In 1990 there was an unusual movie called "Awakenings" with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. It was about a man who, for some reason, was in a coma for years and then suddenly came out of it for a while with the help of his doctor. While unconscious he could have all normal bodily functions and was kept alive.
In the story he awakens from his long sleep and tries to live his life in a hurry, trying to catch up on everything he has missed. In his conscious state he discovers the world, beauty and love. In the end, his "awakening" lasts only for a little while before he goes back to his dormant state.
In Matthew 12 Jesus enables a certain man to experience a similar awakening and it is interesting to note the results of the Lord's ministry to this person. Matthew writes:
22Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. 23All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?" 24But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons."
25And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? 27If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. 28But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
- Matthew 12:22-28
Note that Jesus heals a man who is possessed of a demon, who is blind, and who cannot speak. In that society, this person was an outcast, one who could not participate in any social action including worship. He might as well have been in a coma because he could not see what was going on, could not speak and could not relate to other people.
This story serves as a mirror of our own "awakening" when we become Christians, when we come out of sleep to the light of day. Before we become Christians we are alive and breathing and functioning but like De Niro in the movie or this blind and mute person, we are unaware of the greater reality around us.
Then one day we "awaken", "hear the gospel"; we have an insight about who Jesus really is; we grasp that this life is only temporary and that death is real. And like the person in the movie or the man in the Bible, we awaken to the truth. A whole new world opens up to us.
There are three ways we can react to this:
1. Like the Pharisees
They refused to "wake up", refused to open their eyes to see the new world that had just opened to them. Instead, they made up reasons that would explain away what was plainly evident before them: that a miracle had taken place and it proved that a new era had dawned (the kingdom of God had come). They rejected the truth and preferred to believe a lie of their own making (that Jesus was a devil).
2. Like the De Niro character
Some people happily see the truth, awaken from their sleep to begin a new life as a Christian. Enthusiastic beginning of discovering the realities and joys of the kingdom (love, joy, fellowship, worship, purity, peace of mind, zeal, etc.) But then the old diseases of sin and disbelief begin to creep back into their lives and slowly they fall back into their coma oblivious to the truth they once saw. They become numb to the new reality that once awakened them from their sin-induced sleep.
3. Like the blind and mute man
The man healed by Jesus began to speak and see. According to the comments made by the Pharisees, it seems the first things he said were praise for Jesus who he could now see before him. Later on we read of the comments made by Jesus where it seems that this man was taking a stand and making a commitment to follow the Lord because he accepted who Jesus was based on what He had done. He believed the new reality and immediately began to follow Jesus and since we do not hear from him again we conclude that he remained faithful.
My question here is, who do you relate to in the story?
- To the Pharisees? Always finding an excuse not to come to Jesus.
- To the De Niro character? Used to be awake but slowly going back to a coma because of sin and spiritual neglect.
- To blind and mute man? Was blind but could now see. Was lost but now was found. Was dead but now full of life through faith and good deeds.
If you are in category one or two and know it, you have been called to awaken from your sleep; will you not answer that call?
- What kind of "coma" were you in before being awakened by the gospel?
- What element of the gospel message or life of faith sparked your awakening?
- What, in this world, is the strongest influence inducing you back to sleep?