Points of View – Healing the Paralytic

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

A family attends a wedding. The teenage daughter sees a fairy tale wedding with a handsome groom and beautiful bride in a Cinderella gown. The middle school brother eyes the snacks and cake. The mother notices all the special touches and the well organized work in putting it all together.

The dad wonders, “How much did all this cost?”

We all have our points of view about things—this includes the synoptic Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

For instance, let’s look at the healing of the paralytic man. The man can’t walk, so four friends carry him to Jesus for healing. The problem is they can’t get in the crowded house where Jesus is teaching. The friends are so determined that they carry his pallet up the side steps to the roof and let him down through the roof right to Jesus. 

Jesus notices the faith of the friends to go to all this trouble and says,

“Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5

Listen to the thoughts of the teachers of the law as they watch this startling scene unfold.

“Why does he [Jesus] talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 5:7

Knowing these thoughts, Jesus says, 

“Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘You sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that  you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” He said to the paralytic, I tell you get up, take your mat and go home.” Mark 2:8-12

When the paralytic does exactly that, the crowd is totally amazed, and we hear no further comment from the teachers of the law. 

Now here’s the point of view from each of the writers: Mark is from Galilee where this event takes place. Flat roofs are made with mats of branches spread across wood crossbeams. On top of the mats is a thick layer of clay packed down with a stone roller. Hence,

…they made an opening above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat… Mark 2:4 

Luke, on the other hand, is from Greek territory and is primarily writing to Gentiles. Their roofs are generally made of tiles. In order to make sense to his readers, Luke describes the scene this way;

…they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd… Luke 5:19

As for Matthew, the lowering of the mat from the roof was not of particular interest to him. He is more concerned with the other parts of the story, so he doesn’t even mention the roof!

This is one of many incidents where it is helpful for us to read each account because we might learn fresh perspectives from each one. I will relate a few more in coming weeks. I hope you enjoy.

~ Joyce ~

 

Salvation 1 – Who Is Worthy?

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

For the next four weeks, we will consider the path to salvation.

Is it hard for you to share that message with people? Do you feel bum-fumbled with what to say? Perhaps these thoughts will give you a concrete plan. You’ll need your Bible, paper, and a pen.

Let’s envision two mountains. Draw two on your paper something like this picture.

Write the word “Me” on top of the short mountain and “God” on top of the tall one.

Inside of all of us is a need for God, a vacuum only He can fill. But how do we get to God? We can’t jump to the other mountain; it’s too far. We can’t climb up the mountain; it’s too steep. Besides there’s a great valley in between.

This valley is filled with mire and muck and we can’t get through it. It contains pride, hatred, selfishness, lying, adultery, murder, cheating, gossip, and a whole slew of other unrighteous acts. Actually, it’s anything that separates us from God. Label it “Valley of Sin.”   

 

We certainly can’t claim righteousness or know the glory of God with all this mess. No matter who we are, we’re not worthy to enter God’s Holy presence. Find Romans 3:23. Underline the verse and put a star by it in your Bible.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

All means Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, your pastor, Billy Graham, Miley Cyrus (or some celebrity your friend would know), you and me—all have sinned. We may not have committed murder, but we have likely been self-centered or prideful and certainly not holy.

We all fall short of entering the glorious presence of our holy God.

Still, we cannot know eternal peace without Him. No matter if we have the notoriety of Bill Gates, the prestige of Abe, the honor of Mr. Graham, the lavish clothes and houses of Miley, or the comforts of our own routines and friends, nothing can totally satisfy the deep longings of our hearts like the one who created us.

Read the verse again. None of us is worthy. 

Then what are we to do? Stay tuned next week for part two.

~ Joyce ~   

Be Still

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Ah, yes. A strange thing for us—to be still. Our fast-paced world doesn’t like the sound of those words, much less understand them. We have too much to do, places to go, ball teams to cheer on, concerts to attend, and cell phones to stare at for goodness sake!

