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Tag Archives: Healing

Mark 2 – Jesus Changes How We View the World

The Jews lived in a time of anticipation. Most of their practices and rituals were done in regards to anticipation. The order of the Jewish day was evening morning. Their day started when the sun went down and they went to sleep. They anticipated that God was going to do something. The Sabbath and fasting were times of anticipation as well. God was in control. God was going to do something. All of these things were to be a continual reminder of God’s work to be done in the world. There is a lot more to these practices but I’m oversimplifying for the point of these passages.

We live in a different time. A time that has been redefined by the resurrection. When does our day start (Think about before we had clocks)? It starts when the sun comes up. Christ has risen. A new day has dawned. The reason Christians began meeting on Sunday instead of Saturday is because Sunday is the first day of the week. The day Jesus was resurrected. The first day of the new creation. When Christ came, redemption came with him…the very thing the Jews were anticipating. He is the new wine to be poured into new wineskins. Let him make you new. He is the Lord of the Sabbath. The anticipation of God acting is fulfilled in Christ. We are no longer in a time of waiting because Christ has brought about redemption for a creation that is broken. We live in a time of doing because Christ has already begun God’s work of redemption and he has called us to join him.

Crowds flock to Jesus because of what he is doing to redeem this brokenness. They don’t just come alone but they bring their friend. I love that in the first story, it is because of the faith of the guys carrying the paralyzed man that Jesus forgave him of his sins. How awkward would it be then to have Jesus turn around to the crowd, look at the teachers of the law, and address the things in which they were thinking? In case there was any confusion as to who Jesus is…he asked which would be easier, “to forgive or to heal?” He then heals the guy as well. Jesus didn’t just come to bring redemption of the brokenness of the body but also redemption of the brokenness of souls.

Jesus gives us a different way of looking at the world. He turns the social order on its head. I don’t think I ever recognized that when Jesus called Levi he was in the middle of walking and teaching a large crowd. As a great object lesson as to what he is all about. He stops and calls the tax collector in front of everyone. He came for the sick…not those who think they are healthy. The sooner we realize our brokenness the sooner we will turn to the doctor.

Jesus came to turn the world on its end. To show God’s people what God intended His creation to look like in the first place. He reminds us that those who are despised by society can be taken in, redeemed, and transformed into His likeness in order to change the world. When I read passages like these I have to ask myself if I have too many Christian friends. Am I befriending the people Jesus hung out with in order to be a presence of peace in their lives?

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Bible Blog, Mark

 

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John 5 – Healing, Confrontation, and Testimony

I wonder what was going through Jesus’ mind when he asked the paralyzed man by the pool, “Do you want to get well?”  We don’t really know.  The guy responds with a very practical response about not being able to get into the pool which was believed to have healing powers, although he doesn’t really answer Jesus’ question.  Jesus then just tells him to get up and walk.  In that moment, muscles that hadn’t existed or moved in thirty-eight years were strong enough to carry a man anywhere he wanted to go.  Unlike modern surgeries, which can heal people and require rest and strengthening, Jesus’ miracles don’t require physical therapy or further treatment.  Get up and take your mat with you.  It all happened so fast that the guy didn’t even know who healed him, so he didn’t know who the Pharisees could blame when he got busted carrying his mat.

Later when he runs into Jesus, Jesus tells him to stop sinning or something worse might happen to him.  We don’t know what Jesus is specifically talking about.  Was the man sinning because of something he said to the Pharisees?  Does Jesus know about a sin problem that the man had that was related to his illness?  Later in chapter 9, the Apostles will ask whose sin made a man blind and Jesus will respond that his blindness wasn’t caused by sin.  However, in the case of this paralytic, Jesus at least implies that illness can be related to sin.  It appears that sometimes sin can have actual health related physical consequences for people and sometimes people just have health problems.  It’s important that we both recognize the effect that sin can have on our bodies, but it’s also important that we don’t presume to know when somebody’s illness is sin-related or not.  That’s not our place.

