“Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” (1 Kings 17:9 ESV)

Leslie M John

“And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’” (Luke 4:23 ESV)

As Jesus was reading in Synagogue in his hometown, Nazareth, a prophecy recorded in Isaiah 61:1-2 about Him that the Father anointed Him to preach the Gospel, and proclaim it to the poor that He was sent to proclaim liberty to the captives, recovering sight to the blind, and to set liberty to those who are oppressed, Jews in Synagogue wondered if He was not a mere son of a carpenter in their locality.

Jesus did fewer miracles in His hometown than in surrounding regions, like in Capernaum and around Sea of Galilee.  Jews in His hometown Nazareth tried to insult Him and demanded proof of His power. Lord Jesus did not yield to their demands and challenges; rather He desired that they believe in Him. No wonder, the Lord said to them that a prophet has no honor in his hometown. 

Their point was that Jesus was not Messiah and He would not be able to do any good to them. It was as if saying to a sick doctor to heal himself before healing others. Their point was that Jesus was claiming Himself as their savior, when He cannot save Himself.  It is as if a doctor who is suffering from fever advising patient to be careful. It is like a dermatologist suffering from skin disease advising his patient to take care of himself. 

Lord Jesus suffered insults not only in His hometown or on various other few occasions, but even at the cross, when He was breathing His last, on our behalf.

“And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross! So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself” (Mark 15:29-31 ESV)

When Jews tried to demean Lord Jesus considering Him as a mere man rather than acknowledging Him as the Messiah promised to come to rescue them, the Lord said He was fulfilling the prophecies about Him and they would soon use, without any doubt, a derogatory phrase, “Physician heal yourself” against Him. It is a derogatory phrase generally used in the days of Lord Jesus.  He said people would use, without any doubt, that derogatory term against Him. As he was not respected as their Messiah, He asserted that “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown” (Luke 4:24 ESV)

Lord Jesus brought to their notice how in Elijah’s times, the prophet was sent to a widow in Zarephath to save her and her son even though there was several widows were in that region.

“Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” (1 Kings 17:9 ESV)

The town of ZAREPHATH, a Gentile region, was known in Greek as ”SAREPTA”, which was located in the southern province of Sidon, named after Sidon son of Canaan (cf. Genesis 10:15).  The heaven was shut up for three years and six months as a consequence of Prayer from Elijah, because of the idolatry King Ahab and his wife Jezebel forced into the lives of the children of Israel.

The Lord also cited as to how a Gentile from Syria, Namaan, who was a leper was chosen by God for cleansing him from his disease even though there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet.

The LORD chose to save the gentile woman and her son because His own people rejected Him.  Not only in the New Testament the LORD gave first priority to the children of Israel but in the Old Testament period also God’s dealing was similar.

The blessings and covenants belonged to Israel and God chose them as a nation and His own people.  However, He also had consideration toward the Gentiles; otherwise, the people of Nineveh would have perished, except for their repentance. 

Jonah was angry with the LORD when Nineveh was saved and the LORD taught Jonah a lesson for getting angry with Him.

”And the LORD said, ‘You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?’ ” (Jonah 4:10-11 ESV)

The children of Israel, the LORD’s own people went after idols to serve other gods contrary to the first two commandments of the Ten Commandments. The LORD always chose to give first chance to the children of Israel to be saved but then when they rejected salvation was sent to the Gentiles.

The famine that followed the shutting of heaven from raining was very severe and the brook from which Elijah drank water dried and the LORD said to Elijah to move to another place, which was Zarephath.  From this incident it is evident that when a purpose of God is fulfilled at a place, He will remove His servant from that place or He will end the ministry or life of His servant. 

In obedience to the word of the LORD Elijah went to “Zarephath”, where he saw a widow gathering sticks at the gate of the city. He said to her to fetch little water to drink and as she was about to fetch water for him he said to her to bring a morsel of bread. 

The widow swore by the LORD and said, except for handful of meal in a jar and little oil in a jug, she does not have bread, and the reason why she was gathering sticks was that she was going to cook little food for her son and her that they may eat and later die of starvation.

Elijah comforted her that she should cast away her fear and make little cake of it first for him and bring it to him, and afterward make something for her and her son. He assured her that God of Israel will neither allow the flour in the jar to exhaust nor will he allow the jug to be empty of oil.

The widow obeyed as Elijah in faith and her faith brought great results for her and her son. She and her son, and her household ate from that flour from the jar and the oil from that jug for many days.  The jar of flour did not exhaust nor did the jug of oil become empty according the word of the LORD that Elijah spoke to her. (cf. 1 Kings 17:8-16)

The speech of Jesus enraged the listeners who thrust him out the city and led him to the peak of the hill to throw him down but He being divine walked out of their midst his way safe. 

Lord Jesus died on behalf of us in due time that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (cf. Luke 4:24-30; Romans 5:6; Romans 10:9; John 3:16). Confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in heart that God raised Him from the dead to be saved from damnation (Cf. Romans 10:9)

Salvation to Gentiles  SALVATION TO GENTILES

Apostle Paul explains in Romans 11th Chapter elaborately God’s provisions and His plan for the salvation of Gentiles. He writes that it was not because of Israel’s stumbling or because they were stumbling blocks to any body that their eyes were blinded; that their ears were hard on hearing. They fell short of understanding Messiah, and believed that they need to do something for their salvation. They always insisted that because God had done some good for them they also need to do some good for God as recompense. They think that they owe to God some obligation.

It is because of their misunderstanding, and rejection of Jesus as their Messiah that salvation is come unto the Gentiles The Gentiles are partakers of the root and fatness of the natural olive tree. Therefore, he says, Gentiles should not be of high-minded, but fear.

The branches of the natural olive tree were broken off by God himself, because of their unbelief, and the Gentiles, who were like wild olive trees have, now, the sap and blessings from the root of the natural olive tree. If Gentiles were to be high-minded and take pride in themselves or their own merits, God will not hesitate to chastise them. If God did not spare the natural branches of the olive tree would he tolerate the grafted olive tree; never!