God has a Different Plan
Jesus and His disciples had withdrawn from the crowd around the synagogue, to the lakeside near Capernaum; however, the people followed Him (Mark 3:7). They knew that Jesus was a healer (Mark 2:1-12; 3:1-6). So many were acutely unwell (Mark 1:30) or chronically sick or disabled, like Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 4:4. There was no modern medical practice, anaesthetics, surgery or medicinal drugs. The doctors were expensive and often ineffective (Mark 5:26). So, the news of a man who could instantly cure an illness, or heal a paralysed man of all disability, attracted very many. They jostled with each other to get near to Jesus, believing that even touching Him might bring the cure they longed for (Mark 6:56). Jesus provided immediate hope that the future could be different.
It may have been the crowd that pushed Jesus to the water's edge, but it was the command of Jesus to prepare the boat which disturbed the people's expectations. Although they had come to Jesus, He was moving further from them, in a boat just offshore. Instead of healing those who came close to Him, He was going to speak to them and the demons who were controlling some of them (Mark 3:11). Jesus was setting the stage for a different kind of ministry, and training the disciples to prioritise preaching over healing (Mark 1:38). Sound reflects well from water onto the surrounding shore. The problem that threatened to crush Jesus became the opportunity for a bigger solution and an eternal hope (Mark 4:1).
Christians should attract people who need help. If you are known to listen in wisdom and act in grace by God's power ... people will come to you, or use media to contact you. Often there is no other God-salted heart in their little world. But that can bring a great pressure to try to meet everybody's need. Try to do so and you will be crushed. Jesus trained His disciples to recognise that the ever-present reality of physical and social need is not the greatest problem (Mark 4:35-36). Our bodies will all die but our souls will live for ever – either in fellowship with God or excluded from His love for ever. While a physical or emotional need may make us cry out for help, God wants to save souls – that is why Jesus came (Luke 19:10). Healing is a sign that God has the power to break the chains of sin and disease. God gets people's attention so that He can speak the gospel to them. They are saved as they believe what is preached (Romans 10:17).
Success in business, as in ministry, can be as much a problem as failure. But with Jesus, the barriers were just spring boards. It happened all the way to the Cross. Even there, the end of His life became a whole new beginning. Jesus knew how to bend the circumstances according to His priorities. And we must trust Him to bend our circumstances too: neither despondent when our plans do not succeed, nor paralysed when faced by new challenges. He will make His priorities clear to us. He knows the way that we take, and when He has tested us we will be like refined gold – and useful in His kingdom (Job 23:10). Trust Him; He is prioritising your life and service for Him.
© Dr Paul Adams