So much of Jesus’ heart could be seen in the fact that He compassionately intervened in the lives of those with whom the Father connected Him. Much of Jesus’ mission could be seen in what He actually did for them. Forgiving sin, washing feet, giving sight to blind eyes, and turning tepid water into the celebratory form of wine all showed the comprehensive reforms that Jesus sought to bring not just to society, but to each soul that would invite Him in… because each soul was significant to Him.
Not least among the expressions of His life-changing love was His passion to enable people to do what they needed to do, but could not do on their own.
Jesus crucifixion was exemplary of His committing Himself (no matter the cost) to raising us out of our helplessness to the point of our being made free to (or capable of) coming to the Father in faith… a quality we do not possess in our natural condition (see John 6:44). And we certainly cannot even hope to live upright lives until He speaks to our need and enables us to do so.
A living metaphor (a true event that illustrates masterfully a timeless principle) is Jesus’ encounter with a suffering woman in Luke 13:10-13.
“Now He (Jesus) was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, ‘Woman, you are freed from your disability.’ And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God” (Luke 13:10-13 ESV).
Whether or not you buy into a literal demonic presence which prevented this woman from being able to stand upright (and I personally believe it was so), the deeper significance is that something was wrong in her life, something that disabled her in that it prevented her from leading a fully productive and thoroughly enjoyable existence. In this case, it seems to have physically impaired her ability to stand erect. Imagine going through your life doomed to stoop over, stiffly and painfully bent and tormented even at rest!
Many today find that, while physically they can stand upright, emotionally and spiritually they are hunched over and bound to think perpetually of earthly things just as surely this woman was bound to stare at the dry and dusty ground at her feet. And for some, there may also be a literal, as well as figurative, spirit that disempowers their capacity to walk uprightly, encumbering them with heavy weights of hate, fear, regret, or addiction.
But Jesus is the Great Enabler – not in the sense of modern psycho-therapeutic lingo, but rather in the opposite sense of His breaking away those things which disable a healthy and proper living. He enables us to approach the Father in the spirit of purifying forgiveness. He enables us to have courage in the face of fearful circumstances. He enables us to have hope when all seems lost and forlorn. He enables us to walk uprightly in matters of character and live lives of integrity.
Today the word “enabler” tends to refer to someone who encourages our living a self-destructive lifestyle and promotes for us only a distorted and broken vision of what we’re supposed to be. But Jesus makes us able to become what we should have been all along.
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 23 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com.” Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)