Posted by: pmarkrobb | January 30, 2014

your most obvious, your most basic?

I was recently listening to an audio recording of my grandfather’s funeral.  I know that sounds a bit odd, but allow me to explain.  The recording was part of a treasured and very personal Christmas gift my Uncle Richie gave me this year.  I have vague recollections of the funeral service, but a clear and lingering impression of the pastor who spoke that day.  He was one of my grandfather’s students at Bible college, and one of “his boys,” as he affectionately referred to the group of pastors he taught and mentored over the years.

I hung on every word of the beautiful and moving portrait the pastor painted of who my grandfather was to all who knew him well.  One particularly resonant and meaningful remembrance was of the very real and unmistakable twinkle that would appear in my grandfather’s eye just before he would say something clever or profound.  You braced yourself when you saw it, and it was impossible to miss.  I loved those moments.

It was what came to mind when I read the encounter in Matthew 9:1-7 between Jesus, the man who was paralyzed and the teachers of the law that were in the crowd that day.  I wonder if Jesus had a twinkle?  It’s so clear and unmistakable from the gospel accounts of His life that Jesus possessed a sharp and clever wit.  He had perfect timing and intuition.  He saw directly into the heart of man.  He knew how to “ask” a question that spoke deep truths and probed to the very center of the human soul.  Every word he spoke was purposed, possessed weight, and provoked just the right emotion.  I wonder if He had a twinkle?

If He did, it was most assuredly on full display as he inhaled and prepared to speak the very powerful and pointed words of forgiveness into the life of the paralyzed man lying on his mat.  “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.

The words were personal … the words were purposed … and the words were absolutely provocative.  Those seven words pierced the heart of a disease that was pervasive, yet no one could see.  Jesus healed the man’s most obvious need eventually, but he revealed and healed his most basic need first.  As the author of absolute truth, Jesus knew that the man’s paralysis was secondary to his sin, and His forgiveness was the only cure.  It must have resonated with some, but confounded most others .. and certainly angered the teachers of the law (twinkle).

With the sound of His voice or the touch of His hand, he could have awed and amazed.  But He knew the real miracle, the real prize, was healing of an everlasting kind … a kingdom kind.  And not just for the man on the mat, but for all who had eyes to see and ears to hear.

What is your need today … your most obvious, your most basic?  Read the words of Jesus anew … every purposeful, powerful, provocative, revealing and healing one.



  1. Thanks so much! 🙂 This drew my mind back to a Youtube conversation between John Piper, D. A. Carson, and Timothy Keller where they tackled the topic of mercy ministries – physical needs. (You can find it by searching their last names together with “suffering”. I believe it is worth the 9 minutes.) In this conversation John Piper makes the following statement, as best as I can sumarize – he said:

    [We exist to relieve all suffering, especially eternal suffering! If I succeeded totally in relieving all poverty/physical need in this age and did not solve the eternal problem, I would prove in the end to be absolutely unloving…..and unlike Christ.]

    I visualize and hear Jesus seeing and being involved through and beyond the physical and temporary in His Matthew 9 and other gospel words, to the spiritual and eternal. Not in place of, or apart from from them, but through them (seeing, touching, caring, crying, involving, doing) and beyond them – to a loving, sovereign, holy, eternal, Spirit God who desires to share Himself and know and be known by those He has created in His image.

    As a side note I cannot help but think Jesus was so pleased with the crowd’s response to His interaction: “When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.” The awe reminds me of the recorded reactions of Mary and Joseph to the news that they would birth and raise the Son of God – they “pondered”, “treasured” and “marvelled”! Am I awed with God? Or am I too quickly moved to a place of explanation, understanding and purpose. All good things, but where’s the awe?!? And Jesus, I believe, could not have been more pleased. They praised His Father!

    John 5:19-20 “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does. Yes, to your amazement (awe :)) He will show Him even greater things than these.”

    John 7:16-18 “My teaching is not my Own. It comes from Him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on His own does to gain honor for himself, but He who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”

    John 8:27-29 “They did not understand that He was telling them about His Father. So Jesus said, When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.”

    John 12:47-50 “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own account, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that His command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

    Transition – it is for your good that I am going away….I will send Him, the Counselor to you….

    John 16:12-15 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”

    “And the man got up and went home …… and the crowd ……. they praised God.” (And Jesus Smiled :))

    Well, once again you have given me opportunity and stirred engagement with the Truth; our risen Son of Man, our sent Spirit and our giving Father! Thank You!

  2. Awesome memory to have Mark….awesome message too.

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