By David Faust
A general called his troops together and said, “The bad news is, we’re completely surrounded. The good news is, now we can attack the enemy in any direction!”
In the battle for faith, attacks come from different directions. Sometimes we have trouble grasping God’s power, and other times we question his love. It’s one thing to ponder in a general way, “Can God raise the dead?” It’s more personal to ask, “Will I live on after I die?” It’s one thing to ask theoretically, “Is the Lord all-powerful?” It’s more personal to wonder, “Will he use his power to help me?”
Two incidents recorded in Matthew’s Gospel illustrate how the Lord helps those who call on him in faith.
If You Are Willing
When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy (Matthew 8:1-3).
The man with leprosy believed Jesus could heal him, but wasn’t sure he would. “If you are willing,” the man said, “you can make me clean.” Lepers were considered untouchable. Common wisdom dictated staying as far away from them as possible. Everyone else kept the man at arm’s length, so why should Jesus be any different?
Notice how Jesus healed him. He “reached out his hand and touched the man.” He could have healed him another way. He could have simply said the word and sent the fellow on his way. But touch was exactly what the leper needed: skin against skin, holiness handling hopelessness, perfect purity in direct contact with uncleanness and rejection, the God-Man reaching out to the Man Nobody Loved.
In this Gospel picture we behold the Savior’s love. He is willing to reach the unreachable, touch the untouchable, save the unsalvageable, forgive the unforgiveable.
If You Are Able
Later two blind men called out for mercy from the Lord. This time the issue wasn’t whether the Lord was willing to help. Clearly he cared about their plight. But now a different question presented itself: Was Jesus able to do anything about their hopeless-looking situation? Did he have the power to restore their sight? It would take a miracle to heal one blind man, but what about two men at the same time with four sightless eyes to heal?
When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored (9:28-30a).
Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” and their reply was confident and direct: “Yes, Lord.” Jesus’ calm response demonstrated his divine power. Again he performed a miracle by touching. He “touched their eyes” and restored their sight.
Spiritually speaking, we all need the touch of the Master’s hand. We’re under attack from every direction, and without his intervention we’re weak, leprous, and blind—disconnected from others, lacking vision, needing hope. We need blessings his hand of grace alone can provide.
Aren’t you glad he is willing—and able—to help?
1. Which aspect of God’s nature is harder for you to grasp—his willingness to love, or his power to save?
2. How do you see the Lord’s love and power at work in your life today?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for January 27, 2013
Genesis 42, 43
Genesis 44, 45
Genesis 46, 47
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