I searched through Scripture and gathered my handy-dandy Strong’s Concordance to further understand this frightening phrase, “Be still.” Of course when we hear that phrase, we automatically think of the wonderful verse from the Psalms.

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

Is it underlined in your Bible? No? Get your pen out! This “Be still” has the connotation of “hang limp, sink down, withdraw, abate, cease.” The preceding verses tell of God’s almighty power. When we hang limp and withdraw from our important activities, we may just see the power of God at work in our lives.

Perhaps you remember when Elijah was told to stand on the mountain “for the Lord is about to pass by.” But the Lord didn’t speak out of the “great and powerful wind”, nor the earthquake or the even the fire. Instead:

…after the  fire came a still small voice. (KJV) When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. I Kings 19:12-13

“A hush, a whisper, a calm, silence.” At times, when I was an elementary music teacher, my students might get restless or distracted. My tendency was to get louder to bring their attention back, but  when that didn’t work, I went to the old teacher trick—I paused and spoke softly. There is something about the stillness that draws us in. No clutter. Our minds can rest and re-set.

Is your life too loud for you to hear his quiet voice? Are there values He is trying to teach you? A deed of kindness He has in mind for you? A service He wants you to engage in? Does He want to show you his power at work or simply be near to you so that you’re aware of his presence in your life?

I love the John 15 passage where Jesus compares himself to a vine. “I am the true vine,” he says. We are the branches. Of course the branches must draw their strength and nourishment from the vine to be healthy and fruitful. The King James version uses the word “abide.” Great word! Another one I like is “dwell.” The NIV  says “remain.” Another translation is “begin and continue.” That’s a nice fresh one.

This is the way Jesus puts it:

“I am the vine; you are the branches.If a man remains (abides, dwells, begins and continues) in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and are burned.” John 15:5-6

Ouch! Who wants to be a dead branch? Self-sufficient doesn’t get it. Apart from him you can do nothing, at least nothing fruitful. So, how do we remain, abide, dwell, be still, begin and continue? Next week we’ll explore some practical possibilities.

As a start (or a continuance, if you’ve mastered this), I challenge you to be still for the next five minutes. That’s all. Just be still. Practice not thinking about your to-do list. Try to put your mind in rest mode. Focus on the Lord. Maybe reread the Scriptures on this page. Walk to a window. Look up to the sky. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out slowly. Sit back down if you wish. Ask him to speak to you in his still small voice. Listen.

~ Joyce ~

God So Loved

Today we conclude Nicodemus’ night time discussion with Jesus. Jesus has been discussing the Spirit and now he turns to the subject of belief, namely belief in Jesus as, not just the Son of Man, but also the Son of God. Jesus refers to an Old Testament event where the Israelites wandered in the wilderness and were bitten by poisonous snakes. To save the people’s lives, Moses lifted up a bronze serpent. If they looked at the serpent they lived. Jesus uses this as an illustration of how he will be lifted up (on a cross) not just for life here, but also for eternal life through him.

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,  15 that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.    John 3:14-15

Nicodemus probably doesn’t equate the idea of being “lifted up” with crucifixion at this point, but Jesus goes on to say one of the most memorable verses in the Bible. Connect verse 15 to verse 16 and you will understand the word, “For”.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.   John 3:16-17

My pastor summarizes that powerful verse like this, “God loved. God gave. If we believe, we receive.” It is a picture of God’s mercy to us—we who are undeserving. By contrast, the next verse demonstrates God’s justice.

18 Whoever belives in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.   John 3:18

It is not complicated. Believe, receive eternal life. Don’t believe, receive condemnation (eternal death.) Nicodemus must still have a blank look or a frown on his face because Jesus once again illustrates with one of his favorites—light and darkness. Why does a child go off in the darkness to do his bad deeds? Because he doesn’t want anyone to see what he’s doing, of course. Jesus compares himself to the light and evil to the dark.

19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.   John 3:19-20

Jesus is the essence of light—truth, God’s righteousness, wholeness, deep abiding joy. If we follow that light and walk in that light, our good deeds will not be of ourselves. Instead, it will be His light shining through us. It is as if Jesus is telling Nicodemus, “You have come to seek the truth about me. Trust me, Nicodemus. Believe in me, Nicodemus.”

