Daily Discipline #120
By Colleen Donahue
It has been said that perhaps most of what we learn growing up is “caught not taught”. We learn at an early age to imitate our parents, teachers, friends, and associates. Children are very observant. They may listen to their parents tell them not to smoke but when they see their parents smoking they instinctively know that smoking must be a nice pleasure and they will begin even if they have to sneak to do it.
Our teachers may have taught us that if a disaster strikes our community, we need to help one another. But what brings that home more than anything is when we get involved with our family and school to help with the clean up after a hurricane or tornado.
Words are one thing, but action cements those words into the fabric of our lives so that they become real. As we read the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we are struck by how relatively few words Jesus spoke in sermons but how much is recorded of His actions while He went about the countryside. In the next few studies, we are going to crisscross the gospel stories and look at what Jesus taught through the various incidents that He became involved in. The more I observed what Jesus did, the more I wanted my own life to be like Christ’s.
Let’s begin to learn from Christ as we walk with Him through His days.
Jesus Teaches By Example – Part 1
Day 1- I saw first that many of the situations we’ll be looking at were “interruptions” to what Jesus was really setting out to do. Sometimes they were interruptions to His rest, but often they happened “as He was going to…” We’ll miss much of what is important in life if we don’t take the interruptions from God’s hand. For example, in Matthew 8:1-2, Jesus had just finished a very long sermon up on the mountain top. He was done and probably needing some food and rest. But as he comes off the mountain, a large crowd keeps following Him -- wanting more. Then, suddenly a man with leprosy approaches him. He couldn't shake off all the needy people -- nor did he want to.
Matthew 8:1,5,28/ Matthew 9:1,18,27 / Luke 5:12
WHO CAME TO JESUS?
Day 2- In reading through the gospels, we see that many who came to Jesus for help could not function normally in society. Who were these people and what were their problems?
Matthew 8: 1-4; 28-29/ 9:20-21 / 12: 9-10
They wanted to be productive members of society but all had physical problems keeping them from it.
Mark 10: 46-52
Day 3- They came because they had nothing to lose. They had already lost their dignity and self respect and here in Jesus Christ was a glimmer of hope. They had seen Him work miracles in others lives and they thought maybe He would work a miracle in their own life.
Matthew 9: 20-22
Day 4- Often a friend or family member came to Jesus for someone they loved and could not come themselves.
Day 5- Some that came to Jesus had problems outside of themselves.
Mary realized at the wedding in Cana that the host had run out of wine.
The disciples were caught in a sudden storm while crossing the sea:
Matthew 8: 24-25
They were in situations where they had no personal resources or strength to deal with it. They brought the problems to Jesus because they saw in Him a man who DID have the resources.
Mark 6: 35-44
Day 6- Then we see those that were fortunate to have Jesus Christ just happen to observe their situation and take action because of His compassion.
A. Peter’s Mother-in-law: Matthew 8:14-15
B. A big crowd that was hungry: Matthew 14:15-21
C. A man with a shriveled hand: Mark 3:1-6
D. A dead man and widowed mother: Luke 7: 12-16
E. An invalid: John 5:5-6
F. A crippled woman: Luke 13: 10-13
G. A man with dropsy: Luke 14:1-4
H. A blind man: John 9:1-41
I. The dead Lazarus: John 11: 1-44
Day 7- Jesus was always observing people and moved by the things that they faced. He was not indifferent to his fellow men but took action on their behalf even when it would be dangerous to Himself.
Matthew 8: 28-29
Day 8- All of the gospels (except John) record the story of the man with a withered hand whom Jesus observed when he went into the synagogue. I can’t help but think that Jesus felt special concern for him because He himself was a carpenter and knew the important use of his hands to make a living.
Luke 6: 6-7
Day 9- The writer of Hebrews expresses well that Jesus as the Son of God had come from God to serve men. As a man Himself, He knew what we as men and women face.
Hebrews 2: 14-18 / Hebrews 4: 15-16
Day 10- Once Jesus knew about a situation, there was no ignoring it. The disciples wanted to send the large crowds away so they could fend for themselves. But Jesus knew they might faint on the way and wouldn’t allow that to happen.
Mark 8: 1-9
Day 11- The disciples felt powerless to do anything for the crowd, but that was because they still didn’t really know the abilities of the Son of God they traveled with.
John 6: 5-14
Day 12- How often do we ignore the situations that we see because we feel powerless to do anything?
