WALKING – LEAPING – AND PRAISING GOD

Acts 3:7-10 – Peter held out his right hand to the crippled man. As he pulled the man to his feet, suddenly power surged into his crippled feet and ankles. The man jumped up, stood there for a moment stunned, and then began to walk around! As he went into the temple courts with Peter and John, he leapt for joy and shouted praises to God.

When all the people saw him jumping up and down and heard him glorifying God, they realized it was the crippled beggar they had passed by in front of the Beautiful Gate. Astonishment swept over the crowd, for they were amazed over what had happened to him.

The Bible literally pulsates with the power of signs and wonders. From the first moments in the upper room with the tongues of fire to the miracle services that were held daily in the temple courts, in those early days Jerusalem was ablaze with miracles. If you think about it what else could you expect? From those first days with Jesus healing lepers, paralytics, and the blind – what else could you expect? The same amazing miracle power that was working through Jesus was now on the apostles. In today’s story Peter and John were going about their daily routine, they were headed to morning prayer at the temple. A man who had been at this location for many years grabbed their attention. Before you knew it he was walking, and leaping, and praising God. That should be the expected norm in church; signs, wonders, miracles and of course – walking, leaping and praising God. Here are some comments from the Passion Notes on today’s story.

“the gate called Wonderful in Aramaic. It is difficult to ascertain which of the many gates of the temple this might have been, and there is varying speculation with no certain conclusion. However, this Beautiful Gate points to Jesus Christ, who is the gate or entrance into the sheepfold of God. Furthermore, it hints of Ezekiel’s temple, which has a river flowing out from the threshold through the gateway of the temple. This river was first measured to be ankle deep. This man, lame in his ankles, was healed by the spiritual “river” that flowed out the “Beautiful Gate” of Christ. The gateway opened up and the river poured out of Peter and John, bringing healing to the lame.”

Have you been to the wonderful gate lately. I hear that Jesus is there like always- you too will be walking, leaping, and praising God.

EYES OPENED BY LOVE

Matt.20:34 – Jesus was deeply moved with compassion toward them. So he touched their eyes, and instantly they could see! Jesus said to them, “Your faith has healed you.” And all the people praised God because of this miracle. And the two men became his followers from that day onward.

The humanity of Christ is shocking to me. The Creator became one of us. How is that even possible? Why did He stoop so low and enter His creation? The answer is clearly seen in this passage, He “was deeply moved with compassion”. He saw us groping in darkness, helplessly and hopelessly trying to find our way. He became one of us because of our blindness. One of the frequent miracles in the ministry of Jesus was healing blind eyes. Like everything the Lord does, the physical miracle was just pointing to even greater miracles. It was pointing to the blindness of our souls and the reason Jesus became a man. We were all born with that horrible spiritual blindness until the day His love flooded our whole being with light and we too became followers of this One who loves us into the light of His new day. Here is how Spurgeon described this miracle.

“He touched their eyes. What hands were those which undertook such lowly fellowship with human flesh, and wrought such deeds of power! Immediately their eyes received sight. Only a touch and light entered….Oh, that the reader, if he be spiritually blind, may ask for the touch of Jesus, and receive it at once, for immediately he will receive sight! An inward light will in an instant shine forth upon the soul, and the spiritual world will become apparent to the enlightened mind….If the reader fears that he, too, is spiritually blind, let him cry unto the Lord at this very instant, and he will see what he shall see, and he will for ever bless the hand which gave sight to the eyes of his soul.”

The only way a blind person knows he is blind is because others tell them of this amazing gift of sight that they enjoy. How can you tell if you are spiritually blinded? Listen carefully to what others are saying about the Lord, their story of the beauty of Christ may show you there is a beautiful world of light that you are missing.

HEALING LOVE

Matt.14:14 – So when Jesus landed he had a huge crowd waiting for him. Seeing so many people, his heart was deeply moved with compassion toward them, so he healed all the sick who were in the crowd.

This phrase, moved with compassion, is often used in the gospels when referring to Christ observing and ministering to hurting people. The phrase means to be moved in your inner organs. In other words, it is the strongest possible description of feeling the pain someone else was going through. Jesus felt the pain of human suffering in the depths of His being. As a man Jesus understood what suffering felt like. He became one of us in order to effectively help us. In this instance the Lord is moved with compassion for those who were physically sick in the crowd. The word sick in this passage is quite descriptive. It is the Greek word arrostos. It means weak, sick, invalid, or having a lingering ailment: really sick and worn out. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this scene.