21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.  John 3:21

This is a key, culminating, convicting thought for Nicodemus. Much of what he does is driven by the desire to be seen upright in the eyes of men. It is a defect that Jesus often criticized in the Pharisees. Jesus knows that Nicodemus needs a change inside of him. Only the Spirit can make that change, but Jesus must also see that Nicodemus desires to know the truth. Look how many times he mentions it.

3 In reply Jesus declared, I tell you the truth…

5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth… “

11 “I tell you the truth… “

21 “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light…”

Jesus must have seen a man who was struggling deep in his soul and a man who wanted to know the truth. Thus the title of my book—A Heart for Truth. At this point, we have no indication that Nicodemus has made any commitment yet, but his mind has been stretched. Jesus has planted seeds of truth in his heart. Next week, we move to another incident with Nicodemus.

Joyce

Born Again

 

Last week we learned that Nicodemus was a part of the upper crust of Jewish religious society in Jerusalem. Let’s see what he says to Jesus in this one-on-one discussion.

2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” John 3:2

Is Nicodemus just buttering him up or stating an observation? We don’t know. It feels like there is a question coming to me. But before Nicodemus can say another thing, Jesus steps right in to the conversation. As he often does, it appears that Jesus goes off in a different direction, but he always has insight into the bigger picture. He knows what Nicodemus needs.

3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3

“Born again.” No that phrase didn’t originate during Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign, it came from this scene with Nicodemus. It is the essence of what Nicodemus needs, but doesn’t know. Of course, in the literal mind of Nicodemus, he takes offense at what seems a ridiculous statement. It takes him completely off guard.

4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” John 3:4

Jesus is talking about spiritual things while Nicodemus is thinking with his physical mind. Every day a good Jewish man gets up and recites the shema from Deuteronomy that he must love the Lord with heart, mind, and soul. Perhaps “soul” has just become a word to Nicodemus. Jesus spells it out.

5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit [capital “S”] gives birth to spirit. [lower case “s”] 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ “ John 3:5-7

Nicodemus’ blank look must necessitate further explanation, so Jesus gives an illustration, typical of the parable-teller.

8 “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

The Spirit is not something to be dissected and discussed like an oral law. The Spirit works in the inner man, in his very soul.

9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. John 3:9

I think I hear Jesus giving a sigh at this point which comes forward as a rebuke. They tended to be very straight forward, plain-spoken, even abrupt in their culture – not like our southern hospitality style.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and you do not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” John 3:10-12

I have to wonder how many times Jesus looks at me with a sigh and a shake of the head, wanting to share the jewels of heaven with me, but I’m occupied with the plastic jewelry of this world. How many times have I quenched the Spirit because my head and my heart are preoccupied with the mundane?

Draw us close, oh Lord, that we may sense your Spirit moving in our lives, moving strong and forceful, gentle and caressing – like the wind.

~ Joyce ~

 

 

 

Who Was Nicodemus?

Last year, while leading a small group session at a conference, I asked the question, “What do you know about Nicodemus?” One person responded that Nicodemus was a Pharisee; another said he went to see Jesus at night. Then a lady spoke up and said, “He was short.” I stopped in my tracks for a moment. Where did she get this? Did I miss something in all those months of research? Then it dawned on me that she was thinking about Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector who was short and climbed a tree in order to better see Jesus coming down the Jericho road. To my chagrin, this conversation has been repeated many times. Some of us know just enough Bible to be dangerous! Granted, there is much to know. When we get things mixed up, we just have to laugh about it and learn in the process. We will spend this month checking out the biblical passages about Nicodemus. No, I will not spoil the book (A Heart for Truth) for you. I’ll just give some extra commentary. John is the only gospel writer who gives us any information about Nicodemus. We find him mentioned first in John 3.

