Mar 22 2013 - Luke 5:12-28 – We have seen remarkable things today
Jesus continued to perform remarkable miracles. A man with leprosy was cleansed and the news about what Jesus was doing spread around the area. Great crowds gathered seeking to be healed. Jesus tried to get away for quiet times of prayer, but he was not left undisturbed for long.
As he was teaching one day with a crowd around him listening, some friends brought a paralysed man for healing. Crowds filled the house where Jesus was teaching and gathered tight around the door; there was no way through. The friends of the paralysed man hauled him up onto the roof and, making a hole, lowered the paralysed man to the ground at Jesus feet. Jesus healed the man and sent him on his way carrying the mat. The mat that had previously carried him around was now triumphantly carried away by him.
Luke records the reaction of the crowds, both to this healing and to Jesus' demonstration that he had power to forgive sins; "Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, 'We have seen remarkable things today'" (Luke 5:26).
But the things Jesus was doing were not embraced as good news by all who gathered around him. Already the scribes and Pharisees were finding fault with Jesus. He seemed to claim to himself powers which belong to God alone and they were deeply shocked and offended by him.
Not that this stopped Jesus. The healing of the paralysed man is immediately followed in Luke by another equally remarkable miracle. The narrative continues, "After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. 'Follow me,' Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him" (5:27-28). Tax collectors were renowned for their love of money and could often make themselves relatively rich at the expense of those they fleeced. Yet, at a mere word, Levi/Matthew leaves his living to follow Jesus. Jesus' ability to transform the heart and to draw people to follow him is equally as remarkable as his ability to heal sickness. His call to Levi is quite as much a demonstration that he has the power to forgive sin and to give a new start to those who seem to be without hope – both to themselves and to others.
Jesus continues to touch and transform lives. But we can sometimes be suspicious and dismissive of the things which God is doing through the risen Saviour. The first Jewish Christians found it hard to understand that God had accepted Gentiles simply through faith in Christ; many wanted to impose Jewish customs on them before they would accept them.
I have just been reading a similar story concerning David Livingstone. It seems that, in conventional terms, he was not a very successful missionary. He had only one African convert, Sechele, the chief of the Bakwena tribe in what is now Botswana. But Livingstone soon wrote off his convert as a backslider because he would not abandon his secondary wives. Sechele pleaded with Livingstone, "Do not give me up because of this. I shall never give up Jesus. You and I will stand before him together." His pleas did not move Livingstone, but after he left, Sechele led church services for his own people. He taught them to read and the Bible became popular. Gradually the Bakwena became Christians. Sechele then travelled hundreds of miles as a missionary to other tribes and many more were drawn to Christ through his ministry.
We need eyes to see the remarkable things that God is doing in our day and to give him all the glory and the praise.
Father God, remove the misty spectacles of prejudice and party spirit from my eyes that I may see clearly what you are doing in the world and rejoice at every evidence of your grace. Lord Jesus, give me a greater measure of your Spirit and be pleased to do remarkable things in me and through me.