We come today, to the pool of Bethesda. Here we see something that, by today’s standards—western standards at least—seems bizarre. Our story is in John 5:1-9
This pool—the name means House of Loving Kindness—had five porches surrounding it. Daily, hundreds of lame, sick, blind and paralyzed people gathered here hoping for a miracle.
John tells us the people were waiting for an angel to come down and stir up the water. When the water stirred, the first one in the pool won a free trip to physical health.
Some Bibles mark this angel part as a later addition to the text. It all feels a little superstitious doesn’t it?
Was it really an angel? What it one of God’s? Perhaps a demon? Perhaps some strange sort of witchcraft?
But you know what—Jesus didn’t comment on it. So—I’ve already said too much I suppose.
I'm also struck by Jesus's choice to heal one man this day. So often in the gospels we read the story of Jesus healing them all. For instance, the evening after the Sabbath when He healed Peter’s Mother-In-Law. That night He came out after sunset and healed everyone in the city. But not here at the pool of Loving Kindness. At least it’s not recorded. Again—just one of those things to notice.
Jesus approaches one man.
Why this man? Maybe he was wearing his thirty-eight year perfect attendance pin. Maybe he was the sickest, or most hopeless. More likely (and at least this one is scriptural,) He saw His Father healing this man. (See John 5:19 - just down the page.)
Whatever the reason, Jesus approaches this man who has been sick for some thirty-eight years.
Let’s talk about this interchange for a minute.
Jesus asks him a simple and seemingly obvious question.
He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" - John 5:6
This is a great place to start.
Our churches and gatherings draw a great many folks who never quite get into the water. They sit in church, and sings the songs, but never set their affections on the One Whose name they take. They sit under the sound of good preaching, but the Word of God never finds good soil in their hearts. For these reasons, and other, they bear no fruit.
It’s time to put the question to them, and to ourselves…
Do you wish to get well?
Though to me anyway, the answer seemed obvious—the man actually makes excuses.
The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." - John 5:7
It strikes me that this man’s answer has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus’ question.
I wonder if he was answering the question he had heard a thousand times before—the question he expected this mild-mannered man to ask. The question his family and friends had asked him over and over. Even his pool-side companions would ask him this question. It was the question he could not face.
“Why do you sit here, day after day?”
But that’s not what Jesus asked.
In our last installment we met a man who asked the wrong question. The Royal Official asked Jesus to come to his son’s bedside.
This time Jesus asks the question and the sick man gives the wrong answer.
But there' some good news here. His non-answer didn't drive Jesus away. Jesus opens the healing door for him, no matter how bad his answer was.
Are you thinking, "Jesus didn’t offer healing, He simply healed the man?"
But did He?
He gave the man an imperative—a command.
Jesus said to him, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk." - John 5:8
What would have happened if this man gave excuses now? Was he healed and didn’t know it, or did the healing take place as he obeyed the Master’s command?
I think sometimes we consider ourselves people of faith all the while sitting at the side of the pool making excuses. Perhaps, like the man, we believe in healing. We believe God does miracles. We believe God wants to save the lost. We know Jesus mends broken hearts. But we sit and make excuses.
But this pool-sitter obeyed!
He got up and took up his bed and walked, and everything changed.
Thirty-eight years of going through the motions, over in an instant.
It’s time to “Get up” friends. It’s time to receive the life God has for us. It's time to step out of our pool-side life and step into a life in the Spirit. Jesus promised a river of living water flowing through us, and we sit beside stagnant waters making excuses. [Tweet This]
I don’t know what God has planned for you, but I know it’s right on the other side of obedience. Think back to the last thing He spoke into your life.
Now, get up and do it!
Lord, would you bring to our memory that last Word. Would you give us opportunity to obey and step into the life to which You’re calling us? I know You have more for us. Give us the courage to get up and walk!
“Just go, and go now before it’s too late,” my wife said when she realized Jesus was our only hope.
