July 17, 2013

A diagnosis with a cure

When I go to my doctor, I expect a diagnosis or report on my condition, hopefully a “fix” for whatever problems might exist, and a recommendation for prevention of future ailments. When Jesus bids me “Come,” I expect much the same from Him, the Great Physician.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)

Some who answer His invitation are burdened with sin. If they come and accept His offer, they will hear, “Your sins are forgiven” and perhaps “Go and sin no more.”

Others, like a Canaanite woman whose daughter was under demonic oppression, came humbly pleading for her daughter. She told Jesus that even dogs that were normally not allowed to eat the children’s food might have crumbs that fell under the table. She was a Gentile, yet fully expecting Jesus to “fix” the problem — and He did.

Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, heard that Jesus was passing, and cried out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those around assumed Jesus had no time for him, so told him to be quiet. However, Jesus commanded them to call this needy man. He came, throwing off his cloak (as we need to come throwing off our hindrances). Jesus gave him sight, saying, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Many more in varying physical and spiritual conditions came to Jesus. The only one who went away disappointed was a rich young man who wanted eternal life, but he thought he could earn it by keeping the Law. Jesus told him that if he wanted to do it that way, he had to sell all he had and give it to the poor.

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17–22)

For him, the doctor had spoken. The man’s problem seemed to be a love for his possessions, but in a broader sense, he was like all of us; he had limits on what he was willing to do for God. Such is the way of sin. It is selfish at heart, and if keeping the rules feels good or profits us in some way, we will keep them, but not until they pinch.

Jesus was not telling him to sell his stuff so much as He was revealing this man’s heart. A diagnosis of his condition showed that this young man didn’t understand that his burden of Law-keeping could be traded for a yoke that was far lighter. What Christ offered him cannot be compared to the heaviness of trying to please God by rules and regulations. Yet this man preferred his own diagnosis and treatment for his condition even though he knew it was not going to give him eternal life. For that, he wanted the cure, but not the medicine.

My doctor does not expect or want me to diagnose and treat myself. If I am going to do that, why bother with a doctor? I do need to tell her everything I know, but I must also respect her ability and knowledge, listen to what she says, and follow her instructions. Anyone who comes to Jesus must do the same, and no one will not go away disappointed — unless they have already made up their mind to ignore what He says.

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