During the last few months at Evening Praise we have been looking at the Miracles and Healing conducted by Jesus in his Ministry. There have been miracles that have defied nature, science and logic. Turning Water into Wine, feeding 5000 men and women and children, walking on water and calming the storm. There have been miracles that bring life back to people who are suffering. Healing the cripple, the lepers, restoring the sight of Bartimaeus, healing an official’s son and a centurion’s servant. In all of these Miracles there has been an amazement at who Jesus is, there has been a demonstration of his compassion, there has been signs of the kingdom of God and an expression of faith in who Jesus is, God’s son, God on earth, Emmanuel, God with us. Many came to faith in Jesus and through the miracles and the healing he conducted, Jesus touched lives and through touching lives he healed the brokenness.
For some, like Peter, (Mark 1:14-19) they followed Jesus and stood as observers of all that was miraculous in his ministry. Ordinary fishermen, with families, hardworking people running their own family businesses and yet they become disciples, chosen by Jesus to follow him and told by him that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
It is through discipleship that others will come to know of the goodness of God’s love for them and that God’s kingdom will come amongst us.
Peter changes from the small time fisherman to an incredible missional man full of God’s Holy Spirit, full of the spirit of Jesus within him and he speaks powerfully in Jesus name as thousands were baptised on the day of Pentecost and Peter is able to be a channel for the Holy Spirit to work through him.
In the Acts of the Apostles they know the awe and the wonder of God amongst them and Peter and John find themselves going up to the temple to pray at a place called the Beautiful Gate and there they find a man lame from birth asking for charity to survive in life and Peter says to him “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And the man walked. There is a compassion in Peter and a love for the man that means he offers him what he has, the power of prayer in Jesus name.
Do we, I wonder, know that compassion and love for others that only comes from God. It is a love that is non-judgemental and totally unselfish, it sees the person as God would see them, in all wholeness, not as people might see them and there is a desire for God through Jesus Christ to work in their lives? If you know that compassion and that calling you may be called to pray for wholeness and healing for others.
Peter’s journey with Jesus wasn’t without healing itself for him. He experienced the most powerful working of God in his life, the compassion of forgiveness from God himself, paid for by his son’s life, so that Peter may know that new and transformed life coming out of brokenness to fulfil a new role for Jesus Christ himself, to tend his sheep and feed his lambs and we see Peter speaking powerfully and praying God’s healing into the lame man’s life.
Imagine the scene right at the beginning of Peter’s journey with Jesus, he is a bit of a rebel, a hot head, unhappy about the state of the country, working hard at his fishing business, worried about the future of his family and looking for something better. He encounters Jesus through his brother Andrew, someone who was following the prophet John the Baptist, a fiery man of God, preparing the way for God’s Messiah, his anointed King who would change everything. John the Baptist pointed out Jesus to Andrew and Andrew brought Peter to him as the promised Messiah.
It wasn’t then with any surprise that Jesus should pass by the family fishing boats where Peter and Andrew where casting a net into the sea and call out to them to follow him, so they could be fishers of men. Given the brothers desire to change the world around them being fishers of men probably meant to them that they would catch and kill their oppressors under this new King from God who had arrived, just like King David had in years gone by. But they experienced something far more powerful, the compassion and forgiveness and healing of God that transforms lives.
Peter observed the miracles, Peter heard the teaching about God’s kingdom and how we should treat God and one another, Peter proclaimed that Jesus was God’s son, Peter witnessed God coming to Jesus in the transfiguration on the mountainside, he saw him come into Jerusalem in triumph and he saw him being arrested and executed on a cross.
Imagine the scene right towards the end of Peter’s journey with Jesus, around a charcoal fire where Peter tries to keep warm in the courtyard of the high priest next to the building where Jesus is being questioned about his teaching and who his disciples were. Peter is asked if he is one of Jesus disciples and Peter denies knowing Jesus at all in his hour of need, actually just as Jesus had predicted. How do you come back from that? You have denied God and seen him sent to his death on a cross without doing anything about it?
But the miracles don’t stop with Jesus on the cross, they continue with the miracle of the resurrection, the penalty for the world’s sins is paid by God himself on the cross and Jesus is resurrected and comes to Peter not in judgement but to gently bring him forgiveness, full of compassion and love, to mend a broken man.
Imagine the scene, Peter is broken, his world has collapsed around him and he is back with his family. He goes out fishing with his brother, a reminder of the first time he met Jesus, but instead of elation at the future and all it holds, there is misery and in that misery they can’t even catch any fish, never mind men. (John 21:1-14)
Then to cap it all there is that smell of a charcoal fire, bringing back all those painful memories of Peter’s denial of Jesus, the smell and the lack of fish bring about pain that is unbearable and in that pain as the light breaks through the darkness a voice calls ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat and you will find fish’.
The resurrected Jesus doesn’t tell Peter off, he doesn’t judge him, he only shows him compassion and love. He invites him to bring some of the fish, even though Jesus has fish, and he cooks for him and he feeds him and he forgives him. The smell of fish and the smell of charcoal burning, are no longer painful memories, they are ones of joy and Peter is healed and transformed and becomes the person that Jesus always knew he would be.
I have sat with people in utter brokenness, where tears have been shed and desperation has set. It is at these times that the person doesn’t know how to pray, they become separated from God and yet by praying for them in compassion and in unselfishness we allow God in the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit to do his work and I have seen total transformations as God comes near and God heals not always in the way we think he might.
It is through being prayed for that we too come to know God’s presence through Christ in our lives and we don’t know how that will work out, except that God will be in our brokenness bringing his compassion and love and transformation and healing.
Why don’t we turn to our neighbour and simply ask what we can pray for them and then in Jesus name out loud or silently pray for them. Amen