Read: Luke 5:12-26
Consider two phrases in the passage we read today: Lord if you are willing and when Jesus saw their faith. Both demonstrate an unusual faith in a man they hardly knew.
They had heard about this preacher that was going from village to village, town to town, teaching good news, adding wisdom to wise sayings with a practical message for common people to hear.
Perhaps the most amazing thing they heard was His ability to cast our demons and heal people of sickness. This wasn’t normal by any stretch of the imagination. They seem to say, If Jesus could do that, I’m in! And they showed up in these stories.
My belief is these are just two of the many stories Luke had to consider when writing his narrative to share with others. In my imagination I can see him with a table full of newspaper clippings, reports from villages all over Judea about healing and restoration. Miracle after miracle. All with some common elements: Jesus was the rabbi at the center of all the news and He was trying to keep these incidents quiet.
I believe that Luke intersperses these miraculous events inside the details about calling the disciples to make this point: He wasn’t trying to draw followers, He was looking to make disciples.
Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Luke 5:14
It’s interesting that Jesus points the cured leper back to the priest, that He keeps the focus on God’s system of sacrifice.
In a much more public miracle, the faith of friends is rewarded with healing a lame man.
So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Luke 5:24-25
Right in front of the pharisees and teachers of the law! This troublesome event (for the religious leaders) causes them to stumble and provides another teaching point for Jesus:
Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Luke 5:23-24
Which is easier? Hmm…so I think I’ll just do both! The religious right have no idea how to respond.
The people were filled with awe and wonder (sounds like a song!). But Jesus isn’t trying to create a show, instead He’s trying to demonstrate the love of the Father for His people. In a way, He can’t not heal those who are sick because of His unbounded love and compassion.
It’s this deep-seated heart for people that I long to have, that I pray for consistently. Jesus sees their faith, sees their desire and looks beyond outward appearances — straight to their heart. Perfect discernment that is unencumbered by biased perspective based on human standards. It may be a stretch, but I believe we too can see the hearts of those seeking to know the love of Christ if we would let go of worldly desires.
Yesterday, the word contentment drove me to look for scripture about being content. Now I think I understand why. If I can be content, my own selfish desires disappear and I can see people as Jesus saw them–at least to a greater degree. If I am content, I don’t need anything from any interaction with someone else. My only aim is to point them to Christ.
My desire then becomes one of great compassion. When I see a brother or sister in pain, my prayer is to reach out and help in any way I can. All from a place of love, not from a desire to tell someone else about the wonderful things I have done.
Jesus points them back to God, the source of His power and strength.
Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” Luke 5:26
As a result, they gave praise to God. That the result I’m hoping for.
Oh, one other thing:
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16
I find it interesting that Jesus withdraws to lonely places to pray. He seeks solitude to quiet His human heart. Seriously. If Jesus needed to do this, how much more should I? No, I’m not advocating seclusion in a monastery, but we all need a place where we can hear from God.
When I searched for images for the featured image on this post, I used the term lonely. Literally hundreds of photos showed up. Yes, I want to find a place of solitude, but the fact that so many photos are tagged “lonely” points to a culture that is seeking what we have to offer. Please don’t get lost in the lonely place — just use this for meditation and prayer, not a hiding place!
I pray you can find your place today. Listen well my friend. God wants to speak to you, I’m sure of it.