A Great Prophet Has Arisen

15 Dec

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With the raising of the dead son of the widow of Nain, great fear came upon all the people and they began to spread the news, saying “a great prophet has arisen” among them. Just as the raising of the woman’s son in 1Kings 17:23 proved to the widow of Zarephath that Elijah was a prophet, and God spoke through him, when the crowd who followed Jesus witnessed what he had done, they and the people of Nain began spreading the news that Jesus was a great prophet of God (Luke 7:16-17). While Jesus didn’t entrust himself to men (cf. John 2:23-24), he did use men to spread his fame throughout the land of the Jews through the miracles he did. News of him spread out from Capernaum (Luke 4:37), and he took advantage of the Jewish festivals when visitors would be present from all the neighboring regions (Luke 5:15, 17; 6:17-18). In the case of the people of Nain and the crowd who followed Jesus there, they would spread the news back to Jerusalem (Luke 7:17) when they would go to Jerusalem to celebrate the next Jewish festival (cf. John 5).

So, Jesus’ first year of public ministry ended with John the Baptist’s imprisonment and Jesus having to escape the long arm of the Jewish authorities, by fleeing through Samaria to the safety of Galilee (cf. John 3:24; Matthew 4:12; John 4:1, 3), where the people didn’t take him so seriously as a prophet (Luke 4:24; cf. John 3:2; 4:43-44). While in Galilee, Jesus began the second year of his public ministry by demonstrating his authority over life (Luke 7:2-10) and death (Luke 7:11-15). Such astonishing miracles moved the people to declare Jesus a great prophet. Moreover, not only did they spread the news of his fame throughout the region of Galilee, but they went before Jesus to spread his fame to Jerusalem (Luke 7:16-17), when he returned to Judea, probably at the Feast of Hanukkah, during the winter of that year (cf. John 5:1).

It seems evident that Luke is comparing Jesus and what he did for the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-15) with Elijah and what he did for the widow of Zarephath (1Kings 17:9-24). It was said of Elijah, the Tishbite, that for the first year (1Kings 17:7)[1] of the 3 ½ year drought (cf. Luke 4:25) he was supported by the ravens whom God called (1Kings 17:4), and Jesus first year of ministry seems to have been supported by the disciples themselves, (cf. Mark 1:13). However, from about the time of the second year of the drought to its end, Elijah was supported by the widow of Zarephath (1Kings 17:9, 14), and Luke seems to tells us that from about the time of the beginning of Jesus second year of public ministry, devout women of means supported both him and his disciples for the duration of his public ministry (cf. Luke 8:2-3).

It is further seen in the whole of the ministry of Elijah, the first and greatest prophet of the Old Testament, was conducted to combat the effects of the false prophets, which culminated in a showdown between him alone against 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of groves (1Kings 18:19). It seems that Luke shows from the very beginning of Jesus ministry, that it was the Jewish authorities, especially the Pharisees and the chief priests of Jerusalem, who stood against Jesus and sought to kill him. And, indeed, his ministry ended in a showdown between Jesus alone and the many Jewish authorities at Jerusalem.

It was the Jewish rulers at Jerusalem who took Jesus’ activity most seriously, and from the very beginning sought to get rid of him. Just as the king saw Elijah, the greatest of all prophets in the Old Testament, as the one who troubled Israel (1Kings 18:17), so the chief priests saw Jesus, the Messiah—the Prophet who should come who was like Moses (cf. John 6:14; Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22; 7:37), as the one who troubled the nation (cf. John 11:47-50).


[1] So the Hebrew is sometimes rendered as in Exodus 13:10; Leviticus 25:29; Numbers 9:22; Judges 17:10; 1Samuel 2:19. Other places it is rendered yearly as in Judges 11:40 etc. and years as in 1Kings 1:1 etc.

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Posted by on December 15, 2016 in Gospel of Luke


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