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" The Prophet's Honor "
- John 4 -

"..Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when He came into Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast.." (4:44-45)

Does this sound like a familiar statement by Jesus? We're not going to try to figure out how much time had elapsed. But it was Galilee, earlier, just after Jesus' temptation as He is beginning His ministry that He goes into His home-town of Nazareth and reads from Isaiah in the synagogue on the Sabbath, and reveals to the audience that He, Himself, Jesus, is the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-2. And as His hearers are in wonderment, recounting amongst themselves how He is only, merely the carpenter's son, essentially rejecting His claim because He is a nobody with "questionable" birth, He says, "No prophet is accepted in his own country." (Lk4:24) And as He chides them for seeking a sign, recounting O.T. examples of Israel's unbelief and how God rejected the unbelievers, they become riled up, haul Him out to the edge of town, and seek to throw Him over the edge of the cliff. (vs28-30) They understood clearly that "God does not hear sinners" (Jn9:31), and He did not "visit" unbelievers, but rather, sent His prophets to the poor and foreigners (widow of Zarapheth & Naaman the Syrian). However they (sniffingly) considered themselves to be the "elect"; but Jesus is categorizing them along with the rejected unbelievers of the O.T.!

That's the same kind of anger that unbelievers manifest in these days. Many seek after signs and wonders; and if a servant of God comes along labeling them as "unsaved", they become wrathfully angry with the messenger; because they consider themselves to be "born-again christians" belonging to such-n-such church, and having been spirit-filled, and know they are because they have the signs-and-wonders to 'prove' it. "And don't condemn something if you haven't experienced it!" (they say)

Well, now, Jesus has been away awhile; preaching here and there, and performing many miracles. So now, He comes back and it says that they "received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem" (vs45) He is now "famous".

What does it take to be seen as a prophet? When somebody grows up from childhood, the older ones who see such a person, in their heart-of-hearts look "down-upon" the person. After all, I changed his diapers when he was little. I babysat him. When he was running along, fell, and skinned up his knees, I was there to pick him up and put a bandaid on the booboo. And when a child grows to manhood, the adults will look at such a one with admiration and proclaim, "My, just look at the young man, how he has grown!" But within the consciousness of the adults is a bit of the thought, "He is a product of -our- community. WE RAISED HIM to be what he is. He is an extension of US!" So, if such a person has God's call upon their life, and begins to proclaim sin as sin, and to proclaim, "Thus says the Lord", stepping on -our- toes ... "Well, just who do you think you are! Have you forgotten who raised you? Have you forgotten who taught you X, Y & Z? You've become an adult, and now you suddenly think you're BETTER THAN US! All hoity toity!"

And indeed, the rejection is worst from "family". When VW began years ago, it was family members who immediately unsubscribed right and left, some, even, with retortful comments of their own spiritual superiority. As of right now, there is only one (1) relative who yet remains on the mailing list. But again, see how Jesus 'lived' what He preached? "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword" (Mt10:34), as He continues on to describe the 'family' conflicts when one STEPS OUT to follow Him.

Well, notice how Paul says to Timothy, "Let no one despise your youth." (1Tm4:12) When God called Jeremiah from his youth, He says, "Do not say, I am a youth; for you shall go to all to whom I shall send you" (Jer1:7) But, do we understand how it is tough for a young man, growing up, once attaining to adulthood, to have any respect from his elders.

Bush, Jr. didn't really have full respect from many quarters, following in his father's footsteps, until the national crisis came about, and he had opportunity to show his true colors. In a similar fashion, Jesus did not have the respect of His own countrymen until He had been away, making "a name for Himself".

