March 30, 2017

How did Jesus do it?

Mark says there were four of them, four friends who believed that Jesus could do something for their paralyzed friend, so they brought him and laid him at the feet of Jesus.

On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the man who was paralyzed — “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” (Luke 5:17–26)

Luke says something not in the other gospels: “And the power of the Lord was with him to heal.” This statement grabbed my attention. Does it mean that sometimes that power was not with Him? Or does it mean that even though He was fully God and fully man, He served in total dependence upon the Holy Spirit to give Him what was needed? Since I am to be like Jesus, is this an example for me?

Other passages back up that idea. For instance, 1 Corinthians 2:16 says I have the mind of Christ, and Philippians 2 begins with:

“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:1–3)

It goes on to say that Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7–8)

Even though Jesus lived as a man with a sinless nature, He nonetheless lived as a man. This explains verses like: “Not my will but thine be done . . . .” and “He learned obedience by the things He suffered . . . .” and “He was tempted in all points just as we are . . . .”

I do not often focus on the humanity of Jesus, but recognize that He experienced hunger, fatigue, and many of the same emotions that I do. When I read that passage from Luke, it seems He also had to depend on the power of the Holy Spirit to do what He did, to heal, to drive out demons, to bless people, to go to the Cross, and certainly to rise from death to live forever, not that He was without power, but that He emptied Himself to live as we live, or ought to live.

The Bible calls Him a ‘pioneer’ who leads the way for the rest of us. That means many things, including His example of needing power from on high. I do too. I cannot forgive sins, but I can do whatever He asks me because the same power is available to me.

Christians often excuse lack of power with “but He was God and I am not” without thinking that perhaps the link to power is not about being only human, but by learning obedience and as much as possible, keeping my life free from sin. God uses those who are not otherwise occupied with doing their own thing.

Lord Jesus, this is one of those truths that gives me a sweet delight. You give me all that I need to follow You with all my heart. I have no power, yet that same power that was available to You is also available to me. You grant it when I think with Your mind, consider others more important than myself, and ask You to forgive my sin and fill me with Your Spirit. You may not ask me to heal or drive out demons or other dramatic things, but whatever You ask, “I can do all things through You who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

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