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Entries in Sickness (4)


A Desperate Woman is Healed

Mark 5:21-34.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on Sunday, July 28, 2019.

Last week we were in the first part of this chapter where Jesus encountered a man possessed with many demons on the east to southwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.  That event ended with the people of the region pleading with Jesus to leave.  Thus, our passage today involves the events after they returned to the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, most likely Capernaum.

In a sense we will have one story interrupted by another story, but both of them have similarities that I will bring up in my commentary as we work through them.

The dire condition of Jairus’ daughter

When Jesus lands on the shore, it does not take long for a crowd to gather.  It is at this point that one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus (Hebrew- Yair, “God Enlightens”) approaches Jesus.  His daughter is at the point of death and her only hope is a miracle from God.  Jesus is the only prophet of that generation who evidenced the healing power of God.  We will focus on this story more next week because we are going to be interrupted by a woman who needs healed.  For now, we should recognize that the synagogue leaders generally did not like Jesus and we have no reason to believe that this man was much different.  This man is convinced that Jesus can heal his daughter. 

He also believes that Jesus needs to touch her in order for it to happen.  I mention this because, in the story of the centurion who was a dying servant, Jesus remarks that touching to heal is not a necessity.  That doesn’t mean that it is a hindrance either.  However, things like touching or putting mud on the eyes are really more of an aid to our faith.  Healing is not some kind of power that is transmitted through hands.  However, when we lay hands upon someone, it does encourage them to believe.  Thus, we can call it an “aid to faith.”

Most likely this man would not normally embrace Jesus in public.  However, he has become desperate because of the impending death of his daughter.  There are things that we would never consider or give a second thought until we become desperate.  This can work for the good and it can work for the bad.  This is one of the reasons that it is so important to share the good news about Jesus with everyone.  People may not respond immediately with any interest, or they may be hostile to the message, but some day they may find themselves in a desperate situation.  What will they turn to then?  We know that Jesus is not just one option among many.  He truly is the only option in the end for those who are desperate.  If you are in a desperate situation, now is the time to turn to Jesus with your problems and seek his help, healing, and forgiveness.

If you think that he will not help you then take note of the response of Jesus to Jairus.  Jesus begins to go with Jairus to his house in order to heal his daughter.  Of course, the multitude of people continue to follow Jesus and “throng” him (that is, to press in tight around him).

The desperate condition of a daughter of Israel

Starting in verse 25, this story takes a turn.  He is interrupted by one that he will call “daughter” in verse 34.  Now this woman is most likely at least the age of Jesus, which we will establish in a bit.  So, his reference to her as “daughter” is a reminder to her and everyone else that she is still a daughter of Israel.  She had a place and a portion among God’s people who are called Israel.  Her bleeding ailment threatened this.  Today we would use the phrase “child of God” or “daughter of God.”  Regardless the emphasis is that her condition does not make her an outcast, as she has been treated no doubt.  Through Christ we can spiritually be born again as a child of God who has a guaranteed place and portion among the people of God for each of us.  Thus, this story is thematically connected to Jairus and his dying daughter, as this woman is a dying daughter of God.

Let’s recount her physical situation.  We are told that she has a “flow of blood.”   It is not completely explained and does not seem to be immediately life threatening.  However, she has had it for 12 years and it is getting worse.  I would assume that this means the flow is greater, but it could be a reference to pain, even though pain is not mentioned.  Within the Judean society this would have been a devastating thing for her.  First of all, it means that she would be ceremonially unclean all the time.  She could never participate in any of the religious ceremonies of Israel.  Second of all, anyone that she touches would also become ceremonially defiled.  Thus, she would have been a social outcast, much like a leper.  She is not only sick, but has been unable to have a normal life for the last 12 years.

We are also told about her experience with the medical profession of her day.  She apparently comes from wealth because she has spent all that she had going to “many physicians.”  Instead of getting better from their efforts, her condition keeps getting worse.  This woman has desperately sought out any hope that the medical profession of her day could offer and found them dashed to the ground.  No doubt, each time, she would get her hopes up that a certain doctor could help her with a unique procedure, only to return home without relief.  She now has nothing left and is thus without hope, until she hears about Jesus.  What she could not buy for all the money in the world is now possible for free.  What a moment of hope this must have been for this woman.

