Does God have favorites?
If so, who are they?
I have continued studying ‘Jesus, the One and Only’ a Beth Moore study. We just finished week 3. This morning during the video as I listened to her teach I cried. God is using her words to convict and encourage me all within the same minute. God is also giving me a fresh perspective.
So as I listened to her teach and read the words of God the tears flowed. It was a good, cleansing cry. It didn’t matter who was around, who saw or heard – I blew my nose twice – I needed it and I’m glad the tears flowed freely.
Through this study I honestly feel as if I am meeting Jesus for the first time. I am seeing Him in a different light. Maybe I am finally beginning to understand things. Who He is and how much He loves me and all those he came to serve, teach, heal, minister to and die for.
I am seeing the ‘human’ side of God and how that humanity effected His ministry. Hence the name, The Son of Man, which was what he referred to himself the most as. There were limitations that he relinquished himself to. Although he was God 100%, he was fully man too. It was all part of his divine plan – to be human for a while.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jn. 1:14
“…and she will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 (Immanuel literally meaning “the with us God”)
These things I have known and heard and been taught for as long as I can remember. I am glad that God is giving me fresh eyes to see these facts anew. It’s time.
This morning we were camped out on a mountain side near the Sea of Galilee and listened as Jesus spoke to his newly appointed disciples. (Luke 6:17-36) I love how you can read a passage that you have practically memorized and then all of a sudden something new jumps off the page and either gently kisses you or smacks you in the face, which ever one is needed. I think I got a bit of both.
So for the sake of context…
Christ had just chosen his 12 disciples, whom he also appointed apostles. (Luke 6:12) Very soon after, he went down to where a large crowd had gathered. This was to be the disciples induction into ministry. Beth wanted us to go there. To become eye-witnesses. To try and envision what this mass of people might have been like, who they might have been, what they might have looked, even smelled like. So for that, we went to Matthew 4.
Matthew gave a bit more insight to who these people were. Therefore, what kind of experience the disciples might have had. What they might have felt and thought.
“…and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.” v.24
Luke added, “and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.” v.19
Go there with me…
What kind of various diseases? Were they contagious? Were the people delirious? Have you ever seen someone in severe pain? What does their face look like? Were they desperate? Have you yourself experienced that? Were there sounds? Moaning, screaming, crying? Have you ever seen someone who was demon-possessed? Heard stories, seen movies? Would you have been scared? What about seizures? What does someone look like who is having a seizure? Would you have stared? What about the paralyzed? How would they have gotten there? Would they have been carried? Would they have bathed beforehand? Would they have smelled? Would you have helped them get closer to Jesus? Would you have been uncomfortable?
I know I would have…
This was the disciple’s baptism into ministry. They were immediately thrown into a sea of suffering and confronted with the unfairness of life. Jesus didn’t allow them to waltz very long in the romanticism of ministry. Very quickly they were faced with reality and that often times equals pain.
But what else did Jesus show them? Where else did he ‘take’ them?
“…and he healed them.” v.24
What do you think Jesus saw when he looked out across this sea of people? Did he see their faces? Did he look into their eyes? Did he see their pain? Feel their desperation? Did he love them? Did he long for their salvation? Their complete healing? Were they his favorite?
It wouldn’t seem like it. They were the ones that really bad things had happened to. They were the ones experiencing the unfairness of life. Pain. Anger. Bitterness. Regret. True suffering. No one would have looked at them and said, “God’s favor is upon you.” No one would have looked at them with envy. Pity maybe, but not envy.
But then Jesus does a funny thing. He stops his healing, turns to his disciples and says to them,
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man…
Do you think he might have been referring to the people around them? Was he calling them blessed? Did he accidentally pick the wrong word? Did he understand that blessed means ‘possessing the favor of God, the state of being marked by the fullness from God’? Did he really mean ‘My favor is upon them’? In other words, ‘They are my favorites’? Is that what he was saying?
Yes, that is what he was saying.
Beth compared this kind of favor to a mother’s favor over her sick child. She doesn’t love the sick child more than her healthy children. But she does show that precious sick one a little more favor than the others. She gives her a little more attention while she is in need. Bends gently over her, feels her forehead with her lips, makes her comfortable, stays up nights at her bedside, prays for her, doesn’t leave her until she is well again. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I long for the most from my Savior during the times of my deepest need.
Can we trust God to favor the suffering? Are you the suffering? Do you know someone who is suffering? They have been marked by God. And they/you are His favorite.
I think He was also saying, this life is so unfair, but just wait, my future for you is even more unfair! Oh, how thankful I am for that! And no that is not a typo. Because what would truly be fair, would be for us to be eternally separated from Him. That would be fair. Praise God that He isn’t fair.
So what do we have to look forward to?
*I feel like I should say that most of what I have written here was taken from my notes from Beth’s talk today and from the Bible Study that she has written. These are not my original thoughts, only what I’ve been mulling over the past couple of days…