My son was sick—dying really—and the doctors gave us no hope. They couldn’t even give a name to his malady. He couldn’t keep his food down, and breathing caused such pain it made him shudder. For the last week, he’d had no more than a few cups of milk. He was dying. My little Marcus would leave this life as a twelve-year-old, and leave his mother and me broken.
It came on him suddenly, just three months ago. At first, we thought he had the flu. There were times we thought he would melt from the heat his body produced. Food was harder and harder for him to hold down. The doctors tried everything. I called in doctors from all the neighboring towns. Each one had the same advice. “Try to keep him comfortable.”
I’m a Roman, noble by birth. I’m part of Rome’s occupying force here in Galilee. I’m not military. There are many of Rome’s military forces spread over the region, but I’m here to create Roman culture. My counterparts and I come to these satellite conquests and live Roman lives. This way the people of our new territories can see what Roman life looks like. We live in relative luxury when compared to the rest of Capernaum. This luxury includes the servants we brought with us from Rome. I miss my homeland, though, and have wondered more than once if Roman doctors could heal my son.
My butler brought his family with him from Rome when we moved here four years back. They lived together in a suite of rooms in the servants quarters, off the main house. He is my most trusted confidant. I speak with him about things I would not even share with my wife.
Three days back, my butler mentioned that Jesus, the healer, was back in Galilee—in Cana. We had talked about taking my son to him a few weeks ago, but the reports had him in Jerusalem and around Judea. My son was too sick to travel that far. But Cana—Cana is only a few hours from here.
We first heard of this healer a few months back, when my butler took his wife to find him. It was one Saturday night after the Jew’s Sabbath was over, right here in Capernaum. He told me, the next day, there had been dozens of people waiting outside the home where Jesus spent his Sabbath. When He emerged He healed every one of them. Not one person went home without a touch from this healer, including my butler’s wife. She had been suffering from vision loss since he came into my service. In any practical sense, she was blind. But when he came back in that night, there was a ruckus in the servants quarters. I went to see what was going on and found a full-blown party going on. When he saw me, he didn’t even apologize for the noise or seem concerned. He ran over and gave me a hug. His eyes were wet with tears.
“She can see,” he said through his tears.
I looked at her across the room and our eyes met, and she was nodding. It was true. She was completely healed. She could see.
So when he told me Jesus was back in the area, I told him to get my horse and carriage ready. Then I ran to my son’s bedside. I found my wife holding him, tears running down her cheeks.
“What is it?” I asked.
“He’s gone,” she said.
“Dead?” I asked.
“No,” she answered, “but close. He’s not responding to anything anymore.”
“I want to take him to see the healer—up in Cana,” I said.
“He can’t travel. He’ll be dead before you get him in the carriage.” She said.
“But the healer is back in Cana. He can save him, I’m sure of it.” I urged.
“No. I won’t let you take him,” she insisted.
“Well, I’m going anyway,” I told her.
I threw on my cloak and rushed for the door.
“You’re leaving now?” she asked. “It will be nightfall by the time you reach Cana.”
“Look at him,” I said. “He’s at death’s door. I must see this man as soon as possible.”
“Just go, and go now before it’s too late,” she finally agreed.
I ran out the door and found the horse and carriage ready for me in front of the house. I briefly explained I was going alone. We separated horse and carriage and saddled him. I was off for Cana.
My last look at my son panicked me. His body seemed limp, his color, gray. I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. I had to find this healer and all I knew of his whereabouts was Cana.
When I got to the town, I headed toward the magistrates building near the town center. But before I got there, I saw a crowd gathered in the square. In the center was a man who seemed to have everyone’s attention. As I approached I began to understand why. His words drew me like a bee to a blossom. The sound of His voice seemed to exude peace if that’s even possible. After two hours riding in panic, a calm from without began to press its way into my soul.
When the crowd saw the royal insignia on my horse, they made room for me. I dismounted and walked through the assembly to Jesus.
He stood before me in silence.
“My son is at the point of death,” I began. “He may be dead already, but I’m sure if you will come with me to Capernaum, you can make him well.”
Jesus turned from me to address the crowd.
“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.”