We are told that her plan was to come up behind Jesus, while he is in the crowd, and touch his garment.  What is interesting here is that she has the same concept of the connection between touch and healing that Jairus did.  However, in this case she believes that it doesn’t even have to be a purposeful touch.  She hopes to get a healing on the sly and slip away.  Why would she do that?  Part of it may have to do with the fact that her unclean condition is well known.  For her to purposefully touch a rabbi in public, thus making him ceremonially defiled, would be considered at least a social faux pas and perhaps even an act worthy of civil punishment.  On top of this is the question.  How many people would she touch in trying to get through the multitude to Jesus?  Her only chance of getting close to Jesus would be to hide her identity and attempt to get it without anyone knowing.  To get forgiveness is easier than to get permission.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we are told that she wants to touch the “hem” of his garment.  Typically, the hem would have tassels and even, at times, designs that evidenced a person’s place and authority.  This could be the hem at the bottom of the garment or on his sleeves.  We are not told if Jesus had any such items, but this is reminiscent of Malachi 4:2 where it says, “But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings;”.  The word for “wings” can mean exactly that in the context of birds or such.  It simply means the extremity of something.  In the context of a garment this could mean the edges or hems of the garment, and in the context of the person it would be their hands and feet (extremities).  I believe that this verse in Malachi is clearly referencing the Messiah by the title “Sun of Righteousness.”  Since it is a person the image is not so much wings, but rather his hands or the edges of his garment.  Our passage today is clearly a fulfillment of this passage and so is any healing event in which Jesus laid his hands upon the person.

The woman is healed

Upon the touching of the hem of Jesus’ garment, we are told that the “fountain of her blood” was immediately healed.  Whatever the source of the bleeding was, it was instantly healed and quit bleeding.  We are also told that she could feel that something had changed in her body.  She knew in that instant that she was healed.  Now, all she had to do was slip away and go through the purification rituals.  She would no longer be ceremonially defiled and could return to a normal interaction with Judean society.

Just as the woman felt something physically happen to her, so Jesus sensed the power that had healed her.  The word for “power” her is the term “dunamis,” which points to the creative and restorative power of God.  At first, this may give the impression that the Bible is saying that healing is something that can be carried around and given to someone else by touch and even without willing it.  That is, all it takes to be healed is to touch something that his holy, and blessed by God.  Yet, there is more to it than that, which we will come back to in a moment.  Before the woman can make her exit, Jesus suddenly turns around within the crowd and says, “Who touched my clothes?”

The disciples are incredulous at the question Jesus asks.  They point out that many people in the crowd are constantly touching him.  The question might be better, “Who hasn’t touched me?”  Clearly this is not what Jesus is talking about.  He knows who he is talking about and so does the person who was healed.

The woman is afraid and trembling as she falls down before Jesus and confesses the whole story to Jesus and the surrounding crowd.  Most likely, she expects some kind of public rebuke and perhaps legal consequences.  Yet, Jesus is unconcerned with any fears of being defiled and protecting his reputation as a holy man.  He never even brings it up.  In fact, this episode begs the question.  Is Jesus now ceremonially defiled?  The most powerful evidence to the contrary is the fact of her healing.  It was not her defiling him, but him healing her.  The defilement of her condition was no match for the healing power of Jesus.  We cannot defile him, but he can heal us.  This is not just true with physical issues.

Many people do not turn to Christ because they fear that they will be rejected due to their sins.  However, our sin cannot affect Jesus.  He can handle your sins.  He went to the cross for your sins.  His power is greater than all our sin and can set us free from them, both legally and in actuality.  In no way, do I imply that it is okay to embrace sin as a follower of Jesus.

This part of the story ends with Jesus addressing her as daughter.  We talked about this earlier, but I believe it is an endearing term meant to set her at ease, and also a reminder to those around them that she is still a daughter of Israel.  She never lost her place with God because of this disease.  The pharisaical position on such people would be that they are cursed by God, no doubt due to sin, and thus a sub-citizen of sorts.  She would not be seen as a true daughter of Israel, at least until she is healed.

His statement following this address is that her faith has made her well.  Jesus does not mean that faith by itself is enough to be healed.  It is not a faith that just keeps saying, “I am healed; I am healed.”  This would be faith in faith itself.  However, Jesus said “her faith.”  What exactly was her faith?  Her faith was not centered in positivism or a mantra.  It was solidly placed upon the person of Jesus.  She believed that Jesus could heal her if she just touched his garment.  This is the plain teaching of Scripture.  God has provided for healing through faith in Jesus.  No, it is not guaranteed that all people will be healed in this life because God has a purpose that goes beyond this life.  As Jesus told the Apostle Paul, “My grace is enough for you.”  Yet, this story is an amazing revelation nonetheless.  Many simply will not believe that healing in the name of Jesus is possible at all, and thus they miss out on the possibility that God would heal them.  Others believe that Jesus heals, but blame all situation where there is no healing upon the faith of the person or their loved ones.  We must be careful in this area and ask for healing and yet trust God no matter what his answer.

