Sunday, January 22, 2006

Jesus Christ - The Same Yesterday, Today and Forever

I've been meditating today, as I have for the last few days, upon the "ever-present" quality of God's nature and what this means for me today. If you haven't had the opportunity, I suggest reading my previous posts on this subject before this one:What really struck me over the last 24 hours is the fact that the "ever-present God" expressed himself in human history - in the here and now - in the person of Jesus Christ. For this reason, it shouldn't be surprising that this "ever-present" quality is also an attribute of God's own Son. Hebrews 13:8 tells us:
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
The Message puts it this way:
"For Jesus doesn't change - yesterday, today, tomorrow, he's always totally himself."
The unchanging nature of the Lord Jesus Christ provides an important perspective on the Gospel stories, for if Jesus Christ is truly "always totally himself" and "the same yesterday, today and forever," then we should expect that his ministry as described in the four Gospel accounts is continuing today.

In fact, if you take the Gospel record at its face value, you really can't come to any other conclusion. If a person reads Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and genuinely believes that Jesus is who these four books say he is, then he would automatically expect that this same unchanging Jesus will be doing the same things today as he did back then. In fact, it takes a lot of theological intervention to persuade a person otherwise.

There are so many levels upon which the unchanging nature of the "ever-present" Jesus impacts my life, but none so important at this stage than that relating to the healing ministry of Jesus. For this reason, I've been reading the Gospel record and I've been amazed at just how much faith played a critical role in the healing ministry of Jesus. And if Jesus never changes, then I should expect the same principles I see in the Gospel record continuing to be outworked in the current ministry of Jesus into my life.

Take a look at these verses:
  • Matthew 9:22 - "Jesus turned and saw her. 'Take heart, daughter,' he said, 'your faith has healed you.' And the woman was healed from that moment."

  • Matthew 15:28 - "Then Jesus answered, 'Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

  • Mark 5:34 - "He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.'"

  • Mark 10:52 - "'Go,' said Jesus, 'your faith has healed you.' Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

  • Luke 8:48 - "Then he said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.'"

  • Luke 18:42 - "Jesus said to him, 'Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.'"

I particularly like the way The Amplified Bible translates Mark 5:34:
"And He said to her, Daughter, your faith (your trust and confidence in Me, springing from faith in God) has restored you to health. Go in (into) peace and be continually healed and freed from your [distressing bodily] disease."
It is also clear from the Book of Acts that this healing ministry of Jesus, based on faith in his name, didn't stop when Jesus returned to his Father. For in Acts 1:1, Luke indicates that the Book of Acts is a continuation of "all that Jesus began to do and to teach" (I often refer to the Book of Acts as the "Fifth Gospel Account", after Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

Take a look at Acts 3:12-16. After healing a crippled man, Peter explains the dynamic that was at work:
"Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?...By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see."
I often think what I would do if I were living in the time of Jesus' earthly ministry. I know that I would be one of the crowds, pressing in to touch Jesus and to be touched by him. But if Jesus is truly "the same yesterday, today and forever," what has changed? Jesus hasn't. In fact, the only thing that has changed is me - or rather, more specifically, my relationship with Jesus. I'm no longer just "one of the crowds". I've been supernaturally linked with the Lord Jesus through the power of God's Spirit - an "in Christ" experience that has wholly redefined my relationship with God (note Romans 5:1-2; Romans 8:1; Ephesians 1:3-8; Ephesians 2:6-7).

So what does this now mean for me? If Jesus indeed is "the same yesterday, today and forever," then his ministry of healing didn't stop when he ascended to heaven. And if the principle of faith was the basis upon which Jesus ministered healing 2000 years ago, then God is working today on the same basis in my life right now.

For this reason, I'm learning to exercise my faith in Jesus (just as if I were exercising a muscle). I'm putting into practice Jude 20:
"But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit."
The Amplified Bible expands on this meaning:
"But you, beloved, build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit."
This morning, I began my day "praying in the Holy Spirit." Today, I'm going to continue in this practical exercise, allowing the Lord to build me in my faith - not just faith for healing, but faith in the very person of the Lord Jesus Christ. And at the end of it all, since I believe in a Jesus who has never changed, I know that the Lord's reply to my prayer of faith will be the same as that found in Mark 5:34:
"Son, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."


At 5:12 AM, Blogger done said...

Hello:)You do have a great blog, and I'm glad that I found it, because you express well and a lot of information:) Sorry if I'm wrong, but what I understood is that you are going to get treatments for cancer? I'll have you in my prayers, and just to let you know, my mom is a cancer survivior, and now she's 81. Take care, Elisa:)


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