Our Varying Expectations of Christ (Article 17-13)
Let me begin this lesson with a straight forward question. What are the reasons we seek Jesus? I know this is a profound question to ask; however, it’s an important one. The answer means understanding the difference between knowing Christ and only knowing of Him. We hear of stories where soldiers confess that they found Christ in a foxhole. Others may reflect on a severe injury, health or death-related experiences that drew them to Christ. Some may admit that they were attracted to Christ stemming from abusive relationships or the crises addictions bring to their lives. After all, it is our nature to reach out to anyone or anything in times of despair and desperateness and found Christ. I do not question the authenticity of such testimonies. In fact, I am very likely to believe that they did experience Christ’s divine presence and power during their crises. Scripture provides many accounts of a crisis being resolved by way of a divine miracle. The Varying Attitudes to Who Christ Is When we study Christ’s ministry, we see a sharp contrast between the experiences of the Samaritans (Gentiles) and Galileans (Jews) toward Christ. When Christ ministered in Samaria, the central region between the Galilean Region (Jewish) to the north and Juda (Jewish) to the south, he was warmly received (John 4:1-42). Before He departed Samaria, the Samaritans stated to Jesus, “Now we believe, not because of what you said [that being what the Samaritan Woman at the well told them], for we have heard Him, and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” Christ then departed to His home region of Galilee where at times He was not so warmly received. Much of it was the result of them knowing Him as a common laborer and not as a divine miracle worker and above all, the Messiah. Their familiarity with Christ as a boy and young man bred contempt for Him. Despite this, it was in Galilee that Christ performed His first and the most miracles. In the Galilean town of Cana, Christ performed His first miracle (wedding feast [Matthew 21 and Luke 14]). It was here too that a nobleman, having a deathly ill son in Capernaum, approached Jesus for help. The nobleman asked Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son. Jesus states to the Nobleman and all those who were listening to the nobleman’s plea “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” As if the nobleman hadn’t heard a word Jesus said, he simply responded: “Sir, come down before my child dies!” Key to these points of scripture is the differing views on who and what Christ was to the people He encountered. To some, He was who He said He was. To others, He was merely a miracle worker and healer. To some He was a prophet. To some He was a magician. To some, He was a heretic. To some, they believed by His mere word. To others, Christ had to show them He was who He claimed He claimed.
Recognizing Our Varying Attitudes Toward Christ Let's look at the above points in a little more depth. It was in Capernaum that a Roman Centurion (a Gentile) approached Jesus for help to save his servant. Jesus said, “I will heal him” (Matthew 8:7). “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (Mathew 8:8-9). Christ “marveled” at the Centurion’s faith and said “…Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! (Matthew 8:10). He also stated, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour” (Matthew 8:10). Immediately following Christ’s exorcism at Gerasa (a demon-possessed man healed [Luke 8:26-29]) Jesus went to heal Jairus’ (a Jewish synagogue ruler’s) daughter (Luke 8:49-54). While Jesus was traveling to Jairus' house, amid a large crowd, a woman was there who had been suffering from a serious bleeding ailment (Matthew 9:20-22). Believing she would be healed by her faith in Him, the woman came up behind Christ in the crowd to touch His garment. When she did, her bleeding immediately stopped, freeing her from her suffering. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” The woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told Christ the whole truth. Christ said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” In the meantime, a person notified Jairus (the synagogue ruler) that his daughter had died and to forget about asking for Christ’s help. It was too late. Jesus then replied, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” (Luke 8:50). When he arrived at Jairus’ house, He found many weeping and mourning the young girl’s death. Christ tells them “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.” (Luke 8:52). They “ridiculed” Christ for not recognizing she was dead. Christ then goes to the girl and states “little girl, arise, ” and she does (Luke 8:54-55).
What Most Matters To Christ In our times of need, we may call out to Christ for help. In so doing, we must keep in mind that Christ’s intent for delivering us from our crisis (es) is to draw us closer to Him – to know Him entirely and by so doing, become one with God. Knowing that we all go to Him with differing intents and expectations, He will draw us closer to Him in different ways. In the case of the Samaritans, the Roman Centurion, and the “bleeding woman,” they were healed by their faith. They trusted Him apart from solving their crisis. He didn’t need to “come with them” or go to a place of their choosing to perform His miracles. In the case of the nobleman in Capernaum and Jairus’ daughter, their faith was weak. If there were any hope of increasing their faith, it would have to be done so they could witness His divineness, power, and glory. In reflecting on these points, we must always remember that our purpose in life is to be “one with God.”
Our Preconceived Ideas May Hinder Truly Knowing Christ's Intent Since many have preconceived ideas of how Christ must solve our problems, He will do so in ways and in times of His choosing that will meet His intent, not ours. Christ will skillfully draw us into deeper levels of faith. What He teaches us is to put aside our expectations of what, when, why, who and how He should work in our lives and the lives of others. Our job is to trust Him and take Him at His word. Truthfully ask yourself: Are you the one who needs to “see signs and wonders” to believe or can you believe without them? After Christ's resurrection, He addressed Thomas’ skepticism by stating “… because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 19:29).
Our Lord graciously meets us at our point of crisis, but that’s not the end of things. It’s just the beginning. He wants us to believe in and follow Him not only because He delivered us from our crisis, but also because He is the only Savior and Lord. He is worthy of our trust because of who He is.
We must only believe in and trust Christ and trust Him totally.