Tonight, I was reminded of some verses. In previous days I always wondered why Elisha had to "stretch" over this child to heal him. Tonight I believe the Lord quickened my Spirit into understanding why.
And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.
Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. - 2Ki 4:34, 35
First, he had compassion on this child by sharing his own warmth and understanding. He related with him. Just like Jesus became a man to save sinners, Elisha is also exemplifying his own likeness in the flesh. It is the LORD who saves, not man.
Php 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And when we stretch ourselves beyond our normal capabilites in the Name of the Lord, many can be healed. Elisha was simply walking in the character of God. In the end it is the Lord who saves, but He uses those who are compassionate and willing to stretch themselves for His name.
All throughout the Old Testament, we are told that He will save us with a "stretched out arm." So who did He send? His Son, who was made like us, being tempted in all points as we are also tempted. Who was willing to endure the cross, despising the shame for us who were yet sinners. He died so that we may live through Him. All this He endured excruciating pain beyond comprehension so that we may know Him and be set free from bondage. This is being stretched.
Is this not mercy? To believe in a people that want to be saved so much that you go through this pain only to be spat upon and beaten and crucified for maybe even one person?
At the end of the gospel of John, Jesus is giving Peter a great commission, "Feed my sheep."
Joh 21:18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
Commentators say that this is Jesus telling Peter how he was going to died. And yes, in a way it is. He was to die for the gospel. Because he was being willing to be stretched beyond comprehension just like his Lord. This was the true reason by which he died. He was to be girded by this desire, to feed His sheep which will carry him and stretch him in places he would not be otherwise carried or stretched!
On practical terms, I wonder how many times a TRUE shepherd ventured onto previously unexplored territory for that ONE sheep that got away from the rest of the herd. Was it on a cliff? Near a bear? Across a raging river? What dangers may have to have been faced for this one sheep?
But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Mat_10:6
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? Luk_15:4