Mark 9: 18
But the Spirit of Jesus within us has all the resources we need to get involved and work on a person’s behalf.
Matthew 21:22 / Mark 16:20 / John 14:12-14 / 15:5-7
WHAT WERE THE PROBLEMS OF THOSE THAT CAME TO JESUS?
Day 13- Most of the problems brought to Jesus were physical ailments. In themselves these ailments were inconvenient, painful, and debilitating. But the bigger problem behind the ailments was the inability to work and be an active, productive member of the community. They were forced by physical circumstances to be an outcast because they couldn’t work like everyone else. No one was more of an outcast than the leper.
Leviticus 13:45-46/ Numbers 5:2 / Luke 17:12-13
Day 14- When the disciples had to wake Jesus during the storm because their lives were threatened, they were facing something outside of themselves that they had no control over.
Matthew 8:24 / Also recorded in: Mark 4:37 and Luke 8:24
Day 15- Often that is the situation today as we face a hurricane threatening to destroy our home, or layoffs in a business, or a drunk driver on the highway. There are so many situations we have no control over. But, in all of these situations, we can call upon the Lord Jesus.
Psalm 105:4 / Luke 11:10 / Acts 12:5 / James 5:17
Day 16- The Lord may choose to deliver us entirely from the problem.
1 Corinthians 10:13 / 2 Timothy 4:18 / 2 Peter 2:9
But He will always be there with us to work through the problem to the other side.
Exodus 33:14 / Isaiah 43:2 / 46:4 / Matthew 28:20b
Day 17- When Mary (Jesus’s mother) came to Jesus at the wedding in Cana, she was coming on behalf of a friend who would never have thought to involve Jesus in the problem. Notice how she just gives Jesus the facts and then leaves it with Him.
John 2: 3,5
In our lives, we will have relatives, neighbors, friends and colleagues that will have great or even small needs and never think to bring them to Jesus. We learn by Mary’s example that we can go to Jesus on behalf of others and ask for them.
Job 42:10 / Matthew 8:5-6/ Mark 7:32/ Luke 4:38 / 9:38 / 11:5 / John 4:47
HOW DO PEOPLE APPROACH JESUS?
Day 18- No doubt the greatest example of approaching the Son of God was displayed by the leper. While the leper might have been afraid to come close to any man because he was unclean, he was not afraid to bring his sore ridden body to Jesus. And when he got to Jesus he knelt. When we kneel before someone we express outwardly our recognition of their greatness and our willingness to put ourselves at their disposal. He was convinced in his heart that Jesus could heal him but he wasn’t presumptuous in his asking.
Matthew 8: 1-2
Day 19- The Centurion (or Roman soldier) that came to Jesus on behalf of his servant was greatly commended by Jesus for coming to him in faith. This commander came first in humility. He called Jesus Lord and at Christ’s request to come to his home turned it down. He felt he was unworthy to have Jesus in His home. But, here is the example for us. As a commander, he knew he could just “say the word” and something would be done. He was just as confident that Jesus could speak a word and even at a distance his servant could be healed by God. That is what it means to come in faith. We see it and know it before it even happens.
Matthew 8: 8-10
Day 20- There was the woman with a very private and embarrassing ailment (bleeding for 12 years) that didn’t want to be noticed in the crowd or bother Jesus. She just wanted to touch some little part of Him. She was sure that she would be healed by even a touch of His robe. She didn’t need to talk with Him or take up His time.
Day 21- There are several accounts of blind men shouting along the roadside where they knew Jesus would be walking. Not being able to see put them at a disadvantage but they could shout and that’s what they did – often being rebuked by the crowds around them.
Maybe you can’t “see” Jesus and how He might be able to help you, but you can shout like these blind men “Lord have mercy!” or “Lord help me!” and then wait for Christ’s response to you.
Matthew 9:27 / Matthew 20:30 / Mark 10:47-48 / Luke 18: 35-39
Day 22- Then there were those that begged Jesus to do something. There is a desperation in begging and an attitude behind it. The person is not sure that Jesus will want to help them, not sure Jesus can help them, but He’s probably the last resort and they might as well try. Begging is not how we need to come to Jesus, but even with this approach He responded.
Mark 7:26, 32/ 8:22/ Luke 9:38/ John 4:46-47
Day 23- We can learn a lot by how the demon possessed men approached Christ. In these cases the demons controlling the men were doing the speaking. They addressed Jesus as “the Son of God”, “Jesus of Nazareth” , “the Holy One of God” and “Jesus, Son of the Most High God.” The demons knew Jesus was the Son of God and testified of Him. They were also afraid of Him because they knew His power was greater than their power.
