Please… It’s My Son

I’ve never had the terrifying experience of a child with a life-threatening illness or injury.

I can hardly imagine what I might do to find an answer—a cure or a procedure or a treatment.

I can imagine that I would have some hard, not-at-all-pretty prayer conversations with God. I expect most of them would not be deemed “Sunday-School Appropriate” by most standards.

I think that is the earnest longing captured some years back by Mark Schultz in his hauntingly beautiful song, “He’s My Son.” Take a minute to listen to the yearning within it.

You hear that longing, don’t you? You can hear that desperation and agonizing desire for the healing of the son. It’s the kind of desperation that would press a well-revered man, a leader in the community, to take off on foot to the village 15 miles or so down the road because he heard that Jesus, the man that healed so many people in Bethsaida and turned water to wine in Cana, had come back to the area.

15 miles.

On foot.

One way.

That’s desperation.

[Read John 4.43-54]

After a couple of days spent in the Samaritan village of Sychar, Jesus finally made it back over into Galilee, where he had grown up. It was a strange thing for him to return here. As he had observed, according to verse 44, a prophet is seldom well-received by the people who saw him grow up.

Still, even here in where he was raised, the people had heard of the miraculous things he had been doing. Many of the people here had made the trip to Jerusalem themselves for the feast.(45) And so he returned to the place at which his first recorded miracle had taken place, the town of Cana.

The text tells of an official from Capernaum “whose son was ill.”(46) He had made the journey, about 15 miles or so, to where Jesus was.

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.”(47)

Jesus makes what seems kind of an odd statement.

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”(48)

The man clearly did not come here to discuss theology and doesn’t seem particularly interested in hearing a sermon or being taught a lesson. His son is near death. His only hope is that the one who has done so many unexplainable things might choose to come and heal his son.

This is precisely why I think it’s so important that we be about the work of helping meet the immediate needs of people—because it’s often very difficult to hear the truth of the gospel over the groans of the dying loved one or the screams of the sick baby or the howling winds from which they have no shelter or even the growling of their own empty belly.

The man simply begged Jesus to come and heal his son.

The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”(49)

Jesus, evidently moved by the man’s worry for his child, does something even better.

Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.”(50a)

He granted immediate healing for the man’s son without even having to go and see the child in person. He met the man’s need. And the man “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.”(50b)

The rest of the passage relays how the official’s servants met him as he made the trek back to Capernaum and brought him the news that the boy’s fever had broken and he was recovering—he would live!(51)

The man asked when things turned around and indeed it was at the very moment that Jesus had spoken the promise, “Your son will live.”(52-53a) But we must see the ripples of this healing action that Jesus took:

And he himself believed, and all his household.(53b)

People saw what Jesus did with merely the word of his mouth. They believed that Jesus was the promised One.

I suspect you would too… if it was your son.

Jesus stepped into the mess of disease and disability and brought healing.

He doesn’t always answer this way. He doesn’t always heal. But the hope of the gospel is the very real, very sure promise that ultimate healing will be found by all who believe in Him.

See Him as your healing.

Believe Him—that He came to heal you completely.

Know Him as your medicine, your therapy, your transplant, your wholeness.

I Can’t See It, But I Want To

One of those passages that has always been kind of quietly convicting is the account of Jesus as He looked out over the city of Jerusalem with tears in His eyes. In fact, it tells us that, as He saw the city He wept.

Jesus wept over this city that was obviously so dear to His heart. He wept for their lostness, their lack of understanding of the things happening right there among them. He wept that they were so close to Truth but were blinded by their tradition.

The people of that city in just a few short days would be crying out for Jesus to be crucified. But Jesus was heartbroken because He, the Prince of peace was here in their presence and they would simply not see Him for who He was.

I don’t understand how He could love them so desperately knowing that they would mock him so relentlessly. I don’t know how He could weep for those who would so soon cry for His execution. I don’t know how He could love them so much.

But then, how could He love me like He does?

I don’t understand that love, but I want it. I can’t see it, but I want to.

I want to see the world the way Jesus did…and does.

Like Brandon Heath so powerfully put it, “Lord, give me Your eyes..”

Brandon Heath, “Give Me Your Eyes”

Would you join Brandon and me in that prayer?

It’s Just Not That Simple

There are times when the railings on the various sides of the political square are all claiming the moral and ethical high ground. Once again the shouting matches between differing perspectives find me standing somewhere in the middle wanting simply to remind us all…it’s just not that simple.

I have been a pastor for more than 16 years now. As such, I am called to be an example to the people I serve and lead in all aspects of life and faith. Because I am the one whose office is in the church building, I am faced most often with people coming along looking for help.

I want to help them all – even the ones who I’m pretty sure are just making their living by manipulating the compassion of folks like me that take seriously the commands of Scripture to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless and so on. But the reality is that I can’t help them all. I simply have no means to do so.

At the same time, the means that I do have that are not actually mine require, upon my own honor, that I be a wise and faithful steward of those means. That is a tension that I struggle to manage between the responsibility to give and serve and the responsibility to use well what has been placed in my care.

But I am also a husband and father. And in that role I also find a tension to manage. It’s easy to sit in my study and pray with and serve and teach a man who is trying to break free from the slavery to his sexual appetites. But it’s another thing to invite him to live in my home and share a room with my sons.

I have a responsibility to serve that man in whatever way I am able. But I also have my first responsibility to provide for the safety of my family. They are both biblical mandates. You see, it’s just not that simple.

I believe in the power of God’s grace lived out in the lives of God’s people. I believe in love and forgiveness. I also believe that, as a leader, as a pastor, as a husband and father, I have a duty to care for those for whom I am absolutely responsible.

There is grace in welcoming with open arms the man just released from prison after stealing from his employer. There is wisdom in not making him the church treasurer.

There is grace in loving and receiving the man who has molested children. There is wisdom in not allowing him to serve in the children’s ministry.

The Scriptures teach me, “But if anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17)

The Scriptures also teach me, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)

You see…it’s just not that simple.

In all of the moralizing absolutes that are bouncing around today, I nod in partial agreement with most. But I don’t know how to find the right way. In my life and ministry I have learned how utterly crucial it is to prayerfully seek the direction from the Holy Spirit. And that, my friends, is the only way I see to find our way.

To those who say we have a moral and even biblical responsibility to take in those displaced by the ravages of war…you’re right.

And to those who say we have a moral and biblical responsibility to provide for the safety of our families…you’re right.

It’s just not that simple.

All I know to do is follow the mandate of the passage I have found myself coming back to time and time and time again for simple wisdom:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)