The Gospel of John: John 4.43-54
Read and meditate on John 4.43, 44.
Jesus returns from Judea to Galilee, knowing that no honor awaits Him there as a prophet of God. He is more than a prophet, of course, and the honor He deserves is more than the clamber, attention, and hubbub He will realize back in His home town. John’s enigmatic verse leaves us puzzling, and looking ahead.
43Now Jesus spent two days among
them, then departed, and to Galilee
returned. 44For He had said that there would be
no honor for a prophet in his own
home town or country.
- John 4.43, 44
1. This is a strange passage. It reminds me of Jesus’ comment to His mother in John 2, in which He told her that His hour had not yet come, the hour of His great glory (which John proclaimed in 1.14), then went on to do a work which brought Him glory (2.11). It’s like John is saying, “This, but not this.” Explain. Complete this prayer: Lord, Your honor and glory abound around me at all times. When I consider…
2. How would you describe the honor Jesus’ had received among the Samaritans in John 4? In what way did they honor Him? Lord, I would honor You today by…
3. Apparently, at least in this situation, Jesus referred to Himself as a prophet. He was more than a prophet, as we know, but, keeping in mind Deuteronomy 18.18, 19, why might Jesus have chosen to identify Himself in this way? You are a Prophet, Lord, and You speak the words of truth. Help me…
4. As we shall see, when Jesus arrived in Galilee, He appears to have been honored greatly. How are these verses suggesting we should read the verses that follow? I know, Lord, that You are only truly honored when…
5. Why would Jesus return to His home town, knowing that the “honor” He would receive would not be the kind of honor He was seeking or deserved? Do you suppose this might have been as much a part of His work with His disciples as of His ministry among the lost? Explain. Bring together into one the prayers you composed for questions 1-4.
“Jesus left for Galilee, where he grew up. Why then does the Evangelist add immediately, ‘For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country’? It was not because he had no honor in Samaria. Samaria, after all, was not his own country; Galilee was.… But it would have seemed that he had testified more to the truth of the Evangelist’s statement if he had remained in Samaria and stayed away from Galilee.… This is not the case, however. He stayed two days in Samaria, and the Samaritans believed in him; he stayed many more days in Galilee, and the Galileans did not believe in him.” Augustine (354-430 AD)
John, reflecting on Jesus’ earthly sojourn, is always clarifying, pointing forward, and underscoring. Here he does all three: Jesus will be honored, but not the way men think about showing honor, and not in Galilee, but on the cross outside Jerusalem. Here there will be “honor.” But true honor is yet to come. So don’t be misled by what you see in Galilee, as if the way Jesus is received here is what it means truly to receive Him (Jn. 1.12). How would you explain to someone what it means to receive Jesus?
The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
Your people shall be volunteers
In the day of Your power…
Psalm 110.1-3 (Aurelia: The Church’s One Foundation)
“Sit by Me at My right hand,” the LORD says to my Lord,
“Until I make Your foot stand on all who hate Your Word.”
From in His Church the Savior rules all His enemies;
While those who know His favor go forth their Lord to please.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV a and b: John, edited by Joel C. Elowsky, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Verse translation of John by T. M. Moore.
The Honor of a Prophet
- T.M. Moore
- March 27, 2017
John wants us to be clear about this.
The Gospel of John: John 4.43-54
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore