Saturday, April 23, 2016

A daughter of Abraham

Jesus knows his people. He knew them, and He knows them. He knows them when they don't even know who they are. He knows them individually, as they are, in their sin, in their brokenness, their heartache, and their rebellion. He knows them by name, by their tongue, their tribe, their nation. He knows where they will stand in the choir of the elect. He holds their destiny, their past, their present, written in the scroll that only He can open. He knows them with the deep, abiding, intimate love that is most closely, humanly related within the knowing of a husband to his bride.

This immense, deep truth is something that I have wrestled with multiple times. The fact that in eternity past, before the foundations of our world, God handed to His Son a gift. It was a people for His own possession, a people for whom He would call His. But it wasn't simply an anonymous blob, a faceless conglomeration of people. It was individuals; beautifully unique, courageously singular making up a woven tapestry to be known as the body, the bride of Christ, His church. And this reality is something of great comfort, and extremely humility for me. Sadly, I think I had drifted a little too far from this mooring... started to float away a bit from this anchor.

The symptoms that creep through when this happens are myriad, but they can be easily summed up: I stop loving. When I forget that the elect of God, handed to Jesus, and promised to Him is not simply an amoebic hull of humanity, then I start to forget about people. Individuals who need to hear the Word of God, people who God is placing in my path that I might take the chance to boldly proclaim the truth the beauty of the treasure of God found only through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Luckily, God has not left us without the tools necessary to identify the sins in our life. The light of His Word, cast into the darkness of our being displays shadowy corners where sins dwell. The Word also provides all we need to join with the work of the Spirit to put to death those sins. I'm thankful for that... and for a passage this past week that was the blazing torch revealing again the amazing truth that I wrote out to start this posting:

Luke 12:14-17 (ESV)
But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.   

Jesus had never met the woman before, the Bible tells us very little about who she was. As far as we can tell, this is the first time she is ever meeting or seeing Jesus at all. To the best of what we can infer from this passage, she is not a disciple or follower of any kind, just an ordinary woman who was tormented by Satan... but Jesus refers to her in a very specific manner: daughter of Abraham. In John's Gospel account, John records a conversation between Jesus and some Jewish people who had come to hear him. Jesus explains to these biological sons of Abraham that it is not their ethnic heritage that determines if they are true children of Abraham (i.e. heirs of the promises of God) but it is those who are set free by the Son. Jesus explains that it is only the true sons of Abraham who will remain in the house of the Lord forever. Jesus here names His elect "Children of Abraham". Applying that view to the passage from Luke reveals to us that though Jesus is just meeting this woman, He has known her from all eternity. He heals her of her torment. He brings this sheep into the fold. Not by any merit of her striving, or by any reason that can be comprehended in our feeble human mind. Jesus saw this woman and recognized her as one of His.

He does that same for every one of His sheep. 
 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. John 10:14-16 (ESV)

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