Wednesday, 16 October 2013

"in the midst"

Just a few short scriptures with very little comment in relation to our Lord Jesus being "in the midst" for your consideration and hopefully your mutual appreciation.

"And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions." Luke 2:46

Our first scripture takes us back to when the Lord was a boy of 12, and found in the temple. Remember his words to his mother on that occasion were "wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?". His desire and will was to be about his Father's business, to do the will of him that sent him, to do the works while it is day. Such scriptures come to mind  as we think about the Saviour's obedience to the Father and his daily walk which brought infinite pleasure and delight to the heart of the Father.

"Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst." John 19:18 

It is sobering to remember that the Lord Jesus was willing to work out the Father's will to its ultimate conclusion and purpose - to go to Calvary and there offer himself as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. Paul says to the Philippians that he "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Surely the measure of his obedience can be seen at the cross, where he became obedient to the extent of death! In the garden of Gethsemane the Lord said "nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." We praise God that he was willing to go to Calvary for us all, to take that centre cross and be in the midst for you and for me!

"Then... when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you." John 20:19

Praise God that we can follow-up thinking about his death by thinking about his victory over death and the grave! He rose again on the third day as he said he would, and he came into their midst in that upper room. What an encouragement for the believer to appreciate this truth afresh that he is the "firstfruits of them that slept". Death is not the end for the believer! "Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." 1 Cor 15:23

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20

How lovely to remind ourselves that the Lord Jesus has promised his presence with us in our gatherings! I realise that the context of this verse is in relation to church discipline and judging in a matter between brethren, but the principle of the Lord's presence still stands I believe. What a precious thought that we are not alone in our gatherings, but the Lord is present, listening and watching...

We remember that there was a time previously when 2 or 3 were gathered together with Jesus in the midst - Calvary! How lovely to think that this same one endured the cross and died for us "in the midst" is also the one who will honour his saints with his presence, no matter how feeble the numbers! May we be encouraged as we think on these things.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The healing of the man deaf and dumb

I've been really enjoying this account from Mark 7:31-37 as it is a lovely opportunity to witness the compassion and grace of the Saviour. These qualities are so rarely seen today, yet we see them in such abundance and beautiful balance in the person of the Lord Jesus! How we should also be marked by these attributes, not a cold or cruel nature, but by warmth and gentleness, kindness and compassion.

Note the helplessness of this poor man - he was deaf and dumb! Think about this, as here was one who could not have heard about the Saviour, his tremendous miracles or his authoritative words and teaching. Here was one who could not have called out or asked to meet the Saviour. Remember both of these features were present in the case of Bartimaeus the blind man! It was when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth that he cried out to the Saviour for mercy. This man could not do either of these things, yet in God's grace he meets the Saviour, who takes time to bless him and change his life forever.

The gospel writer Mark gives us the actions of the Saviour in lovely detail, as you would expect from the writer showing us the Perfect Servant and recording his actions and movements. Here are just a few simple standout thoughts that I had regarding this account:

  • The Lord Jesus takes him aside from the multitude. This would be an intimate one to one experience where the man would focus upon the Saviour and the Saviour would deal with him directly and exclusively. I think this would have been unusual for this man, as the society of the day was hard and cruel. Remember that the Lord reproved the Pharisees for devouring widow's houses; the Gospel's tell us of unjust Judges; doctors who would take a woman's life savings in return for their guess-work; and tax collectors who would skim off the top from the people! I don't think this man would have known much human interaction, as a man who was deaf and dumb would not make for good company, he could not hear what people said and he could not articulate much to them (if anything) in return! Yet the Saviour lavishes this personal attention upon this man.

  • Notice that in verse 33 of our account there are no words spoken, just the actions of the Lord recorded. Upon reading this I notice something lovely - the crowd plead with the Saviour to put his hand (singular) on this man, yet a careful reading of the verse tells me that it is possible that this man knew more physical contact from the Saviour than anyone else. The Saviour puts his fingers (plural) in the mans ears (plural) so I envisage the Lord using both hands and embracing this mans head with his hands and fingers. The man also had his tongue touched by the very spittle of the Lord Jesus, one of only two miracles where this was used. The Saviour always gives more! Our ways are not his ways, and he delights to show us his abundant goodness in our lives. How touching to think that soon those blessed hands that had been around this man in compassion would be taken and cruelly nailed to a rough wooden cross.

  • The Saviour sighs and looks to heaven, the place from where he had come into this world that was so marred by sin. When the Lord Jesus looked to heaven I believe it was not just an upward look to the sky, but into the very portals of heaven and the presence of God the Father. The Saviour knew a better place, a better realm where there was no sin, neither could there be! A place of perfection, peace and happiness, completely free from the taint of sin and its consequences. I think this was a sign for the man, that here was something from heaven just for him. The one standing before him was from a heavenly realm, and God himself was the source and giver of this blessing.

  • Straightway, or immediately the man could hear and the string (or bond) of his tongue was loosed, and he could speak plainly! No speech therapy needed here, his healing was full and complete.

I often wonder what this man said with his new-found speech? Scripture says that his tongue was 'loosed' like it had been captive, and that he had longed to talk and speak as others for some time. It could be that this man had so much to say that he had thought about for many years, so much to communicate, so much pent-up frustration! However, I think that all that he had wanted to say was forgotten as now there was a new message upon his lips, one that bore testimony to the man who had healed him, the Son of God, his healing power, grace and mercy!

Surely we would agree with the statement toward the end of our reading - "he hath done all things well..." how true of our blessed Saviour, Gods only well-beloved Son! Surely we could put this over his whole earthly life, well should we continually bear testimony of the one who has done all things well and give him thanks and praise.

Now in a song of grateful praise, to our blest Lord the voice we raise; With all His saints we join to tell - Our Saviour hath done all things well!
And since our souls have known His love, what mercies hath He made us prove! Mercies which all our praise excel - Our Saviour hath done all things well!
And when on that bright day we rise, and join the anthems of the skies, among the rest this note shall swell - Our Saviour hath done all things well!
(Samuel Medley)

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