Matthew 8:29-32 / Mark 1:23-24/ 3:11/ 5:1-13 / Luke 4:33-34
Day 24- Finally, the last approach of those coming to Jesus were all those that just came to Him with their babies, children and loved ones with problems. It doesn’t say that they said or did anything. They just came and Jesus ministered to them all. When we don’t know what to do or say we can just come to Jesus and He will know.
Matthew 8:16/ 12:15/ 15:30/ 21:14 / Mark 1:32/ Luke 18:15-16
Note: I find it comforting to know that while coming to Jesus in full faith is the best way, the important thing is that we come. Even if we are uncertain, and don’t know what to do or say, Jesus will look past our bumbling attempts and be ready to help. He is in fact happy that we come like children.
WHEN JESUS CAME…..
We’ve just observed the different people that came to Jesus but now let’s look at all the situations where Jesus noticed a person or saw a need and acted first.
Day 25- Jesus went to Peter’s home with some of the disciples to rest and saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. I believe this is an example to us of times when we have the opportunity to help a friend, neighbor or relative because we have become aware of something they face just by walking into their home.
Day 26- Jesus was on his way to a Jewish feast and walked past a pool where many invalids lay. This verse says that Jesus saw a man and learned he had been there a long time. He took the trouble to learn more and get involved. When the Lord makes us aware of someone, will we take the trouble to learn about them and get involved?
Day 27- One day when Jesus was approaching a town he saw a dead man being carried out. The verses says the man was the only son of his widow mother. Either Jesus knew this because He is the Son of God, or because He asked people on the way into town. Here is what Jesus saw: a woman alone without her husband, now without her son, unprotected and unprovided for. He saw past the death to all that a woman would face in her social situation. That is real empathy.
This will certainly be the case when we come across someone that’s lost their employment. This loss is bad enough, but the person also sees the bills that can’t be paid, the needs that can’t be met, the house they may lose etc. We too are meant to help a person by seeing their whole situation.
Day 28- In a synagogue, Jesus noticed a man with a shriveled hand. Once again Jesus looked past the immediate problem and saw a man who couldn’t work to support himself and his family. Jesus as a carpenter knew how important two hands are. This situation is doubly poignant in that He was being watched carefully by the Pharisees looking for a reason to arrest Him. So, in this one situation we see Christ noticing a person’s real needs and helping despite the danger to Himself.
Matthew 12:9-10 / Also recorded in: Mark 3:1 and Luke 6:6
Day 29- In the numerous accounts of Jesus feeding a crowd of four or five thousand people we see an example of responsibility. The people had been with Jesus for three days -- learning from Him -- and without food. The disciples wanted to dismiss the crowd so that they could go into nearby towns to get what they needed. But Jesus knew three days without food and walking in the heat of that country might cause them to collapse along the way. He had real compassion for these people- enough to do something Himself.
Matthew 15:32 / Also recorded in Mark 8:1
Day 30- Once in the synagogue while He was teaching , Jesus saw a crippled woman and found out that she had been this way for 18 years. He knew her deformity was caused by an evil spirit. In this example He called her forward. Never as a woman who was crippled would she have thought to present herself before so many people. She is an example of so many that are lost in a sea of faces and without hope. Jesus shows us that when the Holy Spirit makes us aware of a person, we can call them forward to be loved, recognized, and helped.
In ending our study, I’d just like to summarize the common elements of Christ’s observations of people and challenge us with some questions.
1. He was observant. Do we walk only preoccupied with our own thoughts and activities or are we open to seeing the needs of others around us?
2. He took the time to learn about the person’s situation. Do we take the time to learn about the cause of another’s problems?
3. He had real sympathy and compassion as He saw past the immediate problem to what it meant for their whole life. Can we see past the immediate problem to the real problem and needs?
4. He got involved despite the danger to Himself. Are we willing to risk something in our life to get involved with another?
5. He took the time to get involved even when He was on the way to His “real” work. We are all busy and “on our way” but are we willing to be interrupted when God brings someone along our way?
6. He was not so Heavenly minded that He ignored simple daily needs of other people. Are we?
7. He served men and women alike. To Jesus, women were not just property and servants. They were children that His Father loved. Are there certain people below your status that you are embarrassed to help?
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