Josh, our oldest, was stung by a bee when he was very little. He still has healthy fear for bees. On the first day of pre-school I got a call from the school nurse. She knew us, attended our church. She said, ”Pastor, Josh fell off the monkey bars and cut his head. It’s not bad but I think he should have stitches. I picked him up and took him to the ER at our local hospital. Josh was so brave. I explained to him on the way just where the cut was. They would wash it really well with iodine. That might burn for just a second but it would quickly stop. Then they would take a small needle and stick him with it to numb the cut. It would be a prick, a painful little poke, but he was tough and he could handle it.
He did so well. Brave little man, climbed up on the table, Crossed his arms over his chest. Said “yessir and nossir” to answer the doctor’s questions. He was doing perfect until the nurse brought out the needle. She kept it cleverly out of sight but just as she was administering the shot she said, “This is going to feel like a little bee sting.” Josh went ballistic. He flailed and kicked and screamed. It took four of us to hold him down until the shot was over and THAT nurse left the room.
Wrong words at the right time can be devastating. We have an image in our minds of how things should be, or a memory of how we THINK they were, and when that is triggered we go back to the fear, pain, and angst that traumatized us way back when.
Jesus has an interesting encounter about healing in Matthew 8. He is already got quite a reputation. He has turned water to wine, healed the leprosy guy, stood toe to toe with Satan, and amassed a pretty good following. He has more FaceBook likes than Chonda. But this one almost catches Him by surprise. Matthew 8:5-13
“5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” 7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with h great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.”
There are some amazing things in this healing. The officer has so much faith that he comes without his servant. Jesus doesn’t seem to catch that at first. He says, “I will go with you.” The office almost catches Jesus by surprise by the degree of faith that he has. And of course, the act, Jesus says the servant is healed and miles away, at that exact moment, Ol’ Servant Joe, hops up and says, “Come on people, we’ve got chores to do.”
But the thing that grabs my attention in this quote of Jesus when, so impressed by the faith of the Roman officer, He says, “Many gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.” There is something in the act of faith of this Roman that opens the door, in Jesus’s mind for a great migration into the Kingdom from all kinds if people that we don’t normally expect. I usually read this to say that, “because of this great faith, many white, male, protestant, non-jewish people (just like me) will enter the Kingdom.” God bless me and Ma and our two boys. We four. No more.
What if, when Jesus meant, Gentiles from all over the world, He meant…think about it…Gentiles from all over the world. Look at what He did not ask this guy. What church are you a member of? Were you sprinkled or dunked? Heck, were you even baptized? Do you tithe regularly? Do you have tats or piercings? What kind of music do you listen to? Here’s a big one, Trump or Clinton? Or God forbid, Bernie Sanders? All of the prerequisites that we believe are absolutely mandatory, Jesus just steps right over and says, “You have faith. You seem interested in helping others. You’re in.”
Whoa, not fair Jesus. I had to go through 20 years of Sunday School. I can recite the Lord’s Prayer, in 3 languages, one of them unknown. I am a card-carrying member of First Church of What’s Happenin’ Now. They are not like me and I don’t think I want them at the feast with me. (Of course, Jesus might say, “No problem. You’re out!)
If any of this is true, and I believe it is, then the healing that I really need is the ability to open my heart, enlighten my mind, and see all of those people that I am railing against constantly as potential table partners at the great Kingdom feast. That black thug, with his pants drooping, kneeling down during the National Anthem, might be sitting with him. That vulgar woman with tampon earrings , shouting out Trump epithets, could be sitting right across the table from me. You name the person you cannot imagine being there and then think, “They could make it.” How would I treat them differently if I really thought we would be spending the next ten million years together?
I know, stings like a bee doesn’t it? But for today. Just think about it. We are going to continue to be surprised at What Jesus Really Says.
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