Jesus tells her to go in peace and enjoy her healing from this plague.  Not all that plagues humanity is physical.  However, in Jesus we have the One who is able to make us every bit whole.  Will you put your faith in him for both your body and soul?  We can touch Jesus through our prayers of faith in him.

Woman Healed audio


You are Loosed

Today we will look at Luke 13:10-17.

In this passage we have a remarkable healing performed by Jesus and yet, we also have a remarkable objection that is made at the same time.  Over the last 2,000 years precious little has changed.  The Gospel of Christ is still making an impact upon this old world and yet, many make illogical and hypocritical attacks against the work of Christ.  As a Christian, we need to be confident in our connection to that man who walked this planet 2 millennia ago.  We need to recognize that our faith exists today because of the work and message of Jesus.  We are part of the work of God.  That said, we also need to remain humble in the realization that we can allow a wayward heart to disconnect us from the work of God and the True Jesus Christ.  This very dynamic will be on display in today’s passage.

A Woman Is Set Free

We see that Jesus was teaching in a synagogue.  We are told the location.  As Jesus taught he saw a woman who had an obvious physical condition.  We will talk about that more in a minute.  However, I must state that Jesus knows both the obvious conditions and the conditions that are not obvious; those ones that remain oblivious to others.  You need to see that Jesus knows your true condition, he has compassion for you, and he has the answer.

Now the condition of the woman is one in which she was bent over in half and could not straighten her back.  It sounds somewhat different than scoliosis, but some debilitating disease had racked her body into a painful shape for the past 18 years.  Just pause for a moment and imagine this happening to you and lasting for 18 years. 

We are also told that the underlying cause to this condition is a “spirit of infirmity.”  Now this is an interesting statement.  First, it clearly points out spiritual activity as the source or cause of the problem.  It is easy in our modern age to scoff and declare that we know it wasn’t a spirit, but rather a virus of some sort.  However, the Bible does not treat sickness as some evil magic by the spirits.  It is only in some cases that we are told either demonic possession or spiritual activity was at work.  Many other cases do not mention or imply any spiritual activity.  If the God of heaven, who is Spirit, could cause matter to come into being at his command, is it not possible that spirits can affect the physical in one way or another?  This is the revelation of the Bible; some physical things have an underlying spiritual cause.  It is also interesting that it does not say the woman is possessed.  There is no interaction with the “spirit” and neither is there an exorcism.  She is not told after the healing, “Go and sin no more…or something worse may come upon you.”  Is she suffering the same way that Job had suffered?  Yes, demonic possession can manifest itself through physical disease.  But, Job was not possessed.  In his case we are told that Satan caused all the problems, even the physical boils.  So some spiritual activity is not so much about possession as it is about oppression.  I think that is the case with this woman.  For whatever reason, God has allowed a spirit to oppress her for the last 18 years.  Now not all sickness is caused by spirits.  However, regardless of the cause, believers are instructed to do the same thing.  We are to gather together and pray in faith for healing; even to the point of calling together the elders of the church and praying over one another.

Here we see that Jesus calls this woman out of the crowd in order to set her free from this affliction.  I have to think that the woman hoped Jesus could heal her that day and yet we see no evidence that she asked.  Rather, Jesus initiates this moment.  It is a joyous thing to know that we serve a God who is an initiator.  In fact, many fail to recognize that He is waiting for a response from them to what He has done in the person of Jesus Christ and the wave of disciples that have come from him.  No matter your need Jesus sees your situation and he has taken the initiative to provide for your healing.  He can set you free physically, emotionally, relationally, and most important spiritually.  Like this woman, we can become bound up by things that we need to be free from; both seen and unseen.  God desires freedom for you.  He did not create you to be bound up by such things.  2 Corinthians 3:17 states, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.”

