A curse in disguise
Posted by Clyde Herrin
When someone bad happens to someone but good results from it the experience is sometimes called a blessing in disguise. But often people experience something that at first seems good but has harmful results. One example of this is people who have won a large amount of money in a lottery and then found their lives ruined as a result. I have never heard anyone call such an event a curse in disguise but it would be an accurate description.
One time Jesus encountered a curse in disguise but wasn’t hurt by it because he recognized it for what it really was.
The sequence of events that led up to the curse began with a visit to his hometown, Nazareth.
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
He followed the reading with a sermon which upset the congregation.
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.”
And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.
They disliked what he said so much they tried to kill him.
And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.
He then went to Capernaum, where his reception was completely different.
And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority.
And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.
And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.
Because the people believed in Jesus he was able to help them.
And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.
Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
But what happened next was actually a disguised curse.
And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them.
To most this would appear to be an opportunity rather than a curse but look at how Jesus responded.
But he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
The people of Nazareth tried to kill Jesus; the people of Capernaum wanted him to stay with them. The responses were the opposite but they had one thing in common; they would have kept Jesus from accomplishing the work God had given him to do.
We can understand why Jesus wasn’t deceived but recognized the curse for what it was by looking at the experience of someone who was deceived.
When Joshua led the Israelites into Canaan he was under orders from God to destroy all of the inhabitants of the land and not make any treaties with them. The inhabitants of Gibeon sent a delegation to make a peace treaty by pretending they lived someplace else.
But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly.
And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.”
Here is the response to their deception.
So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.
When we encounter danger or difficulty it is natural for us to turn to God for help; when things seem to be going well we sometimes forget how much we need him. I am sure that all of us would be praying if someone was trying to kill us but how would we respond if someone offered us the same opportunity the people of Capernaum offered Jesus? Would we ask God for guidance or would we assume that the offer was a sign of God’s blessing on what we were doing?
Jesus was never deceived because he always looked to God for guidance regardless of the external circumstance of his life. We need to learn to do the same thing.
Posted on October 23, 2013, in Bible study and tagged authority, blessing, blessing in disguise, Capernaum, curse, deception, demon, Elijah, Elisha, fulfillment of prophecy, Gibeon, guidance, healing, Isaiah, Israel, Jesus, Joshua, leprosy, Nazareth, prophecy, Simon, synagogue. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on A curse in disguise.
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