Who do you say I AM?
October 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
It took a partially paralytic grandfather sharing his testimony with me to make scripture come alive and teach me the true value of what we hope in.
Today, as a special treat, we had “A” come visit us for our last team times with all the grandmas and grandpas. This made our visits a little more special because since “A” can speak Thai and English, there were finally no communication barriers and we weren’t mostly using our sense of body language or limited Thai knowledge to communicate. So today, I heard Da Tam’s story of coming to faith, and it was so beautiful I actually cried.
One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said,” Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
I have read that story countless times- I’ve even performed it in Sunday school plays, yet I don’t think my eyes were ever opened to the truth of the hope present in this story until I heard Da Tam’s testimony. He had the noose ready and was ready to commit suicide until P’Noi shared the gospel with him. 10 years ago a leg surgery left him basically paralyzed below the knees, and he said that most of the reason he came to Christ was because of the story of Jesus and the paralyzed man. He told us that everyone wanted so desperately to see this Jesus because they had such a strong faith (strong enough to lower their friend from the roof) that he could heal the man, and he needed to see Him too. To hear that from someone on the brink of suicide, and who spends his daily routine struggling to get around, that because of Jesus he still has a reason to live and that he knows through Jesus there is healing, man that just gives me overwhelming hope. It’s amazing the implications that reading scripture in different contexts, or seeing it come alive through others’ eyes can have on our own faith. Scripture is so rich.
This whole experience reminded me of a bible study we had as a team during our mid-project retreat on Mark 8:27-38.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
Suffering. Rejection. Death. Resurrection. 3/4 of those terms is not what the Jews expected their Messiah to look like at all. So much so that Peter rebukes Jesus after he begins teaching these things, which is also ironically after he also proclaims that he believes Jesus is the Messiah.
Get behind me, Satan! You are setting your mind not on divine things, but on human things.
What does Jesus really look like to us? Or more importantly, which Jesus do we know? Do we focus on divine things like submitting to God’s authority and denying ourselves and taking up a cross, or do we focus on human things like following Jesus without suffering, wanting power and control, and to fix the broken systems in our world?
I think about Da Tam and the suffering he must be going through to want to take his own life, and yet, what he hopes in is worth so much more. I’d say most of us are stuck on focusing on the suffering, the rejection, and the death pieces that we ultimately forget to look towards the end where it mentions the resurrection- the promise of life. As I continue to ponder on these things, I am reminded that the idea of the Messiah becomes superior to me in itself because these are in no way human fashioned ideas of what a God looks like.