The Same Forever
If you are tuned into the times, you know there is a great dichotomy between living through fearful world and national events, and experiencing the sweet supernatural presence of God invading a worship service as He did at the Asbury Revival. God made the sovereign decision to palpably inhabit the repentance and praise of a group of unassuming students in the midst of governmental controversies, lying and mishandling of information, economic scares, and threats of more pandemic outbreaks. This overwhelming presence of God did not show up at mega churches or church/organizations sporting charismatic personalities, but chose those who came humbly, wanting only Him. We should not be surprised – this is the way He has always done it.
Jesus’ life on Earth is probably the best demonstration of God coming to man in an unexpected way at an unexpected time. He ministered primarily in the Galilee region of Israel to those who were spiritually hungry and in need, rather than in Jerusalem, the location of the Temple with the priests, Pharisees and teachers of the Law. Jesus came healing and casting out demons, demonstrations of God’s love and concern. The profound truth He spoke with unusual authority attracted not only the common people but also the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.
On a particular day when Jesus was teaching at a house packed with people, He added to the miracles He had performed up to that time. The friends of a paralyzed man, unable to get through the crowd, hoisted their friend on top of the house, tore back the roof, and lowered their friend in front of Jesus. Instead of attending to the man’s obvious physical need, Jesus pronounced that the man’s sins were forgiven. This was the most egregious thing He could have done before the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, as they had spent their lives studying and teaching others that forgiveness could only be granted by God, and that happened only once a year when the high priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies with the blood of the sacrifice. For the religious elite, the wonder of physical healing paled compared to forgiving sins. Jesus was out of order!
It is perplexing to contemplate that today the forgiveness of sins is not considered miraculous, yet we are awestruck at the power of God to heal a contemporary crippled or diseased body. Deliverance from demonic possession and oppression is not entertained in polite company even though thousands are suffering and counseling is not always effective. Our familiarity with forgiveness has marginalized the miracle (apart from our salvation experience) and we are instead looking for signs and wonders. It sounds eerily like we are dictating to Jesus what is acceptable to us. The Pharisees and Sadducees did that and Jesus responded, “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.” (Matthew 16:4) Is this why the power of God is rarely seen in our churches?
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day worshipped the Law, rather than God. God still knows who the true worshippers are – those who worship in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). Jesus has never turned His back on earnest, hungry and needy people, but He is not into performance. If we take the position that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” (Hebrews 13:8) and humble ourselves to seek Him in needy desperation that would actually give Him preeminence in our lives, we just might “accidentally” find ourselves the blessed recipients of His Presence, healing and deliverance. The time is ripe for revival. Are we?