Feeling Entitled

Rebecca Van Noord

Isaiah 10:20–12:6; Luke 4:1–44; Job 3:17–26

Familiarity breeds contempt, so the saying goes. But the line from Aesop’s fable “The Fox and the Lion” wasn’t meant to imply that we often take those closest to us for granted. Rather, the fox fails to properly acknowledge the lion—the king of all beasts—because he doesn’t know his place. His self-perception is dangerously inflated.

The same is true for the fickle Nazarenes who heard Jesus interpret the Scriptures. When Jesus preached in the synagogue of His hometown, the Nazarenes were initially receptive. But when He interpreted the prophet Isaiah’s words in a way they disliked—a way that showed Him as the one who “proclaim[s] release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18; see Isa 61:1)—they belittled Him: “Is this man not the son of Joseph?” (Luke 4:22).

The Nazarenes weren’t ready to admit their need (Luke 4:23). They didn’t understand that they were blind and unrepentant. They may have expected Jesus to perform miracles for them—after all, He was a local. But He didn’t show them physical proof of the spiritual truth that they were unwilling to grasp. Instead, He reminded them that Elijah the prophet was sent to a Sidonian woman and Elisha to a Syrian. God chose to show mercy and healing to those who were unfamiliar with Him because they were willing to believe. They were willing to humble themselves to a point where belief was possible.

The Nazarenes’ response to Jesus tells a spiritual truth that we might easily overlook. When it comes to the Christian life, it’s tempting to feel that we have status. When we’re comfortable—when we know what to expect from preaching and have memorized the pertinent passages—we can feel a sense of entitlement that is dangerous. Entitlement breeds contempt that needs to be uprooted. Unless we see our true state—that we need to be set free—we forget that we need to humble ourselves before the Lamb of God.

Do you feel a sense of entitlement? What would it take for you to become humble before Jesus?

This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.