Why Some and Not Others?

That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. 33 The whole town gathered at the door to watch. 34 So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.

35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” 39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.

40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.

41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. 43 Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: 44 “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”

45 But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him. – Mark 1:32-45

Foundations of houses outside of the synogogue at Capernaum

Foundations of some houses outside the synagogue in Capernaum | 2012

It’s called the Crux Theologrum, question of why some are saved, and not others. Some have answered by saying that some are simply more receptive to the Gospel message and come to faith cooperatively. That’s called synergism. We can do nothing to save ourselves. Others – though very few others – speak of God’s sovereign choice of some to salvation and others to damnation. That would put God acting against his revealed will that “all be saved.” The Lutheran answer to the question of Why Some and Not Others is “I don’t know.”

“I don’t know” isn’t a very satisfying answer to most questions, but in this case it is the only answer to this important question. We do not have the mind of God.

Take a look at Jesus’ ministry on this occasion. He is beginning his ministry with a flourish of healings and miracles. People are coming from all around to see him, hear him teach, and be healed. But the next day he is nowhere to be found. He has gone out to pray. Before daybreak. Unannounced. No permission. No explanation before he leaves. And when his disciples come and find him, expressing their exasperation with him, he simply says that they’ve got to go. He’s going to preach in other places. That is why he has come.

Jesus did not come to heal a group of people only in one place. His ministry was not to be confined to one locale. He is not on a campaign trail. He is not worried about gathering constituents from various interest groups. But he is on a mission. He has come to heal the sick, raise the dead, teach about God, suffer, and die. He must let people know that he is doing this for all people. He’s going elsewhere to remind people that they have no exclusive claim on him.

Jesus is our Lord, but we do not own him. He is Lord. He calls us to repent and believe. He heals diseases. He teaches the truth about God. He does this for all people. He won’t stay put. He won’t be our special live-in guest.

But this is actually good news for us. He did not confine his ministry to the people in Capernaum. He went even to the Samaritans and Gentiles. Why some and not others? Because Jesus’ main ministry was not just to heal the people of his day. His mission was to provide eternal healing and life to all who believe in him. If he’s not working in your life in an obvious manner, be sure of this: He is working. And he wants you to believe in him and do whatever you can to point others to him as well.

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