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Encounters with Christ



Ann Foster



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Many were those whom the Lord encountered during His earthly ministry. He was pleased to converse with only one individual such as Nicodemus and the woman of Samaria or to address whole multitudes. While the borders of Israel were the parameters of the region assigned to Him as the area of His ministry, being sent only to 'the lost sheep of the house of Israel' (Matt. 15:24), yet there were those who crossed national borders to hear Him preach and receive His blessing. In Matthew 4:24, we read of those who came from Syria to seek healing for their sick. The Syrophenician woman came into Israel to seek and obtain deliverance for her devil-possessed daughter. Multitudes more encounter the Saviour today, wherever His glorious gospel is preached, in church, in Sunday school, in children's meetings and in the home. The Spirit of God applies the Word to hearts as He strives with them to woo them to Christ.

The Lord performed many wonderful miracles, miracles which could not be challenged or denied, for many were the eyewitnesses and recipients of His glorious deeds. In Matthew 4:24, we read how He healed those 'taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those who had the palsy.' When John the Baptist languished in the prison and was having doubts concerning Christ's Messiahship, Christ graciously sent him a report of His mighty deeds as infallible proofs: 'the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them' (Matt.11:5). Matthew 15:31 speaks of the multitude's amazement 'when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see'. Many were the other infirmities healed by the Saviour e.g. the issue of blood, the withered hand, the fevers, the dropsy and the crippled. He is Lord of disease and can not only send diseases but command them to depart.

Apart from miracles of healing, the Lord performed many other miracles. He turned the water into wine, walked on the water amid the tempest, fed the 5,000 and the 4,000, calmed life-threatening storms and produced marvellous catches of fish. He is Lord not only of disease but of the winds and the waves and every living creature. When He healed, He healed completely, when He stilled the storm there was a great calm, when He fed the hungry thousands using very scant provisions, everyone went home fully
satisfied and the remnants were more than the original amount of food. What a wonderful God we have! 'He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him' (Heb.7:25). Why not come today and experience His saving grace and power?

The Saviour performed so many mighty miracles, that John the Apostle wrote in John 21:25, 'There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written'. He also constantly instructed the people and preached the gospel to all and sundry. As part of the proof given to the imprisoned John the Baptist that He was indeed the Messiah, sent of God to redeem His people, was the fact that He preached the gospel to the poor. Never did He speak an idle word. He rebuked sin in the plainest of language, never used flattery or respected persons, judged righteous judgment and faithfully showed sinners that faith and repentance were necessary to salvation. All His words and signs and wonders were designed to convince the Jews that He was their Messiah. Sadly, many were unconvinced, rejected His claims and perished in their sins. The miracles of healing did not automatically bring salvation. Doubtless, there were many healed who failed to put their faith in the Saviour, unlike Blind Bartimaeus who did, and as a result, received the gift of eternal life. Nevertheless, sin being such a vile and loathsome disease, the miracles of healing do illustrate some aspect of truth and show how we can be saved from sin.

Ann Foster was brought up in a Christian home and was saved as a child. She has been married since 1968 to Rev Ivan Foster, who retired in 2008 from the pastorate of Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church. Together they founded Kilskeery Independent Christian School in 1979 and she was Principal of the school for 28 years. During that period she was responsible for speaking in daily assemblies and teaching Scripture throughout the school, covering most of the Bible as a result. She has also produced materials for use in the classroom and published some booklets on Mark's Gospel which have been used in Sabbath schools and are presently being translated into Swahili for use in radio broadcasts. She has also authored a book entitled "Departure, Defeat, Deliverance", which comprises studies in the book of Judges.