by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

March, 2023

I’ve sometimes been accused of caring about things that don’t matter to others. In the past, some folks have expressed it by saying I need to “get a life.” I don’t know what the current expression is but I’m sure it’s something equally cutting. When folks find out I recycle, sometimes they ask why I “bother.” And as a lifelong science fiction fan, I’m used to having my interests dismissed. This won’t endear me to some folks but as someone who isn’t a sports fan, I could say the same thing about football (just kidding, guys).

Years ago, a college friend referred to a man in need as a “transient” and implied that the man didn’t “deserve” help. Fortunately for all of us, we have a savior who knew everyone needs help sometimes and didn’t ask whether we “deserve” it. Jesus constantly saw the people and needs no one else noticed. One day in the midst of a crowd, a woman with a bleeding disorder touched the edge of Jesus’ robe and was healed instantly (Luke 8:43-44). With people pushing and shoving on every side, Jesus asked, “‘Who touched me?’” (vs. 45a). Everyone denied touching him, and Peter and the others said, “‘Teacher, so many people are pushing You from every side and You say, “Who touched Me?”’” (vs. 45b Evangelical Heritage Version). They might as well have said, “Get a life,” or asked, “Are you crazy?” Every time Jesus stopped to heal someone, to offer mercy, “‘to seek and to save the lost,’” (19:10b EHV), there must have been people who thought, “get a life.” But Jesus said, “‘Someone touched me, because I know that power has gone out from me.’” (8:46b EHV).

When she realized she couldn’t escape Jesus’ notice, the woman knelt trembling before him and told him she was the one who had touched him—and why (vs. 47). She was afraid and probably assumed he would be angry that she had dared try to touch him. But instead, he said to her, “‘Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’” (vs. 48 EHV).

The truly amazing thing about all this is that Jesus was on his way to heal someone else. A leader of the synagogue, named Jairus, had a daughter who was dying (vs. 40-42). Jairus begged Jesus to come to his house and heal her (vs. 41b). But along the way, Jesus took time to reassure a different woman that she hadn’t done anything wrong and was worthy of health and compassion.

On another occasion, Jesus encountered a man who had been sick for many years (John 5:1-9). The man was lying near a pool that was said to have healing properties (vs. 7). Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed. The man replied that he had no one to put him in the water at the proper time (vs. 7b). Jesus told the man, “‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’” (vs. 8b EHV). Verse 5 says the man had been sick for thirty eight years! Hundreds of people must have passed by him in that time, possibly thousands. And yet, no one showed enough compassion to help him. It wasn’t until Jesus passed by that the man was healed.

Earlier, Jesus had told the disciples, “‘Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?’” (Matt. 6:26 EHV). He chose his disciples from ordinary folks: fishermen, a tax collector, a couple of would-be revolutionaries, perhaps a businessman or banker. Probably no one would have looked at any of them twice, except possibly to look on Matthew the tax collector with scorn, and certainly wouldn’t have chosen them for anything important. But Jesus saw them and saw what they could be.

God sees what we can be too. God believed in us so strongly that God gave everything for us. God, who can’t die, who is immortal, who is life itself, chose to die on a cross for each of us. The same applies to us today. None of us are unworthy in God’s sight. The same savior who promised God’s care to the first disciples promises care to us today. And surely that’s a message worth sharing.

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are strong, and God chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things, and the things that are not, to do away with the things that are, so that no one may boast before God.” (1 Cor. 1:27-29 EHV.)

Copyright © 2023 by David Phelps