Monday, February 8, 2021

And Jesus said, "I want to!"

In Matthew 8 Jesus does something unthinkable...after having gone up the mountain for some solitude and then later, coming down, a multitude follows Him. In the multitude is a leper who comes and worships Him and cries out, "Lord, if you want to - you can make me clean!!" Jesus, putting forward his hand and touching the leper says, "I want to! Be clean." 

I don't know if we understand the seriousness of the transaction that just took place. The way the Jews viewed lepers, the amount of ritual cleansing that would have been required, the desire and willingness of Jesus to enter into such a scandalous situation. It's astonishing. It's so Jesus.

John Eldredge said of that moment with the leper,
If you don't find this one of the most beautiful stories you have ever heard, you won't want Christian Holiness. And you sure won't understand Jesus. the man is free. Free from what people think, free from religion. Free from false obligation. People won't like it, won't understand it, they'll draw false conclusions, point fingers, and worse. He is free from that as well. Oh to be so free! The more you fall in love with Jesus' genuine goodness, which is true goodness, the more you will absolutely detest the counterfeit of a false piety and a shallow morality - as He did. Jesus has a wild freedom, born out of a profound holiness. Which makes Him the most remarkable person I've ever known.
My husband and I were listening to a Face to Face interview in 2017 with Elder Holland and Elder Eyring. Youth were allowed to ask the two Apostles a question and they would answer it face to face, off the cuff. One question was from Lily from Illinois who said, "I'm a senior in High school and I'm having trouble having good prayers, more like conversations with God. Do you have any suggestions, or what do you do?" 

Elder Eyring responded by saying,
"Be modest in your expectations. God is close and he loves you and he'd love to have a conversation but remember, he is God. I always worry when someone speaks to him in too familiar a way because it is not easy. Heavenly Father's words, His ideas, are not exactly ours. So the idea of having a conversation where you're chatting with Heavenly Father, is probably a little bit of a lofty goal. My own feeling is....I pray as if He's there, as if He's listening. And He is listening. I believe He is always sending messages to me. But sometimes there's long silences, for me at least. So when she speaks of a conversation in her prayers, she's making it sound a little more casual than I think it's possible to be. We're dealing with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and they are so far above us in terms of their powers. In fact I've been with people who chat as if they're chatting..I've heard them pray and I've thought, "youre a little more familiar with that than I am". If you can just get the feeling that he is hearing you and then if on occasion answers come back often clearly in your mind, sometimes not, maybe just by reading the scriptures the answer comes that way. But the conversation is not quite like he and I together (motioning to Elder Holland), for instance, we talk with each other and it's very personal, Elder Holland and I have had wonderful conversations. But I don't have conversations with Heavenly Father like that. At least I don't. I do a lot of the asking and then I wait and then I wait and answers come. But not in a conversational mode."
When I heard that response to a young person developing in their relationship with the Lord, my heart sank. That's not my experience of Jesus...friend of sinners. The disruptive way Jesus always went for the worst kind of person. People who are shabbily dressed, most baggage, most ailments, most possessed...that's the Jesus I talk with in a conversation on a daily basis. He's the One who invited me into that conversation with the reckless way He chose to live - with sinners by his side. He's the One who says to me, "I want to!" when I ask Him to come into my brokenness. 

"When Jesus died, that most holiest of curtains was ripped in half. Torn, top to bottom. And who was it that did that? Surely not the priests. It was God himself. He took that veil and ripped it in two.

So why do we insist on stitching it back up?

A whole lot of what passes for worship, sacrament, and instruction in Christian circles is sewing lessons—hanging that veil again. Done in the same spirit that says, “God is too holy for us to approach.” I’ve read it countless places, written by popular theologians. I’ve heard it said many times from the pulpit. We must not be too familiar with God. Do not presume to come too close.

Said who?

They are trying to re-create the Holy of Holies in the name of reverence. Except, it was God who ripped that curtain forever with his own two hands. That is clearly over. Understanding this truth will open up new realms for you in relating to Jesus, and enable your heart to love him."

Want more? I got this from John Eldredge's book: Beautiful Outlaw. Besides the scriptures, this is the best book I have ever read. 

The Name Lives On


David Phelps


  1. I loved that part of the video when the baby looked up at Jesus and smiled. And I loved the part where He was taking out the trash. Whenever there was a tragic scene, He RUSHED to help. He didn't shy away.

    "Jesus, Friend of sinners, open our eye to the world at the end of our pointing fingers. ... Oh, Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours" Casting Crowns.

    1. Those are some of my favorite scenes in the music video too. And I love, love, love the song lyrics you mentioned. I do want the Lord to break my heart for what breaks His.

  2. This was a great post. Thank you!