Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Proof Of The Pudding

THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING

Calling the Twelve to Him, He began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. These were His instructions: ‘Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them (Mark 6: 7-13).

It was time for the acid test. Twelve men had spent enough time with their rabbi to have a feeling for who He was and what He was about. It was time for them to put into action the lessons they had learned. If they were to continue the mission of Jesus when He was no longer with them, they had to show Him that they could do it, that His confidence in them was not misplaced and that they had enough confidence in both Him and themselves to replicate Him wherever they went.

He sent them out in pairs so that they would have each other for encouragement and support. Jesus was not interested in “lone rangers”. They needed each other and He paired them up so that they would learn to live together as one. Imagine! Who did He put with whom? Peter – the motor mouth? John – the hothead? Thomas – the dubious one? Judas – the schemer? O yes, they needed each other alright – because they had many rough edges to knock off.

Why did Jesus tell them to travel light? I think it was a test for both preachers and listeners. The Jews were part of the Middle Eastern tradition to be hospitable. There was no ”guest house” industry in Israel. Travellers relied on the hospitality of the people as they moved through the country. The attitude of the inhabitants would determine their attitude to the message. If they received the disciples with generosity it would be a sign that they were open to their message, and to one whom they represented.

The disciples were not to be picky about their hosts. They were to accept the hospitality of those who received them gladly and not to go off looking for more comfortable accommodation or better cuisine. It was a case of give and take. Where they were welcome they were to stay as long as they were in that town.

Why should they travel light – no suitcase of clothing and no ready cash in their money belts? This was also to be a faith journey for them. They were to learn to trust their heavenly Father to meet their needs as they went out proclaiming the kingdom. Again it was to be give and take. As they obeyed the Master, so He would ensure that their everyday needs were met.

What if the people of the town or village rejected them? Jesus’ instruction sounded like He was telling them to thumb their noses at them. That’s probably how we would react, but that was not Jesus. When a rabbi was training His disciples to walk with him, they did not walk in a bunch around him. They walked in an orderly line, one behind the other. The rabbi wore sandals with flaps on them which kicked up dust as he walked. The one closest to the rabbi, who led them, was privileged to have the dust of his rabbi on his cloak and feet.

As representatives of their rabbi, the disciples would have their rabbi’s dust – His disposition – on them as they went from place to place. If they were not welcomed in the town, they were to shake the dust off their feet – not cursing the people, but leaving behind their rabbi’s blessing as they went on their way. Isn’t that neat! Isn’t that just like Jesus! The very dust of the rabbi’s blessing would testify against them because of their unbelief.

The disciples must have been ecstatic, disease and demons giving was to the authority Jesus had given them. Getting rid of the Romans had nothing on that! Even Judas was in on the deal. We will never know what was in Judas’ heart that led him to betray his Master after an experience like that.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or kindle version or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Check out my Blog site – www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com

 

 

The Cost Of Unbelief!

THE COST OF UNBELIEF!

Jesus left there and went to His hometown, accompanied by His disciples. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were amazed. ‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that’s been given to Him? What are these remarkable miracles He is performing? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t His sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at Him.  

Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay His hands on He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village (Mark. 6: 1-6).   

Two things amazed Jesus – great faith and no faith! Two remarkable miracles had just happened. Jairus’ daughter had been raised from the dead, and the woman with chronic bleed had been healed. Surely the news had got around. They didn’t need Facebook to publish what had happened!

Then Jesus went to Nazareth! Their homeboy had come home. Come Sabbath and He was in His place in the synagogue as usual. How many times had He been in that place as a child and a young boy growing up among them? It was nice to have Him home, but then they began to chat among themselves. ‘We know this guy,’ they muttered. ‘What’s it with Him? We know His parents. His brothers and sisters are right here in Nazareth. Who does He think He is? Where does He get all this stuff He’s telling us?’

They were non-plussed. Nothing about Jesus made sense to them. They could not shake Him loose from His small-town origins – so they thought. How could He be so different from the rest of His family? They were just ordinary folks like the rest of the people in the village, but this Jesus? They could not figure Him out. He was saying things and making claims by insinuation that were just too much for them to swallow.

How would you have reacted to a man who grew up in front of you, goes off for a while and then comes back, teaches in the synagogue like a professor and says things that, by implication, claim that He is God! Wouldn’t you think He was crazy? Wouldn’t you want to lock Him up before He did something really dangerous?

We would, except for one thing. The things they were puzzled about – His teaching, His wisdom, His remarkable miracles – were the very evidence that He was very different from the ordinary people in Nazareth. They judged Him and dismissed Him by His family; His mother was Mary, a local girl; His brothers and sisters all lived among them and they didn’t speak or act like He did. So He must be crazy!

They were faced with a decision – just as every other person who met Him was faced with a decision. They either believed what He said and did and accepted the evidence that He was the Son of God, or they ignored the evidence and wrote Him off, just as the people of Nazareth did.

