Christianity 201

January 9, 2019

The One Who Has Faith is Never Insignificant

Each year we revisit the devotional page at the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s website. There are many great insights here from a variety of writers. The author of this piece is Don Lipsett. Click the title below to read at source.

(In)significant

Luke 8:42b-45aAs Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. (NIV)

Imagine the scene that day: Jesus, the Man who did miracles and spoke powerfully — unlike any other — was making His way down the street, surrounded by His disciples and a noisy, jostling crowd. Everyone was trying to get close to Him, to be seen with Him, to hear His words, or ask a question. In the dust and commotion, the woman just hoped to touch the outer hem of His robe. She was seemingly so insignificant in that whole chaotic scene, unnoticed — except by Jesus.

Do you remember about the day when the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, met Jesus?

Mark 10:46-52Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (NIV)

Here also we find weakness, faith, and hope, face to face with the Saviour.

These incidents touch us, I believe, in their revealing how Jesus responds to faith, and to those who humbly seek. No one is insignificant to Him.

Perhaps for many of us, our contributions to and work for God’s kingdom may seem to be insignificant in the big scheme of things, or in the monotony of daily life. However, Jesus’ call to us is to be faithful. Even if our circumstances may be limiting, we can pray, and maybe, there are yet little ways that we can share God’s love and the gospel with family, friends, neighbours, strangers, or even enemies. In little things and details, people can see, and wonder, and be moved by the Holy Spirit.

As the Lord said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.(Matthew 25:40 NIV)

Prayer: God of grace and mercy, fill our weakness with Your strength, and give us faithful hearts that we may “not grow weary while doing good” (Galatians 6:9a NKJV). We ask this in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

July 12, 2016

Jesus to the Blind Man: Did that Work?

Mark 8:22ESV And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

Despite the familiarity of the story, I’d never thought about the idea that Jesus asks the blind man if it worked. It’s almost an “Are we there yet?” type of question, especially given this is a two-step healing process. Brad Blocksom writes at Think Theology and is part of the Vineyard denomination. Click the title below to read this at source.

img 071216Blind Eyes Opened! (In More Ways than One)

They land on the Northern shore of the Galilee at Bethsaida (v. 22). Similar to the previous healing of the deaf man, Jesus takes the blind man away from the crowds (out of the village), again perhaps to establish communication with this outcast from society (but Lane is not so sure). Again similar to the deaf man, Jesus establishes contact and enters into the world of this disabled man through the seemingly (to us) application of saliva to his eyes (he couldn’t see but he could feel what Jesus was doing). Then He does something without parallel in the gospels, though popular with us folks in the Vineyard movement: He asks, ‘So, did it work? Did anything happen?’ (v. 23).

Now I want to go on record as not speaking exegetically here, but there is something freeing about asking this question after praying for a person for healing: How do you feel? Is anything different? There is also great risk involved. In my previous experience in Pentecostalism you just didn’t ask this question. For one thing that would be to doubt and doubt is bad! The fact is that if they answer, “nothing” then you have to deal with that thorny ‘what if they don’t get healed’ issue. This is where a good solid “already, but not yet” tension in our theology of the kingdom of God (applied to healing) can be so helpful. As Steve Nicholson says: ‘we need a theology of failure’ and ‘never embellish the story.’ In my mind it kinda takes the pressure off me, ’cause ultimately its God (whose reputation is no the line, not mine) who needs to come though here.

OK, sorry about that experiential excursus… and now back to our text! And so the man responds, ‘well, I can see, but not so good’ (i.e. not quite 100%). The man’s description of his partially restored condition would seem to indicate that he has had some previous experience with sight (“people… like trees, walking” – v. 24). And again Jesus does something unprecedented, He lays hands on the man again!

Again this is something we like to do in the Vineyard: if there seems to be a partial healing taking place, we keep at it (keep praying)!

The text is pretty clear that now the healing is a complete restoration of his sight (v. 25)!

The parallels with the previous healing of the deaf man are strong and both infirmities are mentioned (blindness and deafness/mute) in Is. 35:5-6. But the immediate context is Jesus declaration of the disciples’ hard hearts and ‘eyes that do not see, and ears that do not hear’ (Mk. 8:17-18).

But His blind followers are about to see! Exactly who Jesus really is, is about to be revealed (Mk. 8:27-30). And the glory of the Christ – the Son of God – will be seen (Mark 9:2-13). But the road ahead for a disciple is paved with suffering, and at the end of the road (Jerusalem) they will witness the death of their Messiah (Mark 8:31-38)!

It’s easy for us current day followers of Jesus to pass judgment on the 12 – “How can you guyz miss this!” Who hasn’t heard (or said them self): “Oh, if only I could have been there to see the miracles of Jesus, to walk with Him, to have talked with Him.” But it would seem that given human nature, once the first wave of suffering or persecution comes, our faith can begin to falter. The nation of Israel had only recently risen out of the “valley” of the Red Sea crossing when they first “grumbled against Moses” about the bitter waters at Marah (Ex. 15:22-24).

Are you ready for the journey to Jerusalem? Am I ready to see the glory of God, but uninterested in drinking the “bitter waters” of suffering as a disciple of Jesus. What has been some of your experiences of “trusting God no matter what” (i.e. through difficult circumstances). I know one of the things that I have been struggling with lately is the fact that I basically want my nice middle class life to be trouble free and filled with all the comforts of home. And yet I claim to follow a Messiah who was destined to suffer, die and rise again (v. 31). And He invites me to come after Him, take up my cross and follow Him to Jerusalem, and in so doing find life (v. 34-35)?!? Are you ready? Will you join us, join the Twelve, on our continuing journey:

“come, follow me” – Jesus (Mk. 10:21)