Seeing people in the places

| October 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

Learning as we go

We walked past the dump and through the Lions Gate. This was the day for walking the steps Jesus walked his last day. You could see eager anticipation on the faces. This was going to be special.

It was, just not in the way I expected. As we made our way toward Calvary, people got in the way. The street was jumbled marketplace frenzy, tractor-carts pushing past dazed pilgrims, and people pressing people pushing for position.

As I looked around, it seemed our group was struggling with the crowds, the steps, the stairs, and the constant distraction and interruption. Your expectations were far exceeding our grasp.

But, in the midst of disappointment came epiphany. God reminded me that Jesus carried his cross through the marketplace, down a street filled with noise and interruptions. It sure didn’t look like something holy was about to happen. It was His mission to show us the way, to show us how to keep our focus on people not streets and places and churches.

Remember?

After His temptation in the wilderness, Jesus headed north to Nazareth. There he went to his hometown synagogue and read this passage:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

When he finished He announced, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

They were offened and blinded. So, they kicked him out of the synagogue.

Jesus was clear about His mission. He came to reconcile all people to the creator—to show them the Father. And his starting place was a given, He was writing the first chapter of this adventure into the descendants of Abraham.

After His hometown rejection at Nazareth He moved his base of operations to Capernaum, the major center of trade and commerce in Galilee. The international trade route from Egypt through Palestine to Syria and Mesopotamia, passed near Capernaum. Located only three miles west of the eastern border of Galilee at the Jordan River, the town became a port of entry.

In Capernaum People from all around the world would gather to listen to this Jesus. His teaching was captivating. He proclaimed freedom for those in self-imposed prisons. He opened the eyes of the bind, and set the oppressed free. And, he talked present tense. This is the year of God’s favor, not some distant time, or place.

Matthew says, Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. He was international in scope.

From his prison cell, John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

The reply, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”

Jesus was about people, not places, or buildings, or time pressures. Jesus stopped for people, young and old. He blessed people. He brought out the best in people. He saw the future in them. He could see through their masks into their souls.

Here’s the kicker, He wants us to follow Him, by shaping our mission out of His, to see past the noise and disappointment, straight into the heart.

In Bethsaida, Jesus healed a blind man. He took the man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

Clearly means more than 20/20 vision; it’s deeper and more personal. “Clearly” means this man could see pain and doubt and fear (physical and spiritual reality). Now, he could see beyond social trappings and personal status, into the heart and soul.

We found today, that it is possible, in the middle of distraction and noise and crowds and rudeness, to see things clearly. There was brokenness all around us. People from scores of nations were walking the steps of Jesus, but missing the moment.

People outside the Garden Tomb

Half-way through the day, it dawned on me that in the middle of total distraction Jesus kept His focus on the mission. In crowds he could even feel it if someone touched his outer garment. His eyes looked inside you no matter where you came from, and that was good.

I came away from this day, with new passion to keep my eyes on the people, more than the places.

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Category: Holy Ground

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