Paper Clips and Magnets
Laying Hold of the Kingdom of God
Sometimes it is difficult to grasp the concepts Jesus has given us. It was just as hard for the disciples as Jesus noted on many occasions. One of those times was given in Matthew 11:12 proclaimed; “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” This scripture is better translated; “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven is advancing rapidly, and determined men lay hold of it.” (see Are You the Coming One?) In Luke 16:16 it says; “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.” Today we’ll demonstrate this concept using the story of a determined man who forced his way into the kingdom of God.
First there is blind Bartimaeus in Luke 18:35-43 “As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant.They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ And he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me recover my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.”
The blind beggar in Luke, identified as Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46, sat along the roadside petitioning passers by for money. When he realized Jesus was passing by he called out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Even though people told him to be quiet he kept pressing. Ignoring the crowd he yelled all the louder “Son of David, have mercy on me!” The interesting thing here is that Bartimaeus didn’t ask for sight, he asked for mercy. Because of his persistence Jesus called Bartimaeus to come to Him and asked “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus already knew what Bartimaeus needed and He already knew what He was going to do. Jesus responded, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” It took faith in Jesus for the blind man to persist resulting in a call from Jesus. Bartimaeus called on Jesus for mercy but Jesus asked what he wanted personally. The result was miraculous and, according to Jesus, Bartimaeus faith resulted in recovering his sight. But that is not the end of the story. Once Bartimaeus received his sight he followed Jesus and glorified God. That’s not all, the faith of the one who had been blind ignited the faith of others. Others were drawn to glorify God.
First, Jesus was passing by. Have you ever wondered why Jesus decided to go a certain direction at a certain time? I believe it was no coincidence that Jesus passed by that particular location. He knew exactly where He was going and exactly what He was going to do.
Second, Bartimaeus knew he needed something so he begged on the side of the road. The presence of Jesus passing by ignited his faith.
Third, Jesus waited for Bartimaeus to persistently call on Him. How much did he desire Jesus? How big was his faith? He stopped begging for money and started begging for mercy persistently yelling louder and louder until Jesus acknowledged him.
Fourth, Jesus called Bartimaeus to come. Bartimaeus had to face the people who were telling he to be quiet. He had to step out in faith to meet Jesus.
Fifth, Bartimaeus was changed by the encounter with Jesus. He begged for mercy but received his sight.
Sixth, after experiencing Jesus presence and the miraculous power of God, Bartimaeus followed Jesus glorifying God.
Finally, Jesus presence, as he passed by, spurred Bartimaeus persistent faith which resulted in others glorifying God.
Seven Things that Stand Out
The key to understanding the seven things that stand out is what Jesus said later in Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
1) Jesus did not wait for Batimaeus to come to the synagogue but went out knowing where he was.
2) Jesus knew Batimaeus condition before He passed by.
3) Jesus recognized his persistence.
4) Jesus called Batimaeus to come to Him from where he was.
5) Jesus took action based on Batimaeus faith and obedience.
6) Jesus obedience to the Farther resulted in a miracle for Bartimaeus but God received the glory.
7) Bartimaeus faith resulted in action that drew others to Jesus.
Paper Clips and Magnets
First and foremost, we need to understand those who are lost many times recognize they have an empty space in their heart but they don’t know what is required to fill that space. It is like a magnet passing over a pile of paper clips. If it passes close enough one of the paper clips will be attracted to the magnet. Interestingly, as the closet paper clips are attracted, others will be attracted to the magnet through those paper clips. If the magnet remains static just out of magnetic reach it is unlikely any paper clips will be attracted to the magnet.
Today the world is moving further away from religion so it is less probable people will “come to church.” As Christians we have to be like Jesus. In other words the paper clips are moving further away from the magnet. The solution is not to try and build a stronger magnet but to move the magnet closer to the paper clips. We need to pray that the Father will reveal His will to us. Remember in the story there were many people present but Jesus took note of a specific person. Jesus knew who He would encounter and He knew how that person would respond. Remember just before the encounter with Bartimaeus Jesus was met by the “Rich Young Ruler” who went away sad (Luke 18:18-27). Like Bartimaeus the Rich Young Ruler knew he needed something. Like Bartimaeus the he knew Jesus had the answer but chose not follow Jesus because the cost was too high. Bartimeuas responded differently. When Jesus got close enough Bartimaeus persistence resulted in a life changing miracle and because of the miracle others were drawn to Jesus. In the case of the magnet and paper clips not all of the paper clips are attracted to the magnet but the magnet has to pass close enough to attract paper clips. Jesus set the example by going out. People were attracted to Jesus and while some did not respond others did and it had a dramatic effect.
Jesus went out, He didn’t wait in the synagogue for people to come to Him. Bartimaeus would never have been healed and others would not have been drawn to God had Jesus simply waited safely in the synagogue. Jesus knew who would be encountered along the way and He knew their response but He still went out. Some didn’t respond, but others responded in a way that brought glory to God and drew more people into His presence.
Remember, the presence of God through the Holy Spirit will attract some but repel others. Be aware! Be ready! Go out ready to be God’s magnet in a world that needs Him desperately.
The Swamp Fox
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
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