Often as a young officer in the Army, my unit would deploy to the field for training. In order to communicate with everyone else in the Battalion, we used radios. But before we could talk on the same channel, the commo officer in charge of running the net tested us to ensure we were genuinely part of the unit and not the “enemy.” He did this by giving us a code that we then had to apply to our own code matrix to find the appropriate response. Once the proper reply was given we were allowed to join in with everyone else already authenticated.
In Luke 5:17-26 Jesus is teaching in Capernaum, the town where Peter was from and a center of His operations. Pharisees and teachers of the Jewish law came from all over Israel to hear Him speak. They were checking Him out. While Jesus spoke to an overflow crowd, four men cleverly found a way to lower their paralyzed friend through the roof of the house in which Jesus was teaching. Jesus complimented them for their faith. But instead of healing the man, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you” (5:20). I believe Jesus said this because He had a much bigger agenda in mind than just healing the unfortunate man before Him.
Instantly, the Pharisees thought Jesus was guilty of blasphemy, (a crime punishable by death), for only God had the authority to forgive sins. But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, used this opportunity to authenticate His divinity by telling the paralyzed man to “Get up, pick up your mat and go home” (vs. 24). The end result was that everyone who witnessed this phenomenal miracle praised God!
In 2 Corinthians 4:6, Paul writes, “For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.” Just as Jesus repeatedly was examined by both admiring and skeptical crowds so we as His followers also come under serious scrutiny. In order to authenticate the gospel message as genuine, our lives must be changed. If we claim to follow Jesus but model lives no different than anyone else, the gospel looks to be a farce. God’s light instead of shining in our hearts flickers like some traumatized candle whose last flicker gives the darkness only pause to sneer.
When the paralyzed man rose the crowd was filled with awe. When you rise what is the crowd filled with—do they see the glory of God cascading through you as some splendid light show, or are they left with the mistaken impression that Christianity is just another religious choice of little consequence? Luke records that Pharisees and townsfolk exposed to Jesus’ power said, “We have seen incredible things today” (vs. 26b). Literally, that phrase could be translated, “We have seen things which are contrary to opinion or belief.” Quite simply they were mesmerized! And quite frankly, it should be no different today. When you and I walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, His light shines through us and people cannot help but notice. Would to God they would say, “We have seen things which are contrary to opinion or belief.”
For the watching world, we ourselves serve proof that God is alive. We form the visible shape of what He is like.--Philip Yancey
Seek to live with such lucidity that the clarity of your motives becomes a lens which projects the image of Christ upon the screens of others' lives.—David Augsburger inWitness Is Withness
“Putting on Christ” . . . is not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; and it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity.—C.S. Lewis,Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 2.
©2005 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)