“The sight of a great multitude may justly move compassion. To see a great multitude, and to think how many precious, immortal souls here are, the greatest part of which, we have reason to fear, are neglected and ready to perish, would grieve one to the heart. None like Christ for pity to souls; his compassions fails not. He did not only pity them, but he helped them; many of them were sick, and he, in compassion to them, healed them; for he came into the world to be the great Healer. After awhile, they were all hungry, and he, in compassion to them, fed them.”

His compassion could not stay bottled up, it was released in a flood of healing. The power of God flowing through the Lord is the anointing which is the love of God which heals the sick.

But what about today? Maybe you or someone you know is suffering today. Maybe you can identify with the people in the crowd that day. Maybe you are weak, sick, invalid, or have a lingering ailment. The good news is this; Jesus is still a man. Today, He sits at the Father’s right hand as our Heavenly High Priest. He is touched deeply by the feeling of your sickness and suffering. His compassion cannot stay bottled up. Look to Him for healing. Before you know it you too will be wrapped in His healing arms of love.

Jesus the Healer

Mk.6:53-56 – They made landfall at Gennesaret and anchored there. The moment they got out of the boat, everyone recognized that it was Jesus, the healer! So they ran throughout the region, telling the people, “Bring all the sick—even those too sick to walk and bring them on mats!” Wherever he went, in the countryside, villages, or towns, they placed the sick on mats in the streets or in public places and begged him, saying, “Just let us touch the tassel of your prayer shawl!” And all who touched him were instantly healed!

It’s far too easy to read a passage like this and just gloss over it. If you stop and really take notice some amazing things will jump out at you. First, Luke uses the phrase “those too sick to walk”. Being a medical doctor Luke’s words about healing carry a special weight about them. What kind of ailments could Luke be describing? Maybe some were crippled or paralyzed. Some may have been maimed, missing limbs. Others had diseases in their last stages. Could have been things like malaria, dysentery, or cholera that brought people to the place of total hopelessness. These sick folk had no hope until Hope Himself came to their region. The other phrase that caught my attention is that they brought them on mats. Can you imagine the scene? There were people carrying sick family or friends for miles to receive their healing touch. The sick and injured were placed on both sides of the street and would touch the tassel of His prayer shawl as many as had touched it were healed. Albert Barnes made an interesting comment speaking about the woman with the flow of blood touched Him. Check this out.

“Her faith, her strong confidence in Jesus, had been the means of her restoration. It was the power of Jesus that cured her; but that power would not have been exerted but in connexion with faith. So in the salvation of a sinner. No one is saved who does not believe; but faith is the instrument, and not the power, that saves.”

So faith becomes the vehicle that the power of God flows through. Jesus exercised faith as He ministered healing, the friends portrayed faith as they carried their sick friends to the Lord, and the sick released faith when they reached out to touch the Lord. So whether we are in need of healing or are longing to see others healed, the answer is always the same, get as close to Jesus as you can reach out and touch Him.

THE LIFTING OF THE BOWED DOWN

MERRY FRIDAY BY PARRIS-

“When all you can see is dark”

“And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” Luke 13:11

Some say Luke’s allusions to the story of the healing of the “daughter of Abraham” comes into the larger paradigm of the warfare between the seed of the woman and the seed of the Serpent. I would say this has played out throughout history.

But lets step into this scene in the synagogue, a place that is supposed to be safe and welcome for anyone. This woman unseen by so many, came bent together. . . . unable to unbend says Ellicott. Even Spurgeon goes into detail saying, “that she had lost all her natural brightness. They are perpetually bowed down, and though they recollect happier days the memory only serves to deepen their present gloom.” This poor woman was bowed towards herself and towards that which was depressing. She seemed to grow downwards; her life was stooping; she bent lower and lower, as the weight of years pressed upon her. Her looks were all earthward, nothing heavenly, nothing bright could come before her eyes; her views were narrowed to the dust, and to the grave.

This woman like so many of us was bound by Satan according to Jesus. We become tied up as if we were animals unable to see or feel love. What I love about this story is that Jesus was fully aware of her rights as being a daughter of Abraham. She being unable to even use her eyes to look up, nor her voice to ask, Jesus went to her to unloose her like he does with us today.

Spurgeon goes onto to say again, “I conceive that the Lord poured His life into her.” While the Pharisees mocked Jesus for healing on the sabbath. Jesus replied back, “ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham be loosed?” He also rebuked the pharisee because they took more care of their animals than this women.