“Sir,” I almost barked, feeling the panic rising again. I gathered myself and started again, this time with a forced calm. “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
Jesus said, “Go; your son lives.”
The confidence in His tone—in His words—banished my fear and I believed Him. Three words turned my fear—panic—into peace. I turned and headed back toward my horse. I stopped. I realized I hadn't thanked Him. I turned to go back but He had His back facing me, holding another man in the crowd who knelt before Him.
As the evening hurried toward night, I found an inn at the side of the road. I slept well all night long, and that surprised me. I hadn’t slept that well since before my son fell ill.
I started awake, disoriented, forgetting where I was. For a split second, worry pressed upward from the depths. Then I saw my cloak and gear and remembered everything.
Only minutes after I left the inn, my butler and I met in the way.
“Master, master, your son lives!” he was calling as he ran to meet me.
We rejoiced for no short time, and then I asked, “When? When did things change?”
“Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him,” came his answer.
“It was Jesus!” I said with confidence. "That’s when He spoke the words."
“Words?” he asked.
“Your son lives,” I answered. “Those three words saved Marcus’ life. Three little words. Your son lives.”
We would be a few more hours on the road, but there was no gap in our talk of this fellow, Jesus. My servant told me of the things he had seen in Capernaum, and I told him my story again, and again, and once more.
“Your son lives.” His words resound in my mind.
When we arrived at home, my son greeted me at the end of the walk. He started telling me what happened at home, while I tried to tell him what Jesus had done. In the end, I told my story to everyone in the household. I told my son, my wife, my other children. I called all the servants together and told them to bring their families. I then recounted the miracle for them as well.
All who heard believed in this Healer from Nazareth.
To read the original story, see John 4:46-54.
Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2017
If you enjoyed this story you can find forty more like it in my book Encounters With Jesus. It takes you, as you read, from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.
There is no way to
get rid of this kind of
demon except by prayer.
Help My Doubts
Father of a Demon-Possessed Boy
I remember the doctor saying to us, years ago, “Keep a record of his bad days.” My son—my eight-year-old boy—Enoch and I visited the doctor often in those first days. It’s been another eight years since we stopped going to doctors. For seven of them, we’ve found it easier to record the good days than count the bad.
The first sign the demonic attack has begun—we now know it’s a demon—is Enoch’s eerie silence. His eyes glaze over and it seems like he has gone away. He can’t hear—or at least he doesn’t respond to sound—and never speaks.
In the beginning, we thought he was sick. My wife, Havah, and I took him to our family doctor in the village. At first, this demon did not awaken while we were with the doctor, so he didn't know how to help. Enoch, couldn’t tell the doctor much. He couldn't remember what happened during his episodes. He just fell—no—not fell—it was like being thrown to the floor. Then he rolled around the ground as stiff as a board, foaming at the mouth. If there was anything dangerous nearby, like fire, or water, or a steep drop, he’d head right for it.
Our third visit to the doctor was after a furious episode where Enoch found his way right into an open fire. It scorched more than half the skin on his left side. The doctor said he could treat the burn, but he told us we should see a priest or rabbi. He didn’t think Enoch had any disease.
“This boy is possessed by a devil, and I can’t help you,” he told us as he gave us some salve for his burns.
After that, we went from rabbi to rabbi, each one shrugged his shoulders and wished he could do more.
It’s been seven years of rabbis and priests. We’ve given special offerings at the temple and paid for professional intercessors. We’ve gone to every house of prayer in Judea. Once we even traveled up to the temple at Shechem in Samaria to see if they could help us.
About a year ago, I started hearing stories of a rabbi from Galilee who was casting out demons and healing the sick. At first, I didn’t want Enoch and Havah to get their expectations aroused, but as the stories multiplied my heart began to hope.
One of my neighbors returned from a visit with some family up north near Tiberius. He told me of a pair of Jesus’ disciples going through the town. They were healing the sick and casting out demons in the streets. I’ve know Ari for many years, and he wouldn’t repeat these stories if there were any doubt in his mind. He was there. He saw men and women healed before his eyes, even some possessed by demons like my boy.
