In Luke 5:12-16 there is a beautiful story of Jesus healing a man with leprosy. The leper sees Jesus, falls on his face and says “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reaches out to touch the leper (unthinkable), saying “I am willing. Be clean!” The leprosy immediately leaves and the man walks away healed, cleansed.
The generosity and compassion of Jesus are on full display here. He is so ready to heal, so eager to do good, so willing to give good gifts to those who ask. But I am also struck that he is also prepared to actually deliver. Jesus’ willingness to heal was equal to his ability to bring it about. Oftentimes I am just as willing as Jesus, but clearly not as able as he was to deliver. I really want to see the kingdom come, but I don’t see the same results. Jesus is not just willing, he’s able. So what’s the missing link?
We can’t say “Well Jesus was God,” because he clearly expected that anyone who believed in him would do the same things he was doing. Jesus didn’t heal people because he was God, he healed people because he was a human being cooperating fully with the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ clear expectation of his followers was that they would be not only as willing as him to bring the kingdom, but also as able.
It seems the clue to the missing link is in verse 16: “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” In another place when his disciples are wondering about their inability to drive out a demon, Jesus mentioned fasting and prayer as keys to the increased power it would take.
I imagine it was probably just as difficult (if not more so!) for Jesus to find time and “lonely places” to pray as it is for me. The difference was his consciousness of his need for time with his Father. It’s easy for me to justify skimping on my time in prayer in exchange for a few more minutes of sleep because I don’t really understand yet how important it is. I am still at least partially laboring under the lie that there are a few things I actually can do without Him. I still don’t quite believe that everything flows from my connection to the True Vine.
So my prayer is that God would increase my awareness of my utter dependence on abiding in Him to produce the kind of kingdom fruit I am currently willing to produce, but as yet unable.
Ben, Love this post. I think about this ALL THE TIME…. and yes, I do need to increase my intentional dependence on Christ and time with Him. But, I still have to wonder… Isn't anyone I know so "in tune" with our Father that they are actually not only willing but also able to produce? The question: "Where are the miraculous signs?" dogs me constantly. Thanks for the post and the successful provocation of thought… __And, I too am praying that our Father would increase my awareness and hunger for abiding.
Ben Sternke says
Great question Al. I do know of people who see these kinds of things happen more often than usual. I typically try to learn whatever I can from them. One of them told me once that a good way forward is a three-pronged approach: 1. ASK (pray for more!), 2. SEEK (be willing to go to places/people to learn and seek impartation, and 3. KNOCK (be willing to simply keep praying for people, anytime you see a headache or injury, offer to pray, etc).I've been trying to do all three and see where it takes me!
Great thoughts Ben! This really resonates with my kairos last week and has so much to do with identity, as well as how we pray with confidence and expectation because of that identity. Thanks my friend!
Ben Sternke says
Right on Worth! Glad it was helpful.