Tag Archives: healed

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – THEY TOUCHED THE TALITH

THEY TOUCHED THE TALITH

53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed. Mark 6:53-56

How did Jesus manage to keep up a schedule like His? Interrupted by a huge crowd when He was trying to get some “me time”, He put aside His own needs and taught the people all day. After feeding them and sending them away, He prayed all night, and then walked a distance on the water to catch up with His disciples. Then He was met by another crowd clamouring for attention, and many for healing. It seems that He moved around in that area from village to village and town to town, healing and preaching day after day.

There is another reference to His “talith” in this passage. “They begged Him to let them even touch the hem of His coat (the tassels of His talith) and all who touched Him were healed” (Vs 56). What was the significance of this? Malachi 4:2 – “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will with healing in its wings.” Were the people aware of the powerful imagery of Messiah in this prophecy? The tassels on His talith symbolised God’s name, God’s nature, God’s word and God’s presence.

The “kanaph” – the corners of the talith – are translated as wings which held the tassels. To touch the “hem of his garment” implied that their faith rested in everything the tassels represented. Jesus became the channel through which the healing power of God flowed by the power of the Holy Spirit. The faith of each person touching Him opened them up to the healing power of the Spirit flowing through Jesus.

In all this frantic activity around Him, how did He experience rest and replenish His strength? He maintained a constant awareness of the Father’s presence and tapped into God by remaining in the Father. He counsels us to do the same in the midst of demands, busyness, interruptions and responsibilities. To remain in Him keeps us connected to the source of strength and rest. We become channels that are constantly being replenished, not reservoirs that can run dry with no permanent inlet from God.

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – IGNORANCE AND GULLIBILITY

IGNORANCE AND GULLIBILITY

7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him. Mark 3:7-12

Something else flows out of this passage. Although the demons knew who Jesus was, and blurted out the truth in His presence, their avowed intent was to lie, deceive and pervert the truth to as many people as they could, to discredit Him so that people would not believe Him. It is not the testimony of demons that should convince us of Jesus’ identity but the conviction that He is the son of God, based on the evidence.

Because human beings are frail and transient, (Psalm 103) we are vulnerable to demonic influences. If we are not convinced for ourselves who Jesus is, we will fall prey to deception because of our ignorance and gullibility. The people ran after Him from all over Israel and the surrounding territories because of what He could do for them. Everyone wanted a piece of the pie.

John warns (in 1 John 2:15-17), that the world and its concerns are as transient as humans are. If we attach ourselves too closely to the world and what it stands for, we are in danger of being swept away with it when it finally disappears. Our only guarantee of being part of the everlasting realm where God is, is to attach ourselves to Him and to shelter in Him where we cannot be lured away by deception (Psalm 91:1).

How do we do that in practice? By learning to become one (ECHAD) with God in what He desires. The domain where we experience oneness with God is in our thinking which ultimately influences our deciding, choosing and doing. When we begin to think like God, we begin to take shelter in Him and dwell in His protective shadow by faith in the truth.

If we are vulnerable to deception, then we can also be influenced by the truth and, when we believe the truth, our lives are secure in God who is from everlasting to everlasting. Our thoughts of truth bind us to the truth. As long as we think what is true, we are secure in God; we dwell in God and He dwells in us and we are part of His indestructible eternity.

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE – FURIOUS

FURIOUS

“The meeting-place president, furious because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the congregation, “Six days have been defined as work days. Come on one of the six if you want to be healed, but not on the seventh, the Sabbath.'” Luke 13:14,

Strange, isn’t it, how reason, logic and even basic human kindness, leave the brain when a good deed is done that violates a religious scruple! According to this synagogue ruler, Jesus had done work on the Sabbath. First it was the Pharisees and now the synagogue ruler who was infected with the same ‘brain-damaged’ thinking.

On a previous occasion, when Jesus was attacked for healing on the Sabbath, (when in fact He had only spoken a word, and the man with a withered hand had been healed), He challenged their twisted logic by asking, “Which is right, to do good or to do evil on the Sabbath?” To Jesus, doing evil meant doing nothing, when someone was in need, because it was the Sabbath.  He hated it when rules cancelled out mercy.

