“Begin Again”: A Weekly Devotional for a New Year, Week 34

‘Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking.’

Acts 14:8-10

In John’s Gospel, we hear this promise: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do…” (John 14:12) This promise is based on a declaration Jesus makes, earlier in the same chapter: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (14:6) The “greater works” that Jesus promises, is based on the confession that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” – that we cannot know or do God’s work apart from him.

When we read “greater works”, we may wonder: “Greater than being resurrected from the dead? Than raising Lazarus from the dead? Than healing the paralytic through the faith of his friends?”, and so on. But “greater”, here, does not mean better than, mightier than – it means something more like “multiplication”: The Kingdom will advance, multiply, and grow from here, in Israel, to the ends of the earth, and one of the signs that the Kingdom is advancing, will be that God, through us, does what he did in Jesus: “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, … The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:7)

This is what we see at Lystra, in the miracle that God works through Paul: The man “crippled from birth” hears the Word, and Paul sees that he comes to the hearing of the Word in faith – in expectation. Paul sees the faith of the crippled man, and then the Spirit, through Paul, speaks the Word that accomplishes everything (Isaiah 55:11).

Our God is the one who heals (Exodus 15:26), and he heals by his Word. He can heal in a dramatic encounter, like the one we read about in Acts 14: Paul speaks, and it is done. And we know he heals through more ordinary, but no less miraculous means: The Word of God preached, Sunday by Sunday (Romans 10:14). Which should we seek – the extraordinary or the ordinary? Both. Because Jesus healed in both ways: In dramatic, miraculous encounters, and through “ordinary” teaching that revealed, healed, and transformed his hearers.

When we walk out the healing that begins in accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, we know it is a life-long journey – we are not made perfect in this life, nor can we make ourselves that. Sunday by Sunday, that is the promise that God makes: By his Word, we will be healed, and we will grow in healing until we are raised again to new life, and are finally whole in the new heavens and the new earth.

Prayer: Lord, I know that I need healing. I am weary. I am sick. I need your help, and your hand to guide me. Please, reach down to me, and take me by the hand. Heal me, as you see fit – either all at once, or slowly, over time. But help me Lord to see in your church, the only place where I will receive your words of eternal life – your Word that saves, heals, restores, and empowers. Amen.

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