Jesus touches the woman and says, “You are loosed.”  Her immediate ability to straighten up requires a bit of meditation.  This is huge.  Eighteen years of pain and suffering came to an end in an instant at the Word and Touch of Jesus.  This leads the woman to glorify God.  He is the proper object of our rejoicing.  Too much glorifying of man is going on among the body of Christ.  If God uses someone to help you in one way or another, give Him the glory.  Yes, we can give thanks to a person.  However, we can fall into idolatry when we give to a person what we really should give to God alone.  No man can heal in and of themselves.  They can only trust God and become a channel of His power and grace.  Our tendency to glorify the person is not good and leads to all manner of evil.

An Objection Is Made

In verse 14 we see that the ruler of the synagogue does not like what he is seeing.  It is ironic here that the straightening of a woman who was literally bent, leads to the ruler becoming bent out of shape metaphorically.  He becomes indignant over this situation.  You can tell a lot about a person by what they get angry over.  However, it would behoove us to pay attention to what makes us get mad.  Often we get mad about things we shouldn’t and sit complacently by near things we should be mad at.  When you get mad over little things, or over things that are actually good, it is a red flag that you need to recognize.  Otherwise, our anger will go unchecked and lead us into sin.

The objection he makes is that she is being healed on a Sabbath day in which there was not supposed to be any work done.  His argument is that healing is work.  Now this is a rather flimsy argument.  People could still breathe, speak, and touch one another on the Sabbath.  However, because a woman is able to stand straight at the word and touch of Jesus, it suddenly becomes “work.”  This is clearly a very strained interpretation of what the Old Testament required for the Sabbath observance.  In fact, if we were to call healing work, we might ask ourselves, “Who is really doing the work?”  Healing is the work of God by His Spirit.  Since He created the Sabbath, He is the one who defines “work” and what it is not.  Even then, God is not a slave to the Sabbath.  He is able to do what He wants on a day of rest that he made for humans.  Notice his argument.  There are 6 other days on which you can come and be healed.  So don’t come on the Sabbath.  It seems incredulous that this is his argument in light of the shocking healing that occurred—as if healing were actually happening on those other 6 days.  It is sad that instead of being amazed at the wonder of God’s miracle, he is stretching himself out to make an objection.  When our heart is not right we often “stretch” to make ludicrous objections to God and whomever He is working through.

We might also notice the passive-aggressive style the man employs.  Instead of rebuking Jesus, he stands up and rebukes the crowd.  This underhanded way of slamming Jesus without facing Him is not of God.  The passive-aggressive person has developed a bad habit of trying to make others feel like they are the problem.  They will throw a fit over things that are innocent or irrelevant simply because it isn’t how they wanted it to be.  But Jesus knew exactly how to deal with such a man; he takes him head on and unmasks his sin.

The Answer of Jesus To The Objection

How many years had such leaders ruled over the people of God without a rebuke from Him?  Throughout the Old Testament we are told that God had been faithful to send prophets to rebuke leaders and false prophets.  This would relieve the oppression that godly people would feel underneath of ungodly leaders.  Yet, until John the Baptist, Israel had gone 400 years without a prophet from God to publically check such leaders.  As difficult as it may be in such times, we need to learn to trust God and His seasons.  He works with groups and even individuals in seasons.  Today was a day of freedom for this synagogue.  Whether for spiritual things or for the material things of this world, God can be trust to deal with all things in His time.  Though I may suffer, I can suffer in a way that brings glory and honor to him.  Then I will be ready to participate in the day when he turns my sorrow into joy.  Another thing to remember is that it is important for us to be praying for His intervention.  This is part of growing to understand our need for God’s pure and yet merciful judgment. 

Jesus gives the decision of God against the leadership of this man.  He had probably made similar bully statements over the years.  And yet, this day, God rebukes him.  Jesus tells the man that he is a hypocrite.  He and those leaders throughout Israel who thought like him were steeped in hypocrisy.  Please remember that objections to what Jesus has done are generally masking hypocrisy in the heart of the objector.  Their rejection of Jesus, both his Words and his Deeds, come from a life of pretense.  We will either repent of our tendency towards pretense, or we will press on and reject Christ.  This man was a part of the people who had said they would follow the God of Moses and do everything that He commanded.  This man would say so, and yet here he rejects the very God who he pledged to follow.  How does this happen?  Is it possible today to reject what Jesus is doing all in the name of standing for Jesus?  How many leaders today are teaching people to ignore God’s Word and elevating a modern system of theology over the top of the Truth of God?  How many “Christians” will be led to make objections to True Christianity because they have been following a pretend Christ (or pretending to follow the true Christ)?  God will not let us remain so forever.  He will eventually bring the polarizing truth of His judgment.  In that day we will make our last choice of whose side we will be on; his or our own.

