Prophecy in the bible is such a complex set of literature. In the Hebrew Bible we are told about numerous prophetic utterances. The prophets themselves warn against false prophecy. Biblical exegets have spent some fair amount of time in research on prophetic writings. A particular area of interest is on making the difference between false prophets and the authentic prophets. Amos, in some of his prophetic writings, informs us that what makes an authentic prophet is not primarily about the prophet himself but the message. In other words it is the authentic prophecy that makes the prophet authentic.
It is not about the messenger. It is about the message. It is not about medium of this transmittion. It is about the one who uses a chosen vessel to convey his message.
It sounds odd but it is true to say that one of the true marks of authentic prophecy is it’s “resistance” The Truth often finds resistance. It is often rejected, doubted, reidculed and exchanged with falsehood. It is against this background that we understand Ezekiel’s prophecy this Sunday as the spirit said to him, ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me. Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me. The sons are defiant and obstinate; I am sending you to them, to say, “The Lord says this.” Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.’
Jesus goes to his home town acommpanied by his disciples. His message and teaching in the Synagogue was so profound that they were all astonished. The same people couldn’t take in such an amazing experience of Jesus. Where did he get this? How did he get such wisdom? What is his source of such miraculous powers? We know his parents, brothers and sisters. We know his humble story of birth. And they would not accept him. Jesus repeats the old prophetic saying, “A prophet is only despised in his own country among his own relations and in his own house.” A better translation to this passage could read, “Jesus chose to work no miracles there, though he couldn’t resist curing the sick.” “He was shocked; scandalised by their lack of faith.” His own house, relations, home town and country here symbolises the entire humanity he has come to redeem. His own flesh and blood rejects him and resists his message. God meets rejection among the people he has created in his own image and likeness. This takes us back again to the prophecy of Ezekiel.
St Paul gives us a bit of hope. He reminds us that it is for this weak human flesh that Jesus has come. ‘My grace is enough for you; my power is at its best in weakness.’ ‘I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.’