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He is trying to get to you


Hey its Christmas – Looking at the wrong king...

“In the time of Herod, king of Judea” . . . – Luke 1:5

King Herod the Great was the most powerful man in all of Judea. He built ostentatious palaces and a city on the Mediterranean that rivaled Rome. He could have anything money could buy or power could capture. His subjects were jealous and made jokes about how much food one of Herod’s palaces could buy. They knew Herod was selfish and insecure, but the insidious thing was, in their secret thoughts, everyone wanted to be Herod. The selfish oppressor had all the power and money, and that was what his subjects thought they wanted. While everyone was looking at Herod, a new king, the promised Messiah, was born in the most humble and inconspicuous circumstances imaginable. The surroundings of his simple birth set the stage for his life of selflessness and love. A new kingdom had come and almost no one recognized it. It was not what they expected.

Today, strong oppressors abound in this world and people suffer. Seemingly unlimited power and money have a tendency to corrupt, but humankind still desires both. We hate oppressive leaders, but we still desire what they have. I sometimes think, If I had a kingdom, I would do things differently. Actually, I am part of a kingdom—the greatest kingdom on earth led by an all-powerful King who has very specific things for me to do.

‘The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor’. – Isaiah 61:1–2

I am so thankful for my King, but the noise of other kings sometimes blurs my vision. Thankfulness needs to give way to action. Great blessing is a trust, a responsibility. The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me. The magic of Christmas is that my King has chosen me to be an active part of proclaiming good news to the poor by my actions. So, what am I to do? Who am I to help? I find great comfort in knowing that my King has already determined that. I just need to ask, listen, and be willing to act.

How to amaze Jesus?

“For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”- Luke 7:8,9.

Whether or not the centurion understood it at the time, he was making a bold claim. The Jews in Jesus’ day knew that only one person had ultimate authority over nature: God. Creation listens to God’s words. In fact, God created the entire world just by speaking. By claiming that Jesus could control the natural world merely by speaking, the centurion associated Jesus with the all-powerful Creator God. At Jesus’ word just like at God’s creation would obey. The centurion recognized this and he trusted Jesus. In other words, the centurion had faith.

Luke tells us that when Jesus heard the centurion’s message, Jesus was amazed. Amazed at what? Great faith. The centurion was an impressive guy, but it was not his power, status, or authority that amazed Jesus. It was not his morality or the good things he had done for the local Jewish community. It was his great faith that amazed Jesus.

When the centurion’s servant got sick, the centurion did not invite Jesus in for a chat about healing. He did not ask for Jesus’ credentials, or where Jesus had gone to medical school, or how he was able to heal people, or anything of that sort. Instead, he placed his faith in Jesus and confessed that all he needed was for Jesus to speak a word and his servant would be healed. And that is exactly what happened. So much is packed into the centurion’s story. This guy had it going on. And yet, in the face of his servant’s illness, all the centurion’s power, wealth, and influence were worthless. And he was in a crisis. Centurions were hardened, self-reliant individuals, but ultimately this one realized that his abilities only reached so far. In order to save his servant, he would have to go beyond himself. And at the end of himself, the centurion found Jesus.
When Jesus looks at your life, what does he see? Great faith? Or no faith at all? Does your life amaze Jesus?

It isn’t late

“Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain…As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow… And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.” – Luke 7-11 – 15

Can you imagine what God’s timing for the widow in our story must have been like? Your husband is dead. Now your son has died. Your life as you know it is over. So you’re now holding the funeral for your beloved son, and as his body is being carried out of the city for burial, you are stopped by a man you have never met. He seems friendly, and you can tell he hurts for you. “That’s nice,” you think, “but let me move on and bury my son, please.” Then he says something that cuts you to the core: “Don’t cry.”

“Don’t what? Don’t cry? Don’t you realize what is going on? Can’t you see that my son is dead? And by the way, so is my husband! Don’t cry? My life is over! And where is God when I needed him? Where was he when I was on my knees praying for him to spare my son’s life? Didn’t he hear me? Where was God when he died?” But Jesus’ “don’t cry” is not meant to offend the widow. It is meant to give her hope. Jesus is saying something like, “Don’t cry. God isn’t late. His timing is perfect.” Then Jesus walks over to the bier and says, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” And the son sits up and begins to talk. Did you get that? Jesus brought a dead guy back to life!

I don’t know what is going on in your life. I don’t know what problems you have or what you desire from God at the moment. But I know this: God is never late. His timing is always perfect. Your situation may seem hopeless. You may think that there is no way out, that there is no way even God could help you now. You may be frustrated that he has not answered your prayers.

Know this: if God can answer a widow’s prayer to heal her son after the son has died, he can also give you exactly what you need at exactly the right time. It might not be right now, but it will be at the right time.

In God we Trust

“In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.” – Luke 7:21 – 22

John the Baptist is in prison and getting impatient and frustrated. John was a religious guy, he obeyed God’s plan for his life to live in the desert and preach repentance and the coming of the Messiah. He sacrificed comfort and luxury. As far as we know, he never married. He knows that Jesus is the Messiah, but the longer he stares at the walls of his cell the more he doubts whether that is really true. Unable to wait any longer he sends two of his students to ask Jesus, straight up, “Are you the Messiah or not?”

But Jesus does not respond right away. This is such a Jesus move. Instead of giving John an instant message, Jesus continued to preach the gospel, heal people, cure their diseases, restore their sight, and cast out demons. Afterward, Jesus told John’s messengers: Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard. Weird answer, right? John wonders whether Jesus is the promised Messiah, but Jesus says: “Tell John about all the miracles I’m performing.” What sounds dismissive at first is a profoundly helpful instruction in how to respond when doubt creeps in and shakes our faith.

First, Jesus directs John to Scripture. He wasn’t simply letting John know about a bunch of miracles. Jesus was quoting one of the best-known prophecies concerning the Messiah, from Isaiah. Second, Jesus instructs us to look beyond our personal circumstances.

The key question for all of us, just as it was for John the Baptist, is simple: “Do we trust God?” When the going gets tough, it is not about simply believing in God. The question is not “Do you believe that God exists?” or “Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” The question is, “Do you trust God?” Belief is important, but in the darkest days it is trust that gives us hope.