Jesus goes on to flesh out the man’s hypocrisy.  He points to the reality that animals needed to be and were watered on the Sabbath.  If it is permissible to break the Sabbath in order to minister to the physical needs of an animal, how much more is it permissible to minister to the needs of this woman who has been in need for 18 years?  More than that Jesus refers to her as a “daughter of Abraham.”  She is a believer and has a place in the promise of Abraham, but her brother objects to her being set free?  Now it is interesting today that many people have the same heart.  They have more compassion for an animal being killed than for a human baby being ripped out of the womb.  How insensitive have we become to the gross degree to which our ethical decisions display our hypocrisy?  May we wake up before it is too late and repent of such ways of thinking and return to the ways of God.

Now Jesus makes another point.  The way that he words the phrase in the original language emphasizes that the Sabbath is exactly the day on which she should be set free, and not on the others.  It is the most proper time.  This woman, who has had no rest from her suffering, while others around her were able to enjoy the Rest of God, needs rest.  Who will give it to her?  This life has a certain weariness to it.  It is a place of work and toil in the midst of difficulty and suffering.  Yet, in the midst of it, God wants to give us rest.  In some ways our life is a metaphor for these things.  Each day our bodies rest at night in order to be refreshed for the next day.  And yet, eventually we all come to the day of death in which our bodies rest forever.  Yet, this speaks to an eternal refreshing that God has for us.  Similarly, God refreshes us throughout this life in our spiritual walk.  Though we be weary we can find rest and refreshment in Him.  However, it is in the Resurrection and the Age to come that we will find our ultimate rest and refreshment. 

Let us hold fast to these things in faith.  Let us not grow weary in doing the good work that God has given us to do.  Let us not be bullied by the objections and commands of those who are hypocritical.  Rather, let us follow Jesus.  It is He who is making all things new.  The crowd that day was divided into those who were indignant at Jesus and those who rejoiced.  God is doing a good work today.  Many in this world are indignant at it.  But we can rejoice with Him in all that He is doing.  Those who are indignant will be put to shame, but those who rejoice will enter into His rest and be completely restored and healed.  The Truth of God will be made evident in That Day and the logic of those who stand against God will be clearly exposed and judged.  How respond to Christ and His work reveals much about our heart.


Loosed audio


Saving Sinners

Today we will pick up in Luke 5:27-32.  Here we see Jesus calling someone to be his disciple who was the opposite of the 4 fishermen we saw him call earlier.  Levi we find out later was also called Matthew and he was a tax collector who, no doubt, had paid a social price to be so.  He was considered a traitor and not welcome in the synagogue.  Yet, he was also well to do because of this profession.

Let’s look at how Jesus came to Matthew and what happened after that.

Sinners Need To Follow Jesus

Verse 27 says that Jesus came to Matthew at the Tax Office and said, “Follow me.”  These words are used elsewhere to call disciples.  But in Luke 5 the similarity is shown in how they responded to the call.  In verse 11, the fishermen “forsook all and followed him.”  Here it says that Levi (Matthew) “left all, rose up, and followed Him.  In both cases an emphasis is placed on the things left behind.

Now, following Jesus is a theme throughout the Gospels and, if you have ears to hear, throughout the whole Bible. He is the Way of the Lord, the Highway of Holiness, and the Narrow Way.  Only by following Him and His path will we find God and salvation.  Yet, to say, “yes” to Jesus and His direction is to also say, “no” to our current path and destination.  Levi was getting rich off the backs of his fellow citizens in a time of occupation.  This destination would only lead to judgment before God.

To follow Jesus is to allow Him to be your teacher.  A teacher should not only download information.  He essentially duplicates himself into the student.  The call to follow is the call to come and learn of Jesus about life; how to live it and for what purpose to live it.  It is important for us to stop and ask, “What is it that I need to learn?”  Am I learning from Jesus and following the path that He has laid out?

Jesus also became the master or Lord to those who followed Him.  He was obviously not a tyrannical despot who wanted to control their every thought and action.  But he did teach them about how to think and act in this world.  He gave them (us) commands and expected them to be followed.  Peter recognizes this lordship of Jesus when he said, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”  This recognition that Peter had much to learn and Jesus was not just a teacher but one who had authority to give him a command is essential for us to recognize.  Do I have such a heart before Jesus?  When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, do we say these same words with Peter?  “Master, this man has sinned against me all day; nevertheless at Your word I will forgive him.”  This is something that we may be resistant to in a day where slavery and being a master are frowned upon.  But let me challenge you.  You are obeying someone, whether it is a boss, government, and even yourself.  You have all kinds of masters.  Why not trade them all in for a master who truly cares for you and whose every command is for your good?

