“Faith, in and of itself, has no power.” I read that in a commentary. My first reaction was to balk. To argue. I read on and realized that the author’s point was a good one. If you put your faith in the wrong thing, it cannot help you. Let’s say you have turned to alcohol to manage the pain of your life. You have all the faith in the world that you can drink your problems away. But this faith will not, cannot, save you. Now, faith in the right thing, that is very powerful. We have all heard that good things come to those who wait. But merely waiting is not the power. It is waiting on something that is good and right and beautiful. That is where the power of waiting is found. So, don’t waste your time waiting for any old thing. Wait for the good. Wait for it!
Luke 6:17-19 is a transitional passage. It transitions from the choosing of the Twelve to the Sermon on the Plain. I would like to suggest that this is not the same sermon that is called the Sermon on the Mount which is found in Matthew 5-7. They have similarities for sure and some suggest that Luke gave us a compressed version of Matthew’s account and placed it in a different setting. But we know that, Jesus, just like many speakers, often said similar things at different times. The easiest explanation is that Jesus preached a similar message at least twice and probably more often than that.
Okay, so Jesus spent the night up on the Mountain praying. After the prayer he chose from among his disciples, twelve who he named as apostles. Then we see Jesus coming down and stopping at a level place (or plain) because there was a large crowd of disciples and a large throng of people from as far away as the region of Tyre and Sidon. This throng is composed of disciples, people who have committed to following Jesus, and others who may be eager to hear what this new kind of rabbi has to say or maybe some are there just to be healed. And the implication is that this throng was there waiting patiently for Jesus to come down. We have no idea how long they had been waiting and we don’t know exactly how many people we’re talking about, but Luke emphasizes its great size. It seems likely that this was a remote area. So, picture this multitude of people waiting in this level spot out in the wilderness. As the time marched on, did they begin to get anxious. Did some wander away?
They came to listen and to be healed of their illnesses. And there were also those who were being afflicted by defiled spirits, longing to be set free from the foul evil. Was it likely that those who were ill or possessed would give up and walk away before Jesus came down from the mountain? Maybe if they had doubts that it would do any good. But they had heard the stories. Maybe they even knew someone who had already been healed or set free. So, they were willing to wait. And because of their patience, they were rewarded. Those who wanted to hear, heard; those who wanted to be healed, were healed; and those who longed to be free of the unclean spirits afflicting them, were set free.
We are told that the crowd was seeking to touch Jesus because power was coming out of him and healing them all. Maybe we are intended to envision moments in Jesus’ life when the power was pulsing out of him and all people needed to do was get close enough. Reach out a hand and feel the power flow through your sickened body revitalizing and bursting with health. Take one step closer and feel the unclean spirit in you cringe with fear. There must have been some chaotic reaching and grasping as desperate people became frantic with hope.
Wait for it! But don’t just wait for anything. Not everything is worth waiting for. Some people waste a lot of time waiting for the turn of a friendly card. If they were able to get a better job, their life would be okay. If they could find a significant other, then their life would take a turn for the better. If they could move to a different state, or maybe even a different country, then they would be happy. This kind of waiting is rather wispy and true happiness is allusively always around the corner. But whether you are in a wilderness plain or a crowded city, you probably should patiently wait for Jesus. I don’t know if you are in a dark place right now. I don’t know if life has beaten you up and left you weary and nearly hopeless. I don’t know if desperation sits in your soul. I do know that you will not be disappointed if you wait for Jesus. I don’t always know how that plays out, but I believe it to be true. Relief may no come overnight or in a month. Wait for it! Jesus is making all things new. Wait for it! Grace and peace, Walter