Read: Luke 9:37-50
Last week we kicked off the Lenten season for 2018, February 14 through April 1st. Mardi Gras (Feb 13th) is probably celebrated with more enthusiasm than Ash Wednesday, but the timing of this season with reading Luke 9 and following is interesting. As we approach Easter, the pivotal event that ultimately defines Christianity, I pray that Lent will cause us all to stop and consider our faith.
The world is watching, to be sure, and I believe the world would like to see miracles and marvel at amazing works. The Cessationists would argue that God has withdrawn Spiritual gifts of healing (among others), but we still hear miraculous stories, though not very often. I don’t want to open that line of discussion here, at least not today, but it was a challenge when Jesus was walking on earth with His disciples, so let’s wade into that story this morning.
We just left the Transfiguration story, now we read about the inability of the disciples to maintain the healing ministry Jesus began, we see the disciples bickering over who is greatest, and the temptation to talk bad about those who don’t come from our tribe — all in 24 verses! No wonder that the disciples were confused (Luke 9:45)!
Jesus and his disciples are becoming known for their healing miracles, but apparently, the gift of healing is not for those with little faith. Luke begins this section with a report that calls out the disciples (not sure which ones in particular–no speculation):
I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not. “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” Luke 9:40-41
By now, the disciples are getting used to hard lessons and tough love that Jesus provides. He’s not holding back here! We might be prone to use language that gets bleeped out on videos!
Jesus casts out the demon and those watching were amazed. The disciples get defensive and start to argue about who is greatest among them. How does this make sense? It doesn’t. Jesus quickly sets them straight, but I greatly appreciate the story captured by Luke. How often do we elevate ourselves in the shadow of Jesus?
Others are casting out demons and the disciples want to squelch that ministry because they’re not part of the selected few. Jesus ends the debate quickly:
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” Luke 9:50
This is a pretty amazing statement. Ministry is not limited to those with special robes or fancy titles. I look forward to the day when everyone recognizes they are a minister of the Gospel — not just the paid staff!
The humanity of those doing daily ministry with Jesus gives me some comfort as I struggle, trip and fall. My prayer is that I constantly look to Jesus for guidance in those moments.