Repetition, repetition, repetition…
People repeat themselves for many reasons.
- A parent repeats themselves trying to get their kids to listen
- An athlete repeats themselves as they train
- A person on the autism spectrum routinely displays repetitive behavior and/or speech
- A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder does things repeatedly
God too repeats Himself routinely from cover to cover in the Bible. For example, did you know the command “do not fear…” shows up in the Bible over 300 times?
Repetition always teaches us something if we pay attention to it.
If God says something over and over again do you think it might be important? Absolutely!
Repetition is typically easy to spot. In the Bible, it is easy to take notice of something that we see over 300 times like “do not fear.” It is also easy to spot stories that are repeated throughout all of the Gospels like the feeding of the 5,000, or Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, or Peter denying Christ.
There are other things in Scripture that are repetitive but typically go unnoticed. These typically unnoticed repetitions are equally important. Things like the behavior of Jesus.
One of these subtle instances takes place in consecutive chapters in the book of Mark. Read the following verses and try to spot the repetitive action of Jesus.
“While he was there, some people brought a man to him who was deaf and could not talk clearly. The people begged Jesus to put his hand on the man to heal him. Jesus led the man away from the people to be alone with him. He put his fingers in the man’s ears. Then he spit on a finger and put it on the man’s tongue.” – Mark 7:32-33
“Jesus and his followers came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch the man. So Jesus held the blind man’s hand and led him out of the village. Then he spit on the man’s eyes. He laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see now?” – Mark 8:22-23
It is subtle but it is oh so powerful! What is it?
Jesus prioritizes the dignity of the person affected by disability over putting on a show for the surrounding people.
It is no accident that Jesus repeats himself in consecutive chapters. It is no accident that Jesus is dealing with a person affected by disability. It is no accident that Jesus is gentle with each person. It is no accident that Jesus heals them in a very intimate way.
Jesus could have easily put on a show for the surrounding people. Jesus could have made the person affected by disability in either occasion an object lesson for the great healing power that he had. Making a public spectacle could have been great for the brand of Jesus. He would have gone viral! He missed an opportunity to grow his popularity, on purpose. Jesus did not objectify either person affected by disability. Jesus put their dignity first.
There is so much we can learn from these two repetitive actions of Jesus.
As ministry leaders, we must be careful to not objectify people with varying disabilities. People affected by disability should NEVER be the object of our ministry efforts. People affected by disability should NEVER be used to simply grow our brand. For example, if your motivation to do a prom is to get on the news than you are prioritizing “the show” (>) over the dignity of the person.
People affected by disability should ALWAYS be either our partners in ministry or simply empowered and unleashed to do ministry on their own.
When partnering in ministry or empowering people affected by disability, we must always remember that their dignity is always greater than (>) the show. God will bless and multiply what we do in private with the right intentions far more than He will what we do for the wrong intentions.