It's Up to You

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The sermon is over. Jesus and his followers come down from the mountain only to be greeted by a leper. The Scriptures say that the man had the nerve to come right up to Jesus and kneel in front of him (Matthew 5:2). That would have parted the crowds like nothing else could! No one wanted to be around a leper and by law that man was not to approach healthy people without giving fair warning by crying out “unclean, unclean.”

What this poor soul then said to Jesus sticks in my mind: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean” (8:2b).

No demands, no expectations, only an expression of faith and a submission to the will of the Great Healer.

Lord” — I acknowledge you as Master.

if you are willing” — I don’t know your will, but I bow to it whatever it is. It’s up to you.

you can make me clean” — I know you have the power to do this.

I always get the feeling that when I pray “your will be done,” I am simply expressing a lack of faith, that I don’t really believe He will, or even that He can, fulfill my request. I’m giving myself an “out,” a way of explaining why God didn’t answer as I expected Him to answer.

But here, in this passage from Matthew 8, we are introduced to a man who expressed his need in exactly that way—and Jesus did not rebuke him for his lack of faith. The Lord, knowing this man’s heart, understood that he was asking in faith, but submitting the answer to the One who knew what the best thing to do was.

That’s the essence of our prayers of faith. We acknowledge the lordship of Christ, His sovereign rule over our lives. We submit to His will rather than make demands and have expectations as to how He should answer our prayers. We express our faith that He can do what we would expect Him to do if we had expectations! This sounds like a contradiction but it is, in fact, knowing something for certain without demanding that the certainly become reality for us. That’s faith.

It’s an Isaac move—laying ourselves on God’s altar, watching the knife raised against us, and knowing that somehow, whether the knife falls or not, God will provide (Genesis 22).

That’s faith.

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