The women had just left the empty tomb when they were confronted by the risen Jesus. They did not flee but rather fell prostrate at His feet. There will be a time in all our lives when we too will come face to face with Jesus…and the decision becomes ours…do we turn our back and run…or do we worship at His feet.
The yearning we feel inside is a Jesus-shaped void. Although we try to fill it with lots of things…the spiritual thirst is still there. And it’s not until we have that “Coming to Jesus” moment, that the void can be filled. Matthew 5:5 tells us, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Quit trying to fill the hole inside you with junk, it’ll never work and only leave you more unhappy. Jesus is the only answer to finding peace in your life today.
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.”
Living for Christ is hard…there’s no way around it. The moment you say “Yes” to Jesus, the world labels you as “One of those crazy religious people”. But it’s by those troubles we encounter that we learn perseverance and are forged into a willing vessel for God . And with each difficulty, we go from wounded to winner. As Oswald Chambers once said, “Do we appreciate the miraculous salvation of Jesus Christ enough to be our utmost for His Highest – our best for His glory?” Yes, the way is narrow and filled with difficulties, but just look where it leads.
Next to the Resurrection, the feeding of the 5,000, is the only story found in all four Gospels. Even though they all come from a little different perspective, the miracle was the same, and important enough to be recorded numerous times. On the disciples part, they’ve been traveling with Jesus and witnessing countless miracles, but when Jesus challenged them to feed the throng of people milling around, they froze. With a total lack of faith and vision they told Him, “We have only five loaves and two fish. We can’t start to feed this many people!” But Jesus then takes matters into His own hands, gives thanks for what they already have, and multiplies it. So what important lesson did the disciples learn that was significant enough to be recorded in all four Gospels? Jesus took what they already had and increased it a 1000 times over. He didn’t focus on their lack, but rather on how it could be multiplied and used for His glory. When God calls you to something, He’ll use what you already have…and as you move forward in faith and trust in Him, it will be multiplied.
Lepers were the most reviled of human beings in Jesus’ time. They were considered utterly unclean physically and spiritually. They were shunned and outcast…required to avoid others, staying at least six feet away from anyone, and forced to yell “unclean! unclean!” when approaching crowds. So what gave this leper the brazenness to walk right up to Jesus in the middle of a crowd and ask for healing? He knew he was breaking every law in Leviticus 13. But he also knew deep in his soul that this man he had watched from afar could cure him of this devastating disease. He took a huge risk, but he had nothing to lose, and everything to gain if Jesus would oblige. The crowd was probably stunned by the sight of this leper dropping at the feet of Jesus…but they were even more startled to watch with their own eyes the skin on this man return to normal when Jesus touched him.
Some later manuscripts show this verse as saying, “Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you.” Either translation is a tall order to fill. For we are a people who retaliate at the slightest notion that we’ve been wronged. Taking revenge and repaying evil with evil is touted and even celebrated in today’s social media. But this verse tells us to do the very opposite. And our example should be Jesus, who in I Peter 2:23 demonstrates, “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate, when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” Taking the high road in the face of cruelty may be a clenched fist, gritted teeth type of grace under pressure, but allowing God to fight your battle is worth it in the end.