few people recognize just how blessed and miraculous this work is.  And it is no different with the “prophets” Christ sends into His church, to build it, to this day.

I guess it is important for prophets to understand these dynamics, and to be willing to accept them, and their lot in life.  They are in good company, following in the footsteps of Jesus and other servants of God’s Word.  All pastors experience this same thing.  It is also important for believers in Jesus, followers of God, to be aware of these sinful propensities, and to not follow the example of these Nazarenes.  If only we could come to properly appreciate the wonder of God’s Word perhaps we would more properly value the ministry of the one who serves God by bringing that Word to us.  If we understand our own sinfulness we can better see the miraculous nature of any good that is worked within us and through us. Perhaps this would satisfy both our desire for witnessing the “miraculous” and also our need to see the proven value of our prophet.  And recognizing God’s work being done, we might not be so determined to hold on to the power and prerogatives that we mistakenly claim as our own.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the wisdom of Your teaching, for Your unfailing love for fallen and sinful mankind, for Your suffering and death on the cross to redeem us and bring us back to the Father.  Thank You also for the prophets You send to us today as Your servants, who build the church by preaching and teaching Your Word. Grant them strength and constancy, and enable us to properly see and value what they do.  Amen.