Levi gave up his job and followed Jesus.  Now following Jesus is essential for all who want to be his disciple.  But obviously only a few had the privilege to do so in flesh and blood.  Today, to follow Jesus is to read His word and do what it says; to let the struggle of that experience teach us about life and our purpose. Most Christians, who have ever lived, including the first century, did so within their previous profession and geographical area.  However, the key is that Jesus becomes our greatest Wisdom, Truth, and Leader.  Nothing should come between us and him.

Sinners Need To Be Led To Jesus

In verses 29-30 we see that Matthew throws a feast for Jesus (the Messiah) and invites all his friends, of whom many were tax collectors.  Matthew clearly wants to celebrate the reality of who Jesus is and share that with his friends.  Not think about this for a minute.  I highly doubt that any of these tax collectors and sinners were chasing Jesus around the deserted places of Galilee.  Sinners don’t generally hang out in the right places.  I’m sure that they had many feasts together and celebrated their wealth.  But today Jesus will be there.  These guys had made a choice that had not only excluded them from religious fellowship, but had most likely killed any desire to do seek inclusion.  Those who have embraced sin and its lifestyle become passively and actively insulated from Jesus and the Gospel.  It is imperative for believers to find ways to build bridges into the lives of the lost.  Here Matthew throws a feast.  Who would turn that down?  It doesn’t say whether Jesus preached or healed anyone.  But, if there was any hope for them, they needed to get in the same place where Jesus was.  Finding ways to give Jesus a “hearing” in people’s lives doesn’t have to be complicated.  In simple ways we can connect Jesus to the normal things of life.  Do some people abuse this concept?  It has been said that some cults would use “free sex” in order to get  people to want to be a part of the group.  This extreme example shows that we shouldn’t do just anything.  However, neither should we do precious little.  We could judge Matthew and Jesus just like the Pharisees did because it doesn’t look very spiritual.  However, these people are not spiritual at all.  We can’t sit in a synagogue that doesn’t allow certain types to enter and expect the lost to try to get in.  We must go out into their lives and lead them to Jesus.  They need to hear what He is saying rather than what we are saying.  Today we put all manner of things in the mouth of Jesus that He never said and never would.  Perverting, and twisting the words of Jesus are not what people need.  A re-imagined Jesus with a re-imagined teaching will only bring people to empty imaginations.  We must lead people to the real Jesus, not a Jesus we have fashioned into our own image.

Sinners Need Healed

Jesus answers the false piety of the Pharisees by essentially agreeing with their facts.  Yes, these men are tax collectors and sinners.  To the Pharisees the obvious conclusion was to stay away from them.  But Jesus points out that if they are sinners and spiritually sick, then they need to be healed.  How can a person be healed if a physician does not come to them?  At its heart sin is a sickness in need of healing.  Like a person with a broken bone, we may be able to get along in life.  But if that broken bone isn’t set correctly then we will be affected by it and so will others around us.

Let’s look at this sickness some more.  In Isaiah 1:5-6 it says, “Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more.  The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints.
From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment.” Isaiah is clearly using the image of a wounded body full of infection for the sins and spiritual condition of Israel.  There are times when we can see this with our own eyes.  Anyone who has struggled with an alcoholic or anyone with an addiction will recognize that there is some kind of sickness at its core.  That is why it is tempting to say, “Alcoholism is a disease.”  It isn’t a physical disease.  There is no alcohol virus that we can make an anti-virus to combat.  But it is a moral sickness.  Sin is not just a choice.  It has effects that hook into our flesh and are not easily removed.  In that sense the sinner chooses the sin, but then becomes a victim to it.  They need healed and even when they get it and wish to be healed they often are impotent.  Jesus is a healer, both in body and mind.  Why would he cut himself off from the very people who need healed?

This was a feast to the sinners.  But to Jesus it was a hospital.  Matthew had invited all his wounded and sick friends to come and meet the only one who could truly heal them.  The only difference is that in this case sinners too often want healed of everything but what they need healed.  Thus Jesus tells us what needs healed and we have a choice to make.  Will I walk away still sick because I don’t want “that” to be healed?

