Saturday, August 21, 2010

If You Can

Mark 9:14-29

The words spoken in verse 22 of our text by the distraught father of the demon-possessed child must have felt like a knife piercing our Lord’s heart.  Jesus had just fed a multitude of people with seven loaves of bread.  He had healed the deaf, the blind, and the lame.  He had walked atop the stormy seas and fed another multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish.  Just by being in His presence, or touching the hem of His cloak, the people who thronged around Him were healed.  Yet, doubt still lingered, even among His own disciples.

Even in the light of our acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we often find ourselves full of unbelief.  We approach Him filled with doubt that He is capable of meeting our request.  We know He is all-powerful.  He created the universe.  We believe He is omniscient; aware of all our needs.  We cling to His sovereign ability to save us from spiritual death.  But there are times when we miserably fail the test of true belief, and we utter the same words, "...if You can.

I want to be like the Roman centurion whose faith was so strong that he asked the Lord to “just say the word.”  (Matt 8:5-13)  Although this man was a Roman, a gentile by birth and probably despised by those present, he had obviously heard of the miraculous wonders being performed by Jesus.  Faith had reached his heart from a great distance, carried to him by the breath of others' words.  It was not necessary for him to actually witness the miracles he was hearing about.  His faith and trust drove him to go to the Great Healer and ask Him to “just say the word” that would heal his servant.

The greatest lesson we can learn from the centurion’s actions is not in the healing itself.  It is not even the fact that Jesus performed the miracle without being in the presence of the dying servant.  No, the greatest lesson is that the centurion believed with all certainty, doubt never entering his mind, that the Lord could and would fulfill his request. He demonstrated to the pious and doubting crowd of Jews such great faith that Jesus was “astonished” that a gentile recognized Him for Whom He was, yet His own people refused and rejected Him.  It was because of this man’s tremendous faith that Jesus said to him, “Go!  It will be done just as you believed it would.”

Jesus once told His disciples, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  (Matt 21:21-22)  He was not presenting us with a blank check in order to receive worldly possessions, fame, and fortune.  What He was demonstrating was that as long as our request came from an honest heart filled with faith and trust, and one that was in harmony with God’s will and principles, it would be assured.

We must never come to Jesus with a doubting heart, one that says “if You can.”  Rather, we should boldly, yet humbly, come as the Roman centurion did, laying our requests before Him, trusting that if He will “just say the word,” our prayer will be answered - “just as [we] believed it would.”

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