MIRACLE SIGN – LAMB IN A MANGER

Lk.2:11,12 – For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough!

I love this verse in the Passion Translation, “You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough!”. The birth of Christ in an animal’s feeding trough is called a miracle sign. When you think of miracle signs you think of things like raising someone from the dead, or calming a storm, or maybe walking on water. Those are obviously major miracle signs but this infant birth in a manger has to be the biggest sign of all. The Creator of planets and solar systems, galaxies and black holes, and gazelles and amoebas took on the body of a baby human and was born in a feeding trough for farm animals. Absolutely mind boggling!!! Here are some comments on this verse from the Passion Notes.

“He entered the world as a lowly baby, and though he is the mighty God, he lived his life on earth in gentleness before all. The shepherds that night were possibly near Bethlehem at Migdal Eder, “the [watch] tower of the flock.” This would fulfill both the prophecies of Mic. 5:2 and Mic. 4:8, which say, “to you it [he] will come, your dominion [kingdom] from old will arrive.” It was at the lower floor of the watchtower (Migdal Eder) that the birthing of the Passover lambs would take place…. After the birth of the lambs, the priestly shepherds would wrap the lambs in cloth and lay them in a manger lined with soft hay to prevent them from hurting themselves…. The miracle sign for these priestly shepherds would be a baby boy lying where the Passover lamb should be—in a manger, wrapped in strips of cloth. It was at the cradle of Jesus Christ that the kingdom from ancient times arrived on earth.”

So He came to this earth and was born among temple sheep. These sheep’s very existence, as sacrificial lambs, had been calling for Him for hundreds of years. He is the lamb of God. His miracle birth in a manger was prophetic, speaking of His sacrificial death.

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.

“OPEN THE FISH’S MOUTH”

MERRY WEDNESDAY -by Parris Bailey

“But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” Matt. 17:27

I read the other day from an author that said the fish probably swallowed the coin because fish go for “shiny objects” and God would have foreseen this and he doesn’t commit forgery. (?) This is almost fun to play out. Someone was walking by the lake and either used a coin to watch it skip along the water, or maybe he went swimming and forgot about the coin in his pocket and it fell out. Then at some point this particular fish saw the shiny object and swallowed it and of all the fish in that lake, Peter went fishing, caught it and opened that fish’s mouth. To me that is more of a miracle and actually is fun to see how God works all things out for his glory!

I also love the pictorial image of Peter opening the fish’s mouth. The fish had a message and Peter was aiming to find it. The shiny object was given up and paid to Ceaser.

To others this miracle speaks of divine resources given to the sons of God. Wherever we go in life the Ceasers of this world want their payment but “lest we offend them” God has hidden resources in the mysterious places. We can count on the unlimited supply of resources God gives us because he gives to all men liberally. You will never lack the more you tap into your sonship, your inheritance and who you are in Christ.

Who knows Peter may have hated paying taxes and buckled under the Roman rule in his fishing business. And here is Jesus showing him that all is always provided. Just like the lilies always stayed clothed and the birds always are provided for.

The Bible says, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Gal. 4:4–7)

So its “really not that serious” in life. Coins are in fish’s mouths, axes swim, water comes out from the rock, rainbows whisper promises and meals get multiplied. God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts so that we truly may live abundant peaceful happy blissful lives.

MEN LIKE TREES WALKING

Mk.8:23-25 – So Jesus led him, as his sighted guide, outside the village. He placed his saliva on the man’s eyes and covered them with his hands. Then he asked him, “Now do you see anything?”

“Yes,” he said. “My sight is coming back! I’m beginning to see people, but they look like trees—walking trees.”

Jesus put his hands over the man’s eyes a second time and made him look up. The man opened his eyes wide and he could see everything perfectly. His eyesight was completely restored!

The miracles of Jesus are all so unique and carry the power and authenticity of the gospel. This healing of this particular blind man is different from all the others. If we look closely, we can see the beauty of God’s work in this powerful physical healing. Jesus had used His saliva before on ears, eyes, and even a tongue. The difference in this miracle is in the way this man’s sight was restored. At first he saw a blur that appeared like walking trees. After another touch from the Lord his sight was perfectly restored. Matthew Henry describes this miracle like this.

“Thus Christ would show how, and in what method, those are healed by his grace, who by nature are spiritually blind; at first, their knowledge is confused, they see men as trees walking; but, like the light of the morning, it shines more and more to the perfect day, and then they see all things clearly. Let us enquire then, if we see aught of those things which faith is the substance and evidence of; and if through grace we see any thing of them, we may hope that we shall see yet more and more, for Jesus Christ will perfect for ever those that are sanctified.”

