Monday, December 07, 2015

Jesus Saw Their Faith

Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.  Isaiah 35:4-6A

And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.”  Luke 5:18-20

Advent Prayer By Art Laffin            
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus was in the beginning with God, all things came to be through him. (John 1: 1-3)

Jesus, light of the human race, light overcoming darkness. It is You who we seek during this Advent-time.  For You are the Word made flesh – who dwells among us. It is You, Jesus, our Savior, that we will follow and no other earthly principality or power.

May Your spirit of love, mercy and nonviolence take root in our hearts, and the hearts of people everywhere, as we strive to make God's reign of love and justice a reality in our world.

Jesus, Son of God, Human One, Healer, Peacemaker, and Redeemer, help us to disarm our hearts and our world of violence, racial hatred and fear.  Empower us to eliminate all weapons, abolish war, end the death penalty, torture and indefinite detention, protect our environment and safeguard all life and creation.

Help us to respect the dignity of each person, welcome the immigrant and refugee, and transform structures and policies that cause and perpetuate dehumanizing poverty, division and suffering.

Help us, dear Jesus, during this holy season, to make Your Word flesh, to rid ourselves and our world of all that wounds, demonizes and destroys, and to become channels of Your peace, justice, mercy, and reconciling love. Amen!

Isaiah promise much but two things which are included are vengeance and vindication.  However, these are not on the agenda that Jesus brings to Nazareth.  They eyes of the blind will be opened.  The ears of the deaf will be opened.  The lame – like the man passed down from the roof – will walk. 

However, if the people of Nazareth and all of Israel are waiting for a king to ride in on a stallion and depose the Romans and their army, they will not get such vindication.  Jesus comes as predicted by the prophet of old, but he comes as the Prince of Peace not of war.  He comes to heal the world, not to inflict more harm.  However, Jesus does not belong to this world. He was in the world…but the world did not know him.

Jesus answered [to Pilate], “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” (John 18:36)

Rather than fighting the Pharisees, Jesus spends his time teaching and healing.  Today, the man on the stretcher is healed, not because of HIS OWN faith, but because of the faith of his friends.[i]  When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.”  If Cursillo were around then, I would say he was lowered through the roof by his Group Reunion.

“Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.” Luke 7:26

But you have not seen everything that Jesus has in store.  Just wait.  In a few verses, Jesus is going to call a tax collector to follow him.  Jesus is going to continually shock and amaze people.

How would Jesus react to your faith? Would he find enough evidence to cure your friends? Would he find enough evidence to astonish you?  How persistent are you?  Would you keep looking for a way in if the door was blocked?  Or would you give up and head to Starbucks?

[i] Michael Card. Luke: The Gospel of Amazement. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books. P. 79

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