That’s when I started planning. I didn’t tell my wife, or even my son, what I was really up to. I didn’t want to lie to either of them. I just told Havah I wanted some time alone with my boy. I started planning for a trip with Enoch to find this Healer. I would tell Him my boy’s story. If He refused or couldn’t help, the disappointment would only fall on me.
I learned that He had been seen teaching and healing near Cana up in Galilee, so I packed our things and Enoch and I headed north.
Traveling with Enoch is no holiday. Everywhere we go, we have to be prepared to deal with his oppressor. This trip was no exception. In fact, the spirit's brutality the first night made me think we were might be headed in the right direction. The vile captor in Enoch’s young body protested more than ever. We didn’t sleep at all the first night we were on the road. Before I even had the fire burning hot enough to cook some dinner, he was flailing around and smothered it, at great cost to his own flesh. It was a grueling three days and two nights.
When we got close, someone told us the Teacher was on Mount Tabor. So we followed the road down from Cana to the east. As we approached the mountain, we found crowds at the base. I expected this. The accounts I’ve heard always have large crowds around this Healer.
It was nearly sundown when we came upon a few of the Healer’s disciples surrounded by dozens of on-lookers. They had just healed a couple of blind men. Next, they were laying hands on a lame woman lying on a sort of mat in the middle of the group. As we pressed our way into the center of the gathering, we saw this woman on the bed getting to her feet. Then she started jumping and running around the circle of spectators.
The disciples looked almost as stunned as the no-longer-bedridden woman. One of these men called out, “It’s the name of Jesus that heals the sick and delivers anyone in bondage.”
We had found Him.
I started waving frantically, crying out “My son, help my son!” I must have looked a little mad myself. I began to tell my son’s story to the one they were calling Andrew. There were three other groups like the one I was in, each surrounding what looked like a few disciples.
"I'm Andrew," said the man who was speaking, "and this is Simon the Zealot."
As soon as I began to describe Enoch’s condition, my son flew to the ground. I had my back to him, so I didn’t see the warning signs. I would have steered him away from the crowd before he went it to the full display of fury that is my son’s daily reality.
He was rocking back and forth, jerking up and down, six inches into the air and then slammed down again, rolling over so the foam covering his mouth was full of the Galilean dirt. Andrew and Simon hurried over to him and began to command the demon to come out.
“In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, come out,” they called.
Nothing changed. They said it a little louder. “In the name of Jesus, come out.”
They asked others in the crowd to hold him still while they prayed for him, laying their hands on his head and chest.
He thrashed and freed his arms. Then began slashing at them with his fists and scratching with his fingernails.
Andrew and Simon called two of the other disciples over to them and they started out the same way.
“In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, come out.”
I have to say, they didn’t give up. The sky grew fully dark and the air chilled as this failed exorcism went on into the night.
Finally, sometime after midnight, I took Enoch away from the crowd and we found a quiet place to get some rest. He had been in full manifestation for hours, and when he finally calmed, he was ready to sleep.
The sun was already well above the horizon when we awoke. The commotion that woke us was the arrival of Jesus and three more of his followers. They had apparently spent the night on the mountain. I’d never seen anything like Jesus. He was glowing—glowing! It wasn’t just the sun shimmering off his robes. The light emanated from Him.
As we approached Andrew called to Jesus, “Here they are Mater. We did everything you taught us and nothing changed.”
Once I realized that Jesus was right there, I said, “Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn’t.”
Jesus said “What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here."
Andrew took Enoch by the hand and led him to the Master.
The demon in my boy did his worst. He slammed him to the ground with no warning whatsoever. He pushed him right into a nearby fire. He convulsed and foamed and moaned, teeth grinding and eyes wild.
Jesus asked, “How long has this been going on?”
“Ever since he was a little boy,” I replied. "Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!"
Jesus’s eyes looked eager. “If?” He responded. “There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen."
That brought me up short. “I do believe;” I blurted, but then I wondered if I did, so I added, “Help me with my doubts!”
