"Jesus went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all." Luke 6:17-19

 Jesus stood on a level place. In the midst of a crowd of broken people, believers and non-believers, men, women, and children, the sick, the impure, the troubled, and even some who live as dedicated, faithful disciples; Jesus stands in our midst with power and healing. They come from hundreds of miles just to be in His presence. They come because a healing power springs forth from Jesus.

And we stand by His side. We, who embrace life as one of the faithful, we marvel at the power of this Only Son of God. We witness the impact of Jesus on the lives of lost young people. We experience His healing power in our own lives. We are changed followers continuing to pursue a more complete transformation. We bring deaf and hard of hearing teenagers to Jesus so they can experience this healing. We tell the story of Jesus so others can live. We want to share in the healing of our friends.

What a calling! What a Lord!

After I read this scripture this morning, I glanced at the map of Palestine in the New Testament times. I was struck by the distance from which people traveled and the number of those in the crowd who were not part of Israel. Many were not Jews nor had any idea what the God of Israel was all about. But they came because they heard about Jesus. They came to find hope and healing. They came for new life.

It appears that a large portion of the crowd were foreigners from historically enemy states. It is possible that people in this crowd had previously raised swords against each other at some point in their lives. They felt utter disdain for each other. Certainly, they would never personally interact nor willingly mingle in this crowd, at least without fear. Yet, all the divisions seem to disappear. All criticisms fade. A new citizenship emerges. People no longer obsessed on each others sins and errors. The differences once so apparent, even as recently as on the journey to find Jesus, now seem to blend into a common awareness of deep, personal need. All eyes focused on Jesus.

As 2011 begins, we return to where we began; standing on a level place with Jesus, reaching out to lost young people. In a world that separates people based on income, race, abilities, geography, intelligence, opinions, we stand in the midst of Deaf teenagers with a message, "the ground is level where Jesus stands." Jesus comes full of grace and truth. He accepts you where you are but He does not leave you there. He wants you healed because He loves you and has the power to change your life.

Come! All come! All you with impure spirits and all kinds of illnesses, come to Jesus! Here is where "hope lives." Here is a lifelong journey that leads from brokenness to wholeness. Come and be transformed by the renewing of your mind. This new year brings the possibility of more and more new creations. We ourselves cannot transform young people but we stand in the level area with the One who can. We stand with Jesus. I am honored to stand there beside you. Shalom. AMEN

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