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said… John 1:1

So, Nicodemus was a Pharisee. That tells us a lot about him. There were about 6000 Pharisees scattered over Israel with a heavy concentration of Pharisees in Jerusalem where Nicodemus lived. They religiously kept the Mosaic laws, but added to the laws to further define them. You may be most familiar with the way they took the law about resting on the Sabbath and developed a wide variety of man-made laws to enforce that one law. Sometimes I think we give the Pharisees a pretty bad rap. They certainly were religious to the core. They did much to maintain and preserve the commandments, but their attitudes did not follow Jesus’ teachings about love. In fact, of all people (sinners included), Jesus was most critical of the religious leaders, Pharisees in particular. They allowed their man-made laws to hold as much, if not more value than the original laws. This laid heavy burdens on the common man to try to observe, much less know, all these rules. As I studied the intricacies of these many rules in the Mishna, I found myself thinking, what does it matter? In addition to being a Pharisee, Nicodemus was also part of the elite Jerusalem ruling council called the Sanhedrin. These 70 leaders, plus the High Priest, made up this powerful group. Israel was under Roman oppression at the time, but Rome did allow the Jews some leeway in governing themselves in the realm of their religious matters. Nicodemus, then, was in the upper of the upper echelon of Jewish society. As Jesus popularity grew, so grew the Pharisees’ disdain for Jesus. “He doesn’t do things the way we do. Listen to the things he says. Who does he think he is, the Messiah?” Indeed! So for Nicodemus, a prestigious Pharisee, to seek out Jesus at all was quite a dangerous feat. No wonder he chose to do it in the cloak of night. The religious leaders were always full of questions for Jesus, not in order to learn from him, but to trick him and show how ignorant he was. Quite possibly Nicodemus came with many questions, perhaps even with a desire to truly understand Jesus and his strange teachings. But Jesus ends up doing most of the talking in this very well-known discourse in John 3. Next week we will examine the actual dialogue between the two of them. For application of today’s description of the Pharisees, I am reminded of those who are very religious in their beliefs today. They may be very moral and hold to high biblical standards, but have a demeaning, critical spirit. It may be that you even agree with them about certain values, but their demeanor is such that you shudder to be seen or associated with them. A loving attitude is simply not there. Jesus might call it a self-righteous attitude. Oh that we would guard ourselves against such. Oh that we would be strong in our convictions, but stronger in the caring way we convey them. Think on such things this week. I’d love to hear your ideas. Click on “Comment” below. You won’t see your comment right away, but after I  okay it (for reasons of possible spam), it will be seen.

~ Joyce ~

 

Three Smart men and a Star

Last night, we put away our last Christmas decoration. You may or may not have done the same. But before we leave Christmas as a 2014 memory, I’d like to explore the passage about the “wise men.” Their story is in Matthew 2.

 

1 After Jesus was born… Magi from the east came to Jerusalem

2 and asked, Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” Matt. 2:1-2

 

Many believe these astrologers were from Persia and that they studied the stars with great wisdom. Somehow they had knowledge of Jewish names for celestial stars and clusters. Only in this way would they be able to identify them with a Jewish king. Where did they learn this? Could it be that Jews, taken into captivity in Esther’s day, had lingering influence on these Magi?

Some researchers believe the astrologers saw a particular set of stars that aligned themselves there in the eastern sky. They interpreted this to mean a special “king of the Jews” had been born (we have seen His star), and they were thus persuaded to make the long journey to worship him. This had to be more than just curious star-gazers.

They traveled to Jerusalem for, after all, that’s where the Jewish Temple was located. They posed their question to King Herod, who was not actually a Jew himself. He had to call in the religious leaders to find out where the Christ (Greek for Messiah) was to be born. “Bethlehem,” they told Herod.

So the Magi mounted their camels once again and set off for Bethlehem, another five miles away.

 

9 …they went their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child  was.

10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. Matt. 2:9-10

 

What a thrill for them to see the star once again. What a confirmation that God was directing them in this last trek of their journey. Note that Jesus is no longer a baby, but a child.