The conversation then shifts as Jesus provides both evidence and testimony to support his authority to do the things he is doing and say the things he is saying.  He starts out by saying that he isn’t going to bother to testify about himself since they won’t listen to him and then provides what they must consider valid evidence of his authority and claims.

  • I speak with the authority of the Father.
  • I act in accordance with the will of the Father.
  • John the Baptist has testified to the truth.
  • The works God gave me, that I am doing, testify that my Father sent me.
  • My Father testified regarding me, but you don’t listen to my Father
  • The Scriptures testify to me, but you refuse them too.
  • Moses wrote about me and testified about me, but you apparently don’t believe Moses either.

So let’s review here: John the Baptist, God the Father, the Torah (Scriptures), Jesus’ miracles from God, and Moses all testify that Jesus is the Son of God.  So if you don’t believe Jesus then you refuse to listen to all of these.  So go ahead and tell everybody in the crowd here, who exactly do you follow?

Jesus better be careful insulting these guys too much or they might try to kill him….wait…

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2013 in John

 

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James 5 – Prayers for Mom

I am not one to bury the lead, so I want to actually start with James 5:16 and the power of prayer and talk about wealth at the end.  This chapter was very important to my family when we first found out that Mom was sick.  The doctors had told us that Mom had brain tumors that required brain surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  I found out some time later that the doctors thought Mom had about six months.  Prayer had always been important to my family, but it took on a whole new role at this point.  Based on James 5, my parents asked the elders at church to come and lay hands on Mom and pray for her healing.  It was a powerful experience to have that group of men pray for my Mom and my family.  (However, nobody said anything about anointing with oil until Mom afterwards said she wanted to do things exactly as James 5 instructed so the elders actually did it again the next Sunday at church, that time with oil.)  My parents also wrote a note to the church asking that everybody take a moment and confess their sins to God, because James 5 says that Christians should confess their sins to one another so that they could powerfully pray for healing.  I don’t pretend to know exactly how God did or didn’t answer those prayers, but Mom ended up having multiple sclerosis (and not brain cancer) and lived for six more years.  I have a lot of great memories from those years.  I tell you this story because of the heritage of faith and belief in God’s Word that was given to me by my family.  Anytime I read James 5 I am reminded of those important moments in my family’s life when we really did depend on our faith.  I will never forget that my family also called on others to join us in our prayers.  And if you were one of those people who prayed for us then thank you.  You will never know what a blessing to us you were.

The beginning of James 5 is the second half of a conversation James is having about wealth.  At the end of James 4, he writes to merchants who travel from city to city, making their own plans and relying on themselves.  Their confidence and faith is in their own ability to determine the future, which is foolish when only God knows the future.  In chapter 5, it transitions to talking to rich people, which is different from merchants.  This is the nobility, the people who own land and have servants who work the soil.  They have mistreated those who work for them and a guilty of valuing their wealth and possessions over people.  James focuses on how people handle possessions and wealth on several occasions, but this section makes it clear that when wealth causes people to trust in their own ability to determine their future they are in trouble.  When people put their confidence in money, insurance, jobs, retirement funds and don’t put their trust in God, they are in trouble.  When people take advantage of others for personal gain they are in trouble.

On the other hand, Christians should in every area of their lives seek to bring their thoughts, values, and actions into alignment with God’s thoughts, values, and actions.  This includes what we do with our money and our possessions.  It doesn’t mean that you have to be poor or give away everything you have.  What it does mean is that your priorities need to be brought into alignment with God’s priorities and how we handle our money needs to reflect that and be rooted in that.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in James

 

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Matthew 15 – Scraps for a Dog

I love when Jesus doesn’t answer questions asked to him. He was asked about why his disciples didn’t keep the tradition of washing their hands before they ate. Jesus could have said that their mommas didn’t raise them right or something. Instead he calls them hypocrites. Honoring your father and mother is the only command with a promise but the Pharisees have apparently neglected their parents and have dedicated their money to God. My assumption is that they are giving more money in a way that makes them look more spiritual when in all reality they are despicable in the eyes of God. Their intent may have actually been good. They were so dedicated to God that they were overlooking their families. Are there any ways in which we become so dedicated to what we think God wants that we end up losing sight of God’s heart and become offensive to him?

