Note: Currently we are working through the book of Luke at the Ebenezer congregation. I have decided to start posting thoughts from our messages here (in English) in the hopes others may find them edifying. You can read the first in this series here and here
So far, we have seen that Jesus healed the leper (removing his death sentence, restoring his communion with God, and bringing him into fellowship with the people of God), and that, immediately following the healing, he gave him commands. This has given us somewhat of a microcosm of the overall ministry of Christ to us – He saved us, and He left us with things to do.
Now we come to His final action in this narrative, and, to our success-oriented, numbers-obsessed mind, it seems a little strange.
Beginning in verse 15, we read this:
But the news about Him spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.
Pay careful attention here: on the cusp of what we would call ministerial success, Jesus leaves to go and pray.
I believe there are two lessons that can be drawn here.
First, let’s remind ourselves of who we are talking about here. Jesus is…well…Jesus. He is God Incarnate, the Second Person of the Trinity, one in Essence with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. And yet, He feels it essential to remove Himself from the center of ministry in order to pray.
The lesson here is this: the health of our spiritual life is defined, not by our ministry in front of people, but our walk in the sight of God.
Second, let’s keep in mind the sequence of this passage: Jesus saved the leper, Jesus gave him a command, Jesus left to pray. When I began this series at Ebenezer, I told the people that we would be looking at three aspects of the ministry of Jesus that are extremely relevant for us today. The first was His saving work. The second was His commands. And now, the third, is His intersession on our behalf.
It is important to remember that Jesus did not give us commands, and then simply remove Himself in order to sit with folded arms and observe how well we obeyed them. He knows us very well, and knows that we will mess this up, “bigly”. And so, as I John 2:1 tells us, He is our advocate. He is our “counsel for the defense”. And as our defense lawyer, He is uniquely suited for the job.
I can think of few more comforting, encouraging, motivating concepts in Scripture than that of Jesus actively arguing before the Father on our behalf. Especially when you consider that the basis for His argument is not some inherent worth on our part, but the unassailable legal standing of Christ’s own sacrifice on our behalf.
He has a solid, air-tight case, one which will cause the Eternal Judge to bang the gavel in our favor, every time.
Many people today claim to know Jesus. The Jesus they talk about is a social justice warrior, a Zen hippie, an American Patriot, a Republican, a Democrat, an animal rights advocate…the list goes on and on.
But if they don’t know Jesus the Savior, Jesus the Master, and Jesus the Intercessor, they don’t know Jesus.