Thursday, March 1, 2007

Late-night Bible meditation

22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?
23 And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, [a city] of Sidon, unto a woman [that was] a widow.
27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.
28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
(Lk.4:22-28 KJVS)

I read this first in the NIV, but it’s not a huge difference. There are two things that strike me about this passage…

1) The way the mind-set of the people in the synagogue quickly changes. Contrast verses 22 (“all bare him witness) and 28 (“all…were filled with wrath). They admire Christ’s pleasant words (“good news”) and anticipate receiving the miracles that He had poured out on other places, but when He begins to rebuke them, their attitude turns sour. They are not able to humble themselves and receive His word.

2) Christ describes how His ministry has started among His own people but suggests that it will move to Others. Besides this being a fulfillment of prophecy, how can this be applied to our witness as Christians? I find Elijah’s example interesting in that he was called to go out and serve, rather than simply serve the needy in close proximity to him. I don’t see this as a command for us but rather one of the mysterious ways in which God works. And as a missionary it is comforting. Why did God call me to Russia? Is it a mistake? I had plenty of opportunities in my own country. It doesn’t make sense that God would call a person to serve one person far away rather than to serve many close by. It’s not efficient. But sometimes it’s in the Plan. We begin with serving in the obvious and practical ways, and God may lead us down a different path. Or not.

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