 

11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Matt. 2:11

 

Jesus is no longer a baby in a manger, he is a child in a house. Well, that messes up our nativity scene and dramatic music programs, doesn’t it? Maybe we need a “some-time-later” sign.

Unlike the religious leaders, these strange men from a pagan country have discovered the leadership of the “One God.” Their immediate response? They bow down and worship him. They offer three gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh – leading us to assume there were three men. Maybe or maybe not.

The question I ask is, “Why did others not see this star in the east?” My conclusion is that these wise men were the only ones looking for it. Likely they had been following patterns in the sky for months, noticing the alignment beginning to take shape.

When the star appeared again outside of Jerusalem, it confirmed their faithfulness in making the long journey.

As we begin the New Year, let us intentionally look for God’s direction in our lives. What star does he have for you  in this new year? A ministry opportunity? A relationship to mend? The determination to spend regular quality time in prayer and Bible study? What star does he want to shine into your life?

As you faithfully launch out, no doubt he will shine that light upon you again as a confirmation. May it be so for you. I’d love to hear about it.

Happy fulfilling New Year to you all.

~ Joyce ~

 

Testimony of a Bethlehem Shepherd

One night I was out in the field near Bethlehem helping my nephew and uncle with their flock. We had settled the sheep down for the night in the pen. I walked up the hill playing my flute over this peaceful scene, when out of no where a bright light appeared and a man startled us. The light glowed all around him. We could see each other plain as day. My flute went dangling at my side and I fell to the ground, covering my face. We were scared half out of our wits.

The strange man said, “Do not be afraid, because I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” I looked out carefully from behind my hands and thought I must be dreaming or something. I blinked my eyes, trying to get use to that light.

The man in the light was excited, so I tried to listen real careful knowing this must be something very important. The man said, “Today in the town of Bethlehem, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Then I knew it was important! By this time I figured he was an angel of the Lord. Who else could he be?

The angel said, “This will be a sign to you. You will find the baby wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger.”

Before we could take all that in, suddenly there was a great company of the heavenly host appearing with the angel. It nearly took my breath away. The whole sky was lit up with all of them singing and praising. They said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. Glory to God. Glory to God!” We were absolutely awestruck.

When the angels went back into heaven, we stood there in amazement. We couldn’t speak. We couldn’t move. Finally, my nephew said, “Let’s go Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened that the angel told us about.” We didn’t stop to think about the sheep. Guess we thought the Lord would take care of them since he gave us such important business.

Well, we hurried off down the hill and around the bend. We couldn’t believe any mother would have her baby in a stable, but we looked in every stable in town. They were all full because of the census, you know. When we ran to the last stable, we saw a lantern light. Sure enough, there was the baby all swaddled up tight in strips of cloths lying in a manger of straw. His mother and father were sitting beside him.

In the quiet, we realized how loud our panting sounded. We finally caught our breath and whispered, “Shalom.” The baby’s mother invited us to come closer. Can you believe a nice lady like that would let us dirty old shepherds get close to her new baby?

Her husband welcomed us, too. We spoke real soft to them because we didn’t want to wake the baby. We just looked at the baby a long time. Kind of like looking at a newborn lamb – all full of life. We knew deep in our hearts that this was a special baby. After all, the angel said “He is Christ the Lord.” You don’t get any more speacial than that.

We told the mother and father about the angel and what he said and the host of angels and their song and the light and everything.

But, you know, the parents didn’t seem the least bit surprised. I guess it was because somehow they knew it was all true.

~Merry Christmas from Joyce~

Going to Elizabeth’s House

While out thoughts are knee-deep in Christmas, let’s explore an account that often goes unnoticed amongst the shepherds, manger, angels, and such. It’s Mary’s trip to visit her relative, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth and her priest husband, Zechariah, live in the hill country of Judea. Their story is quite intriguing and can be found in Luke 1. In summary, Elizabeth (like Sarah, Hannah, and others) is devastated because she has been unable to have a child, something akin to a curse in her day. Zechariah serves his yearly one-week turn at the Temple in Jerusalem. While there, he is dumbfounded (read Luke 1 to get the pun) to discover that his wife is going to have a baby in her old age. We later learn that this child is none other than John, as in John the Baptist.