The nature of repentance is that it opens the door to healing.  We must turn from the hideous nature of sin and turn towards the only one that can heal us.  Most sinners are fascinated with their sin.  In hearing the words of Jesus we must choose between that fascination or Him.  Have I truly had a moment in which my fascination with sin has been broken?  Not that you can’t be tempted any more.  But have you fallen out of love with your sin?  This is a critical question.  Repentance involves despising our sin and desiring Jesus.

America has become a nation fascinated with sin.  We are fascinated with sexual immorality.  We are fascinated with death.  We are fascinated with the occult and demonic powers.  We are fascinated with wealth, power, greed, technological progress…  The list of our sins doesn’t end because the lusts of our hearts know no ends.  God help us to see the sickness that has riddled our society to the point that we too are like Israel was in Isaiah’s days.  Simply, it will take a miracle for our country to turn around and be healed again.  However, God is able to do the impossible.  Let us do our part in this country.

Saving Sinners mp3


The Power of Jesus

We have been looking at the True Jesus by walking through the gospel according to Luke.  Today we will specifically deal with Luke 4:31-44.  Now Luke has just finished sharing an event in the hometown of Jesus where he is received at first but then quickly it turns into a riot where they try to throw Him off of a cliff.  Tragically this incident becomes a metaphor for the rest of His life.  People often receive Him at first only to reject Him when they see they can’t manipulate Him.

In this section Jesus goes down to Capernaum and because this isn’t His hometown they are more open to receive His teaching.  This opens the door for amazing demonstrations of the power that Jesus has.  This section begins with Jesus teaching in the Synagogue of Capernaum on the Sabbath.  The fact that He is teaching is important but I am going to come back to that at the end of this sermon.

Jesus Has Power Over Demons

In verses 33-36, a man who is in the synagogue that day begins to manifest that a demon possesses him.  Jesus is in the middle of teaching and at some point the demon cannot continue to hide its presence.  The Bible does not explain the origin of demons, but several things are made clear about them.  First of all they are spirits that can afflict or possess people.  They need some form of permission to do this and so feed upon false religions and occult practices to act as “honey pots,” as it were.  We do not know how this man came to be possessed by a demon, but there are two adjectives that are used of demons.  They are evil and unclean spirits.  By this is revealed that their moral intentions are not for good.  Demons are bad no matter what power or knowledge they promise or give.  They cannot be trusted.  Also, demons are unclean.  This metaphor means that those who enter into business with demons risk themselves being “stained” by their moral filth.  The demonic spirits are as unclean as the Holy Spirit is pure.

However, these spirits obviously fear Jesus.  As Jesus teaches the spirit breaks out and speaks through the man.  “Did you come to destroy us?  We know you are the Holy One of God.”  Later Jesus runs into some other demon possessed people in verse 41 who declare that they know he is the Christ the Son of God.  These evil spirits know who Jesus is and because they know who he is they fear him.  Why?  Jesus has the power to remove them from this earth and put them in the spirit prison called The Abyss or Bottomless Pit.

Now Luke points out that once these evil spirits manifested, Jesus would not let them speak and told them to leave the person.  These demons had to obey and would leave.  However, they don’t want to leave.  Thus it says that the demon through the man down in the middle of the group but didn’t hurt him.  Clearly its intention was to hurt him, but the power of Jesus held it in check and made it leave.  Jesus didn’t let them speak because nothing a demon says can be trusted.  And, even if they do say something true, they are manipulating it to their own ends.  Do not become enamored with any secret information you think you can get from speaking to spirits.  If you are using occult practices to contact spirits you are being manipulated by evil spirits and will quickly come under their evil control.

Now Jesus has both Power and Authority over demons.  Though the words are related they have two very different emphases.  First Power is a reference to ability.  Jesus was able to make the demons leave.  “Greater is He [Jesus] who is in us than he [devil] who is in the world.  These demons are in league with the devil, but Jesus is more powerful than them.  He can force them to obey him.  Yet, Jesus also has authority.  This is a reference not to brute power, but rather to the power of position.  In other words, He has a place of authority that is over all of creation, visible and invisible.  Thus all things must obey him by right of position and by power of His strength.  Now God is not tyrannical with such position and power.  In fact most people wish He were.

