We’ve been talking about the relative depth of our walk with Jesus and how we might––no, must––find a way to go deeper in him.
In Part 1 “He’s Not Here” we looked at how easy it is to forget what Jesus says, especially when we didn’t hear or want to hear it in the first place.
In Part 2 “Who Is That Masked Man?” we reviewed the conversation two men had with Jesus, bemoaning how Jesus was nowhere to be found, and how the first prerequisite for deeper revelation is that we actually want
Speaking of actually wanting more revelation, God has ways of increasing our want. One of those ways is found in one of Jesus’ stranger miracles.
When he had spit on the (blind) man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Mark 8:22-26
Pretty weird, right? And I’m not just talking about the “spitting” part. The thing that interests me most is that this is the only one of his miracles that required his second touch to finish it. Continue reading →
Besides the resurrection, I bet you don’t know which of Jesus’ miracles made it into all four gospels!
OK, my title gave it away, but would you have guessed it if I had called it “Jewish Boy Loses His Lunch” or “Give All You Got and Get More Than You Had” or something of that sort?
So, why did the Spirit single out this particular miracle of feeding the multitude from a little boy’s lunch for so much press? The incident definitely infers a lot about Jesus and what he can do. That’s the customary Sunday School lesson from this text. The Christological and supernatural implications aside, I’d like to narrow this particular conversation down to his choice to use the human agency in that particular miracle. Continue reading →
We’re not given enough information to know what happened to Malchus after his assault and healing in the garden. Did he become a follower of Jesus or simply go on his merry way wondering what all that was about? If he did come to Jesus what did the trick? Was it getting his ear back or was it something else? Continue reading →
[I recommend that you read Parts 1 and 2 before proceeding…]
“OK, well, this isn’t going like we’d hoped,” the envoys whispered among themselves. “This may not be our guy. His agenda is definitely not the same as ours and he doesn’t seem to care at all about our American Dream. He’s so concerned about the poor that he cares nothing about our plight.” **
**[I’m certainly not insinuating that John the Baptizer had any such self-serving, nationalistic, or economic interests of his own. Jesus said he was the greatest saint and least materialistic person of his day. His struggle was not about personal prosperity, but about what he expected the Messiah to do about Rome’s control over Israel. Nevertheless, I believe that in his answer to John’s envoys Jesus used his compassionate dealing with the poor to make his point about what is actually important to God, and what his kingdom actually looks like.
Roman oppression gave Israel an opportunity to love their disadvantaged neighbors (Jewish and Gentile) and live in compassionate community with them. Those who had even a modicum of wealth had every chance to act generously toward the poorest among them. Instead, many of them protected their wealth and used their influence for their own benefit. Continue reading →
“That’s just fine with us, go ahead and keep helping poor people if it makes you happy,” they argued, “but don’t you think it’s a little short sighted? Couldn’t you flex a little of your muscle to lift us back up to the top of the global heap where we belong? We heard you could do just about anything, so while you’re doing your philanthropic work, why don’t you reinstate the rest of us to our prosperous and free way of life? We have to go back to our officials with a report. Are you in or not?”
“Well, I’m ‘in,’ but maybe not in the same way you want me ‘in,’” he said. “My orders were to begin at the bottom – to concentrate on the vulnerable and oppressed.”
“You’ve come to the right place then – that’s us! We’re at the bottom. We’re oppressed! Can’t you see that our whole American way of life has been upended. Those evil Canadians have robbed us of control of our own destiny, our economic sovereignty, our political clout, and our ability to amass personal wealth. You’ve got to care about that, right? If you’re supposed to be our Savior, then save us from our plummeting stock values. We’re prepared to offer you total control of our country if you’ll just wave that magic wand of yours over us and …” Continue reading →
The Baptizer paced the perimeter of his cell pondering over what Jesus was up to. “This is a waste of time,” he said to his two visitors. “What am I doing here when there’s so much more work to be done? I don’t understand; if he’s the Messiah that I’ve been saying he is, why isn’t he confronting Herod, putting our nation back at the top, and getting me outa here. Go ask him, if he’s our guy or not.” Luke 7:18-23
I get John. I really do. If I were in his situation, I would’ve been confused too. But I’m more puzzled by Jesus’ reply: “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”
I used to think that he was appealing to his miracles to prove his Messiahship, but John and his disciples knew he did miracles. It occurs to me that the point wasn’t so much about his power but the people for whom he wielded his power. It was the poor, the outcast, the people at the end of their rope that Jesus typically rescued. He came to change society, and instead of at the top, he began at the bottom. He spent his days on the street rescuing powerless lepers, prostituted women, and disabled pariahs. You wouldn’t have found him in the boardrooms of the rich and powerful or in Herod’s face lobbying for the release of the Jews. He did his best work among those on the margins. It was not his obligation to the inner circle but his compassion for the outer circle that proved his Messiahship.It’s not that he didn’t love those in power, but his way was to begin with the ones who were abused by power. That’s what he was trying to tell John. Continue reading →