I think the crowd knew something big was about to happen because they started to press in. Some just realizing that Jesus was back, others hearing the conversation. Everyone wanting to see what He would do.
"Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!" Jesus spoke directly to the spirit who had tormented my son—my whole family—for the last eight years.
Enoch cried out, lifted off the ground and then fell back down with a thud. This time not rigid, as in times past, but more like a rag doll, begin tossed away. He lay there for what seemed an eternity. The crowd started murmuring.
“He killed the boy.”
Jesus walked over to Enoch, leaned down and grabbed his hand and pulled. At that moment, Enoch’s eyes opened, the color came back into his face. He nearly bounced up off the ground. With his hand in the hand of the Healer, he looked more alive than he had since the evil first took him. The joy was back in his eyes, the joy of a child with a future.
The two days traveling home seemed like a dream to both of us. In every village, at every meal, we shared our story with everyone we met. We were not just witnesses to a miracle. We were changed by our short visit with Jesus. His Words changed my boy and turned my hope into an unshakable faith.
My Havah could hardly believe her eyes. One look at Enoch’s countenance told the whole story. My son was bound, but now his chains are gone. His captivity is over. He’s free!
Messiah truly has come in our day.
To read the original story, see Mark 9:15-30. Quotes come from the Message Bible.
Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2016
If you enjoyed this story you can find forty more in my book Encounters With Jesus. It takes the reader from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.
Jude uses the phrase “clouds without water” when speaking of those who come into the body of Christ unseen and disrupt the faith. (See Jude vs 12.)
Jude is one of those books you don’t hear much about these days. Most of Christendom has opted for the Christian radio model. You know, always positive, uplifting and family-friendly. This is not one of those books—well—it is if you get to the end. But it pushes hard on those trying to undermine the grace of God.
In any case, the phrase clouds without water got to me this week. I recently heard a speaker use the phrase as an illustration of a Christian who believes in the power of God to do miracles today but has no such signs following.
This stirred me up.
Yes, I’ve seen many wonders at the hand of God.
I’ve prayed and seen the paralyzed walk, hearing restored, eyesight cleared, demons flee. But I’ve also seen days without number where I don’t even offer to pray for the sick. Weeks where I leave the demons comfortably ensconced in their quarry. Entire months where I don’t even ask the Father in Jesus name to intervene in the lives of those around me. Far too much of life where I don’t pray for rain.
Yesterday, I talked about a river of living water flowing from my innermost being into the world around me. Today—different metaphor—same prayer.
Lord, forgive me for floating through life without raining your love and mercy down on my surroundings. Father use me as a rain cloud of your mercy and grace today.
Thanks for stopping by.
Hey - if you haven't checked out my book - Encounters With Jesus - take a look at this sample chapter. This book offers a fresh look at the life of Jesus through the eyes of the ones He touched. You'll love it.
Ezekiel's angelic tour guide instructs him to walk out into this river.
This river is the flow of the Spirit of God coming from His throne.
Ezekiel gives a progression from ankle-deep to knee-deep to waist-deep and finally, water that can’t be crossed—waters to swim in.
This river brings life as it meets the sea.
Healing for the nations.
The trees on its banks yield fruit every month.
As I’ve read this passage in the past, my desire has always been to be in the deep water—swimming in the Spirit’s flow. I’m not satisfied with an ankle-deep prayer life. I sick of a knee-deep relationship with God. I'm not even willing to settle for a waist-deep religion. I want to be in waters so deep I’m not in control, but moving with the flow of the Spirit.
This is still my heart, but as I read this description this morning an old spiritual song from the 80s came to mind. “I’ve God A River Of Life.” Do you remember it?
I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me;
It makes the lame to walk and the blind to see.
It opens prison doors, sets the captives free.
I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me.
It comes from some of the red letters in John’s gospel:
"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" - John 7:38 NASB
Could it be that Ezekiel’s temple is not a future brick and mortar temple, or even a view of a heavenly temple, but he is describing the mystery of the New Covenant believer?
