This quarter, we focus on the baptism with the Holy Spirit in our weekly devotional series. This week’s devotional comes from Mark 4 – 10.
The narrative of Jesus’ journey described in Mark 4 – 10 is filled with all kinds of miracles and all kinds of reactions from people coming face to face with the miraculous.
He calmed a storm, sent demons into pigs, fed thousands, raised the dead and healed many different diseases. In response, some people laughed at Him, while others were afraid. Some couldn’t quite believe, and others knew they would be healed if only they could touch Jesus.
In Mark 9, a struggling father responded, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (v. 24, NKJV). His natural eyes had seen Jesus in action, but he had also seen the son he loved thrown into the fire and the water in demonic seizures day after day. Ever since his son’s childhood, this man had to deal with overwhelming helplessness as his son was tormented. His heart said, “Lord, I believe,” but because of his daily experience, he also confessed with transparent honesty, “help my unbelief.”
Jesus rarely addressed a person’s reaction unless it was a response of unswerving, persistent belief. We never read of Him saying to the hurting, “No, I’m not going to deliver or heal you because you don’t have enough faith.”
Even in Jesus’ hometown, where unbelief about His identity ran deep, Jesus still laid hands on a few sick people and healed them.
Miracles are not currency in exchange for a commodity. Instead, miracles are a sign that the kingdom of God is near, full of grace and compassion for the hurting and broken. Miracles conquer sin and death.
Many miracles were extended to people who encountered Jesus for the first time, and not so much for those who had been following Him as disciples. When Jesus challenged people about having little or wavering faith, He addressed those comments to His disciples.
Jesus’ disciples were the ones who would advance His kingdom after He left, and they would need strong personal faith. But notice when the change occurred in their lives—after Pentecost. Never again do we see them being challenged to believe; they simply walked in expectation. The overflowing presence of the Holy Spirit in them transformed disciples into apostles who simply continued what Jesus had started.
As disciples of Jesus today, we also encounter all kinds of people with all kinds of belief and unbelief. Our faith in Christ matters more than their response.
“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike, ‘What’s next, Papa?’ ” (Rom. 8:15, The Message).
May we live as Spirit-filled, grace-giving, miracle-extending Christians who see people the way Jesus did, no matter the depth of their faith. Now it’s our turn to pass it on.
By: Tammy Dunahoo, vice president and general supervisor of The Foursquare Church
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