But there was something far deeper than a religious rule that aroused this man’s anger. There was a fundamental flaw in his character which reflects the whole human race. It rears its ugly head more vehemently in those who are driven by religion rather than a restored relationship with God as Father.

Because God’s essential nature is love, He is lavishly generous to everyone, even to those who refuse to acknowledge Him. “…The Most High…is kind to the ungrateful and wicked…” Luke 6:35 (NIV). This kind of treatment to undeserving people sticks in the throat of those who hate God because it is so contrary to their own nature.

Jesus told a story about a farmer who went to the market place early in the morning to hire labourers. He negotiated their wages with them to which they agreed. During the day he hired more men and finally engaged the last few stragglers an hour before knock-off time. Those who had worked from early morning were furious with him when he paid the latecomers the same wage as they had agreed to received for a day’s labour.

The farmer’s response was, “Are you envious because I am generous?” The farmer’s generosity towards the men who had only worked for one hour brought out the true nature of the other labourers – envy. What is envy? Envy is not interchangeable with jealousy. It is the attitude that wants to destroy the one who, by acting contrary to their nature, shows them up for who they really are. It murders the one who does not bow to their command. It is the worst form of control. “Do what I tell you or die.”

Surprisingly, it was Pilate who accurately diagnosed the true motive of the religious leaders who delivered Jesus to him to be condemned and crucified. “‘Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?’ asked Pilate, knowing that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to them.” Mark 15:10 (NIV).

Envy is a powerfully destructive force that drives religious people to what is contrary to the image of God. It cancels out sane thinking, defies logic and motivates to murder rather than to submit to the truth.

Jesus chose to remain true to His own nature rather than bow to the scruples of religious people because He had come to put His Father’s glory on display. Being true to oneself is a risky business because it incurs a cost when it crosses the demands of religion.

We have to decide what will direct our lives – rigid adherence to rules because that’s what controls our lives, or the flexibility that comes with a heart of mercy. Living God’s way is not about trying to gain His approval but about living out of who we are, sons of God who have the nature of God and are free to live according to His love, mercy and compassion.

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE – YES OR NO?

YES OR NO?

“John’s disciples reported back to him the news of all these events taking place. He sent two of them to the Master to ask the question, ‘Are you the One we’re expecting or are we still waiting?’ The men showed up before Jesus and said, ‘John the Baptist sent us to ask you, “Are you the one we’re expecting or are we still waiting?”‘ 

“In the next two or three hours Jesus healed many from disease, distress and evil spirits. To many of the blind He gave the gift of sight. Then He gave His answer: ‘Go back and tell John what you have just seen and heard: The blind see; the lame walk; lepers are cleansed; the deaf hear; the dead are raised; the wretched of the earth have God’s salvation hospitality extended to them. Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourself fortunate!'” Luke 7:18-23.

Poor John!

He was sitting in a dungeon at King Herod’s good pleasure. Would it not have been reasonable for him to expect Jesus to do something about him? After all, He was family and he, John, had paved the way for Him! And besides, didn’t the Scriptures prophesy that He would set captives free?

What did John expect? Perhaps, at the very least, Jesus could have gone to Herod and put in a good word for him. Day after day he sat in his prison, waiting and hoping for release, only to be disappointed. He began to doubt that Jesus was the Messiah, after all. Perhaps He was a hoax. The longer he sat there, the more the doubts plagued him.

He had to find out. At least he would know whether there was any hope of being rescued before Herod got it into his head to execute him. He couldn’t go himself, so he sent for a few of his disciples to go for him. ‘Master,’ they asked Jesus, ‘John wants to know whether you are really the Messiah, or do we have to keep waiting for someone else to come?’

Jesus gave them no direct answer. All He said was, ‘Watch and listen.’ So they followed Him around, watching and listening. After some hours He asked them, ‘So? What have you just seen and heard? Now go and tell John all about it.’ He gave them a resume’ of the miracles He had done over the last while. ‘Ask him if this is what he was expecting? If it was, then he is truly blessed.’

What was going on here? John’s circumstances were getting to him. No one can blame him. Who can endure incarceration like that and not give in to self-pity. He had preached that the kingdom of God was a realm of generosity and unselfish service but, in his own suffering, he had begun to turn inward. Hoping that Jesus would mount a rescue, he could not understand why nothing had happened. Perhaps he had been mistaken after all.