All it takes is just one touch! Christ touches the woman and she becomes loosed, her back straightened and she got back her voice glorifying God. You too are a child of the father, who loves you and someone or should I say something has bound you up. Don’t let the “spirit” of this world keep you tied up. We can be loosed, we can raise the weary hands, lift the muted voice and declare to the world that our God lives!

WITHERED HAND HEALED

Mk.3:5 – Then looking around at everyone, Jesus was moved with indignation and grieved by the hardness of their hearts and said to the man, “Now stretch out your hand!” As he stretched out his hand, it was instantly healed!

The poor man in this story probably felt helpless, hopeless, and possibly a little cornered. He couldn’t hold down his old job (tradition says he was a plasterer) which always leads to other problems. Bills, strife, which leads to tension in the marriage and family, and all he got at the synagogue was a load of rules and obligations. Certainly this guy had heard of the miracles that Jesus was performing but there seemed to be tension in the air as the leaders of the synagogue were glaring at Jesus as if they were daring Him to do something. Jesus pressed through the resistance and brought total healing to this man. What a great example of how the love of God breaks through the barriers that preconceived religious ideas can build up. This man got a brand new life. Here are some interesting thoughts from the Passion Notes on this passage.

“This miracle is found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It contains valuable lessons for us today, for the hand symbolizes holding, giving, receiving, doing. It was his right hand (Luke 6:6), which brings the added significance of power (i.e., God’s right hand, Ex. 15:6), pleasure (Ps. 16:11), approval (Heb. 1:13), and righteousness (Ps. 48:10). A crippled right hand points to the lack of all these things. Human beings are helpless before God, crippled in all our works. But the power of Jesus heals our limitations and brokenness. Religion cannot heal us, but Jesus can.”

This man’s withered hand was a picture of how religion without power hinders and even binds us up. The healing brought freedom and the ability to operate again. He could hold his wife and children again, he could work and support his family again. Now that he was whole he could receive the reward and fruit of his labors. He could also begin to be a contributing member of his community. I wouldn’t be surprised if this plasterer by trade became one of the supporters of this carpenter from Nazareth.

When we see the end of this story we can begin to understand the anger that Jesus had. These men who where apparently serving God at the synagogue were actually blocking what the Lord wanted to do. If you feel that part of your life is “withered” and void of power its time to come to Jesus and stretch out your hand, just maybe a miracle is coming your way.

OF COURSE I WANT YOU TO BE HEALED

Mk.1:41 – Being deeply moved with tender compassion, Jesus reached out and touched the skin of the leper and told him, “Of course I want you to be healed—so now, be cleansed!”

Most people would take a major step back when they encountered a leper. The response was probably a combination of repulsion at the grossness of the disease and fear of being contaminated, if not physically, certainly spiritually. The Jewish society had zero contact with lepers and zero answers for their dilemma. In one sense leprosy was a long, slow, horrific death sentence. This was all different with Jesus. No foul appearance or odor could offend Him, no threat of contamination or uncleanness could effect Him. When He saw the leper and heard his pitiful cry for help He immediately responded, “Of course I want you to be healed—so now, be cleansed!”

The difference with the Lord was the compassion that was seated deep within His bosom. He was moved and directed by His love for hurting people. That’s why He had come among us in the first place. Without hesitation Jesus broke all of the accepted codes, He reached out and physically touched the leper. Instead of Jesus being contaminated the leper was cleansed. Here is how Mary Healy describes this compassion that empowered and motivated the Lord.

“Seeing the man’s wretched condition, Jesus was, “moved with compassion.” The Greek word means physically churned up or stirred with gut-wrenching emotion. It was deeply human reaction of the Son of God. Jesus never looked upon afflicted people with detachment or indifference, but always with the empathy that comes from knowing the human condition from within. We can imagine the love in his eyes as he replied, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Does he will to make a man whole, to undo the ravages of the fall? This is what he came for!”

Now, are you ready for the best news? The Lord knows what you are going through. He is not disgusted or afraid, but just like He was for the leper He is moved with compassion for you. Maybe you think your sin is so foul that there is no hope for you. That is the whole point of this story. No matter how dirty you feel Jesus has a plan of washing and healing you of your impurities and the ramifications of them. He is willing to heal you; just come to Him and bow down like the leper, Jesus will gladly touch you and raise you up from your affliction.

HE HEALS OUR DISEASES

Matt.8:16,17 – When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,

that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses.”

