Friday, March 29, 2013

When It Matters Most

Ever had friends who only came out of the woodwork when you needed them most? That's what stands in John 19:25. 38, 39. Jesus had so many followers when He was at the height of His ministry but when the time of His passion started, only the bravest remained. These people who showed up when Jesus needed them most, not only offered to give their presence but in some way, shape, or form they took the place of angels to minister to The Lord.

There was John who not only showed up, but also stayed to support Jesus and His Mother. In fact, at the foot of The Cross, John was given the task of taking care of Mother which he gladly carried out.

Of course the very dignified Joseph of Arimathea finally broke his silence and showed the world that He was a disciple when it mattered most. Perhaps he would have lost the respect of the Sanhedrin when he did this. But at the same time, he also made an example of himself to all of Jesus' followers that he showed up when he was needed most and used his position and influence when and where it mattered most.

Nicodemus was much the same way; as part of the authorities, it was a career-limiting move for him to display his support to Jesus just after the crucifixion. But neither did that matter to him. While in ministry, Jesus had an outpouring of people who supported Him. This time though, Nicodemus saw an opportunity to be of more service so he took it. Never mind the consequences, never mind that Jesus his Rabbi seems to have died. Who cares? His faith was never shaken and his devotion to Jesus would be unchanged. What tender love Jesus must have shown Nicodemus when it was his time to fall asleep.

Last of all (and this isn't really included in John 19), there were the women. They wept. They cried. They wailed when they saw Jesus suffering and marching to His crucifixion. Their display of affection was the outward sign of their love and devotion. They must have their way and it didn't matter if they were identified with Him; they didn't care. That faith, those tears, and their presence is service too.

It is an honorable and enlightening moment when we discover that we belong to God and that in order to be in His Presence, it is important for us to repent. John, Joseph, Nicodemus, and the women pushed that line farther to show us that it is not enough that we are forgiven and that we repent. For any of it to mean something, we must serve and show up when it matters most.

How can you witness to others the mercy that God has shown you?

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Leper's Journey Ends

“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” - Lk 5:12

Usually, when people approach Jesus to ask for healing, they do so with faith. Of course in this case with the leper that is assumed but more than that, what bubbles over on top is love and compassion. It seemed like with the choice of his words he wanted more than anything to feel someone's love. Why not? He's a leper after all; nobody touches them, they are made to feel outcast, and any form of human affection is taken away from them. Being a leper especially in Jesus day was pretty much a life in a jail that the sufferer carried around.

So it shouldn't surprise anyone that the leper's choice of words were an appeal not only for healing but for love. And what did Jesus do? More than the healing, He treated the leper like any man worthy of being loved.

1. He gave him attention - Would anyone doubt that droves of people were around Jesus at that time? He could have ignored the leper and people would have understood. In fact, perhaps even some of his disciples made recommendations for Him to move away lest he catch the disease. But Jesus is not one to act just to please a crowd or to follow the norm. What He did instead was to give the leper the first thing that people take away from him - attention. As a child receives love and attention from his parents, so too the leper received this from Jesus.

2. He spoke with compassion - The leper's question was guarded and pleading. More than healing, he was looking for someone to treat him like a fellow human being. He would have been treated in a manner that has evolved the way he asks favors from others. With a heart used to and ready for rejection, he made his plea swimming in humility rather than assertiveness. "If you wish.." and only "if you wish..." How dejected society must have trained him to feel already. Jesus though, responds to his pleading with words that would have made him weep even without the healing. Jesus with His full and undivided attention began His sentence with the 2 words that the leper probably has not heard for such a long time. Jesus said, "I do..." and changed the leper's life forever.

3. He touched him with love - Why in the world would you touch a leper? Are you crazy? Don't you known how contagious that is? It only takes one touch to sentence yourself to death. But Jesus isn't selfish and He certainly wasn't thinking about Himself at that moment. That moment belonged to His son, to His brother, to His friend crouching before Him pleading for His touch. So He did what scared the skin our of society... He did the unthinkable... He touched a leper! Those around watching this scene probably jumped back and looked on in horror as Jesus gave the leper what he had not received for what seemed like an eternity - the touch of a fellow human being.

Attention, a kind word, and a loving touch... Oh and healing too; let's not forget about that. But more than being cured, Jesus did for the leper what He continues to do for any of us who sin; He shows us that what is most important is the person.

Prayer: Just like You, Lord help us draw away from the crowd and spend time with You. More than the healing, may we never overlook You. Teach us to realize that the miracle is not the god, that the event is not the savior, nor is the emotion felt the lord. Instead, draw us away from that and allow us to clearly understand that it is all about You; and that makes everything worthwhile. May The Lord be always honored, praised and adored. Amen.