Luke 4:24-30 English Standard Version (ESV)
24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 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, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers[a]in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 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. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.
Sometimes we resist help from those that are close to us. It’s a very human reaction to elevate our perceptions of people we don’t know, so much so, business consultants even have a saying for this: The expert from afar syndrome. Often a consultant’s presentation will be more well-received than one given by a leader internal to a company, even using the same facts, conclusions and suggested strategy.
In this reflection for Lent today, we observe in our scripture passage that there has been a terrible famine lasting three and half years. There was obviously great need and many widows as a result of this famine. Yet, we read Elijah was only sent to Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
And this passage tells us there was another situation in the time of Elisha with Israel that mirrors what happened earlier with Elijah. This second reference involves a multitude of lepers in Israel and only one was cleansed, Naaman from Syria.
Upon hearing these two stories, all of the people listening were filled with rage and threatened to push Jesus off of a cliff. This is interesting since earlier they had been enthralled with Jesus teaching.
Why were they filled with so much rage?
Part of the answer can be found when we understand that BOTH of these miracles we read about were for outsiders, to people not of their own. (the emphasis above is mine)
No doubt there was a certain pride associated with being a chosen people. But, many of Jesus’ parables expose the blindness this pride creates. It’s an ongoing problem Jesus always addresses head on because he knows how our pride causes us miss out on our original vocation of being co-stewards with Him and serving others through the giving of ourselves. We can be so consumed by being in the “in crowd” we miss the obvious needs of those who are outside of that circle. We can be so consumed by finding ourselves we never give ourselves away.
We can be so consumed with being seen we miss seeing Jesus.
We often miss Jesus standing right in front of us.
Are there areas in your life where you identify so fully with a group, or perhaps a way of thinking about things, that you are missing Jesus in your midst?
Are there people in need within your circle of influence that you would be shocked to see Jesus coming to first instead of you?
What would be required for you to go these people now?