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January 30 I Thursday

Exodus 23-24

Matthew 20:1-16

“‘Truly I tell you,’ He continued, ‘no prophet is accepted in his home town.’”    — Luke 4:24

 

A mother was giving instructions to her children as they walked into Sunday school. She asked them, “Why is it necessary to be quiet in church?” Her eldest son responded, “Because people are sleeping.” Contrary to that story, the people present at Jesus’s first preaching were far from sleeping. Their eyes were fixed upon Jesus after He finished reading on the Sabbath from Isaiah 61 at a synagogue in Nazareth. Then the crowd started questioning who He was.

Jesus referenced two Old Testament prophets, Elijah and Elisha, who were from the northern tribe of Israel to implicitly say that just as Elijah and Elisha were rejected by their generation, so too will He be rejected. The widow was a Gentile from modern day Lebanon. Naaman was a Syrian warrior, who was not only a Gentile but also an enemy of the people of God. Why did Jesus use these two as examples of faith? He could have used any example from the Old Testament including Jews, like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego or Moses, Joseph and even King David. Why did He use two Gentiles that He knew would infuriate the people listening to Him?

Jesus used these two examples to reveal their inability to fully satisfy God’s holy law. He knew that these examples would cut to the heart of His listeners.
Jesus was speaking to people He had known His whole life and they were so angry that they wanted to murder Him by throwing Him off the cliff that the town was built on.

We do not remain neutral to God’s Word when it hits the sore spot. We either harden our heart and want to rid the earth of Him or we become obedient and repent. In Timothy Keller’s book Preaching, he says, “A good sermon is not like a club that beats upon the will but like a sword that cuts to the heart.” Jesus did not preach to them what they wanted to hear, but He preached what they needed to hear. Jesus put His finger on their source of prejudice and revealed to the whole town of Nazareth their hypocrisy and hatred towards others who were different from them.

This is contrary to God’s command, who demonstrated enemy love through the widow and Naaman. God’s people are to demonstrate enemy love and forgiveness towards those who harm them as Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second [commandment] is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’”
(Mark 12:30-31). What is our heart condition towards others who are different from us?

 

Prayer: Lord God, soften my heart to love those who are different from me and forgive those who have harmed me. Help me to live a life that reflects Your glory. Thank You, Lord.


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