The Encounters series we do each year is one of my favourite. When I read these encounters with God in scripture, what we are reading are these transformative moments in the lives of people who desperately needed Jesus.
Do you ever feel like that? Some of the encounters we see in scripture were from people whose view of who God is was ‘blown up’ after they met Him. Sometimes we encounter these incredible people who, often despite the reality of their situation, have faith in the all powerful God. This is really evident in the Gospels when these people and their faith break the mould from what others tell them is possible.
In his book The Knowledge of the Holy, famous pastor and theologian A W Tozer wrote: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
I wonder if someone had of said that statement to the people living in the middle east around 30AD what they would have thought. By the time of Jesus’ ministry, the God of Israel, in the minds of the Israelites, had become nothing more than a petty and legalistic deity who carefully counted the good deeds of the people, but not as carefully as the bad deeds were recorded and punished. They had created an image of a God who seemed to have no care for the suffering of His people. To the average man or woman living in this time, their God had come to share the same traits as those in authority over them.
And so when Jesus stated his ministry, and started to break their rules – for many people their picture of God grew! We find an example of a rule breaking encounter in Luke 5:12.
Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy
12 In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
13 Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. 14 Then Jesus instructed him not to tell anyone what had happened. He said, “Go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy.[c] This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
15 But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
Listen along as we explore the passage above – and see how the truths it teaches us should shape our lives!