By Benjamin H. Liles
"When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, 'I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!' Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, 'A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, 'God has visited His people.' And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region" (Luke 7: 9, 16-17, New King James).
"You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.' Then He said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?' Then He said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you. Go in peace'" (Luke 7:46-50).
There is a man of God who I love a great deal, a friend of mine who is semi-retired and had baptized me shortly after I got married to my wife in 2009. You know you're in the presence of someone you want to be around by the way they treat you. Within the context of Luke 7 here there are a few things happening: Jesus heals a Roman centurion's servant, He raises the son of a widow back to life, He sends word back to John the Baptist - His own cousin - as to who He is, and Jesus also forgives a sinful woman.
Richard Jackson, the pastor I mentioned says this of the text in Luke 7, "We looked to Jesus as the model for ministry and found Him ministering to the sick, the sorrowing, the searching, and the sinners" (Richard Jackson: Preaching to change lives, Albert Mohler). All of that I say because here's the point: God visits us whether we realize it or not. We can be stiff-necked, stubborn, and sinful to the nth degree and He can be with us and we can't see Him as if we're in a cornfield searching for a dime. He visits with us when we rejoice over good things in life, too. When we get a promotion we deserve, or we get married, He is with us.
He ministers to the sick
Then there are those times where we just seem to be "making it." One of those times in our lives when we feel we're barely getting by is when someone we love is sick. Yes, God is with us, but we have to see Him working in those circumstances to see what He wants to draw out of ourselves. Is it to see Him and His grace when we believe He's too far away? Or is He there holding our hands, giving us a piggy-back view of the situation so we can have a different perspective on our pain and suffering?
He ministers to those in sorrow
Those times where we're just feeling sorrowful and we can't explain why (I have a lot of those days anymore in my life). God is there with us, giving us the hope we need so we can rejoice when those clouds of despair lift. He speaks to us when we need the most faith, and when we seem to not be able to produce it we can cry out, "Lord, help me in my unbelief!?" And He's there, not only simply listening but giving us the faith we need. He's there with us!
He ministers to the searching and longing hearts
We all have moments where we even wonder: God are you even there? How can I know for sure you are here? He's with us when we search for Him, trying to understand just where He's at and how He desires to work in and through us, most likely waiting to minister to us through either friends, family, a pastor, a minister, or even through our spouse and possibly children. But God is with us even when we feel He isn't there.
He ministers to the sinner
Not all of us see ourselves as God sees us before we have Him at work and present in our lives. We see Him and His purity, His holiness and we are a bit like Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World, "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!" But in seriousness here, our repentance isn't a joking matter. It comes from seeing Him at work in our lives, and through the lives of others where we feel so broken and we want to have "the joy of our salvation." Who is this man? According to the differing gospel accounts this man who has done all of this is Jesus Christ. The woman who anointed His feet with perfume and her tears was so overcome in her faith He would forgive her kept doing so because she was repentant of her sin and the life she lived (see Luke 7:36-50).
Jesus Christ has come to give us so much more in this life for whatever reason we need. It's not that we can drag out salvation from Him like He's some sort of car registration or even as if he's a genie in a bottle. He's not there to impress us like a magician giving us a show. No, Jesus Christ is there for us when we truly need Him, to receive life and have it abundantly. We can have this gift that has been extended to us because of the grace of God.
That's the thing of it as well: God is a kind, forgiving God. The God of the Old Testament tells us "For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed" (Malachi 3:6, New American Standard). The biggest reason we don't see God as He truly is stems from the fact sin covers us entirely. If we want Him and to see Him as well as we can we have to allow him to help us "clean up." We cannot begin the clean up on our own without His help. And that help comes from Jesus Christ. We need to put our faith and trust in Him who God sent to the cross so we can stand before a holy and righteous God. I pray this helps you and shows you how we can have Jesus Christ. In His name I pray. Amen.