“Bless You” – The nature of spiritual power

When reading the gospels, I am often struck by the very real nature of the spiritual power that Jesus possessed and passed on to his followers.  In Luke 9, he sent out the 12 apostles to cast out demons and to heal the sick … and in Luke 10, he sent 70 or more out on a similar mission.  In both cases, his followers came back pronouncing success.  What does that power look and feel like?  One of the most visceral passages in scripture describing the nature of this spiritual power occurs in Mark 5.

Jesus is walking through a crowd, and a woman who has suffered for years (emotionally and mentally as well as physically, I would imagine) from constant hemorrhaging reaches out to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe, believing that the single touch could cure her when nothing else could.  She was right; her faith in Jesus did cure her ailment.  But I raise the point because of Jesus’ reaction:

Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” — Mark 5:30 [emphasis mine]

For whatever reason, I never thought of that power as something that could be stored, or felt, or spent.  And somehow, that makes Jesus’ spiritual power seem more real and tangible to me.  And the reason I’m writing about it today is because of another gospel passage from Luke (my current reading, in case you hadn’t guessed).

In Luke 10, Jesus is preparing to send out a large group of disciples to precede him into Judean towns, preparing the way for him to come and deliver the Good News.  He gives them several instructions about what they’re to do, how they’re to behave and what they’re likely to face.  But his instruction for seeking lodging was particularly interesting:

“Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’  If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you.” — Luke 10:5-6 [emphasis mine]

The way that Jesus words this command, it sounds as if the blessing pronounced by the disciples has the same characteristics as the spiritual healing power Jesus himself manifests in the passage from Mark.  In other words, the blessing of a disciple of Christ is not just a nice, pleasant salutation.  It is a word of power.  God tells us throughout scripture that the prayers of his people are powerful (see James 5:16).  But it is a awesome thing to think that I have the ability to pass God’s blessing to others.

In truth, I have been unable to find any biblical commentaries that support the way I’m reading this message; the closest is from 17th-century pastor and author Matthew Henry [side note: his commentary and many others are built directly into the Blue Letter Bible – an invaluable resource for studying and understanding the bible].

However, this is something that I intend to ponder and pray about – because I do believe that our blessings can have real meaning.  And as I pray, and interact with people through the course of my days, I plan to be very intentional about asking for God’s blessings on them and various aspects of their lives.  Jesus tells us that if we have faith, we can move mountains … And by my faith in sharing God’s real blessing with others, those blessings have great power.

[Author’s Note: I feel that there is unusually high risk of this post being misinterpreted, but I am planning to share it anyway because it’s on my heart to do so.  I want to be very clear that I am in no way intending to glorify myself as a result of having some kind of magical ability.  In fact, Jesus cautioned his disciples in the same way as they returned from their mission: “All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.” Luke 10:18-20 – The Message]

Praying image courtesy of Christians Concerned for the Community of Gainesville, Florida

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