Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Walk Right Up

When we look at the ways that persons came to Jesus in the Gospels, we can't help but notice that some of them just walked right up to Him. Interestingly, most of those who walked right up to Him...were women. (This is interesting because in that culture, this would have been certainly taboo.)

There was Mary, the sister of Martha, who took it upon herself to sit at His feet when He came to visit their home. We remember this story because Martha was very upset about this, slaving away in the kitchen as women tended to do, while her sister, Mary, was so bold as to just get herself a spot on the floor somewhere near the Teacher.

There was the sinful woman (who some say was also Mary, although we don't know that for sure) who busted into Simon's house when Jesus was there, walked right up to Him, and poured out expensive perfume all over Him. She used her hair as a rag and anointed, He says, His body for burial while pouring out her own troubled heart at the very same time. 

There was the woman who came begging for her child's healing, the woman who Jesus initially turned away because she was not a Hebrew/Jew/Israelite. She fell at His feet and refused to leave, saying that even the dogs under the table get fed scraps by the children. Jesus healed her daughter.

There was the woman with the issue of blood that came pushing her way, unclean but unannounced, through the crowds, just for the chance to touch the edge of His robe. In those times, someone ritually unclean would be required to yell out, "Unclean! Unclean!" whenever they were near others, so that their uncleanliness would not spread. But this woman did not want to draw attention to herself; she just wanted to come to Jesus. And when she did, He said her faith had healed her. 

All four of these women came, humbling themselves, straight to Jesus. They just walked right up like they belonged there in His presence. And, He says, they were right to do so; of course they belonged there. Martha was told that Mary had chosen the better thing; the men were told that the sinful woman's story would be told wherever His own story was; the woman who was content with scraps under the table went home to a daughter healed; the bleeding woman became clean in that very instant. All because they were bold, but humble.

One particular man was only bold. We call him the rich young ruler, and he, too, walked right up to Jesus. But he wasn't coming in order to humble himself; he was coming to bolster himself. He wanted the chance to show off his ritual faithfulness, to flash around his riches and be affirmed, very publicly, by Jesus so that he could become even more in the eyes of the world. He boldly demanded what he wanted from Jesus, certain that he had already fulfilled the greatest of all commands, and Jesus spoke boldly back to him. Then, we're told, he went away sad. 

The Pharisees and experts in Moses's Teachings also came boldly to Jesus. They were confident that in all of their knowledge and diligent faithfulness, they could trap Him into saying something wrong. They often challenged Him directly, making a big show of their boldness and trusting that one day, they'd get Him. They would be right and this so-called Teacher would finally be wrong. But Jesus responded to every single one of their inquiries and challenges with holiness and authenticity, such that these men always walked away from Him fuming. They were embarrassed, frustrated, and angry. 

These men came bold, but not humble, and they were put in their places by the Jesus that they encountered. 

So there is, we see, a pattern for coming straight to Jesus, for just walking right up and introducing yourself and presenting your needs before God. But walking right up to Jesus requires two things, either one of which is not enough on its own: boldness and humility. 

Without boldness, you'd never get close enough; without humility, you'd be seeking the wrong thing (your own glory, not His). 

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