Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Throughout history, God has looked for people who were either curious enough or sensitive enough to turn aside from their daily routines and spend time with Him.
Just as the Lord longs for us to turn to Him, so He also draws near to us when we do so, revealing Himself in greater measure.
Abraham showed hospitality to strangers and entertained angels. Moses turned aside to see a burning bush and encountered God. Joshua, Samuel, Daniel, Anna, Zaccheus, Mary, and so many others made quality decisions to seek God, and were rewarded for pressing in.
Their reward? To hear God's voice and to know Him personally.
We, too, are being challenged - even forced - by our current circumstances to set aside things that normally divert our attention from the Lord. He is jealous for our love! (For more on this topic, read this recent post on Hosea).
It goes without saying that God deserves ALL of our time and attention because of the priceless sacrifice He made for us: He died to deliver us from every curse and sin.
Yet time and time again, I am struck by a parallel truth, which is that Christ turned aside from the captivating beauty and glory of heaven to spend time with us. He entered into our places of despair, pain, darkness, sin, even death to comfort and heal us.
He redeemed what we - not He! - had lost. He did not have to do this. He wanted to, because He loved us.
HUMILITY THAT DIES TO SELF
As I read through the stories of Christ's encounters with broken people in the Gospels, I am struck by His humility. A man who claimed to be God - was God - had every right to draw attention to Himself. We certainly would!
If healing for cancer or COVID-19 or any debilitating disease were available we would immediately seek the largest stage, the most public platform, and the greatest audience to "market" our message. If we refused, others would do it for us. After all, what good is a healing ministry if no one knows about it?
But Christ was not concerned that people know about His ministry; He desired that people know Him. His approach was completely different.
Jesus came to a deaf and dumb man in Mark 7:31-37 to heal him.
Everyone knew it would take just a simple touch of Christ's hand to heal a deaf man; there was plenty of faith for a miracle! In fact, the crowds begged Jesus to heal him; it would be such a testimony, would it not?
Yet Christ did the opposite; He pulled the man aside, away from the crowd. He sighed deeply and prayed as if He understood, somehow, the man's shame and agony. He brought the heart of the man to the Father as a true high priest would, in intercession. (See Romans 8:26.)
Only after "standing in the gap," as prayer warriors would say; identifying completely with the man's sorrows, did Christ use his authority to heal, saying "Be opened."
I believe that the time Jesus spent taking this unknown man aside for a private encounter was equally healing, if not more so, than the miracle itself.
In humility, He loved the man.
The Greek translation of Mark's text implies a loosing of the cords of death around the deaf and dumb man, and indeed his tongue was loosed and the silence broken as Jesus prayed for him.
Jesus did this miracle even before He died on the cross, as the Son of Man.
In compassion, He healed the man. Compassion was - and still is - the key to healing.
COMPASSION THAT HEALS
What do we do with this kind of love and humility that prefers another over self? Honors another who is by all standards unworthy? Cares for someone who could never return such a favor? How do we comprehend love like that?
Rarely do we see someone lay down self for another; as the scripture says, we might possibly see someone die for a good man, but never for an unrighteous, unworthy one! And this is how Christ finds us when He comes to us.
We are racked with doubts and fears, full of sin, unable to see as we ought to see, often deaf to the Lord's instructions. We often feel unaware, really, of His will for our lives. Pressure and conflict surround us and we do not have the answers; we feel like puppets controlled by forces much greater than ourselves!
But then we encounter Jesus. And He restores dignity. Worth. Vision. Stability when we feel off-balance. Healing for our bodies. Deliverance from our demons. Purpose for our futures. Most of all, He says again to us: "I want to know you, too. You are worth My time and attention, just as I am worth yours."
There is no response to this except to worship Him! Friends, the depth of Christ's love for us is SO FAR BEYOND what we can imagine. He still wants to encounter us personally today, if we will only seek Him! Paul prayed that we would know the depths of that love - and the height of it and the width of it - that love that desires to fill us beyond any human measure!
Dear friends, may you never settle. May pride at what you do know about the Lord never stop you from discovering more about Him! We will spend eternity celebrating who He is!
The joy of knowing God, and of Him knowing you completely, can begin here and now. For those who diligently seek Jesus, that relationship is truly heaven on earth.
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.