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From Disgrace to Dishonour

John 4:43-45
After the two days he left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honour in his own country.) When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there. (NIV)

Religiously, for a rabbi to choose to spend two days in Samaria was a disgrace. Allowing Samaritans to entertain a Jew was like eating pork: making Jesus and His disciples ceremonially unclean. Such a person should be ashamed of himself. But Jesus was not seeking praise from people; He was not on an ego-led publicity tour. He simply wanted the disciples to see that as people believed in Him, as the Saviour of the world, they were changed ... no matter their gender, race or religious background (John 4:42).

These trainee apostles had to get used to the disgrace of the gospel and not be ashamed, even though their countrymen would ridicule them. They also had to realise that there is no real worldly honour for Jesus or His team. Returning to His home district, Jesus knew that the people's support was fickle at best. He had previously caused such anger in His home synagogue, that they drove Him out of town and tried to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:23-30). So Jesus warned the disciples that however the people reacted, they should not expect to be honoured. Although outwardly they welcomed Him, He did not entrust Himself to them for He knew what was in their hearts (John 2:24).

Wherever believers are persecuted, this all makes sense. But where the church has been accepted as part of society for hundreds of years, complacency sets in. We easily think that if we are accepted or even 'important' in the church then the world must applaud us too. No! There is no worldly honour for believing in Jesus and living to please Him. They tolerate us only as long as we give them what they want. Even ministers of the gospel and missionaries are regarded as irrelevant at best and dangerous at worst. Let us wake up to reality. Those who have no binding commitment to Jesus will have no lasting commitment to us either. As Jesus said, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets." (Luke 6:26). So, do not be tempted to follow human approval! Do what is right even if it risks attracting disgrace or dishonour. The Lord knows the truth of your heart and will reward your faithful and courageous decision to please Him.

Prayer 
Almighty God. Thank You for allowing Jesus Christ to suffer for me, showing me that the right things may not be easy, but will always bring Your approval. Forgive me when I make my decisions to please other people rather than You. I am sorry when I am easily influenced by popular opinion, and seek my own glory rather than Yours. Please help me to be realistic about the inner attitudes of many around me, and look to You only for my support, strength and approval. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams