Friday, March 7, 2014

How far will you go for Jesus? (Luke 6:8)

But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, "Get up and come forward!" And he got up and came forward. (Luke 6:8 NASB)

We could take all these verses at once and cruise right through this story in one day, but we would miss the nuances here. The way the events unfold are just marvelous! The Sabbath police (aka scribes and Pharisees) were probably thrilled to see the man with the withered hand come into the synagogue that day. (I wonder if they arranged it as a trap, but there is no indication of that). They did not care a bit about the  suffering man. They cared about getting the upper hand with Jesus and catching Him in sin. Can't you just hear their thoughts? "Oh yeah! Jesus is gonna hang himself now with this withered hand!" It hadn't taken long for them to know Jesus. He was the same all the time. He IS the same all the time. He cares about suffering and He is eager to help, so they knew exactly what to expect. 

Jesus knew those scribes and Pharisees, too. He knew what they were thinking. He knew they saw the man's hand as a trap, and were just waiting for something to use against Him. Jesus, however, was far more concerned about doing good than worrying about the opinion of the authorities. We will see how He handled them tomorrow. Today, we see that Jesus knew they would be angry. He knew His decision to heal the man would be personally costly. He knew all that and called Him forward. No hesitation. No delay. Jesus saw a need and set about meeting it, regardless of the cost. 

In the United States, taking action in the name of Jesus to help those in need is not personally costly.  (At least not usually) In some countries, however, bearing the name of Christ costs the believer everything, yet our brothers and sisters around the world willingly preserve for the One who gave everything for them. How committed are we to Jesus? Are we willing to do what He would do for those in need, even if it is personally costly? 

In the summer of 1976, I was working as a summer missionary in Honduras. I was in a border village when, unexpectedly and quite suddenly, war erupted around me. We could hear the guns shooting in an adjacent village. They were headed our way. A decision had to be made and, as the youngest and most vulnerable, the decision was left to me. I had to decide whether or not I would stay, face whatever came, and risk suffering to do the will of God. Just to be sure that I understood, I was required to write a letter to my family explaining my decision. That letter is one of my most valued possessions. That dark night, filled with the sound of gunfire, was a refining fire for me. I stayed, and God protected me, but before that night was over, I knew the truth of the three Hebrews boys going into the fiery furnace. Our God could deliver, but if not, I would still stay. 

That refining fire nearly four decades ago makes all the difference today, because I know what I'm willing to give for Jesus. Today, spend some time thinking about our Lord's willingness to give everything for us. Consider your willingness to give all for Him. Consider your willingness to simply obey one little step at a time. If some changes in priority and commitment are needed, invite Him to help you do what must be done. There may come a time when you are called to hold firm for Him no matter the cost. Deciding in advance how far you will go for Jesus makes all the difference. 

Pray today that we and our loved ones would be so committed to Christ that we are willing to give all for Him who left Heaven to give Himself for us.