“I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, …Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a woman in Zarephath in the region of Sidon” (Luke 4:25-26, NIV).
Jesus taught in the synagogue at Nazareth were He had been raised. There he read an Old Testament passage and declared to the people there that He himself was the fulfillment of that prophecy. While the people were amazed at His gracious words, they also had another deeper issue. Mark 6:1-6 reveals that while they were giving assent to his words and even admitting that He had performed miracles, their hearts were far from believing that He was the Chosen One of God.
They murmured “Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him.”Jesus could not do miracles there and he was amazed “because of their unbelief.”
Jesus strongly reprimanded them. “Surely you will quote this proverb to me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum. I tell you the truth,…”no prophet is accepted in his hometown”(Luke 4:23).
Boldly, Jesus reproves those Jews that were rejecting Him. This was not the first time they had denied a messenger of God. There were many widows in Israel during Elijah’s day but none were chosen because of their unbelief. One who lived outside the covenant and promises given to Israel housed the prophet because she had more faith than they did.
These were scandalous words to Jesus’ audience. With great rage they drove Him out of town and would have thrown Him off a cliff had he not used His power to simply walk through them. It was not time to kill Jesus. The Jewish offence would increase until they ultimately crucified Him. Unfortunately, only a handful of Israel would find faith in Him.
This event looked forward to the great time when the Gentiles would convert to God in faith while a majority of the Jews turned away.
Today we may find ourselves in a similar condition. Those who have long known Jesus may have grown cold only to find someone with less background more vibrant and faith-filled than they are. Our Western culture that has had Christianity and has largely rejected it may discover that people of other nations may be putting us to shame in their dedication to Christ, and also in receiving miracles because of their greater faith.
Will we find ourselves rejecting Christ, or being commended in faith like the widow of Elijah’s time?