Everywhere Jesus went while He was on earth He healed the sick. Obviously He hated sickness which is really the first throes of death that effects our mortal bodies. The work of Jesus on the cross will ultimately destroy sickness and disease for all time. In today’s verse Matthew quotes from Isaiah’s famous prophesy about the death of Christ on the cross and connects it to healing for our bodies. In this verse Matthew also connects Isaiah’s prophesy about healing to the healing ministry of Jesus on earth. The good news for us today is that Jesus hasn’t changed. He stills hates sickness and He is still healing the sick. Obviously, in this age we will all get old, wear out, and finally die. In the meantime He is still healing our mortal bodies just like He did when He was here on earth. One day we will see Him and all sickness will be done for all time. In the meantime He is still touching and healing the sick. Here is a quote from the Fire Bible on today’s verses.

“Through the life and sacrifice of his Son, Jesus, God provides freedom, restoration and other benefits that far exceed the pain, destruction and other consequences of humankind’s sin and rebellion against God. For sin, God provides forgiveness; for death, God provides resurrection and eternal life; and for sickness, God provides healing. For this reason, Jesus’ ministry while he was on earth focused on three areas: (a) teaching God’s Word, (b) preaching about the opportunity to turn from our own sinful way, entrust our lives to Christ and follow God’s plan (which deals with the sin problem) and the benefits of God’s kingdom (which restore the life purposes God intended for us) and (c) healing every kind of sickness and disease among the people.”

Directly or indirectly the sinfulness of man is connected to disease. That’s why Matthew said that Jesus carried our sicknesses and bore our infirmities. The same wounds that bring us forgiveness for sin bring healing for our bodies. If you are struggling with sin or sickness just look to the cross. He carried away our sins and by His wounds we are healed.

THE LAND OF THE LIVING

John 5:24 ¶ “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

The miracles of Jesus give us a glimpse into the eternal world. In John 5 Jesus healed a man who had apparently been lame for 38 years. His sickness had caused him to live a life of misery. I guess you could say he lived in the world of death. As Jesus began to share His word after the miracle something becomes amazingly clear, sickness is part of the curse of death on mankind. Jesus came to give us life. The lame man tasted the edge of the resurrection life in his miracle. This life was made very clear when Jesus conquered sickness and death once and for all at His resurrection. All of His followers will experience that resurrection at His coming. In Jesus’ ministry we see glimpses of His Resurrection power. Today, that power is being poured out on all the earth. Here is how Adam Clarke described the implications of this miracle in the words of Jesus.

“Death is the country where every Christ-less soul lives. The man who knows not God lives a dying life, or a living death; but he who believes in the Son of God passes over from the empire of death, to the empire of life. Reader! thou wast born in death: hast thou yet changed the place of thy natural residence? Remember that to live in sin is to live in death; and those who live and die thus shall die eternally.”

When we believe the Words of the Lord we are translated from the world of death into the world of life. We no longer live in the country that was so familiar to us in the past. The life of God has entered into us we and we have joined the land of the living. As you walk in this new life don’t be surprised if miracles and healings follow after you. This is just a confirmation that the new world has already begun. Sickness is only the results of death. Healing is a glimpse into Resurrection life. Today, as you read His word, listen carefully for His voice. His voice brings us into the land of the living.

STEP ON IN

John 5:2-4 – Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.

I love to see the collision of the natural world and the spiritual world. That’s what we see at the Pool of Bethesda. As rumor had it, sporadically an angel would stir the waters by the sheep gate and the first sick person who stepped in after this stirring would be healed. As a result, there was always a crowd of miserable people camped out by the pool. So in order to receive a miracle this way, you had to believe it (or you wouldn’t be there in the first place) and you had to be first in when the waters began to swirl. I’m sure there were many people in those days who didn’t believe in the angel water. Just like today, something is going on at that place on Airline Highway in New Orleans, but many wouldn’t dare be seen in those swirling Pentecostal waters. Nevertheless, the spiritual world is still invading and colliding with the natural world. Only those who believe it, wait on the Lord, and step on in, and are able to receive their miracle. Here is how Matthew Henry described the Pool of Bethesda.

“A miraculous limitation of the virtue as to the persons cured: He that first stepped in had the benefit; that is, he or they that stepped in immediately were cured, not those that lingered and came in afterwards. This teaches us to observe and improve our opportunities, and to look about us, that we slip not a season which may never return. The angel stirred the waters, but left the diseased to themselves to get in. God has put virtue into the scriptures and ordinances, for he would have healed us; but, if we do not make a due improvement of them, it is our own fault, we would not be healed.”

Today, the Spirit of God is being poured out continually, we don’t have to wait on an angel. Jesus is standing by the pool, the gathering of His believers, asking the age old question, “Do you want to be made whole?” If so, just step on in and leave the rest to the Lord.