But notice that, although they are receiving Him, He knows it is only because they have seen His miracles. He knew their true heart. When He had performed the "beginning of signs" (water-to-wine -2:11), and then went to Jerusalem, performing more signs, and people were "believing" in Him, He "did not commit Himself to them, because He...knew what was in man" (2:24-25) Is this the same incident as recorded in Mt13:54-58, where when He returns "home", and due to their "unbelief", He does not do much by way of ministry? They "receive" the home-town-boy back home, who has gained 'fame' in the world, but they are not believing with true faith. They are not yet accepting the fact of His Deity; let alone that He is a "prophet".(Lk24:19) Even His own immediate family, having been born of Mary, the one who "pondered all [those] things in her heart" (Lk2:19), after having had a personal angelic visit, did not believe in Him. (Jn7:5)

The nobleman's son is sick (vs46) and comes to Jesus, begging Him to heal his son. Jesus' response, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe" (vs48) Isn't this the case today? Certain ones with the label "christian" simply WILL NOT trust in Christ through Faith, but what they HAVE TO HAVE their "experiences" that they can see and touch. Remember earlier in the chapter we learned that God seeks the worship "in spirit and in truth". (4:24) Of the -heart-.

Notice the man, "Sir, come down before my child dies!" (vs49) I dare say that Jesus' retort was not only to the man, but also to the people observing the incident. Jesus gets their attention by retorting 'obnoxiously'.

But then He sets things up for both the man, and also the people. The man must respond to Jesus in faith. He had wanted Jesus to -physically- 'come' to heal his son. Jesus says, "Go your way; your son lives" (vs50) So now the man must "go" in faith, without Jesus tagging along with him in a large entourage. After all, he's "nobility"! Somewhat like when Abram "went out, not understanding where he was going" (Heb11:8) Like Naaman who was told to "go" and dip in the Jordan, where he had expected some sort of hokus-pokus, waving of the hand over the leprosy. (2Kg5:11) The man takes the first step towards faith in obedience, but what do you suppose that he might have been grumbling within himself (like Naaman did) that Jesus was rudely 'dismissing' him out-of-hand, and not paying him the attention (house-call) he thought he (and his position) deserved? But then, when he gets home and sees the son having been healed at the very moment Jesus had spoken the word, he "believes" (vs53)

So, what is the purpose of a "sign"? Is it for Believers? Thinking even logically... if a person is a True Believer, what 'need' is there for a sign? When God showed all His signs in Egypt, Pharaoh had retorted, "Who is Jehovah? ..nor will I let Israel go" (Ex5:2) And as Israel went into idolatry, the people came to Aaron with "..as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt.." (Ex32:1) They were not yet understanding that it was not Moses who was leading them, but God. They were in "unbelief". (Heb3:19)

Today, a segment of that which calls itself "church" has a doctrine that they come to God in "faith". But their faith is not enough. They must also have physical manifestations of signs and wonders to validate their faith. But you see, the very definition of "faith" is "..the certainty of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN." (Heb11:1) "..Jesus Christ. Whom having NOT SEEN you love." (1Pt1:7-8) Such a seeking of signs and wonders is actually a "fruit" (Mt7:16,20) of UNBELIEF! Am I pulling this out of 'thin air'? Notice Paul's words, "Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers" (1Cor14:22) You see, if you are of the bunch that seeks after signs and manifestations, by that very lusting, you are -proving- that you are an unbeliever. Did you get that? The very fact that you are seeking those signs/manifestations announces (even PROCLAIMS) to all creation that you are NOT a Christian. You are of the same spirit of Galilee that did "not honor" (4:44) Jesus Christ.

Notice that it says this healing was "..the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee" (4:54) The first sign was in "Cana of Galilee". (2:11) It was Nazareth, -Galilee- (Lk4) where their unbelief went so far as to try to throw Him over the cliff.

Yes, Jesus performed many "signs" to Israel. They, too, were unbelievers. "But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe into Him" (Jn12:37) But it is His own 'home' country where specific signs are labeled "signs". If anybody should have known Him, it should have been His own "home" land.

"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My fear? says Jehovah of Hosts" (Mal1:6)

You see, what Israel had done to the Father, they were 'now' doing to the Son. And eventually they would do as Jesus illustrated, "Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, They will respect (honor) my son. But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance." (Mt21:37-38)

Amen!

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