A quick overview of Mark’s Gospel shows that Jesus begins his ministry by inviting 4 fishermen to leave their fishing and to follow him (1:16). Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John followed Jesus. There is no indication the men had a clue as to how long they were being invited to be with Jesus. It could have been they were expecting an afternoon outing.
The five go into a synagogue where Jesus taught and encountered a man with an unclean spirit. Jesus tells the unclean spirit to come out…and it did (1:23). Then they go to Simon Peter and Andrew’s house where Peter’s mother-in-law is in bed with a fever. Jesus heals the woman (1:29). The word about what Jesus is doing spreads quickly. That evening Jesus healed many and cast out many devils. By the time Peter, Andrew, James and John went to sleep for the night they were gaining a confidence in Jesus. Going back to fishing, anyone?
Very early the next morning Jesus went where he could be alone to talk with God. Peter and the others find Jesus and tell Him people are looking for him. Jesus goes with the men to preach in synagogues. When they encounter a leper, Jesus touches and heals the leper (1:40). A few days later a palsied man is healed (2:1), and then the man with the withered hand is healed on the Sabbath (3:1). When people recognized Jesus at the Sea of Galilee, a crowd gathered. Again Jesus healed many, and cast the evil spirits out of many.
This pattern of teaching and healing continues into chapter 8 where Jesus heals the blind man (8:27). Then Jesus asked “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ”
Many people are gaining confidence in Jesus because He had demonstrated His supernatural power and His supernatural perspective on life. Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John with Him and puts on a show they will never forget!! Jesus was transfigured: his garment became shining white. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appear with Him. The three disciples hear a voice come out of the cloud that overshadows them: “”This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (9:2)
Soon the disciples themselves seek to cast out a demon, and fail. Jesus steps into the situation and asked the boy’s father: “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus said “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief !” 9:17-24.
My confidence in God is based upon the teachings of Jesus, many of which I was taught from a very early age. Increasingly I understand the truth, the importance, of what Jesus taught through action and word. My confidence is also based upon the experiences of God’s reality that others whom I trust have told me, and upon my personal experiences of God’s reality – often in the context of “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Sometimes these experiences have come completely “out of the blue”.
Many years ago I started writing down those times when I believe I experienced the reality of God – and now have recorded well over 150. I mentioned one of these in the context of who God sent to care for us immediately after the accident. I did not pray for God’s people provisions…He just did it! Another example was God’s provision of the right wife for me. Another – the provision of Bakerville church in CT. Another – John’s gift of $1,000, and the anonymous gift of $100 the same day.
I am confident that God will do for or through me what is best in every situation – if I seek to be the person He would like me to be. Will I fail at my task? Absolutely! This is why God brought Jesus into the world: to clarify what it means to be the person God would have me be, and to die on a cross that my sins could be forgiven when I mess up. God knows my heart. He knows my desire is to be His man.
When I get discouraged and bewildered, and I do – I look at the truth of what Jesus said, and my experience of God’s reality. Then my confidence in God is affirmed.
Living as God’s man continues to be both a joy and a challenge.