“When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.”
For someone who was a royal official to personally travel 20 or so miles (from Cana to Capernaum), is highly unusual. It highlights several key facts. The first, is that the boy was very sick. He was indeed near death. The second, is that he must have had some confidence in what Jesus would be able to do. The official could have easily sent a servant to go ask Jesus to come heal the boy. He didn’t. He personally traveled a day or so to find Jesus. He had faith in what Jesus was able to do. Does our faith in Jesus move us to do what we know needs done?
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”
If you ever want to see an excellent example of human behavior, try working with 1st graders. Every Wednesday I have the privilege of working with a dozen of the 60 or so K-2nd graders in my church’s AWANA program. Watching them try to perform a team exercise as simple as a baton relay can be amusing at times. Many times, the teams were slowed down by themselves. Rather than working together to win, they often were too concerned showing off or trying to do something “quicker”. These often led to dropped batons or bean bags. These innate behaviors don’t go away with age, we just get better at hiding them. Even as a mature Christian, the temptation to show off exists. If you want to run a good race, throw off anything that hinders you.
“Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.’ ”
How do you define tolerance? The dictionary defines it as “allowing the existence or occurrence of something”. Unfortunately, that definition has been changed very much. Today, many people think that tolerance is allowing and accepting someone else’s opinions or actions as correct. Jesus was tolerant in that He allowed people to exist in sin. He did not instantly destroy them (as He could have as a perfectly just God). Instead, He showed them mercy. But what He did not do, was simply accept their behavior. We are called to tolerate and let God do the judging, but don’t be deceived into believe that that requires you to accept other’s sin.
“The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”
How wise are you? When you see dangers and threats, what do you do? The wise does not unnecessarily expose himself to danger. There is a time and place to not simply run away from hard things. But the wise are able to discern what that time and place is. The simple don’t realize that not all obstacles have to be overcome. Just because a mountain is in your way, doesn’t mean that it has to be climbed.
“If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.”
-1 Corinthians 9:12
How far will you go to share the Gospel? For Paul, there was no limit. He lived unrestrained in his quest to tell the world about Christ. He allowed not a single thing to come between him and telling others what Christ did for them. That’s very inspirational to me. It is easy to endure hardships to tell others about the Gospel. It gives us something to struggle against. But Paul put aside any right that he would be able to claim in order to be unfettered in his quest. Do you deny even yourself in your efforts to live out Christ for others? Or are there some things you won’t put aside even for the Gospel?
“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
Paul oftentimes is able to masterfully use sarcasm to illustrate a point. In this case, he points out the absurdity of attempting to become perfect by doing good things alone. Our salvation and sanctification are both the result of the work of the Holy Spirit. We cannot earn our way to heaven. We can’t earn our way to perfection either. Your actions are important, but true change is not something that comes naturally. It must come from the Holy Spirit.
“Therefore David inquired of the LORD, ‘Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’ And the LORD said to David, ‘Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.’ ”
-1 Samuel 23:2
David was a very unique man. He was a shepherd and a king. He fought wars, and played a harp. He was called a man after God’s heart, but also committed some grievous sins. What set David apart the most, however, was that he looked to God for direction. Even though the philistines were the clear enemies of Israel, David still stopped to ask God what he should do. What about you? Even when you think you know what you’re doing, do you still check to make sure it’s what God wants you to do?
“And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”
The phrase “a mountain top experience” is one that is somewhat common in the Christian community. It is thought of as a pinnacle high point of closeness with God. This experience is akin to what Jesus’ inner circle experienced with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. What people forget, is that Jesus came down from that experience. While it is encouraging to have moments of intense connection with God, we know that it is nothing more than a foreshadow of what will come in eternity. If we spend our lives constantly on that mountaintop, we can’t come down to tell others of what is at the top of the mountain. Seek after God, but know that we will never have what we truly seek until we reach heaven.
“I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.’ But behold, this also was vanity.”
Solomon had the opportunity to give himself anything that he wanted. For a time, he did. He wanted to see if giving himself any pleasure that he wanted would be enough to satisfy him. It wasn’t. Why do you think that the small pleasures you do will satisfy you? As hard as it sounds, no one ever sins because they hate it. Solomon purposely sought out every form of pleasure, and found it all meaningless. Try what you want, that is all you will find when you seek pleasure. Seek God instead.