I love Henry’s description of the work of Christ. Just as this man began to be gradually bathed in the natural light of the sun, after the touch of Christ our eyes are opened and the light of His grace began to bring clarity into our darkened world. The light of the glory of God heals our spiritual vision bit by bit so we are no longer walking in darkness. At first, we may see those around us like trees walking. After that second touch we begin to see our world differently through the light of His grace.

FOUR GREAT MIRACLES

Luke Chapter 8 contains four great miracles performed by the Lord. He displays His power over nature when He stilled a storm, authority over demons by freeing the tormented man in Gadara, His ability to heal those who are desperately sick when He healed the woman with the hemorrhage in her body, and His authority over death itself. Check out these four miracles.

I. POWER OVER NATURE

LK.8:24,25 – So the disciples woke Jesus up and said, “Master, Master, we’re sinking! Don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

With great authority Jesus rebuked the howling wind and surging waves, and instantly they stopped and became as smooth as glass. Then Jesus said to them, “Why are you fearful? Have you lost your faith in me?”

Shocked and shaken, they said with amazement to one another, “Who is this man who has authority over winds and waves that they obey him?”

II. POWER OVER DEMONS

LK.8:34-36 – Then the people of the region came out to see for themselves what had happened. When they came to where Jesus was, they discovered the notorious madman totally set free. He was clothed, speaking intelligently, and sitting at the feet of Jesus. They were shocked! Then eyewitnesses to the miracle reported all that they had seen and how the demonized man was completely delivered from his torment. After hearing about such amazing power, the townspeople became frightened.

III. POWER OVER DISEASE

Lk.8:47,48 – When the woman realized she couldn’t hide any longer, she came and fell trembling at Jesus’ feet. Before the entire crowd she declared, “I was desperate to touch you, Jesus, for I knew if I could just touch even the fringe of your robe I would be healed.”

Jesus responded, “Beloved daughter, your faith in me has released your healing. You may go with my peace.”

IV. POWER OVER DEATH

Lk.8:54-56 – Jesus approached the body, took the girl by her hand, and called out with a loud voice, “My sleeping child, awake! Rise up!” Instantly her spirit returned to her body and she stood up.

What kind of a miracle do you need today? He rules everything from tornadoes and earthquakes to heart problems and cancer. He knows the challenges you are facing and He is more than able to drive back every enemy and to bring life to your soul as well as your body.

THE TALK OF THE TOWN

Lk.7:16 – 17 – A tremendous sense of holy mystery swept over the crowd as they witnessed this miracle of resurrection. They shouted praises to God, saying, “God himself has visited us to bless his people! A great prophet has appeared among us!” The news of Jesus and this miracle raced throughout Judea and the entire surrounding region.

You really can’t keep good news like this quiet. Think about it; without television, newspapers, radio, social media, or iPhones the whole region heard about this boy in Nain who was raised from the dead. After all, we are still talking about him 2000 years later. When the Lord visits a city the word gets out. The Lord had decided to go to Nain that day. Did He go on a whim? Was this just a random stop? I don’t think so. This widow and her son had an appointment that day, they just weren’t aware of it. People seldom are. The woman at the well in Samaria was caught by surprise at her well. Paul was surprised on the Damascus Road. Peter also was caught off guard by the unplanned fishing trip with the Lord that changed everything. What do all of these stories have in common? They are all part of God’s plan to change the world. Here is how Johann Spangenberg sees it.

“And this talk of him spread forth throughout the whole land of Judah and to all the surrounding areas. You see, those are the fruits of the wonders and work of God, for where God’s Word, wonders and works are joined with a true believing heart, there Christ will be rightly known. And where he is recognized, there pure thanks, praise and glory will follow. Then all people must say: “Well, God did not visit us in wrath but in grace. He has given us a great prophet—but no, not a prophet, but rather his own dear Son for our Savior, who will save us from the devil, death and hell. Why should we not rightly thank such a Savior, and for his sake suffer everything gladly? Where is another who has shown himself to be so friendly and charitable to us, yes, who has done us so much good, as this Savior Christ?”

