In this story, a Canaanite woman has approached Jesus asking Him to heal her demon possessed daughter. At first Jesus is kind, but firmly tells her, “I’ve been sent to help the Jews.” But she’s undeterred with her request, so He then says to her, “It’s not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” For most, that kind of rebuff would have stop them…but not her! Yes, she thoroughly understands what Jesus is saying, but she also knows that He’s the only one who can save her daughter. It’s by her tenacity and tremendous faith…a faith that Jesus recognizes in her, that her request is granted.
For Simon Peter, he had come full circle from that first encounter with Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He and his brother, Andrew, were fishing when this stranger approached them and declared, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Now three years later, following Jesus’ death and resurrection and Peter’s denial of Him…Peter has been restored and re-commissioned. “Follow Me,” is fellowship of faith and life with our Savior…it’s both inner fellowship of trust and confidence, and outer fellowship of becoming more like Him daily. “Follow Me,” ultimately means counting the cost and determining it’s all worth it.
The blind beggar was sitting by the side of the road near Jericho. As Jesus walked near, the crowd brought the blind man to Him. Jesus knew the beggar was blind, so why did He still ask him that question? “What do you want Me to do for you?” It says in Matthew 7:8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” The Lord wants us to ask Him for the desires of our heart…even down to tiny things that only we care about. Asking the Lord for something to be given to us isn’t unspiritual or lacking faith…it’s quite the opposite. The Lord delights in us asking.
The Lord is saying, “Be ready!” Come out of that spiritual stupor and complacency you’re in. For you have been lulled into a false sense of security by your apathy towards God. Telling yourself that you’ll get right with God when you’re old, or when you’re done sowing your wild oats is risky business…for all we know, you may not live to see the sunrise tomorrow. Jesus said it best in Luke 12:40, “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” Today is the day of repentance… and a new moral reorientation of your soul.
Felix, the Governor of Judea, was well acquainted with the “Way”…in fact he was even married to a Jewess named Drusilla. So as he listened to Paul speak about faith in Jesus Christ, conviction hit a little too close to home. Conviction by the Holy Spirit is an intense persuasion…a laying bare of our personal sin, and the realization of the judgment to come if we don’t repent. Paul saw this force at work by the Holy Spirit first hand and later wrote to the Thessalonians, “Because our Gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” (I Thessalonians 1:5) Never underestimate the power of conviction by the Holy Spirit…for it is unrelenting and able to reach where no human words can.
The simple answer to these questions is…we can’t. In our immoral human state, we are not innocent before God and in right standing with Him, and no matter what we try to “do” to become righteous we will fail, for all of our good works are like filthy rags in His eyes, (Isaiah 64:6) The only way we can stand pure before God is to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, (that’s us) and to bear on His body our guilt and shame that we may stand before our Heavenly Father sinless and perfect…washed in the blood of Jesus.
Imagine being in the crowd around Jesus and seeing people being healed and set free…but yet refusing to acknowledge His divinity, showing no confidence in His power, and doubting the promise of eternal life. No wonder Jesus placed such emphasis on the sin of unbelief. Unbelief blinds our minds and causes our heart to become calloused. This lack of faith can hinder even the most righteous Believer at times…but just like the sick child’s father in Mark 9:24, we too can ask Jesus to,” Help me overcome my unbelief.”