Friday, September 26, 2008

Help thou my unbelief!


I am reading Henri Daniel-Rops excellent "Jesus and His Times", which has given me a visceral feel for the geography and distances of the provinces Jesus walked during his short years of active mission. Galilee and Judea were separated by Samaria and the Decapolis geographically, and by an even more significant distance culturally. Galilee was a rural province, its inhabitants unsophisticated enough to provoke mockery in the more cosmopolitan cities of Judea (cf. Nathaniel's "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?")

Jesus grew up in the "Slower Delaware" of his region. His accent, like Peter's, was probably instantly identifiable to the "slicker" folks who lived in the towns and cities around Jerusalem.

Of the Galilean period of ministry, Daniel-Rops writes:
Throughout this period of his work Jesus was surrounded by an ever-renewed influx of the sick, the crippled, the scrofulous and the paralyzed. As soon as he left a synagogue or got out of a boat, the "court of miracles" in the most literal sense surrounded him. The blind sought him with their sightless eyes, the deaf-mutes turned their blank faces, there was no wound too disgusting to be shown to him, and he unwearyingly responded. It was enough for him to feel that their hope was genuine, to discern the smallest embryo of faith; he would put out a little of his power to serve these humblest causes.
The italics are mine. On reading that line I was struck by its relevance to Mark 9:24, a line I have pondered much during my persistent bouts of unbelief in times of trouble:

He fell on the ground and kept rolling around and foaming at the mouth. 21Then Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” He said, “Since he was a child. 22The spirit has often thrown him into fire and into water to destroy him. But if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us!”

23Jesus said to him, “‘If you are able?’ Everything is possible for the person who believes!”

24With tears flowing, the child's father at once cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief."


It was enough for him to feel that their hope was genuine, to discern the smallest embryo of faith; he would put out a little of his power to serve these humblest causes.

That has been my constant experience.  My tiniest flicker of faith draws forth the enormous power of Jesus. Such extravagance of mercy. Such a generous sharing of what was given to him by the Father. Thank you, thank you, thank you! My faithful lord, my resplendently beautiful redeemer! I love you, I love you, I love you! I say it publicly and joyfully and with only a little embarrassment at being so uncool. You're the one. Now and forever. Your Rae

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