So when He shows up in your world don’t think its just a coincidence, it is a guarantee that the Lord has something special in store for you and everyone in your world.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL OF ALL STORIES

Lk.7:11-14 – Shortly afterward, Jesus left on a journey for the village of Nain, with a massive crowd of people following him, along with his disciples. As he approached the village, he met a multitude of people in a funeral procession, who were mourning as they carried the body of a young man to the cemetery. The boy was his mother’s only son and she was a widow. When the Lord saw the grieving mother, his heart broke for her. With great tenderness he said to her, “Please don’t cry.” Then he stepped up to the coffin and touched it. When the pallbearers came to a halt, Jesus said to the corpse, “Young man, I say to you, arise and live!”

This has to be my favorite story in the Bible. Of all the miracles of Jesus this one displays God’s love for forgotten people. Let’s face it, all of us have felt picked over and left out from time to time. It could be the drama of always being the last picked for sports, or being rejected by the school you wanted to get in, or even the feeling of being second best or unloved in your family. Living in Nain may have made you feel that way. Nain was an out of the way insignificant town. This lady had never had it easy. First her husband and now her only son. Rejection, depression, fear, and anger; she was overcome with those hopeless feelings of finality that death brings. All of that suddenly changed when Jesus came to Nain. Why would Jesus come to Nain? He does nothing by accident, He came to Nain because of that poor widow’s pain. Here is how Barclay describes this moment.

“In many ways this is the loveliest story in all the gospels. It tells of the pathos and the poignancy of human life. The funeral procession would be headed by the band of professional mourners with their flutes and their cymbals, uttering in a kind of frenzy their shrill cries of grief. There is all the ageless sorrow of the world in the austere and simple sentence, “He was his mother’s only son and she was a widow.” Jesus was moved to the depths of his heart. There is no stronger word in the Greek language for sympathy and again and again in the gospel story it is used of Jesus.”

Jesus was moved deeply with compassion for this woman, He was hurting with her. Maybe today is your day; maybe, just maybe Jesus is coming into your world right now. When He visits your city all the dead things come alive and your days of sorrow will be finished.

HE LOOKED UP TO HEAVEN

Mk.7:34 – Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”

I wonder what Jesus saw when He looked into heaven. Did He have feint memories of the glory He had experienced with His Father in eternity past? How much did He realize of what man had lost from the fall and the consequences we bore physically as well as spiritually? He saw the struggle of this man who couldn’t hear or speak and as He looked into heaven He groaned. I wonder if Jesus is groaning for me today? I wonder if He sees what I lost and is interceding that I would come into the fullness of my inheritance. Here are some thoughts from the Pulpit New Testament about this passage.

“He looked up to heaven, because from thence come all good things — words for the dumb, hearing for the deaf, healing for all infirmities; and thus he would teach the infirm man by a manifest sign to what quarter he was to look for the true source of his cure. he sighed; literally, he groaned. Why did our Lord sigh at such a moment? We know indeed that he was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;” but now we might almost have expected a momentary smile of loving joy when he was about to give back to this afflicted man the use of these valuable instruments of thought and action. But he sighed even then; for he was touched with the feeling of human infirmity, and no doubt his comprehensive eye would take in the vast amount of misery, both bodily and spiritual, which has come upon the world through sin; and this, too, immediately after having looked up to heaven, and thought of the realm of bliss which for a time he had left “for us men, and for our salvation.”

Jesus is actually seated in heaven today praying for each one of us. He is still in His human body, still remembers the pain of humanity, and is praying for us as He is moved by the struggles that we all face. Just as He took this suffering man aside and ministered to Him personally, He will take time for you. He remembers you and is more involved in the details of your life than you know. He is close enough to breath His spittle on you like the man in the story. He is able to make you completely whole.

HE HAS DONE ALL THINGS WELL

Mk.7:37 – And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

This phrase immediately brings us back to the Lord’s intent in creation; He does all things well. Sickness, death, and poverty were never intended to be part of the equation. Everything God created was good, until… Until what? Until man went out on his own. Like Satan, man thought he could do it on his own. He felt entirely capability of launching out on his own. That didn’t last very long and didn’t turn out so well. Sickness, death, and poverty became part of our experience. Life was filled with hard times. The worst consequence of all; we were all alone, out of fellowship with God. We were left to our own devices and managed to mess up pretty much everything we touched. When Jesus came on the scene He began to heal the sick. His life and ministry became a foretaste of His coming kingdom when sin, sickness, and death would be done away forever. Notice the comments the onlookers made when this deaf-mute was healed. Here is how Barclay described it.