Let’s think about it for a minute.
Paul calls us a temple:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? - 1 Corinthians 6:19 NASB
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,"I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM;AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. - 2 Corinthians 6:16 NASB
Not only are we the temple of the Living God, but we are seated in Christ:
and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, - Ephesians 2:6 NASB
So this river that flows from the throne of God, out of the east gate of the temple flows into us—through us—into the world we walk in today. As we get out into the deep water—these “waters to swim in” (KJV) this same river of life flows out of us into the dry places of this present age.
We walk into the conference room—board room—classroom—mailroom and this river of life floods the place. The room fills with the flow of the Spirit—leaves of healing floating around the room—fruit of the Spirit dropping everywhere.
Can you see it?
What happens next?
What happens when the Spirit invades the rooms you’re cleaning, the meals you’re preparing, the papers you’re writing, the coffee you’re serving?
What happens when the Spirit’s influence washes through the halls of your school, and every room of your home, every apartment in your building?
Lord Jesus, baptize me afresh in Your Holy Spirit so Your river of life can flow into my world today.
Thanks for coming by today.
Shine where you’re screwed in.
Hey - if you haven't checked out my book - Encounters With Jesus - take a look at this sample chapter. This book offers a fresh look at the life of Jesus through the eyes of the ones He touched. You'll love it.
It’s another red-letter day! Let’s take a look at some red letter and see what we can glean.
Come with me to Mark 2:3-12.
Today Jesus actually gives His accusers proof. For much of Him ministry He did not offer any evidence to His skeptics. They pressed Him time and time again for confirmations and signs and He left them wanting. They questioned Him and He gave them more questions and less understanding.
But here in Mark 2 He gives them a reason to believe that He is Messiah, He is:
as Paul puts in Philippians—equal with God
and again Colossians—all the fullness of the Godhead
as the writer to the Hebrews states—the express image of God.
Here’s what’s going on. He’s in the house and there is a crowd as usual. This time there are a bunch of religious folk pressing in to question Him, to put Him to the test.
Luke drops a wonderful nugget into his telling of this story.
…And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. - Luke 5:17 NKJV
We can talk about that another day, but isn’t that wonderful. Even in this room full of skeptics, the power of the Lord was present there to heal them.
Back to the story, there is a paralyzed man with some really good friends. They carry him to Jesus on a stretcher but can’t get through the door. Because of the crowd, they can’t get the stretcher up to Jesus. So what do they do?
They carry their friend up onto the roof, (yikes) break through the roof, rig the stretcher with ropes and lower their friend down in front of Jesus.
Now Jesus sees all this and is clearly confused. (kidding) Obviously the man on the bed needs healing, and as we already noticed, the Lord is ready to go with the power to heal.
But instead of just breaking the tension and healing the man, Jesus scrolls through His options and chooses—provoke.
So many times when Jesus is healing the multitudes we see Him simply touch and bless, but this time He decides a lesson is in order.
It’s time to pull back the veil a little further and let the world see another level of His glory.
And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." - Mark 2:5 NASB
Let’s review. The room is full of the religious muckity-mucks and Jesus decides to demonstrate His authority over sin.
It’s time for them to understand that Jesus was not just another pretender come to stir up discontent. Jesus is Messiah, Emanuel, the One promised to rescue and redeem His people. God with us.
It’s time for them to leave their nets, their accounts, their religious garb, take up their crosses, and follow Jesus.
"But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--He said to the paralytic, "I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home." - Mark 2:10-11 NASB
This man who bursts onto the scene and starts stirring up the rabble is no pretender. He is thereal deal. And the healing He carried proves it.
No false Messiah before Him, and there had been many, moved with compassion through the crowds and brought healing to the nation. Only Jesus.
And He’s the same today.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. - Hebrews 13:8 NASB
He’s still in the same business.
"THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME,BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR.HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES,AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND,TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD." - Luke 4:18-19 NASB
It’s His family business, you know.
Don’t be confused by what the religious folks tell you. Don’t be distracted by all the shiny stuff the World dangles before you.
