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What Do A Military Commander 
And A Poor Widow
Have In Common?

What do a military commander and a poor widow have in common?  More than you might think.  Jesus linked them together, and those who heard Jesus speak were furious with Him and wanted to kill Him.

“I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.  And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”  All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. Luke 4:25-28, NIV

If you are unfamiliar with these two stories, take a few minutes and read them in 1 Kings 17:9-16 and 2 Kings 5:1-14.

Bible in Forest With Sunlight

Let’s compare these two people Jesus talked about and infuriated His audience.

1.  They Were Both foreigners.

Poor Widow

Neither Naaman [the army general] nor the widow were Israelites.  They belonged to foreign nations.  In the case of Naaman, he actually raided [or approved of the raids] Israelite towns and captured their citizens.  

This was a major part of what made the Jews angry with Jesus.  Jesus was bringing up historical details that they wanted to ignore.  They did not want to think God would care for or help non-Jews.  The Jews would have been happy with our woke generation, which wants to rewrite history for their convenience and ideals.  Right after this, they tried to murder Jesus.  Those who do not want the Truth will do everything they can to silence it, including murdering the messengers.  Truth cannot be stopped!

Interestingly, the only people whom Jesus complimented on having great faith were non-Jews.  He was often amazed by His disciple’s lack of faith.  We can lose the awe and wonder of our faith by getting locked into routine, familiarity and preconceived ideas.  Sometimes, we need to step back and look at the majesty and glory of God with fresh eyes.

2.  Neither One Was Seeking God

This is surprising, but it is true.  Neither of these two people was trying to find God.  They were hopelessly trying to find solutions to their problems until God intervened.  

If we take a moment to think about this, we will discover how often we fall into the same error as the Jews who were furious at Jesus.  They thought they were God’s special people; they felt they had a unique claim on Him, and they thought everyone else was a second class at best.  

The Bible is plain: None of us were seeking God.  We were all going our own way, trying to solve our own impossible problems or sinking into the pit of despair.  Then God called us and brought us to salvation.  We didn’t deserve it, and God owes us nothing.  It is all from His grace and mercy.  We deserve nothing but damnation.  This is the death stroke on human pride and infuriates the self-righteous.

3.  They Were Humble.

Both Naaman and the widow were humble.  Naaman, like many of us, did not start that way.  He was proud, and in his pride, he almost missed the miracle God had for him.  Fortunately for him, he was talked into taking the humble position.  

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  Mark 10:43-44, NIV

The Kingdom of God is the reverse of the Kingdom of man.  True power and authority are a byproduct of service.  Those who make power their primary goal will never find it.  They may bully themselves to the top of the world for a while, but they will fight a losing battle to maintain it.  In the Kingdom of God, only true servants succeed in His eyes.  If we are to receive anything from God, we must let go of our pride and serve from our heart.

4.  They Had Faith.

This poor widow took the last scrap of food she and her son had and gave it to Elijah because he promised that God would provide for her if she did.  That took faith.  She believed in the Word of God and acted on it.  Naaman did not doubt that God could heal him.  Faith wasn’t his problem; he just wanted it on his terms.  God does not bend to the will of man; man must bow before God.

5.  They Were Obedient.

They were obedient.  This poor widow was struggling to make one last meal for her son and herself before she expected them to starve to death, but instead, she obeyed and gave all she had to the prophet.  Naaman had to put his pride aside and dip in the dirty river Jordan.  Neither action made sense from a human perspective.  But they had the word of God, and they were obedient.

Many things in the Word of God don’t make sense to our natural mind.  Does tithing make sense?  Does ruling through serving make sense?  Does the Cross make sense?  The question is not whether we understand it but whether we will obey it. 

6.  They Received A Miracle.

Open Door

They both received a miracle because of their humble obedience to the Word of God.  The widow and her son were fed throughout the famine, and Naaman was healed of leprosy.  God is not a convenience store where we walk in and demand what we want, although He will graciously hear our requests.  In mercy and grace, Jesus opens doors for us.  Will we respond, or in pride, go our own way?

What door is Jesus opening for you right now?  Will you, in humble, obedient faith, walk through it?  If you are not a Christian, Jesus is inviting you into His Kingdom, into a new world, a new way of doing things, a new life.  Will you lay down your pride and accept His gracious offer by confessing your sin and asking Him to be your Lord and Saviour, or will you continue on to a dark destiny?

We can learn a lot from these two people that Jesus brought together in His hometown sermon.


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