Of those who sought Him
The Lord Jesus never sought publicity or popularity. In fact, in the early part of His ministry He charged some of those He helped to keep the matter quiet. Not all were able to do so, a notable case being one leper who was so wonderfully healed. He could not contain himself and told everyone in sight (Mk 1.44-45). Inevitably, the Saviour's fame spread abroad and many needy souls sought Him out, coming to Him from every quarter. It seemed to the disciples that everyone was seeking Him (Mk 1.37).
He was always sympathetic with those who were genuine, while at the same time He was aware of those who had an ulterior motive in seeking Him. Some desired only to be fed physically and others sought merely to be entertained by some miraculous spectacle (Jn 6.26; 12.9).
Clarifying their desire
Many sinners today are unaware of their greatest need. Some who attend churches are seeking material wealth, physical healing, a companion, or even advantageous social or business connections, rather than spiritual blessing. Therefore, it is an important question to ask a seeker what he or she is really seeking.
On the outskirts of Jericho two blind men sat begging. Hearing that the Saviour was passing by, they cried out to Him for mercy. They refused to be silenced when rebuked by the thronging crowd. Jesus stood still and called to them: "What will ye that I shall do unto you?". Not surprisingly, immediately and in perfect unison, they replied, "Lord, that our eyes may be opened" (Mt 20.29-34). Earlier in the Gospel of Matthew, two other blind men followed the Lord into a house and cried out for mercy. When He asked them, "Believe ye that I am able to do this?", they answered, "Yea, Lord" (Mt 9.27-28).
At the pool of Bethesda the problem was different. A man afflicted by a severe paralysis for 38 years lay helpless. He had no one to assist him until the Saviour came. The question, once again, focused on the desire of his heart: "Wilt thou be made whole?" (Jn 5.6). The man spoke of his frustration and bitter disappointment: the one thing that he desired had been so often denied him in the past. At last, his time had come!
Not all went away from Christ joyful and satisfied. The rich young ruler sounded as if obtaining eternal life was the one thing dearest to his heart. He came to the Lord in haste and humbly knelt before Him. His opening remarks were questioned by the Lord: "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God" (Mk 10.18). The brief encounter revealed the young man's high opinion of himself and brought to light his glaring deficiency he loved his possessions more than anything else. He turned and went away, unsatisfied but not unloved.
The mother of James and John was forthright enough. When the Lord asked her, "What wilt thou?", she immediately requested that her own two boys be given the best seats in the Kingdom (Mt 20.21). Her presumptuous request stirred up the indignation of the other ten disciples. The Lord explained that such a privilege could only be earned by lowly service.
Confirming His love
Anyone who doubts the value of working with children should read and reread the account in Matthew 18 when the Lord called a little child to Himself to explain the whole concept of greatness in His Kingdom. The simple faith and humble character of a little child are the very things that count for greatness in divine things. Each little one is precious to Him and should never be stumbled or despised.
The Lord went on to face the disciples with a question: "How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?" (Mt 18.12). The illustration of a shepherd who cared was merely a faint picture of the love of the Good Shepherd, the Son of Man, who came to seek and to save that which was lost. God Himself is not willing that one of these little ones should perish.
Not everyone came to the Lord confidently. One woman was so shy and timid that her only intention was to come up behind Him and touch the hem of His garment. Twelve years of suffering from a severe and incurable affliction had left her grossly anaemic. In all likelihood she was pale, very weak, and breathless. The Scripture confirms that she was also penniless after having tried many different physicians. The Lord asked at that point: "Who touched me?" (Lk 8.45). At least to the disciples, this appeared a strange question when the motley crowd was milling around Him on every side. But Christ knew that the woman's touch signified that she had placed her faith implicitly in Him and His question elicited her frank and public confession. With tenderness and grace He sent her on her way rejoicing.
The woman caught in the very act of adultery was to be a test case. The scribes and Pharisees were intent on mischief and evil. When they asked Him what He would do, He said nothing but began to write something upon the ground. Then He challenged any who was guiltless to cast the first stone, and continued writing. When He next looked up, the woman was alone and every accuser had fled. He said unto her, "Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?" (Jn 8.10). When she answered that none had remained to condemn her, the Lord poured into her ears words of forgiveness, comfort and challenge: "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more".
When His mother and brethren came seeking for Him, the Lord posed an unusual question, "Who is my mother, or my brethren?" (Mk 3.33). He then explained that all who did the will of God could claim the honour of being related to Him. That includes you and me.
To be continued.