By Thokozani Mkhonta
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It is evident that false prophets were common in ancient Israel. They coexisted alongside God’s authentic prophets. The dilemma of an ordinary Israelite trying to discern God’s message from among a host of contrasting prophetic voices all purporting to be God’s genuine representatives and servants was difficult to escape. The promise of a future prophet raised by God from amongst the people to guide the people with clarity of God’s word as indicated in First Reading is significant. It indicates God’s desire not to allow his people to live through life without proper guidance. The unfortunate and undesirable eventuality of an innocent seeker of God’s word being led astray by a false prophet posing as God’s sincere servant could only be avoided by God through the raising of a prophet whom God will put His words in his mouth, and who shall speak to the people all that God commands him.
Hence, upon the fulfilment of this promise, one would have expected a big occasion to mark the introduction and enthronement of the prophet. However, it is interesting to note that in the Gospel, the emergence of the Christ occurs in a modest and gradual revelation process. Glimpses of Jesus’ prophetic identity are manifested in his work. The people are struck by his authoritative teaching manner in the synagogue as ‘they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes’. The demons declare his identity and Jesus quickly commands them to be silent as he casts them out. It was out of such scenes that Jesus’ fame spread throughout the place.
It is compelling to observe that the news of Jesus spread out through the land without an official occasion to enthrone him as God’s long promised prophet. It is also striking to note that Jesus, rather than by word of mouth, allows his work to reveal his identity. This gesture is demonstrable of Christianity’s foundational teaching. Our identity is better revealed by our actions than our words. It is our actions that should set us apart from the world. Our identity as Christ’s followers lies so much in what we do than what we say. We are authentic Christians only if we heed the teachings of Christ. The Gospel of Christ which was entrusted unto us to preach is clarified better in our actions than our words.
The world is always watching and listening to everything we say. We lead it astray if we fail to practice what we preach. There is so much confusion in Christianity today, and some of this confusion is attributable to Christians’ failure to live according to the way of Christ. Twisting and reinterpreting the words of Christ to suite or justify fallen Christian standards has become the new norm in preaching. That which Jesus asked of first-generation Christians is still asking of us now. If we intend our preaching to be fruitful, we need to be doers of the word. Faith without works is futile. May we strive to be like Christ who allowed his works to bear testimony to his divine identity.