What About Jesus?

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there,
thinking to themselves,
“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming!
Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Mark 2:6-7 (NIV)

There have been many ideas in the minds of people over the centuries concerning who Jesus really was. People’s thoughts in this area range from denying He even existed to the highest possible idea which is that Jesus is God and to be worshipped.

I suggest that we take a brief look at who Jesus thought He was. What is the self portrait Jesus gave the people of His time?

Did He tell people He was just a human being like them? What about His actions? How did He behave? Answering these questions will take several devotions. Let us begin.

The story in Mark 2 about Jesus healing the lame man gives us some idea of His view of Himself. Two very different things occur here to give us a good idea of how Jesus saw Himself in relation to others.

First there is the matter of healing the man. No one who was there at the time denied that a notable miracle occurred. That is important for us today.

People who are not as wise as they think they are will say that no miracle took place. Various attempts are made to explain away the miracle in non-miraculous terms. The eye witnesses are confident a miracle took place, even those who desperately desired to discredit Jesus.

So then, Jesus’ friends and His enemies all agree on the matter of Him being able to heal the sick and even raise the dead. (See John 11 especially verses 45-53 where our Lord’s enemies recognize His power over death. Had they been able to disprove the resurrection of Lazarus they would have gleefully done so.)

Now back to the Mark passage. The other and very curious matter is this thing He says to the sick man about forgiving him his sins. Now the Jews knew that only God could forgive sins. But here was this untrained rabbi saying to the man that He forgave him his sins.

Why would Jesus try to do what only God can do? Well, some people who believe He said the word of forgiveness suggest Jesus was insane. But Jesus said in our passage to look at the miracle to see that He was able to do both. None of the doctors of the day could cure the man and Jesus did it simply with a word. Which was easier to do? Both the healing and the forgiving of sins were beyond what humans could accomplish.

Jesus did the impossible thing of healing the man and no one could deny that. So He calls on the people to believe that He could do the other impossible thing of forgiving sins. What about Jesus? Jesus is God in human form.

Have you seen the truth that Jesus is indeed God? Do you bow down in worship and praise of Him? Do you recognize the value of praying to Jesus and telling Him of your need for Him in both the spiritual and physical areas of life?

If you have been hesitant, choose to believe and act. Come immediately to Jesus and tell Him all your sorrow, physical and spiritual. Like this man who was physically healed, come to Jesus and find spiritual healing. Come, and come today.

Is Jesus Willing?

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees,
“If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man.
“I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”
Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
Mark 1:40-42 (NIV)

The young woman across from me confessed to a very antisocial lifestyle that she had engaged in for some years. Weeping so hard it was sometimes difficult to understand her she poured out her story. When she was finished she sobbed, “How could God love me?”

Among the things I pointed out to her in Scripture was this story of Jesus’ love for this unlovable man. The man was not unlovable so much because of moral issues in his life, but he was a leper and society in Jesus’ time avoided such people and paid little attention to them. It was believed that leprosy was contagious in Jesus’ time and, therefore, such people were forced to live in colonies separate from society in general.

Also, leprosy is a dreadfully disfiguring disease. I have seen lepers in Africa and it makes your heart ache to see how they lose fingers, feet, become blind and suffer other mutilating results of the disease. Physically they are unattractive to most people.

People also regarded leprosy as virtually incurable, so it follows that the man in our story evidenced great faith in Jesus’ miraculous powers by coming for “cleansing”. It follows that no one who was not infected with the disease would ever consider touching such a person.

Jesus is shown in the story to have enormous compassion for the man because He not only was willing to make him clean, but He actually touched him in order to transfer His miraculous power. Our Lord might have merely spoken the word and the miracle would have happened. But Jesus demonstrated love to one who was regarded as unlovable—even untouchable in His day—by His touch.

So it is that I dare to offer Jesus to those who see themselves as the most “unclean” of people. My Savior is in the business of rescuing the people whose lives are in shambles, whose situation is utterly hopeless as they see it. “How could God love a person like the young woman described above?” Well, I do not understand how He could love me. God has shown me something of the evil that still lurks in my own heart after 50 years of seeking to follow Him.

What I am supremely confident of is that Jesus still touches the untouchable. He willingly reaches out to those who cry to Him for mercy and “cleansing”.

Never be hesitant to come to Jesus because your life bears many scars of sin. Doubt not that He can—and is willing—to reach out to you and touch you right where you are. However, rest assured that He is totally unwilling to leave you where He finds you. He will create within you a heart for Him and grant you a whole new life just as He did that leper so long ago, just as He wonderfully did for the young lady described above, and just as He did for me. Jesus is willing, Jesus can, Jesus will. Come as the leper, come as the young lady, come as I did. He will make you clean.

Full Sight

“For now we see through a glass darkly…”
1 Corinthians 13:12

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”
Matthew 5:8

For some years Susan and I had the pleasure of friendship with a couple both of whom were born blind. They grew up, graduated from university, and made significant contributions to their local church and to society.

I well recall being in their home for dinner that our blind friend had prepared. She made a wonderful meal and it was finely presented. We watched as they skillfully ate all of their unseen food.

They used their computers as well as we could use ours. They never stumbled as they moved from room to room in their home.

However, I still thank God for eyesight and use it to great advantage. Sight is such a blessing in this life and we who are sighted should be daily thankful for this sense.

The Bible makes clear that when it comes to our ability to “see God” we are dreadfully deficient in this life. We are like the blind who can gain some idea of what something is but the full extent of the object eludes them no matter how much they try to imagine what is being described to them.

