*Parenthesis & italics mine for purpose of definition.
James 1:19 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift (quick to respond) to hear (a verb that describes the action we take in either drawing closer to God or furthering ourselves from the truth) , slow to speak (to use words to declare one‘s mind or disclose one‘s thoughts), slow to wrath (becoming angry or offended as conviction of righteousness comes through the word. The rejection of truth).
When you read study this passage from James, it cross references this passage from Luke 4.
Read Luke 4:16-30 “And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, 19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.” 20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” 23 And He said to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, `Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’ ” 24 And He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. 25 “But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; 26 and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 “And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage (WRATH) as they heard these things; 29 and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, He went His way.”
Here we see Jesus has returned to His hometown was preaching a new message. A changed message, (as Pastor Sharon taught recently on a Tuesday night.). He was reading the same passage that had been read in times past but this time, He left something out. He spoke nothing of “the day of vengeance of our God.” as the people were accustomed to hearing. In fact, if the book was handed to Him and He were truly reading from that Isaiah 61, as it was written on that page, that means He closed the book on words that were left unread. He preached and made GRACE His closing statement. He stood before them as the Prophet declaring GRACE! And it says that the people were “wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips.” They questioned, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” You see, this message was not the message they were accustomed to hearing. They were offended at the word of grace.
He returned their questioning with “No doubt you will say to me, Physician, heal yourself! What we have heard done in Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” And He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown.” And then He continued to give them examples of how Elijah & Elisha who …in the times when grace was needed most… only ministered to the one who both heard and received! Both of these had to hear and respond to instruction. It was up to that widow woman whether or not the cruse of oil would run dry or the meal in the barrel would fail! (1 Kings 17). As for Naaman, he had to hear and receive! (2 Kings 5)
You see, the Prophet (Jesus Christ) was offering them a new word! He was offering them something that was available to them. He said, “Grace is now acceptable!” but He also told them how it could be obtained. He said, “This scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” How they heard would determine their outcome. And that is James instruction…hear!
But rather than hear, they became offended and drove Him out! He was even giving them opportunity to receive. He was saying to them…you can be that widow woman! You can be a Naaman! Yet they heard something altogether different. They were filtering what they heard through religion and tradition and those things excluded them. Grace never excludes anyone!
And they drove Him out and tried to kill him! Yet, GRACE was demonstrated even still. GRACE passed through and went on His way! Unharmed, unhindered!
Grace is still to be offered. Still to be swiftly heard and yet if not…will pass through unharmed, unhindered! The Spirit of the Lord is upon me (upon you) because He has anointed me (and you)….Let’s go to the widows and to the Naamans! They are waiting!