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Jesus Defines His Ministry

(Luke 4:16-30)

Lesson 6 -- first quarter 2001
January 7, 2001

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2000, Christian Light Publications

Alas for the home-grown prophet!

"No prophet is accepted in his own country," said the Master in today's lesson. This He said in immediate reference to Himself in response to the people's inability (or was it unwillingness?) to reconcile two facts: He spoke such gracious words, and He was a local boy.

We can have such a hard time accepting the teaching of those who are one of us. We even have a way of struggling with rejoicing in the spiritual success and prominence of one of our own. We may not necessarily despise and mistrust him, but we certainly cannot afford him the ear, honor and esteem that we with such ease grant the one from another congregation (preferably out of state). If he's of our congregation, he will most likely enjoy higher esteem from those in other congregations. Why are we that way?

Familiarity. We know the local one. We have seen and heard him during his low times. We know many of his weaknesses and have had to put up with his failures. We remember his immaturity, maybe even his youth or childhood. He is, after all, one of us. How can we possibly accept him in this "strange" role as a prophet?! We aren't always like that, of course, but it is a human tendency against which we must maintain our guard. Blessed is the congregation which can produce its own home-grown prophets and leaders!

Vulnerability. The local one knows us -- our low times, our weaknesses, our failures, our immaturity, and so forth. In a very direct sense, this makes us extra vulnerable to him and his prophetic voice. When he speaks, we can often be sure he knows exactly how it applies to us . . . and he knows that we know as well. We cannot pretend with him. So I still say, Blessed is that congregation which raises up its own home-grown prophets and leaders!

Mistrust. This factor is particularly unfortunate because it is magnified by the two preceding ones. Because we know him and his past as well as we do, we find it difficult to trust his spiritual gift and perception. And because we know he knows us just as well, we struggle with trusting that he isn't just trying to lord it over us or put us in our place.

So I plead with you, "to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves" (1 Thessalonians 5:12,13) . . . and don't hold the home-grown ones in lesser regard.

Do your ears itch?

We like to hear new teaching. We like to hear interesting teaching. We like to hear pleasant teaching. So did the people in Jesus' home town. They even marveled that He should have such gracious teaching. But they, like we too often, changed their opinions very quickly when the teaching and words found their mark in the hidden, vulnerable areas of their hearts. They had itching ears, wanting to be tickled and pleased, not open hearts, wanting righteousness above all else.

Of guilt, feathers and image....

In today's lesson, Jesus reveals His mission and the motivation behind it. That makes me ask, Why do we do the good we do? May it not be to ease our guilt, or add feathers to our cap, or enhance our image!

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