Ironically, the disciples come back to Jesus to ask if he realizes that he has offended the Pharisees by what he has said. Why is this ironic? In the chapter before they proclaimed him as the “Son of God” and worshiped him. Now they are coming to him in concern that he has offended the Pharisees. He has set himself in opposition to the Pharisees here and they have missed that he has the authority.

Evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander…these things make them unclean and not the washing of hands. There have been different times when we have placed a higher priority on the traditions we keep, ignoring the sin problems in our lives as if the keeping of our practices would save us.

The story of the Canaanite woman makes me scratch my head a bit to be honest. She addresses him as Lord and acknowledges that he is the Son of David. Jesus ignores her cries and when questioned he says that he only came for the lost sheep of Israel. This is baffling to me because we have already had the centurion come to Jesus and his servant was healed. Is it because she is a Canaanite, the historically hated rivals of Israel? She continues to be persistent, kneeling before him begging, and Jesus basically calls her a dog. Instead of being offended by Jesus’ comment she simply says that even the dogs get crumbs from the table. At this, Jesus heals her daughter because of her great faith. These comments and actions from Jesus are very bazar to me and I can’t quite figure it out. What I take away from this story is that we should be persistent like this woman, recognizing that we really are dogs in his presence. Thanks be to God that he does not leave us in this lowly state.

Continuing to scratch my head…we have another situation where there is a multitude of hungry people and the disciples still have no idea how to feed them. Did they forget so quickly? This time Jesus is up on the mountain again and people go to the mountain to find healing from God. Now later in his ministry, the people are invited up to the mountain and they worship God there. This scene is a beautiful reminder that up on the mountain of God we join Jesus and break bread with him. This bread is ever plentiful and in response we worship God because of him.

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Bible Blog, Matthew

 

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Matthew 9 – Different Kinds of Faith and Different Approaches to Jesus

In Matthew 8, Jesus came down off the mountain and began healing people. People came to him with different levels of faith. Sometimes Jesus went to them. Some are healed whether they ask for it or not. Overall what we see is that Jesus has the authority not only to give the law (Matthew 5-7) but the power to bring about the redemption the world so desperately needs.

In the first healing in chapter 9, it is the faith of the friends who bring the man to Christ. Interestingly, Jesus sees the paralytic and doesn’t heal him but forgives him from his sins. I’ve heard a number of people say that we need to be focused on meeting people’s needs before they will care if we save their soul. I’ve heard other people say that it is their soul that we should be concerned about. I’d like to advocate that redemption is both. We redeem people from their situation physically and spiritually. Jesus focuses on both in this passage and we should not neglect one or the other. Jesus has authority to forgive sins. This IS blasphemy, unless Jesus is the Son of God.

The Gospel then turns to the calling of Matthew who has to be one of the more despicable people in the community. Matthew is a tax collector. As much as we despise the IRS ourselves, imagine if someone else was ruling us and then got some of our own people to collect taxes from us. Double insult! It doesn’t say why Matthew followed Jesus but there was something about him that made him simply up and leave his position and follow him.

We like to harp on the Pharisees a lot and this is one of those passages where we do that. The Pharisees desired the same thing Jesus did, the redemption of Israel. The Pharisees did everything they could to make themselves and those around them pure so that Israel might be redeemed. In short, they didn’t see themselves as sick. It would be silly to walk up to a doctor and when asked what your ailments were, you responded that you were healthy. In the same way, the Pharisees have no need for Jesus.

The question then comes up about fasting…the dirty F-word in the church. We don’t like talking about this one for fear that we might think we have to do it. Jesus says that his disciples have no need to fast because he is with them. Now is a time for celebration. But, a time is coming when fasting will be needed so that there will be a desire for the bridegroom to return. I just want to leave the thought here that we should have times of fasting so that there would be an ongoing desire for the bridegroom to return to his bride, the church. Fasting brings about this reminder.

