Stories Jesus told with women in them
The widow of Zarephath (Luke 4:25-26)
There’s a lot to this episode in Jesus’ life. He is, after all, Almighty God of the Universe.
- Jesus has the true divine nature: before there was anything, Jesus was with God, a distinct person in the Godhead, and also was God. The author of Hebrews described Jesus as “the radiance of the glory of God,” the visible aspect of God. But He’s not just an image or a reflection of God, that passage in Hebrews goes on to say that Jesus is “the exact imprint of God’s nature,” “He is the image of the invisible God,” Jesus is the absolutely authentic representation of God’s being.
- The apostle Paul reported that God says all of His fullness—the totality of God’s powers and attributes—rests in Jesus. It’s really quite stupendous. “In Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
- It had always been God’s plan to “reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven,by making peace through Jesus’ blood,shed on the cross.”
- God actually upholds the universe by the Word of His power, Jesus. Jesus actively holds all things together!
And Jesus was now saying, in the way He had just read the text from Isaiah’s scroll, that He, as God, entered from eternity into the world not to judge it but to save it.
Here’s what we know today, and what the people of that day would come to know just two years from that event: The Father and the Son are equal in being, yet in the plan of redemption, at a specific moment in earth’s history, The Son of God took a human form, becoming the man we know as Jesus Christ. In that way, the Son subordinated Himself to the Father for a time, a willing subordination that in no way implies inferiority, and would act as both demonstration to humankind of the right relationship of people with God, and would win salvation for people.
Jesus has a true human nature that is perfectly united with His divine nature. Jesus’ human nature had the limitations of normal humanity, except He was completely without sin. As a man He humbled Himself by becoming perfectly obedient to the Father, even to the point of death on the cross for the sake of our salvation.
Jesus’ death and resurrection have changed everything. The work of redemption is complete. Jesus now remains the unique God-man forever—fully God and fully man, exalted, with authority over every authority, “King of kings, and Lord of lords.”
That’s Who was talking to these people in the synagogue in Nazareth. Not just the son of a blue collar worker, with perhaps a skeleton in the family closet about a pregnant bride hastily married.
So how in the world could a nice, home-town, worship group turn into a frothing-at-the-mouth lynch mob?
Because Jesus told them they didn’t have any faith. Sitting in their pews, in their Sabbath best, listening to a nice passage from scripture, like they did every Sabbath. Good, upstanding citizens. Who had better faith than them? A raggedy WIDOW? From SIDON?! (Ergo, not even a little Jewish, but actually what is today Lebanon). Who had better faith than them? A filthy LEPER? From SYRIA?
The leper’s story is an excellent one, and I hope you read it sometime. It wasn’t going to be the last occasion Jesus would hold up Gentiles as the best examples of faith in God. But it’s the widow’s story that holds my interest. Jesus often spoke of widows’ faith because they had so few resources apart from God. Literally, widows often lived on the razor’s edge between life and death, from day to day, trying to scrabble for some kind of living without any recourse in a patriarchal society that considered widows burdensome detritus.
I hope you read her story before the next blog, when we’ll take a closer look.