Jesus' words to John's disciples: God has visited His people

Do Jesus' words to John disciples in Luke 7 have any meaning for us today?

Week 6 (February)

Luke 7:18-22

7 18 John's disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?"

20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?""

21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor."

Wouldn't the last sentence in Luke 7:22 be a great sign on a church building? I've thought how dramatic it would look splashed in giant letters across the end of a building so all could see

Oh, I wouldn't put it there to imply that we had a "miracles show" going on in that building. I just feel that, in some dramatic way, we need to shout to the twenty-first-century world that God has visited His people.

To the worshipers coming to such a building, these phrases would emphasize the celebration their worship should be — the celebration of a personal relationship with a Creator who cares about His people.

Of course, my huge sign might have very little impact. For the idea of miracle — a word which ought to send a tingle up our spines — has become blunted and dulled. Today, everything is a miracle. we've even got a "miracle" salad dressing!

It was to His ministry of compassionate miracles that Jesus pointed to answer John's question about Jesus' Messiahship. What John's two followers witnessed was an ordinary day in Jesus' ministry. He didn't slyly let them in on some secret revelation. Jesus simply told these two men to go back to John's prison and report on these ordinary day happenings.

Parenthetically, this account has made me wonder if the events of an ordinary day of ministry by my church today would be pieces of the evidence of the Lord's presence in our midst.

The ministry of compassionate healing which Jesus had during his earthly ministry is carried on today by His Holy Spirit. Healings, such as those which confirmed Jesus as the awaited Messiah to John and his two followers, serve today to confirm our belief in Jesus as the Christ.

During our first home assignment from Italy, I saw a walking demonstration of the powerful visitation of God to His people. In May of that year, I spoke in an evening service of the Mansfield, AR church where Johnny Lee Self was pastoring. Over dinner in the parsonage before service, Pastor Self told me part of his life's story.

Years prior, injuries while serving in the military had paralyzed his left side. He became a wheelchair pastor and served the Lord faithfully for years. Then, not long ago his health worsened and he had to be hospitalized. It was his heart. The days of hospitalization stretched into weeks and then months.

All this never dampened Pastor Self's vibrant Christian experience. It never crushed his faith. He just kept on loving Jesus and praising the Lord.

The doctors finally decided to try to replace a valve in his heart. Not long before that surgery the Lord revealed to Pastor Self that he would not only recover from the operation but that he would also begin to walk again.

He shared that vision with his medical doctor. "I'm sorry, Rev. Self," said the surgeon, "but you're only creating a false hope for yourself. There's no way this particular operation will have any effect on your paralysis. Please be realistic."

But Johnny Lee Self knew he had heard from the Lord. Within days after the heart surgery, movement returned to his left side. Today, a once-lame preacher walks around Mansfield, AR. The wheelchair has been thrown away.

God has visited His people! Alleluia!

Discussion questions

  1. What is the significance of Jesus' response to John's disciples in Luke 7:22, and how does it demonstrate the compassionate ministry of Jesus?
  2. Is there a tendency today to use the term "miracle" in a trivial or casual manner? How can Christians rekindle the sense of awe and wonder associated with God's presence?
  3. In what ways can worship gatherings foster a personal relationship with a Creator who cares about His people?
  4. How can the compassionate healing ministry of Jesus, as demonstrated in Luke 7 and elsewhere in the Gospels, be carried on by Christians today through the power of the Holy Spirit?
  5. Do we today need to be reminded that "God has visited His people"? What might be the impact of such a reminder?

I wrote these devotional thoughts while Barbara and I were serving as missionaries in Italy. They were published in Standard, a weekly Faith Connections take-home curriculum piece for adult Sunday school classes published by The Foundry.

Note: Writing these particular devotional thoughts gave birth to the basic outline of a Nazarene mission book: The Kingdom Strikes Back!

    -- Howard Culbertson,

More for you from Luke

Other devotional articles:    Year-long series in Standard    Reflections with illustrations from ham radio    Are you ready for Christmas?    Come Ye Apart    Devotionals about pastors

Rookie Notebook: Our first nine months as missionaries Italy    10/40 Window map and explanation     Seeking God's will?     African martyr's commitment     Mission trip fundraising    Ways to ruin mission trips    Nazarene Missions International resources