For us as Christians, it is important to learn that Jesus delegated His authority to His disciples in order to carry out the commission that he gave us.  He gave them the authority to cast out demons and He has supplied the Holy Spirit in order to give us the power to back that position up.  The disciples of Jesus learned a lesson later when they tried to exercise that authority and the demon wouldn’t leave.  Why not?  It was because they were not walking fully in the power of the Holy Spirit.  We need to learn from the temptations of Jesus how to resist temptation through times of prayer and fasting.  In this we make agreement with the Holy Spirit and He operates more powerfully in our life.  Now we want to be careful with that because God is able to do what He wants without cooperation from us.  However, there are some things that He has determined to do only as men and women believe on Him, and ask Him to do them.  This is the testimony of the church that as men and women of God moved into dark, demonically-controlled countries, the demons fled from them.  In some cases the demons came back later, but that is a different sermon.  Let’s move on.

Jesus Has Power Over Sickness

In verses 38-39 Jesus goes to the house of Peter.  These very specific accounts of certain times, places and people are recorded so that people of Luke’s day can fact check his story.  Here Peter’s mother-in-law is sick with high fever.  Clearly she had a virus of some sort that threatened her life.  Notice that the family request Jesus to help her.  Jesus had healed others at different times and so the plea is only normal.  How important is it for us to be quick to ask and pray for our Lord’s help?  Sometimes we hold back because we think it to unimportant or we doubt it will be done.  But remember that it is the asking who receive.  Those who do not ask will definitely not receive.  But those who ask from a good God at least have the hope that he might answer in the affirmative.

Jesus then rebukes the fever, which may sound odd.  But just as he rebuked the storm on the Sea of Galilee, “Peace be still!”  So, here he rebukes a storm of a different kind.  A fiery storm raging through her body, is told, “Peace, be still!”  The fever not only subsides, but as a double miracle, she feels strong enough to get up and serve them.  Jesus not only stops the virus, but also strengthens her.  It is ludicrous to try and turn this into a self-serving miracle that Jesus does just to get her to serve him.  The more natural aspect of the story is that she is not just grateful to be feeling better, but feels well enough that she does what she enjoys doing, serving others.  After this, the town brings the sick and demon possessed to Jesus and he heals everyone that is brought to him.  On the next day Jesus began to leave.

Jesus Had Power To Teach

Although this passage seems to focus on the miracles of Jesus, notice that it begins and ends with the teaching of Jesus.  In verse 32, the people were astonished at His teaching and in verse 43 He reminds them that He needs to go to other cities and preach the Kingdom of God to them.  Notice that Jesus emphasizes that he needs to go there to teach, rather than do miracles.  The miracles of Jesus were to help people to receive His teaching.  In the end it is His powerful and truthful teaching that is of primary importance.

Now the people were first astonished at the authoritative tone that Jesus used when he taught.  But they were also astonished at the authority in which He challenged the accepted teachings of that day.  Jesus often employed a method of teaching that pointed out an accepted teaching of the day followed with a corrective statement by Jesus.  Here is an example, “You have heard it said love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say unto you love your enemy, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”  False teachings can arise and then become entrenched within the ranks of God's people.  Jesus powerfully pointed these out and corrected them.

Jesus wasn't just explaining how to better keep the Law of Moses.  He was pointing them to the Kingdom of God and how they needed to live to be a part of it.  Don't be mistaken.  God's Kingdom is a real kingdom with real laws and ways of doing things.  Are you a citizen of that Kingdom?  Are you listening to the words of Jesus and incorporating them?  The powerful teaching of Jesus goes beyond the Israelites of the first century A.D.  It powerfully speaks to all those who desire to be a part of God's Kingdom and instructs them in how to be like their Father in Heaven.  Those who do not follow Jesus, by default, cooperate with the world system and serve the purposes of the god of this world.

This is important because many who seem to be good and purport to care often misuse the words of Jesus or minimize it.  A case in point is the modern teaching that God is the Father of all people and we are all brothers.  They may use Jesus to back this up through cherry-picked verses and explaining away those that contradict it.  Or, they may simply state that the specifics of what Jesus taught are not important.  The importance is that He understood the Universal Fatherhood of God.  This latter method does not come to Jesus for specifics but only for "big picture" principles.  But even these end up contradicting His own words.  Jesus did not teach the universal fatherhood of God.  He specifically taught that some even in the leadership of God's people are children of the devil and have sold out to his worldly system.  Jesus taught that only those who believed in Him enough to take up their cross and follow Him would be given the right to become the children of God.  Yes, we are all here because of the creative power of God, but that doesn't make us his children.  If you want to be a child of God then you need to have a spiritual birth, to be born from above, to be born again.  The teaching of Jesus is of primary importance even down to its specifics because it is the very light of God given to dispel our darkness.

Power of Jesus Audio