The Probability of Diminishing Opportunities
Life gets by us quickly. What we hope to do usually falls victim to what we have to do. Before we know it, days turn into years, and years into decades and so much is left undone. The important things of relationships, time with God, or giving the gospel to a neighbor, form a pile of regrets and missed opportunities. Time spent is forever gone. There is an arresting verse in the OT. Isaiah 55:6 Establishes that we must, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found,call ye upon him while he is near”.
A couple clear conclusions can be drawn:
1. There are more obvious times that God is close and is drawing us near.
2. God is not always close to draw near to.
We must make the most of the times God is speaking, or our pile of regrets will mount. Such was the curse of the town and region of Bethsaida.
Bethsaida had it’s chances. Philip, Andrew, and Peter were from this quiet area around the northern shores of Galilee (John 1:44), and it appears that the feeding of the 5,000 happened in it’s outskirts (Luke 9:10). They had plenty exposure to truth and the wonder of God. But it seems God was not impressed with their responses to these moments of glory. He boldly scolded them later in Luke 10:13.
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
Jesus concluded that they had plenty of chances to respond to His exhibition of truth. Oswald Smith said it this way:
“No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.”
This sad truth brings us to the final mention of the people of this quaint town. One of their own was blind, and looking for healing. Here is how Mark penned it:
And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. (Mark 8:22).
Nothing out of the ordinary. Jesus encountered lots of people with ailments. To most, He was a walking hospital clinic. It wasn’t the man, or those that brought him, that acted suspicious. Actually is was Jesus. Look what He did.
And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him… (Mark 8:23).
A miracle was about to take place. Jesus was preparing to reveal His power and glory in this situation. But not everyone would get a front row seat. Especially those in Bethsaida who still refused to respond appropriately to the previous opportunities. So Jesus led the blind man to a secluded place for his personal miracle. His faith was about to have an energy boost. Had the town seen it, they may have believed more in Jesus. Jesus even told the man after he was healed to not tell anyone in the town.
And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town. (Mark 8:26).
Bethsaida had a pile of regrets. If they could go back, they would have taken time to listen more, ask more questions, and stay in the presence of Jesus longer. It may have saved their lives and their eternities. But not on this day. Maybe never.
Oh that I would learn a lesson from Bethsaida!
1. Listen when I know God is speaking. He may be quiet for a while.
2. Make the most of what is really important in life.
3. Pray for faith! (“Help thou my unbelief”)