Jesus spent time with His disciples – three and half years, to be exact – painstakingly teaching them and showing them, incident by incident, miracle by miracle and explanation by explanation, who He was. Their reaction, in the beginning, was like the reaction of His own people – amazement, puzzlement, and even fear. But slowly their truth began to dawn on them. He was no ordinary man. He was a man alright. They lived in such intimate connection with Him that they could not help but realise that He was human, but at the same time, He was much more than a man. What other man, even the most godly prophet in their history, came anywhere near Him in His really knew God. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” declared Peter, their spokesman.

If only His own townsfolk had properly read the evidence and made an honest judgement instead of taking offence! They missed a never-to-be-repeated opportunity. No faith, no miracles, no change of heart, no new life.

What about you? Who do you say Jesus is? Faced with the evidence, you have to make a decision.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or kindle version or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Check out my Blog site – www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com

 

 

The Messianic Mystery

THE MESSIANIC MYSTERY

After He put them all out, He took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with Him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up.”).

Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat (Mark 5: 40-43).

When we read this story from a western, non-Hebraic perspective, there are details which make no sense. I have already mentioned, in yesterday’s post, the reason for Jesus making a fuss about who touched Him. Apart from His need to reassure the woman with the chronic bleeding that she was indeed a daughter of Abraham and to commend her for her faith which was the vehicle of her healing, there was a practical reason for drawing attention to the presence of an “unclean” woman. He did not want to embarrass or rebuke her, but to alert the crowd that she had touched Him.

He had to gain access to the dead child but, as a rabbi He was forbidden entry into the room of a dead person. If He were already “unclean” as they thought, the mourners would not have stopped Him.

As a Jewish man, Jesus would have had the obligatory tassels (tsitsit) on the bottom of His garment. God had instructed His people to sew tassels on the corners (kanaph) of their outer garment to remind them of who He was and of His instructions (Torah) on how to live. Later on, the tassels were sewn onto the corners of a prayer shawl, called a talith, which was pulled over the head when a Jewish man prayed. The corners of the talith, the kanaph, were also knows as the wings. When the high priest blessed the people with the Aaronic blessing,

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace (Num. 6:24-26),

he would wind the tassels around his fingers and  lift up the corners – the kanaph – of his talith as though his talith were wings which he spread out over the people, symbolising God’s protecting “wings” over them.

Malachi prophesied that Messiah would come with healing in His kanaph – in the corners of His talith.

But for you who revere my name, the sun (the word “sun” can be better translated as “servant”) of righteousness will arise with healing in its rays (better – “His wings (kanaph)) (Mal. 4: 2).

Are you beginning to get the picture?

When Jesus stood beside the dead child, His symbolic action would have had meaning for Jairus because he was the synagogue ruler, a man educated in the Old Testament Scriptures. What did Jesus probably do? Is it possible that He wound the tassels of His prayer shawl around His fingers and lifted up the corners, spreading His “wings” over the little girl? He would have been acting out the prophecy of Mal. 4:2 before the eyes of the astonished parents and disciples.

Then He spoke to the child, saying, ‘Talith ha koum.’  The translation of the Aramaic, according to Mark was “Little girl, I say to you, ‘Get up.’” Is it possible that Jesus actually said, “The Messiah is here (implicit in the word talith). Little girl, get up’”? Jesus was doing exactly what Malachi said He would do. He would come with healing in His kanaph. Jairus would have understood the symbolism and what Jesus was implying by His action and so would Jesus’ disciples.

It’s no wonder they were all astonished. The miracle was surprising enough, but even more surprising that it was done by the one promised through the prophetic word centuries before. He was actually there, in the room, talking to them – the long-awaited Messiah!

It was imperative that the witnesses to the raising of the child and the way it was done, did not talk about it. Why? Jesus was adamant that people came to faith in Him through their own conclusions based on the evidence and not on the hearsay of others. Theologians call this “the Messianic secret”. He did not want them advertising Him so that He could win a popularity contest. He wanted them to believe in Him because they were convinced that He was the Messiah.

Did you notice that the woman also touched the tsitsit of His talith? She knew the secret!

Brilliant again!

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or kindle version or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Check out my Blog site – www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com

 

 

 

An Agonising Interruption

AN AGONISING INTERRUPTION

So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around Him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak. Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she had been freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ ‘You see the people crowding against you,’ His disciples answered, and yet you ask, “Who touched me?”’ But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.

Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at His feet and, trembling with fear, told Him the whole truth. He said to her, ’Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’ (Mark 5: 24-34).

An intriguing story – two stories in tandem. There are some amazing similarities and contrasts in these two healings. One character, Jairus – an important man, a synagogue ruler – had a name. The other – an unknown woman with an embarrassing condition – was nameless. Jairus’s child was twelve years old. The woman had suffered her condition for twelve years, as long as the little girl had been on earth. Both conditions would have made Jesus, the rabbi, unclean had He touched them. Both produced miracles with equal ease.

