And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them all. And there followed him great multitudes of people….
— Matthew 4:23-25
People come to Jesus in a myriad of ways. In the verses above, they were attracted to His miracles, signs, and wonders. People are still attracted to Christ’s miraculous power today, but sometimes the catalyst that brings a person to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is far smaller and more subtle.
An example of this “saving influence” is how my mother came to know Jesus as her Savior as a young girl. Her catalyst was a gift of candy. My mother (whose maiden name was Erlita Miller) was eight years old at the time. A neighbor knew young Erlita was unsaved, so she invited her to attend the local Baptist church. That Christmas season, Erlita’s Sunday school teacher invited her to the church’s Christmas service — with the enticement of a satchel of candy that would be given to each child who attended that particular service.
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A satchel of candy might not sound like much today, but when my mother was eight years old, World War II was an ongoing reality, and sugar, among other commodities, was scarce. This made candy a very rare treat. When Erlita heard that candy was going to be given to each child who attended the service, she asked her mother for permission to go. Not only did her mother say yes, but she even accompanied her to that event. That night Erlita not only received her small satchel of candy, but she also heard the Gospel explained for the first time. Later that same night at home, Erlita bowed down on her knees and surrendered her life to Jesus Christ. This amazing miracle all started with the lure of a small satchel of candy!
In the day in which Jesus lived, one thing that was a truly scarce commodity was the power to heal. Even if doctors could diagnose a medical condition, they didn’t have the medications to heal it. So when the news of Jesus and His healing power began to spread across the region, Matthew 4:24 says that a great “fame” of Him traveled throughout all those regions.
The word “fame” is the Greek word akoe, which is the Greek word for the human ear. In this case, it describes a rumor or something that is repeated or heard by those who were listening. The people who were really profoundly listening were those who needed a healing touch. The reports and “rumors” of the supernatural healing power of God were big news and served as a drawing card that beckoned people with all types of sicknesses and diseases. As a result of this news, people came from all over the surrounding regions, and multitudes experienced Jesus’ healing and delivering power. Then more news about Him spread further and further until the entire region was abuzz with “news” about Jesus and His healing power!
It wasn’t healing power that attracted my mother when she was eight years old. She didn’t need healing power. But that satchel of candy was a major attraction and a huge “rumor” in her neighborhood — which attracted scores of children and young people to a Christmas service at church, where they heard the message of Jesus.
It took something as simple as a gift of candy to bring my mother to the feet of Jesus — and so much fruit has resulted from my mother’s salvation! Little did she know that she would have a little boy who would grow up and impact the Russian nation with the Word and the power of God. The legacy she provided as a deeply committed Christian — to her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren — will speak for all eternity.
And to think that it all started with a neighbor’s invitation to attend her church — and a Sunday School teacher’s follow-up offer of a gift of candy given out at a Christmas service. It amazes me when I think of what that little satchel of candy has done to reach millions of people for Christ over the ensuing decades!
What are you doing this year to attract people to the message of Jesus Christ? Don’t deprecate yourself as insignificant or minimize your efforts as being small and unnoticeable. You have no idea who someone may turn out to be later in life. You don’t realize how your seemingly small touch of God’s love may result in magnificent eternal fruit. Every person is important — and it’s our job to take the “fame” of Jesus to as many people as possible and to draw them to His saving power, especially at Christmastime!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for the encouragement I’ve received today. I have discounted myself as being too insignificant to make a large impact in Your Kingdom. But today I see that I could make a huge and eternal impact with something as small as a satchel of candy! Rather than look at what I can’t do, help me look around to see what I have and what I could do that would make a difference in bringing others to Christ, especially during this Christmas season.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am an instrument that God will use to touch others with the Good News of Jesus Christ. I have judged myself as being small and insignificant for too long. From this moment forward, I make the decision to look around me to see what I have to offer others that will cause the love of Jesus and His name to become a reality to them. I am not insignificant or too minor to be used by God in a big way. God wants to use me to reach people — even those who will themselves later impact multitudes for the Kingdom of God!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- When you think of people who are lost and without Christ, what can you do this year to pique their interest in knowing Christ? What creative ways can you think of to bring them to a place where they can hear the true Christmas message?
- What memories do you have from Christmastime that attracted you to the saving message of Jesus Christ?
- Maybe it wasn’t candy that attracted you to Jesus, but was there something the Holy Spirit used to grab your attention and bring you to Jesus? What person, place, or thing did the Lord use to bring you to that moment of repentance and salvation?