Don't you absolutely love it when you suddenly burst into a great and wonderful revelation of some passage in the Bible you have been studying. We read through the Word again and again, sometimes understanding, sometimes relying on someone else's understanding. Then, one day as we are reading that same passage for the hundredth time, bang! it hits us and we see clearly. How does that happen? Perhaps it is the same way the man with leprosy knew Jesus could heal him.
Jesus had finished up some of his teaching and he was on the move. His purpose was to cast out demons and preach the good news. He had not yet started healing anyone. Yet, here comes this many with leprosy who declares that if Jesus wanted to he could heal him. Jesus wanted to and did. I really enjoy the simplicity of this exchange:
When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. (Matthew 8:1-3)
So how did this man know this for such a certainty that he had the courage to walk up to this Rabi and declare such a thing? After all, he was leprous and the law demanded he keep a distance from everyone. Yet he approached close enough for Jesus to reach out and touch him. Perhaps it was the first real human contact he had in months. The answer seems to be pretty clear to me, the Spirit was hard at work here, opening the eyes of anyone who was willing to see. This man knew that Jesus was more than a Rabi and somehow could bring the healing he longed for. He experienced something that many of us lack today; the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Having pastors and teachers of the Word is a great blessing, one that we should not take for granted. Our Father has blessed us with men and women who have responded to his call to set everything aside in their life and do nothing but serve him. They are not priests of old but men and women of the Spirit. They do not perform tired old ceremonies with little value but listen to and follow the direction of the Spirit in everything they do. However, they are not our sole source of inspiration and learning. Our greatest teacher is the Spirit of Christ, our Comforter, our great Counselor.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26)
John told us incredibly that the the Spirit teaches us through the anointing we have received and it is our greatest guarantee of not being led astray:
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. (1 John 2:27)
The pastors and teachers are our accountability. They keep us from going astray. They often confirm what the Spirit is teaching us directly. They are not to be cast aside because they are part of the design of Jesus for his Bride, the Church. What we need to be careful of is that we do not set them up as the Old Covenant priests, acting as if God only speaks through them. We need to be people of the Spirit.
What we lack is faith and trust in the Spirit. We are afraid to stick our neck out, to step out trusting the Spirit to be with us, to guide us, to give us the words to speak and the actions to take. It is like jumping out of an airplane while doubting the effectiveness of the parachute strapped to our back. Too many of us are still relying on our own insights and intellect. We rely on our own intuition. We lean on the understanding of the giants of faith of the past without learning the lessons from the Spirit ourselves. Here we are, the most blessed generations in the age of grace and the Spirit, yet we are stumbling around like a bunch of blind people.
To be honest, most of us do not give the Spirit any consideration at all. We move through our day following the general will of the Father, loving people and testifying about Jesus. These are good things but we have been called to and been equipped with far more. We are not priests of the Old Covenant, we are the Spirit-filled children of our holy Jehovah. We are given his specific will at times in our lives, what to say, what actions to take, what power to share. We need to become and remain sensitive to the Spirit who dwells in us for a reason. We are not powerless or sightless when it comes to spiritual matters. We are greater than those who practice witchcraft and more knowing than many who call themselves theologians. They may understand the history, the background, the context but they have not experienced the relationship, the understanding, the power of the author. We have!
We are able to be just like that man with leprosy, knowing without being told. We need to trust what the Spirit is showing us and step out, even if it means condemnation from the crowd.That man took a big chance to trust what his heart was telling him. He trusted in the action he took because he knew Jesus was more than a good man. The Church is more than a building. The Body is more than a collection of people trying to improve their character. The Bible is more than a collection of old wise sayings and stories. We are more than just worshipers and "do gooders". We are Spirit-filled children of Jehovah and servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, who are on a mission to save the world from its own destruction. Go ahead, listen to what the Spirit is telling you and step out.