Sure enough, old Elizabeth does become pregnant! And gives credit where credit is due.

25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” Luke 1:25

Six months later, the angel Gabriel appears to Mary, revealing to her that she will bear a son and name him Jesus. He will, in essence, be the Messiah that Israel has longed for. Mary is startled and confused, but Gabriel satisfies her questions.

35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you… and he will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35

The angel goes on to say,

36 “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God. ”  Luke 1:36

Mary makes a trip to the hill country to visit Elizabeth. Zechariah is the first one to the door and as soon as Elizabeth hears Mary’s voice, baby John leaps in her womb.

41b …and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy SpiritLuke 1:41b

Elizabeth excitedly tells about her baby leaping for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice. She goes on to pronounce blessing over Mary.

42 In a loud voice she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” Luke 1:42

Two women – one old, one young. Both are told they will bear a son with a specific name  and specific callings. One son will prepare the way for the other. Both women are filled with the Holy Spirit. Both have their callings confirmed by each other. Two miracles takes place because “Nothing is impossible with God.”

Yet another reason for us to give thanks and praise during this season. We, too, can look back and see God at work in our own lives: affirming us, encouraging us, revealing his Holy Spirit, and at times, accomplishing what seems impossible. Think back on your year. How have you seen God at work in your life?

Next week, on Christmas day, we will hear a testimony from one of the Bethlehem shepherds.

~Joyce~

 

 

 

Interruptions

Perhaps you’ve read the humorous tales of the housewife who sits down to write a few bills when the phone rings. She goes to another room to look up an address for the caller. On her way back, she remembers that she forgot to take her medicine that morning. She goes to the kitchen, takes the medicine, and sees the breakfast dishes in the sink.

“Might as well put these in the dish washer while I’m here,” she says to herself, but the dryer buzzer goes off. “Oh, I need to get the clothes out before they wrinkle.” Off to the laundry room. And so it goes. The bills don’t get paid and the dishes are still in the sink, etc. etc.

Ever have days like that? Well, Jesus did too, except he got everything accomplished in spite of the interruptions. Think back on the events we have covered. He teaches in the synagogue amazing the people with his teaching. A man with unclean spirits interrupts the service and Jesus heals the man.

Jesus goes to Simon and Andrew’s house to eat lunch, but they are interrupted when they find Simon’s mother-in-law ill. Jesus heals her. News spreads about the morning healing and at sundown, Jesus rest is interrupted by a constant stream of people at the door to be healed.

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, 33 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. – Mark 1:32-33

Notice that they brought all the sick. Capernaum would not be as large as Jerusalem or as small as Nazareth. It had a synagogue and was on a trade route so it would be of moderate size. We don’t know how many “all” is, but likely it took him well into the night to finish this extensive healing ministry.

While he was drained physically, he was also drained spiritually. The next morning, very early, he felt the need of a private time of prayer.

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. – Mark 1:35

I am always amazed by the fact that, though he was divine, Jesus was also human and had the need to pray, to draw strength from the Father, to seek direction, and to clarify the calling. I am convicted that, if he needed these times of solitude, then certainly I need them as well to overcome the distractions and interruptions in my life. I, too, need to draw strength, to seek direction, and clarify my calling.

Well, here comes the next interruption––even his prayer time is interrupted! Simon and the crew can’t believe he isn’t right there and available the next morning.

36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed; “Everyone is looking for you!” – Mark 1:36-37

Undaunted, patient as can be, Jesus has had enough prayer time to be re-energized and ready to move on with his calling.

38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else––to the nearby villages––so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. – Mark 1:38-39

Even in the midst of his interruptions, the calling was clear––stay the course. Preach! Our callings may take a different form, but we can take lessons from our Master. Overcome interruptions, stay the course, and pray for clarity and stick-to-it-tive-ism.

~ Joyce ~