Monday, December 14, 2009

The Miracle on the Way

Matthew 9 is an interesting chapter. Jesus is finally home, amongst his people and in his own city. One would think that it would be a joyous return, a triumphal entry of sorts of the son that has gone off and done great things in the world (as they knew it), and has now come back for a time to be amongst His people. But, as far too many of us know, returning home to accomplish things is often exponentially more difficult than attempting to do things elsewhere. It seems as if nothing He does is good enough, and whether He sits with sinners or saints, He is destined to face ridicule for it. It almost seems like this is the type of environment where you pack up and tell everyone, "forget it, I can do nothing for you people." But Jesus didn't. He stayed, and faced further scrutiny, perhaps in the hope that people would get the point, or perhaps to point out a critical lesson to us.

Verse 18 starts the story of the ruler who comes to Jesus and asks that He come to his house to heal his daughter. Without hesitation Jesus gets up, His disciples in tow, and heads to this man's house. One would argue that the reason such haste was taken was because of this man's stature. That he was a man of prominence that Jesus respected as a former resident of this town, but there really isn't enough there to speculate about that (even though I just did). Either way, he isn't the point of this post. What happens next is.

As Jesus is on His way to this ruler's house, a woman sneaks up behind him and says to herself that, essentially, this is her last hope. She has been struggling with a medical condition for over a decade, and as one can imagine, is about to give up hope. This is it for her and she clearly has put a lot of stock in this man from her home town who seems to have the power to heal, and as we saw earlier- save. So, pushing through the crowd, she reaches out her hand, risking ridicule, and possible pain for the chance to just touch Him. Verse 20 says it like this: "And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment." The fringe. The very edge of His garment. She could get no closer than to touch the tips of the outer edge of His clothes. Whether it be because the crowd was too deep, or her shame too great, she couldn't or wouldn't get any closer. She believed in Christ's power to save and heal, but couldn't bring herself to, as so many others had done, push through face Him. She was content to, for whatever reason, stay on the outskirts of Christ's reality and that be enough for her.

Let's start there. For how many of us is this true? How many of us are so ashamed of our pasts that we dare not push into where Christ can see us face to face, and we see Him in all his glory, for fear of what our past and our histories will show about us? How many of us sit and reach for the fringes because the forefront of His love is (in our minds) too terrifying and embarrassing? Surely our issue is so big that it occludes His willingness to reach out His hand. Or surely we would face too much ridicule to allow the possibility of total healing to be completely worth it. But, if this woman is any indication- even on the fringes Christ is aware of our struggles, and pushing past our insecurities and our seeming inadequacies, he pulls us full into view of His face and tells us we're whole. Jesus stopped and looked at the woman. He acknowledged her in full view of everyone and told her that she was "made well."

That brings me to the second point- Jesus' acknowledgment. Jesus was on the way to the house of an important man in His hometown. As stated earlier, it is presumable that this was a man everyone knew and there was some haste in making the way to this home. But He stopped. In the midst of His rush to aid this man of stature and prominence, He took the time to reach out to someone of absolutely no importance and elevate her to a place where everyone could see and acknowledge her. In the midst of pushing towards a miracle that would elevate His ministry, He stopped to speak life and grace to a woman who could do nothing more than stand on the outskirts hoping for a miracle in passing. This was a woman who wasn't bold enough to push to the front of the line. A woman who knew that the man she was reaching out to was important and about important things, and was headed to the house of another important person. This was a woman who saw her place in the world as being at the back of the line with no hope of pushing forward. But God saw her, felt her need and healed her pain. God stopped, stooped down, picked her up and changed her life. But would I?

Would I stop moving forward in the pursuit of my dream or vision to stoop down and help? Would I reach out my hand to someone that could do nothing for me save offer thanks? Would I stop the pursuit of the important to embrace the hurting, or would I be too busy? Would I be so consumed with looking forward that I would ignore the gentle tugging at my heart that bid me look down? Where would my eyes be fixed? Would I look ahead, blind and oblivious to all the hurt around me, or would I find my eyes looking where Jesus did. If prominence set before me, would I be focused on it or the poverty surrounding me?

I saw a man in the cold today and it hurt my heart. He stood on the corner of a major intersection asking for help from strangers. Sure, he may have been gaming the system, he may have been a drug addict, and he may have been lazy and unwilling to get a job. But he may not have been. I could have kept driving and ignored him, my car heater buzzing with a warmth that he would not get to experience. But I didn't. I stopped and looked for a blanket, and finding none, I offered him what little I did have- change from a cup holder. He looked at me and in earnest said, "Thank you sir. My name is David, please keep me in your prayers. What's your name?" Damany. "Damany, you'll be in my prayers tonight as well. God bless." And that day He did. That day, God stooped down and ministered to the lowliest of those who were blind to their situation and undeserving of grace. That day, the prayers of a man were answered and God saved and healed. That day, God answered David's prayers...for me, and I am made better for David stopping, leaning down and ministering grace.

You can't save all, but you can fight to save one. Where's your fight today?

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