Show and tell
Some people tackle novels by reading the last page first. It’s a plan of attack I wouldn’t normally subscribe to! However, I do feel compelled to start today’s reading by looking at the last verse first: “And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the market-places and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well” (v.56). Can you imagine this happening in King’s Lynn? The Tuesday Market Place laid out with sick people, brought by loved ones, and Jesus walking amongst them, healing them as they touch the hem of his robe! Hundreds of people desperate for a touch of Jesus! Moreover, we are told in the previous verse that people “ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was”(v.55). There seems to have been a real frenzy of activity as friends and family members ran to gather up their sick to bring them to Jesus. They acted with such urgency to catch Jesus before He moved on and with such faith that they believed even a brush against His robe would heal the sick! Wouldn’t it be marvellous to see people seeking Jesus with that level of urgency and faith in our towns and cities?
It’s a challenge to know that hundreds do actually gather on the Tuesday Market Place, but “like sheep without a shepherd”(v.34), they chase after ungodly supernatural encounters at psychic fairs at the Corn Exchange. They are clearly seeking, but without the one true shepherd, they are wandering into dangerous territory. What can we do to reach these lost souls? What can we do to inspire the same kind of urgency and faith shown by the people Jesus ministered to?
Verse 30 tells us to ‘do and teach’: “The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught.” To paraphrase, we can ‘show and tell’! We can show God’s love, whether that be a kind word to a waiter in a restaurant, buying a homeless person a coffee or praying for a full-on healing miracle in the street, and we can tell people of God’s love, that He sent His only son, Jesus, to die on the cross to set us free from sin. In Mark 16:15-18, we are commissioned by Jesus to ‘show and tell’. He says “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
The first instruction is to proclaim the gospel. If we don’t tell people that Jesus saves, they simply won’t know. I once lodged with some very good Christian friends who lived really Godly lives. They never swore or spoke negatively, they were supportive and kind, and regularly helped the less well-off. They modelled the Christian life wonderfully and it was a real revelation to me, as a then unbeliever, that faith could have such an impact on lives. As I look back on my own journey, I know that the time spent with them was absolutely pivotal in my eventual coming to faith, but the one thing they never did, despite my occasional questions, was to tell me about Jesus or invite me to church! If they had, I might have been saved a good ten years earlier than I was! We have life-saving news! It is so important to share it! Sometimes we assume others aren’t interested, but they could be ready and waiting for someone to tell them, just like I was.
The second part of Jesus’ commission is to ‘show’ the signs of His presence! Personally, I won’t be in a rush to pick up serpents with my hands, but Jesus clearly says that those who believe in Him are able to cast out demons and pray for the sick. These are not gifts that are reserved only for the chosen few. They are for all Christians. The Holy Spirit lives on the inside of us. We carry the presence of God, wherever we go. This is our identity as believers. We can pray for the sick, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, they will be healed. (The responsibility for the healing remains with God – we just have to be willing to pray!)
Before we see urgency and faith in others, we need to ask God for more urgency and faith for ourselves to reach out to the lost and believe Jesus will change their lives! Let’s be bold and intentional about sharing the good news of Jesus and demonstrating His power. Let’s show and tell Jesus wherever we are and wherever we go. Make a decision today to step out in faith and ‘show and tell’ to one person a day every day. So many people are desperate for a touch of the heavenly; they just don’t know yet that the one they are looking for is Jesus! Let’s share our life-saving news!