God can restore whatever has seemed dead in our lives with just a single word. Are you having financial problems, unable to pay your bills? So it was with the Lord’s disciples—and He fixed their situation supernaturally.
When tax time came around, Christ and His disciples had no money to pay the needed amount. So how did the Lord fix the situation? He sent Peter out to catch a fish. Jesus told him he would find a coin in the mouth of the first fish he caught, and that coin would cover their tax bill. “Go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish . . . and when thou has opened his mouth, thou shalt fine a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee” (Matthew 17:27).
I can only imagine what Peter must have thought; “Tax money in a fish’s mouth? This I’ve got to see. I’ve been a fisherman all my life, and I’ve seen a lot of things inside fish—worms, hooks, seaweed. But I’ve never seen a coin inside one.” Yet, when Peter reeled in the fish, he opened its mouth to find a gleaming coin. The amount was enough to pay their taxes, just as Jesus had said.
Why did the Spirit move upon the gospel writers to record this story? And why did Jesus choose to fix their situation through a miracle? Why didn’t He just take up an offering, or send the disciples out to work for a day to bring in wages for the tax?
I believe Jesus moved supernaturally here because He wanted to prove to His children that He will do the impossible for us. He can fix any financial problem, any family crisis, any overwhelming need.
He wanted us to know that He is the same God who fed Elijah with bread delivered by ravens (see 1 Kings 17). He fed a crowd of 5,000 (see Mark 6:34-44) and another crowd of 4,000 (Mark 8:1-9) with a few fishes and loaves of bread. He knows that at certain times in our lives only a miracle will do. And He wants to assure us that He can do the impossible for us, in any situation!
Mark 5 tells the story of Jairus, the desperate synagogue ruler who asked Jesus to heal his daughter. The twelve-year-old girl was dangerously near death, and Jairus pleaded with Christ to come to his house and lay hands on her.
Jesus agreed to go with him. But first He stopped along the way to minister to a woman with a blood disease. (This was the woman who was healed when she touched the hem of His garment.) Yet, while Jesus tarried, a messenger came with tragic news: Jairus’ daughter had already died. The messenger told the synagogue ruler, “Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?” (Mark 5:35).
Jairus’ heart was gripped with grief. He thought, “If only we had gotten there on time. Now it's too late. My daughter is gone.” But Jesus assured him, “Be not afraid, only believe” (verse 36).
As the group approached Jairus’ home, they heard sounds of wailing and mourning. It was Jairus’ family and neighbors, grieving over the girl. Picture the contrast in this scene: Here was God in flesh, Creator of the universe, able to perform any work imaginable—yet the people were weeping in His presence. In short, they were testifying, “God can only help as long as there is some sign of hope left. But once all life is gone, there is no need to call on Him anymore. Even He can't restore this kind of situation.”
How many Christians today no longer call upon the Lord because they think their problem is hopeless? Multitudes trust God only to the point that something in their life dies. I’m not referring to the death of a person but rather the death of a marriage, a relationship, a dream, your hope for an unsaved loved one—anything in your life you think is impossible to fix, change or restore.
Jesus rebuked such unbelief. He said to the weeping crowd at Jairus’ home, “Why make ye this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth” (verse 39). He was stating, “This situation is not what you see or think. You think all hope is gone but I say there will be restoration.” He then went to the little girl’s room and, speaking a mere word, He brought the child to life. “Straightway the damsel arose, and walked” (verse 42).
Why did the Holy Ghost include this story in Mark’s gospel? He did it to show us that nothing is too “dead” or too far gone for Him to restore to life. He is saying, “Put your trust in Me to fix your problem. It’s never too late for Me to work.”
In the days to come, you are going to hear incredible messages about loving Jesus. They will sound holy and Christlike, but they will be tainted with an error that will rob the saints of the very thing that produces steadfastness. These messages will lack an urgency for preparation or a longing for His coming! Their preachers will chop away at the glorious truth of this event and get you to look for an earthly kingdom. And if you look eagerly to His coming, you will be labeled an escapist!
There is a new gospel being preached today saying that Jesus comes only to the heart—and that His Second Coming is a special revelation to the mind! He appears only to the inner man!
New Agers advertise that their Christ will appear on TV worldwide. All the world will see His coming simultaneously. As they view this event, they will receive an inner revelation to their minds—a “knowing.”
To some Christians today, this world is not a sinking ship or a world reserved for fire. It is an international capitol building overrun with undesirables whom these believers plan to kick out. They will then take their place, renovating and governing it all themselves. Such thinking is symptomatic of a dying love for Jesus and a clinging to this world! “Beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Peter 3:17). No one can be more spiritually blind than to say, “My Lord delayeth His coming.”
Jude said, “Enoch . . . prophesied . . . Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment” (Jude 14-15). Paul said, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
This is not an escapist message. It is a message of comfort! Jesus wants us with Him!
“We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, ESV). The Greek word for glory here is “doxa.” It’s the source behind The Doxology, the hymn that so many churches sing extolling God’s manifold glory.
“Doxa” is actually John’s translation of a Hebrew word, “kavod,” meaning weighty, substantive, intense, thick. This is what dwells in every follower of Christ: God’s weighty, meaningful, passionate glory. His glory sets you apart—from lightness, from self- interest, from easy believism. That’s how the world knows you exist for God. You don’t serve a Jesus who just wants to make you happy; you serve the real Jesus, the One who has power to transform a life and make it meaningful, purposeful and fulfilling.
All of this opposes the glory of self. “The devil took [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory [doxa]” (Matthew 4:8, ESV). There are many glories in the world that call us to pursue them: reputation, affluence, influence. But the more we seek and receive of those glories, the less we receive of God’s true glory—and the less of His glory shines from our lives.
This pull has crept into the church. Sometimes our worship can lean more toward showy performance and emotional experience than extolling God’s glory and knowing His full, weighty presence. John rightly places God’s glory even before His grace: “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John points out that grace and truth are contained within Christ’s glory; in fact, they proceed from it.
Yet many Christians live as if grace and truth are stopping points, the end-all of our walk with Jesus. They stop at knowing “positional truths,” neglecting to go on in His fullness. But our lives are meant to express Jesus in all His glory—and that requires His transformation of us.
If we think we have it all together—that we have grasped God’s grace fully, that no more is needed—we are stopping short of His glory. Don’t let that happen in your life. Seek the real Jesus in His fullness—and receive the fullness of His grace and glory!
Does God really care when we take detours from the path He has set for us?
Many might argue with me on this point, but I’m convinced that God has a specific role set aside for each of us. He has given us unique gifts and talents and desires, and He has created an individual covenant for us that fits those gifts. “For I know the plans I have for you,” God told us through His prophet Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 29:11). Nothing is left to chance when it comes to God. Long before He created us He knew what He wanted us to accomplish. He knew the people that He wanted us to touch and that He wanted to put into our lives to touch us. You and I were created for a purpose, and God’s perfect plan is for us to embrace that purpose.
We all take detours from God’s plan, and we will do so until the day we die. God is patient and faithful just the same. But how much better would our lives be if we strove every day to stay the course that God set before us? How many people could we bless if we allowed God to work through us each day? How much more effective would we be in life and ministry if we only learned to let God set our agenda?
I’m still not sure why God chose to take me as a young Christian and mold me into an evangelist. But this is the plan that He made for me and so I carry it out the best I can.
And what about you? Have you embraced the plan that God has prepared for you? Have you sought out His purpose for your life and then set yourself toward fulfilling it? Or are you living your life by taking one detour after another?
It’s a question that each one of us needs to ask—and one that God is waiting to answer.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.