Did you notice how He treated an important man and an unimportant woman with equal compassion and equal dignity? Jairus must have been angry and on tenterhooks while Jesus dealt with the woman. Hadn’t he got in first? Wasn’t his need far more urgent than hers? Why couldn’t she wait? In any case, what right had she, who was “unclean”, to come pushing in through the crowd? Now she had made everyone whom she touched unclean as well, including the Teacher. What a mess she had created by her appearance!

The woman, on the other hand, was terrified. She thought she could just creep in, touch Jesus and melt into the crowd, and no one would know what had happened. But Jesus didn’t do things that way. The moment He felt the power go from Him, He stopped everything. Why didn’t He just let her go and not embarrass her by calling attention to her presence? Ah, but Jesus was Jesus. Her little story fitted into a much bigger one.

He usually cautioned people who had been healed not to talk about it. Now He was making a fuss about who touched Him. Why was He so inconsistent? He had a reason. Jesus always had a reason. He was on His way to the house of Jaius where a dead child lay. It was forbidden for a rabbi to enter a room where there was death. What if the crowd, which He made aware that an “unclean” woman had touched Him, thought that He was unclean? There would have been no problem for Him to enter the room of the dead child then since He was unclean anyway.

He had a second reason for calling her to own up that she had touched Him. For twelve years she had been an outcast of society, shunned by everyone, confined to her house, perhaps even abandoned by her husband and children. After all, they did not want to live with an “unclean” person and be perpetually unclean as well. No matter what she tried, nothing helped her condition. She was trapped in a loveless situation until she was full of self-loathing.

Did you notice how Jesus called her “Daughter”? To Him she was not an unclean and shunned woman – the lowest of the low; she was God’s beloved daughter. He must have known who had touched Him but He wanted her to have the reassurance that, not only was her body healed but her heart as well. She was fully accepted as a member of God’s covenant family.

If the people thought that Jesus was already unclean, no one would have tried to stop Him from entering the room of the dead child. Hence the woman’s condition and Jesus’ insistence that she own up, paved the way for Him to raise the little girl from the dead without interference. Brilliant, don’t you think?

By the way, Jesus made a point of touching many unclean people but He never became unclean Himself because He always made the unclean clean! That’s how it was with Jesus! Brilliant again!

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or kindle version or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Check out my Blog site – www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

Dead And Alive

DEAD AND ALIVE

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around Him while He was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at His feet. He pleaded earnestly with Him, ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her and she will be healed and live.’ (Mark 5: 21-23).

Jairus – who was he? One of the synagogue rulers, according to Mark. He was an important man in the community, one of the religious ones. What was his attitude towards Jesus? Was he like the other religious leaders – knew all the answers and had no room in his thinking for what Jesus brought? He, no doubt, taught the children who came to school at the synagogue. He drilled them in the ABC of the Torah. Was he as arrogant as the rest, rejecting Jesus and His compassion in favour of obeying rules?

Something happened to change everything. His only child, a twelve-year-old girl became deathly sick. All his religion and his scruples went out the window. He had no answer for this crisis, but he had seen and heard the effects of Jesus’ presence in the village. People he knew who had chronic conditions and were not permitted in the synagogue, arrived on the Sabbath, healed, whole and beaming with joy.

Jesus! His name rippled around the community and He happened to be in town! Jairus just had to get to Him before his daughter died. He rushed after the crowd, pushed his way through the jostling mob and fell at Jesus’ feet, breathless, sobbing and pleading for a hearing. In spite of the noise and the turmoil around Him, Jesus bent down to listen.

Then something happened – an interruption that sent Jairus into an agony of impatience . . .

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher any more?’ overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’ He did not let anyone follow Him except Peter, James and John, the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly (Mark 5: 35-38).

The interruption delayed Jesus. Jairus was in an agony of impatience. If He didn’t get to his house immediately it would be too late. “Come on, Jesus. Hurry up! Don’t you realise this is urgent?” Then he saw the contingent from his home and he knew. She was dead. His heart broke. He was shattered. Too late!

Jesus heard the news but seemed unperturbed. With a quiet word of encouragement, “Don’t be afraid, Jairus. Just trust me,” He followed the people to Jairus’ home. What a carry-on met Him there. Wailing and crying enough to wake the dead!

He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.’ But they laughed at Him. (Mark, 5: 39).

That was a sudden change of mood. Crying because the child was dead and then laughing at Jesus because they thought He didn’t know what He was talking about. Professional mourners – that’s what they were – hired to weep and wail when someone died. Jesus was irritated with them. What was the point of all the noise? It would not bring the dead back to life. Perhaps it was their way of “sitting shiva” – mourning with the bereaved parents.

After He put them all out, He took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with Him, and went to where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up).

Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave them strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat (Mark 5: 40b-43).

Why the secrecy? How were they to keep quiet about what happened when their dead child appeared at the door? Everyone would demand to know how this miracle happened. What were they supposed to say/ “No, she wasn’t dead, only asleep or in a come!” Who would believe them?

There are some interesting intricacies to this story which I shall explain tomorrow.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

 

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or kindle version or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

 

Check out my new blogsite at www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com