His disciples returned with an answer he had not quite expected. A straight ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ would have been better. Instead, in typical “Jesus” fashion, He invited John to weigh up the evidence and decide for himself. That was His way of convincing him who He was according to the evidence and the Scriptures.

John was a rabbi and, of course he had memorised the entire Hebrew Scriptures. He would have immediately caught on to what Jesus was saying. ‘John, don’t take my word for it. Take another look at what the Scriptures say about me and then decide for yourself.’ The Messianic fingerprint was clearly visible in the Old Testament prophecies. All John had to do was to match it up with what Jesus was doing.

Whether or not Jesus got him released was irrelevant. Overshadowing Herod was God’s hand and he had to rest in that. His story was being written into God’s bigger story and Jesus was writing the meaning of that story into the lives of sick, maimed and side-lined people. It was up to John to answer his own question.

We all have to decide whether Jesus is the Messiah or not. Weigh up the evidence. Is He? Then follow Him!

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE – EVERYONE EVERYWHERE

EVERYONE EVERYWHERE

“When the sun went down, everyone who had anyone sick with some ailment or other brought them to Him. One by one He placed His hands on them and healed them. Demons left in droves, screaming, ‘Son of God! You’re the Son of God!’ But He shut them up, refusing to let them speak because they knew too much, knew Him to be the Messiah.” Luke 4:40-41.

After the initial excitement of this new prophet who said and did out-of-this-world things, they all settled into a routine. They dutifully waited until after sunset, when the Sabbath was over, before they brought their ailing friends and relatives to Him for a touch and a word.

Don’t you love the “one by one” bit? He didn’t run a mass healing campaign. ‘Everyone who is sick, come to the front. Now pray a healing prayer.’ He touched them, one by one. I can imagine that, in those few moments, when He placed His hand on a fevered brow, a diseased limb, or an aching belly, the word that He spoke was a tender expression of love, of kindness and reassurance. God was there and He was showing His people just how big His heart of compassion was for them.

Deep into the night they came, patiently waiting their turn for the Master’s touch, with a bubble of expectant excitement inside. They knew that tonight, when they put their heads down to sleep, they would be free of aches and pains and fever, and they would wake to a brand new day.

“He left the next day for open country. But the crowds went looking for Him and, when they found Him, clung to Him so He couldn’t go on. He told them, ‘Don’t you realise that there are yet other villages where I have to tell the Message of God’s kingdom, that this is the work God sent me to do?’ Meanwhile He continued preaching in the meeting places of Galilee.” Luke 4:42-44.

A strange way to respond to a successful healing campaign, wasn’t it? At the height of success and popularity, He goes missing! Leaves town! Escapes into the country! Was Jesus suffering from “burn out”? Already? His ministry had only just started and He couldn’t take the pace?

Far from it! He knew that His commission was far bigger than a local Capernaum success campaign. He had a message to deliver and work to do that extended over the entire nation, not just to a little pocket of people in Capernaum. Excited and happy as they were and bagging Him to stay, He had to leave them and move on because others needed His message and His ministry.

So what was He actually doing? If He was not running a healing campaign, what was His purpose? Did He come to tell them that, if they accepted Him as Lord and Saviour, they would go to heaven when they died? Was that the sole purpose for His coming? The way the gospel is presented from many pulpits today, that might be what we think He came to do – to die on the cross so that we can go to heaven! Really!

Jesus was always about God’s kingdom. For too long the “liar” and “usurper” had held sway over the people and they were living with the result – emotional pain, physical distress, social and political upheaval. That was not God’s way. Jesus came to show and tell the real story about God’s rule. Get back under His rule, follow His way and things will be very different.

There was one major obstacle to becoming a part of His restoration plan – sin – the big barrier between God and man. But Jesus came to deal with that as well so that there would be nothing to stop people from returning to the Father and coming back under His rule – right in the heart of enemy territory.

But everyone needed to know, not just Nazareth – and they didn’t want to know – and Capernaum – and they couldn’t get enough. Everyone, everywhere, so they could choose.  You, too.