“The whole story shows us most vividly that Jesus did not consider the man merely a case; he considered him as an individual the man had a special need and a special problem, and with the most tender considerateness Jesus dealt with him in a way that spared his feelings and in a way that he could understand.

When it was completed the people declared that he had done all things well. That is none other than the verdict of God upon his own creation in the very beginning (Genesis 1:31). When Jesus came, bringing healing to men’s bodies and salvation to their souls, he had begun the work of creation all over again. In the beginning everything had been good; man’s sin had spoiled it all; and now Jesus was bringing back the beauty of God to the world which man’s sin had rendered ugly.”

I love the personal nature of this healing miracle. The deaf man was not a nameless face in a crowd, he was an individual and Jesus treated him as such. He took him out to a private place and healed this man. Disease was defeated and the Lord was continuing His practice of doing all things well.

LITTLE DEAD BOY

Lk 7:14 – Then he stepped up to the coffin and touched it. When the pallbearers came to a halt, Jesus said to the corpse, “Young man, I say to you, arise and live!”

I love to read about the miracles of Jesus. This miracle stands out to me as much as any of them, this was an insignificant town and an insignificant widow. That’s exactly the point, this is all of our stories; insignificant people who are loved by God. This boy and his mom are pictures of all of us, dead in our sins without any chance of fixing ourselves. How did this situation get turned around? Jesus came to town and put His hand on this boy’s casket. When Jesus comes on the scene everything has to change. Death cannot stand before the power and love of this life giver. Eyes are opened, paralytics get up, lepers are cleansed, deaf ears are opened, dead come alive, the gospel comes to the poor, and those without hope begin to hope again. Here is how Martin Luther describes this event.

“This is not a sermon for the satisfied crowd, but it is delightful for the small and insignificant. The widow, whose only, beloved son has died, is set forth as an example for them. By this woman, the Gospel teaches us what we poor folks need to know: our Lord is a Lord of wretched, forsaken, dead and corrupt people. That is the content and text of the gospel. Paul also said, “Because the world in its wisdom does not recognize God, he turns everything around and becomes a God of foolishness and fools.” Those who are well satisfied do not wish to have him for a God, but instead they trample him underfoot and do not notice him, as Moses said. Therefore it has pleased God to turn everything around and to be a God of those who are not full and satisfied but are rather poor and thin, those who suffer hunger, thirst and distress, who are imprisoned and who die.”

So what category describes you today? Deaf, blind, paralyzed, stained with sin, poor, dead in your sins, or just plain giving up; it makes no difference, Jesus is more than enough for a every circumstance. Today He happens to be coming to your town and putting His hand on your casket. One touch is all it takes, that’s when everything begins to change. epped up to the coffin and touched it. When the pallbearers came to a halt, Jesus said to the corpse, “Young man, I say to you, arise and live!”

I love to read about the miracles of Jesus. This miracle stands out to me as much as any of them, this was an insignificant town and an insignificant widow. That’s exactly the point, this is all of our stories; insignificant people who are loved by God. This boy and his mom are pictures of all of us, dead in our sins without any chance of fixing ourselves. How did this situation get turned around? Jesus came to town and put His hand on this boy’s casket. When Jesus comes on the scene everything has to change. Death cannot stand before the power and love of this life giver. Eyes are opened, paralytics get up, lepers are cleansed, deaf ears are opened, dead come alive, the gospel comes to the poor, and those without hope begin to hope again. Here is how Martin Luther describes this event.

“This is not a sermon for the satisfied crowd, but it is delightful for the small and insignificant. The widow, whose only, beloved son has died, is set forth as an example for them. By this woman, the Gospel teaches us what we poor folks need to know: our Lord is a Lord of wretched, forsaken, dead and corrupt people. That is the content and text of the gospel. Paul also said, “Because the world in its wisdom does not recognize God, he turns everything around and becomes a God of foolishness and fools.” Those who are well satisfied do not wish to have him for a God, but instead they trample him underfoot and do not notice him, as Moses said. Therefore it has pleased God to turn everything around and to be a God of those who are not full and satisfied but are rather poor and thin, those who suffer hunger, thirst and distress, who are imprisoned and who die.”

So what category describes you today? Deaf, blind, paralyzed, stained with sin, poor, dead in your sins, or just plain giving up; it makes no difference, Jesus is more than enough for a every circumstance. Today He happens to be coming to your town and putting His hand on your casket. One touch is all it takes, that’s when everything begins to change.