One of the synagogue leaders comes to Jesus in great faith. His daughter is dead and he believes Jesus can heal her. You’ve read the story. I find it interesting that Jesus seems to downplay what he is doing and simply says that he’s going to wake her up. While I know that death is often referred to as sleeping this isn’t how people take Jesus’ comments when he makes them.

On his way there, a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years shows probably the most profound faith of anyone in these stories (except for maybe the centurion). As a guy, I have no idea what it would be like to have this bleeding for 12 years, but I do know it not only has to be a horrible way to live but also makes her unclean under Levitical law and therefore she has to be outside of the community. In her faith she is restored physically and restored back to the community and now can live again. When was the last time you reached out to Jesus without concern for whether or not he noticed?

It wasn’t till this time reading through this section that I saw humor in Jesus walking past two blind men and they took off after him. This seems like a funny scene to me. Jesus heals them because of their faith but tells them not to tell anyone what happened but in the next section he casts demons out of a person for everyone to see. I honestly don’t know why secrecy is called for in one moment and not in the next.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – We see in this chapter, and in the previous, that people come to Jesus in all kinds of ways and with different levels of faith. Jesus heals them all without discrimination.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Bible Blog, Matthew

 

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Matthew 8 – Healing, Exorcisms, and Authority

This chapter does something really important.  Jesus has been baptized, tempted, chosen Apostles, and recently given his huge influential sermon on what the Kingdom of Heaven will be like when Messiah comes.  If you know Jesus, it shouldn’t surprise you that almost everything he said turned the conventional wisdom of the day on its head.  The people expected him to overthrow Rome, but Jesus preached loving enemies.  They wanted wealth and blessing and he preached blessings on the poor and broken-hearted.

So leaving that sermon (on the mount) perhaps its not surprising that Matthew is going to spend a chapter giving Jesus’ credentials.  How can we know that this man has the authority to say the audacious things he has been saying?  Well let’s see…

He heals a leper and then goes on to do something truly remarkable: he heals a Roman Centurion’s servant.  What’s so remarkable about that you say?  Well I will tell you.  First, not many Roman Centurions travel to a Hebrew teacher and plead that he save his servant.  In our context it’s hard to even begin

Yep…this is the image I selected for long distance healing. I have been looking at it for ten minutes and still can’t decide if I am proud or embarrassed.

understanding this level of humility.  The Centurion is serving his servant.  The Roman is begging from a Jew.  He insists that his Roman Centurion home isn’t worthy of the Jew’s presence.  The Roman acknowledges that the God of the Jews is superior to any of the gods of Rome.  Finally, after all of this, he actually has enough faith in both God and Jesus to imply that Jesus can do a long distance healing.  Now stop and think about it.  There’s lots of healings recorded in the Bible, but there are not many that happen from a distance.  And yet Jesus does it without hesitation.  That’s serious power.

And then Jesus goes on to heal some at Peter’s house, including his mother-in-law (if you missed this, stop for a minute and realize that this means that Peter is married.  We don’t know much more than that, but it does mean that at least one of the Apostles was married).  He drives out demons (it should also be mentioned that we have no record of Peter’s mother-in-law being demon possessed, which is too bad because that would have been great for so many really bad preacher jokes).

The Rock in Stormy Waters

The Rock in Stormy Waters

Then, Jesus and the Apostles put out to sea and in a terrifying storm (even to some fishermen), Jesus stands up and simply calms the waves, the wind, the storm.  Jesus has authority to heal, the cast out demons, to calm storms.  He can do it when he’s close and when he’s far away.  He has authority.  So if you are reading Matthew’s Gospel for the first time, you finished the Sermon on the Mount wondering if this guy has any business saying these things he just said and then you are informed in Matthew 8 that Jesus in fact has every authority to do anything, command anything, say anything.

So it doesn’t matter what the cost of discipleship is…get on board (or stay in the storm).

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2012 in Matthew

 

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