Faith of A Mustard Seed

Last updated on November 9th, 2018 at 05:20 pm

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington M. Div.

“When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) withstood them, seeking to turn away the proconsul from the faith.” (Acts 13:6-8). Look again at this ‘Faith Event’ in Acts.

As far back as ‘in the biblical beginning’, Genesis identifies the ‘magician’ as an important consulate in the old world. Here Pharoah called for the magicians of Egypt to interpret his dreams. By the Book of Daniel, the prophet’s record indicates that King Nebuchadnezzar called for the magician to interpret his dreams; where the magician is now spoken of in lineage to the Sorcerer, the Soothsayer, the Sage, the Enchanter, the Diviner, the Exorcist, the Astrologer— all of which are now wholly separate professions in the socio-religious orders of life; functioning only in part as definers of the para-normal. So as not to over-look the importance of these callings, see and know that they are to be found in consultation to the highest officer of the land— Pharoah and King. Yet, to also recognize these services as foreign to the Hebrew Old Testament faith with it’s ‘One God’ faith tradition.

The ‘magon/magician’ as we meet him here in Acts, has had a long history in the development of his office. Synonymous with the ‘Levites’ as a Hebrew priestly tribe, the ‘Magi’ have been identified as a Persian priestly tribe. The ‘Gifts of The Magi’… those ‘Wise Men’ who came from ‘The East’ were of the Persian Priesthood.

As ‘the possessor and user of supernatural knowledge and ability’; their wisdom was more than a calling but a ‘divine gift’— the magician worked with a compulsion to the end of purification and expiation. It is no small thing that some thought Jesus to be a magician— he acted with compulsion in the healing, purification and expiation of sin in the lives of disconsolate persons as he met them.

I recall with ‘lol’— (‘laughing out loud’ and ‘lots of love’) a night when 4 of my seminary classmates (all pastors) took another classmate’s visiting brother to the Atlanta Braves game. When we went to the stadium to pick them up after the game the visiting brother said, “It’s a good thing that I don’t need Jesus!”

Today, “The Times” are such that little to no evidence can be seen of ‘the possessor and user of supernatural knowledge and ability’; the wisdom ‘calling— ‘divine gift’ at work with compulsion to the end of purification and expiration of the People AND the Land. Least of all the ‘highest officer’ seeking the will of God for the Greater Good of the People AND the Land. As a ‘Lover and Seeker of Knowledge, this ‘Supernatural Knowledge’ thing is so needed in our World.

I can only imagine in my ‘mind’s eye’ the scene here in Paphos: Bar-Jesus (Elymas), Magician-Prophet, deeply rooted in his Jewish faith but whose prophecy was not quite ‘true’ enough to anchor the Proconsul’s soul. Barnabas, himself a ‘Levite’/Priest, Disciple-Preacher deeply rooted in his (now called by others in this space) ‘Christian faith’. And Saul, newly converted from his Jewish roots to ‘the faith’— now standing strong in the proclamation of the word of God revealed to him through Christ Jesus; from which the Magician was so adamantly seeking to turn the Proconsul from. In this midst, the Proconsul knew this: He needed Jesus! And the magic began…

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