How important is it to obey what Jesus commands? Is faith to believe enough? Is prayer enough? There are a few stories in the Bible about miracles performed by Jesus that required something more than just faith or prayer that have given me pause over the years, and I’ve concluded that in many cases our healing, our happiness, and our overall quality of life depends, to a great degree, on our willingness to obey what Jesus says and tells us to do.
We have an example in John chapter nine. Jesus passed by and saw a man who was blind from his birth. Although the disciples were interested in finding out whether the man or his parents sinned to cause his blindness, Jesus saw it as an opportunity to show something greater than the answer to those questions. He wanted to show that in our “blindness” He is the light of the world (John 9:5) and that even in this unfortunate situation God was able to show, through Jesus, His ultimate power (John 9:3).
Jesus then did something strange. Often before a miracle, He does what seems to us as “strange” things. He spat on the ground, made clay out of it, and anointed the man’s eyes. That is pretty disgusting when you think about it. Spit and dirt. It is unhygienic. It doesn’t follow the science of our day, or maybe even back then. Then Jesus tells the man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. Now the man could have decided in his mind that the remedy God was using was ridiculous, as did Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-19. In that case, Naaman was a leper, and the healing that God used for him was to go and wash in the Jordan River seven times — which, by the way, was a filthy river. How in the world was he to become clean by washing himself in a dirty river?
The miracle in both cases was accomplished through the act of obedience. When we do what Jesus says, we can always expect an excellent outcome! It doesn’t need to make perfect sense to us. It just needs to be what Jesus tells us to do.
Then there is the story of the man at the pool of Bethesda. John 5:1-14 tells the story of a man who had an infirmity for 38 years. He would go to this location in hopes of getting into the healing waters of the pool which was stirred up by an angel, and supposedly he would be healed if only he could get into the water. The unfortunate reality for him was that due to his illness he was never able to get into the pool. Someone always got in ahead of him. Jesus passed by and asked him if he wanted to be made whole. That is when the man told Jesus of his difficulty getting into the pool. In his mind, the healing was in the pool of Bethesda. Once again, Jesus did an unusual thing. He told the man to do something that wasn’t expected. It didn’t even seem like something that could be done. He told the man to get up, take up his bed and walk. There is no record of what the man thought, said, or reasoned. But the scriptures do say that immediately he was made whole and obeyed by taking up his bed and walking away.
He was healed because he was willing to obey, not just willing to be made whole. Jesus knew his heart and his desire to be healed. But Jesus also knew that he wasn’t interested only in being physically whole. It seemed that this man was going to be a follower of Jesus Christ as a result of this miracle. The man told the Jews unreservedly what Jesus did for him even before he knew who Jesus was. The man was later in the temple serving God when Jesus entered and revealed to him who He was, and then gave him more instructions for his life. The man went back to the Jews and boldly told them who Jesus was. He was an obedient believer in Jesus.
Call to Action
In the Christian life, love for God is important. Faith is important. Prayer is important. These are vital components of a life in Christ. But God also desires our obedience. Obedience is the manifestation of love, faith, and prayer in our lives. These elements should lead us to want to obey whatever God tells us to do. God wants our obedience to His counsels given in the Bible. Sometimes it won’t make sense. It may not be convenient. But the quality of our life and our witness will shine for Him.
Will you join me in praying for obedience today?