It’s time to drop your distractions, take up your cross and get after Him.
As Philip told his brother Nathanial in John 1, We’ve found the Messiah…come and see.
While you’re at it—if you’re in His family, it’s time you take up the family business too!
"And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. - Matthew 10:7-8 NASB
Join me in Mark 1 today and let’s think about what Jesus said in these three little words. But first ... a little context.
And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." - Mark 1:40-41 NASB
Jesus ran into people every day during His ministry years. It is in fact why He came, to seek and to save the lost, to run into people and bring the kingdom of heaven into their lives. No two of the folks He encountered were alike. It was not as though everyone who came to Him for a miracle came with the same level of faith and expectation.
Some knew deep inside that if they could reach Him, they would find healing, like the woman with the issue of blood.
for she was saying to herself, "If I only touch His garment, I will get well." - Matthew 9:21 NASB
Some were not even sure He had any power whatsoever.
"It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" - Mark 9:22 NASB
Some understood He was not limited to proximity, and could heal across the miles like the centurion.
But the centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. - Matthew 8:8 NASB
So what about this leper we meet in Mark 1? He had a concern I often hear voiced in Evangelical circles. It’s common thought today that Jesus can still heal and does still heal, but it is linked to some sort of whim or fancy or divine fiat. We come to the Lord in prayer asking for healing as though we hoping He’s in a good mood and might just condescend to do us a little favor and heal our loved one.
This phrase only comes up five times in the NASB and three of them are three accounts of this event. One is when Jesus is talking about John the baptist, explaining that he was Elijah who would come. The only other time we hear this phrase is in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus cries out to the Father:
saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." - Luke 22:42 NASB
Many have adopted this phrase as part of their prayer life.
Here’s the thing.
Jesus answered the question.
He answered this man in no uncertain terms.
He could have simply healed the leper to demonstrate His will without saying a word.
But Jesus—the Word of God—the very Will of God incarnate—the express image of God—Jesus—answered.
I am willing!
And if this doesn’t answer it for you with enough clarity, look at His ministry. He healed all who came to Him. Time after time we see Him heal them all.
The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. - Matthew 4:24 NASB
But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, - Matthew 12:15 NASB
We are not calling out to God for something unclear, or something unprecedented.
Jesus, in the Garden, placed Himself into a circumstance we could never see. He was facing separation from the Father, He was facing the cup of God’s wrath stored up against all our sin and the prospected was horrifying.
This is not our case when the come to the Lord Jesus for our healing. He told us His name is Jehovah Rapha - the Lord our Healer.
I understand that when we are talking about our future James tells us to leave it in the Lord’s hands.
Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." - James 4:15 NASB
But James is not teaching us to pray. He’s talking about our attitude toward life.
Jesus Christ who is the same, yesterday, today and forever, said without hesitation:
We’ve been choosing law over grace from the very beginning. Adam and Eve chose the knowledge of good and evil over life. (Genesis 3) Israel chose being given instructions over a relationship with God. (Exodus 20:19)
Even after God demonstrated the inability of the law to save us (Romans 8:3) we go back to choosing the law.
We have tasted and seen the amazing blessings of grace—forgiveness of sins, new nature, life in the light.
We have been given a new heart, been washed clean of the guilt and stain of our sins. Even our old nature has been sent packing, and we have received the very Spirit of the Living God dwelling in us.
And still we choose law.
How, you ask?
In so many ways.
We do to earn the favor of God.
We give to receive a blessing.
We hold the law up to demand our rights as citizens of this new kingdom.
I’ve done it a thousand times. I’ve demanded that God keep His promise based on my performance.
I’ve spent money I didn’t have because God owed me a blessing based on my giving.
I’ve demanded that He heal because He already paid the price.
I believe the problem is not that God is slack concerning His promises, but that I’m living in a law based paradigm. I slip back into law too easily. I begin to demand to receive what I’m owed, not realizing it’s already been given. I lose sight of God the giver and see Him the One withholding the things I am owed. I must plead my case with Him as my opponent rather than my Advocate.
