A devotional by Hannah Williamson. A 5 day explaining
how Jesus would have lived in this world today.
Day 1 // He would get close to the sick
Let me start this series of devotions by saying in response to the title, that Jesus does actually live today! Okay, yes, He doesn’t physically live on earth like He did in Bible times, but He lives in us. Being a Christian means living ‘Christ-like.’ So, in these coming days I want to learn from the way Jesus lived and how we can live like Him in our world.
‘A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.’
When this crisis of coronavirus broke out, I found people’s reactions fascinating. Some seemed not to care, while others would not go near people that coughed. Although in many ways the fear was understandable, I realised that it began to make people paranoid about coughing in public in case they got the ‘evil stares’ from people! In bible times leprosy was like this but on a whole other level! Lepers had to walk around with a bell so that people could be warned that they were coming and could get out of the way. Lepers once ‘diagnosed’ had no hope of physical contact from family or friends again. They went into isolation and probably extreme loneliness. Jesus broke the norm over and over again by getting close to lepers. He treated them with dignity and love. Now, don’t get me wrong, we have to abide by social distancing rules and can’t just walk into a hospital these days and care for the sick, however, I think it’s important to acknowledge the hospital staff who are being the hands and feet of Jesus and are showing care, concern and love for their patients.
Why not today take some time to pray for the doctors and nurses and other hospital staff who are on the front line being like Jesus and getting close to the sick in order to help them. Why not also be aware of your reactions to sick people! Rather than react in fear, react in love. Ask how someone is? Ask how you can help?
Day 2 // He’d weep with the grieving
‘When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where did you lay him?’ He asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept.’
The above scripture is taken from the account of Lazarus where Jesus is informed that his friend has died. If you know the story, you will know that after the above verse Jesus goes on to bring him back to life. The story gives us a picture of resurrection! However, at this point in the story we do not know that and the people in the story certainly didn’t know that was going to happen. All they felt at this stage was pain. The pain and grief of the loss of a loved one. In our world today, many are facing this pain. They are having to suddenly say goodbye to people who they didn’t expect to lose so soon. What I love about the scripture above is that we see the heart of God. In the smallest verse in the Bible we see how much God understands our pain and is willing to sit with us in our pain. Jesus would have known that He was going to raise Lazarus, but He still saw the importance of being with His friends in their pain. He wept with them.
When it comes to grief, it can be somewhat uncomfortable looking on, especially if you have never faced anything like this yourself. My challenge for you today is firstly, to pray for those suffering with the intensity of loss today. Secondly, I would encourage you to sit with someone in their pain. Now I realise at the moment, you can’t physically do that, but I would challenge you to do something to show kindness - send some flowers, take some food to their doorstep or even just make a phone call to let them know that you care.
Day 3 // He’d break racial boundaries
‘When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink? (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)’
I am moved today as I write this, seeing posts all over my social media about racial injustices around the world. In a time where many are sick and dying it is shocking that our hearts are not always turned to compassion but back to old prejudices. If Jesus lived today, I am certain He would weep at the way that people are treated and would stand up for justice in these circumstances. In the above verse we see Jesus speaking to someone of a different race to Himself. In bible times there were deep seated prejudices against the Samaritans. Even the simple fact that Jesus was in a Samaritan area was out of the ordinary. What I love about this passage is that Jesus asks this woman for a drink of water. In doing this He bridges a gap by asking for something that humans need - water. In doing this He showed that deep down everyone has the same needs. He also asks for help which is a humbling thing to do. He could have surely got water Himself, but He asked for her help which not only invited her into conversation but allowed her to feel needed and wanted. Wow. Jesus blows me away by His kindness. At the start of lockdown, myself and my housemate put cards through our neighbours doors offering help. We did it from a right motive as we really wanted to offer to be there during this difficult season. I guess ignorantly I didn’t expect to need help from my neighbours. Sometimes as Christians it’s easy to fall into this trap of being the ‘rescuers’ for people. When I got a text from a neighbour asking if I needed anything from the shops, I realised this was an opportunity to build towards her rather than act like I am the one who has it all together, so I asked for flour which I couldn’t find anywhere. I guess it, like the Samaritan built a bridge toward a woman I had never spoken to before.
My challenge for you today is firstly to pray for the racism and prejudices that are still so rampant in our world today. Pray for peace that we as Christians can turn the tide on this. Secondly, actively love those who are different to you - show kindness, ask questions, seek to understand. Our world certainly needs to love like Jesus in these areas.
Day 4 // He’d connect with the socially disconnected
‘When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet Him. This man lived in the tombs and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain...night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.....then Jesus asked him, ‘what is your name?
The above story has always stirred me. This man is so broken. Anyone who lives in a graveyard might be looked at strangely. People stayed away from this guy. Today we would say he has mental health challenges - he roams around death, he cuts himself and cries out in torment. Although our dealings with people who are struggling from a mental health perspective today would be different as we have a better understanding, this does not mean that we necessarily treat people any better. If we see someone in the street who looks somewhat ‘shifty’ we may look the other way or walk to the other side of the road. Maybe this is because we are uncomfortable or fearful? Or maybe we just don’t know how to respond? We can learn a great deal from how Jesus dealt with this man who was struggling and in many ways was hugely isolated. Jesus spoke to him which meant he had to have looked him in the eye. He didn’t run, turn his back or look away but he stood in front of him with love. Secondly, Jesus asked the man for his name. He showed interest in who this man was. If you look later in the passage Jesus helped this man. This brings great challenge to us as we may see or face those who are in many ways disconnected from society.
My challenge for you today is to pray for those who are socially disconnected at this time, maybe due to age or sickness. Pray for those who are struggling with their mental health and feel disconnected at this time. My other challenge is for you to look someone in the eye and ask them what their name is. Obviously not someone you know, but maybe someone you see in the street, a homeless person or simply someone serving you in a shop.
Day 5 // He would honour the government
‘Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the poll-tax to Caesar or not?’ But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, ‘you hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying tax.’ They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesars,’ they replied. Then he said to them, ‘so, give back to Caesar what is Caesars, and to God what is God’s.'
I don’t know about you but when this crisis began, I was glued to the TV, watching the news. After a while I realised although it was important that I was informed of what was going on, I had to make sure I wasn’t getting stuck to bad news! Daily, I would hear of the death toll and feel down and had to ensure I was limiting the amount I watched! What did come through from watching the news was the fact that our government were having to work crazy hours to try to fight this pandemic. We all may have opinions as to how they have acted but I think we have to remember that they, like us, have never had to deal with a crisis of this scale before! The above text shows some of the religious teachers of the day trying to provoke Jesus to make comments on the political situation of the time. They wanted to trip him up. Jesus’ response, however, is fascinating as He honours both God with his answer and the political powers of the time. We too have to respond in a similar way to our government. We must both honour God and honour those in power. We may not agree with everything they do but we still have a responsibility to honour - to speak well of those leading us and to pray for them.
My challenge for you today is to take some time to pray for our Prime Minister and those leading in our government. The Bible is very clear that we should do this. I would also challenge you today to make a choice to speak positively about those leading our government. Our words are powerful. They can honour or dishonour - choose to honour.... it’s the Jesus way!