A daily devotion for January 4th
40A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean."
41Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" 42Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
43Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44"See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." 45Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
1A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7"Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic, 11"I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"
Jesus saw their faith... (Mark 2:5a).
The obvious thing Mark underscores for us here is the determined faith of these five men. They stand as an encouragement to us to exercise this kind of faith. There are three remarkable and beautiful aspects of it here.
These men dared to do the difficult. That is where faith always manifests itself. It was not easy to bring this man to the Lord. They had to carry him, perhaps a great distance, through the streets of the city. When they found the doorway blocked, they had to carry him up an outside stairway to the roof. We do not know how heavy he was, but it is not easy to carry a full-grown man up a flight of stairs. Yet these men managed this difficult task. They dared to do the difficult. What an illustration this gives us of bringing people to Christ!
Then, notice that they dared to do the unorthodox. They were not limited by the fact that it was not at all customary to break up a roof. When they found that the door was blocked, they did not sit down, as we probably would have done, and appoint a committee to research the various ways to get to Jesus. No, they just did what was necessary and risked the disapproval not only of the owner of the house but also of every person there by interrupting the meeting in order to get their friend to Jesus. The remarkable thing is that Jesus never rebuked them. He never does. There is never an incident recorded in which Jesus got uptight or disturbed about an interruption by someone intent on receiving something from Him and pressing through to Him despite the disapproval of those around. These men dared to do the unorthodox.
Finally, they dared to do the costly. Somebody had to pay for that roof. Imagine the face of the owner, sitting there at the feet of Jesus, when he hears this scratching on the roof. He looks up, and, to his amazement, the tiles begin to move. Then daylight appears, and suddenly he has a large hole in his roof! I do not know what his thoughts were. He probably wondered if his homeowner's policy would cover it. Or maybe he was mentally adding up the bill to present to these men. But somebody had to pay that bill, somebody repaired that roof, and surely it was one, if not all, of these men. They dared to do the costly. That is faith! They laid it on the line--at cost to themselves. What a witness this is to what it takes to bring people to Christ!
Lord, grant to me the faith to move out in ways that are difficult, unorthodox, and even costly to bring men and women to you, the only true healer of hurts.
Life Application: A life lived by faith has at least three identifiable characteristics. Are we growing up into the quality and vitality of faith that can be used to bring others to Jesus?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.