My mistake may be that I’m using a law based reasoning for healing, or prosperity, or promotion, instead of establishing grace as the foundation of my life.
What earns me healing? Do I, by my tithing, pry open the windows of heaven?
Or are these things simply gifts from the Most High, given freely?
Are all the gifts of God like salvation? There is nothing I did to deserve salvation. In fact, I came to the Lord doubly dead—dead by my sin nature—deserving of death by my own sins and transgressions. There’s not much a dead man can do to save himself.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. - Romans 5:8-10 NASB (Emphasis mine
I didn’t stand before God and demand absolution from my old nature. I, with confession on my lips bowed my head and asked His forgiveness and accepted His great grace toward me.
And you know what He did? He sprinkled me with clean water—washed me clean from my old nature and my sinful deeds. He forgave each and every sin I had ever committed. He took the stoney heart out of my soul—the heart that could not keep His law and kept me from obeying His command to love Him and love my neighbor. Then He replaced that old stone heart of mine with a new heart—one that love’s Him—one that has the capacity to keep His Word. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
Then, best of all, He came and took up residence in that new heart.
We’re not adversaries any longer. I was the enemy of God, but today, I’m His dwelling place, and He’s mine. He is my Home. I am His home. I am my Beloved’s and He is mine. (Song of Songs 6:3)
I don’t have to argue my case in order to get what I think should be mine. I don’t have to drag Him into court and show the judge my marriage license and say, He owes me healing, He owes me prosperity, He owes me a good life.
Our access to all God has for us comes through intimacy not litigation. [Tweet this]
My beloved Father blessed me with all spiritual blessings the day I surrendered my life to Him. (Ephesians 1:3)
My dear Abba God seated me in Christ in heavenly places years and decades ago when I laid down the weapons of my warfare against Him. (Ephesians 2:6)
The Lover of my soul gave to me all things that pertain to life and godliness through the increasing revelation of who He is, day by day as we dwell together. (2 Peter 1:3)
This great God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has made me a partaker of His own divine nature through His great and precious promises. (2 Peter 1:4)
I’m going to start pressing into His grace, and giving Him space to multiply that grace into my situations and circumstances. I’m done demanding from God, and contending with Him. He is more than enough for me.
Thanks for listening as I slog through some thoughts chasing around in my heart.
I’m reading through Luke in the Passion Translation (TPT). It’s a wonderful new translation of the Bible, not yet complete, so you can only get it in bits and pieces so far. I hope the translator, Dr. Brian Simmons, is able to complete the whole Bible.
As often happens when I read a familiar passage in an unfamiliar translation different things jump out.
Today as I read the story of the feeding of the 5,000, a line in Luke 9:11 struck me.
Here it is in TPT.
But the crowds soon found out about it and took off after him. When they caught up with Jesus, he graciously welcomed them all, taught them more about the kingdom of God and healed all who were sick. - Luke 9:11 TPT.
Later in the passage we learn there were “nearly five thousand men here, with women and children besides!” (Luke 9:14 - TPT)
What a day! It’s no wonder it was getting late. He welcomed them; He taught them; He healed them all—ALL.
Wonder how many folks went away with two miracles that day. The saw the Lord Jesus multiply the loaves and fishes, which meant they went away with full bellies, but they also went away, leaving their crutches on the hillside—some seeing for the first time—others hearing the sound of their children’s laughter as they headed back to their villages.
What a day.
What a day.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. - Hebrews 13:8 NASB
He’s still welcoming.
He’s still teaching.
He’s still healing.
Thanks for coming by.
See you again soon.
PS - I need some help. I would love to get my book - Encounters with Jesus - into the hands of more folks. One way that can happen is Amazon reviews. Many of you have made wonderful comments about it. I wonder if you would take the time to head over to Amazon and leave an honest review. I believe the book has the potential to change lives, but only in the hands of readers. If you have ever purchased anything from Amazon, you can review this book there. It would be a huge blessing to me.
Thanks in advance.
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