physician, heal thyself; doctor, heal yourself

follow your own advice; don’t criticize others for a problem you have yourself
—When the policeman was arrested for driving while intoxicated, I thought, “Physician, heal thyself.”

While in a synagogue in Nazareth, the town where he grew up, Jesus read from the Book of Isaiah a passage that said,

The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me,

because the Lord has chosen me.

He has commissioned me to encourage the poor. . . . (Isaiah 61:1)

When Jesus said that the scripture was about himself, the people of Nazareth asked,

“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Jesus said to them, “No doubt you will quote to me the proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself [Physician, heal thyself]!’ and say, ‘What we have heard that you did in Capernaum, do here in your hometown too.’” And he added, “I tell you the truth, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown [No prophet is accepted in his own country]. (Luke 4:22-24)

When he said, “Physician, heal thyself,” Jesus was using a saying that had already existed in several different forms. The meaning of the phrase when applied to Jesus in this passage means “show us proof that you are who you say you are.”

Jesus quoted another proverb when he said, “No prophet is accepted in his own country.” This phrase is used to mean “a person with great abilities or authority is often not accepted by those who have been closest to him.” Another version is no man is a prophet in his own country. Yet another wording of the phrase appears in Matthew, when Jesus

came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and miraculous powers? “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother named Mary? And aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? And aren’t all his sisters here with us? Where did he get all this?” And so they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own house [A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house].” (Matthew 13:55-57)

Such a person who is not accepted by others can be called simply “a prophet without honor.”

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