Our blind friends had no conception of what color was. They really did not even know what it meant to see in black and white. Neither of them could detect shadows such was their impairment.

In the Bible we do have some glorious suggestions about the beauty of God and what it must be like when we “shall see God”. We have a statement that God is light and in Him there is no darkness. Most societies equate darkness with evil and evil powers. Witness the Star Wars movie and Luke Skywalker struggling to not succumb to the “dark side of the force”. We speak of movies being “dark” and imply that the movie is mysterious and evil.

The adjective that is used most to describe God in Scripture is that He is holy. Three times in Isaiah 6:3 we read God is holy. God’s moral purity defines all of His other attributes. As sinners we have difficulty “seeing” the holiness of God. Our eyesight is very deficient in this matter.

However we can gain some sense of how beautiful in holiness God is when we read about Jesus, who said that if we see Him we see the Father. Our best view of God is to read all we can about Jesus in Scripture. Here is food for our love of God, look at Jesus and fall in love with God all over again.

If your love for the Lord has grown cold through the chilling winds of adversity, warm your heart by seeing God in the person of Jesus Christ. Get into the Gospels and read, reread, and read again, the amazing stories of this Man Who is also God in human form. Then, after gaining a vision of Christ, remember that all you “see” is nothing compared with what you shall see in the day when He returns to embrace His people forever. We shall see God!

Strengthening Our Faith

“…now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—
of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—
may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Though you have not seen him, you love him;
and even though you do not see him now,
you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
for you are receiving the end result of your faith,
the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:6-9 (NIV)

The verses for today contain some good news and some bad news. First, the good news. We can increase our faith and the strengthening agent is readily available to us all. The bad news is that our faith grows in the soil of adversity. There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity as far as the Lord is concerned.

A.W. Tozer is quoted as saying, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” Tozer is right in this comment. Those who suffer look not to a theologian for comfort and wise counsel. Rather they look to someone who has already travelled the lonely road of suffering for a time before them. I recall a dear lady writing to me in 1989 when she learned I had just been diagnosed with cancer. She had cancer surgery some 10-12 years earlier and was a survivor. She certainly got my attention when she said the Lord gave her grace for each day and quoted appropriate Scripture to me. Experience speaks clearly and with authority.

Then we have the suffering Saviour to look to for help in times of adversity. This is the best help in such situations. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) reads,

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

As long as you look to the Lord the grief will be patiently born. The doubts come when we stare at the problem. Faith will grow when the Saviour is in view. But when we look at the storm as Peter did (Matthew 14:27-31), we will begin to sink. We will find our vision clouded with doubts until our eyes focus once more on the Lord Jesus.

So then, when trials come, and they will, endure and grow your faith by setting your eyes on the Lord of glory and not on the problem itself. Look at the problem long enough to find a solution. If you cannot solve the difficulty, then look to the cross and let your troubled heart be bathed in the abiding love of our dear Saviour. Read of His wonderful attention to the hurting, the needy, especially in the Gospel of Luke.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace

Helen Howarth Lemmel

Made New

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

His name was Robert Marshall. He lived in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, from the late 1800’s to the time of his death in about 1958. He married and had 9 children. His wife was a lovely Christian lady who raised her children in the fear of the Lord.

The sad thing about Robert was that he was also married to the bottle. Saturday nights he attended the pub in New Glasgow and drank himself drunk. Then he would stagger home and beat up on anyone who happened to get in his line of vision. Different times the children hid under their beds to escape the wrath of their father.

Late one Saturday night Robert left the bar at the same time as the Salvation Army was outside at the curb having an “open air meeting” as they called it. He decided that he would go over and break the meeting up with a few well chosen words.

What Robert had not counted on was the fact the Lord was with those brave young men and women. When he got to the meeting he stopped and started to listen instead of shout.

The Spirit of God opened his heart (see Acts 16:14) and he then paid close attention to the person speaking. The gospel hymns they sang also reached his heart.

Soon a spirit of conviction for his sins swept over him and he knelt down and poured out his heart to the Lord in a prayer of repentance. According to those present he knelt down a drunkard and rose up a sober man.

From that day forward Robert Marshall became a beloved person in his neighborhood. Everyone loved “Robbie” Marshall. I first learned to love this man when his daughter, my mother, took me down to Nova Scotia to meet him in 1954. I had heard about him but now I knew this man who was so closely related to me.

He seemed so gentle and kind that I could not imagine my mother told me the truth when she described how she and her family hid from him Saturday nights when he came home from the bar. I soon learned to call him “Poppa” like the rest of my cousins.

What happened to Robert Marshall long before I was born was that the overpowering grace of God turned him from the path to eternal death to the way of righteousness. Such is the wonderful grace of God that He can and does reach the spiritually “dead” and resurrects them (Ephesians 2:1-6).

Perhaps you have such a person in your family who has substance abuse. Your family life may be a living hell. Possibly no one outside your family circle knows of the pain you suffer.

Remember my maternal grandfather. It was never a case of how far gone he was in his addiction, the whole matter rested in the power of God.

Get back to prayer and ask God to rescue your loved one for His glory. Do not ask first to have the person delivered for your own comfort, although that will come if God acts. Seek first to populate the kingdom of God through your relative being delivered.

Remind God of how He is glorified in saving sinners.

Go back to prayer and do not stop until God gives you the desire of your heart.