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.

SPIRITUAL BOND -KOINONEA

Acts 2:42-45 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

When we first started our church in 1979 I found myself stuck on this passage for today’s devotion. I was mesmerized by the supernatural community that formed after that initial outpouring on the day of Pentecost. It amazed me that people from all the different countries mentioned in this chapter as being effected by the Pentecostal outpouring were able to become such a close knit spiritual family so quickly. It wasn’t the nation they were from or their age or even their gender, even their Jewishness did not come into play. The bond of love that they shared is seen in this passage. If I had to boil it down to one word I would say it was the word fellowship. In the Greek New Testament it says koinenea. Koinenea is at the heart of the true union found in a truly spiritual congregation. This union is not based on being poor or rich, young or old, or even black or white. Let’s look at this word koinenea and discover the secret of the early church. This is how Dick Mills describes this word.

“fellowship, koinōnia: Sharing, unity, close association, partnership, participation, a society, a communion, a fellowship, contributory help, the brotherhood. Koinōnia is a unity brought about by the Holy Spirit. In koinonia the individual shares in common an intimate bond of fellowship with the rest of the Christian society. Koinōnia cements the believers to the Lord Jesus and to each other.”

This union that is at the very heart of the New Testament community is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our love for the Lord birthed in us by our conversion is what we share in common. The fruit of this is called fellowship. We love the same things now; things like the Bible, worship, sharing our faith, and the preaching of the Word of God. Our former relationships were shaped around natural or cultural things. Our fellowship was controlled by the things we loved then; things like certain types of music and alcoholic beverages. Often times our relationships came out of interests such as fishing, motorcycles, cars, or and endless list of other interests. Today all of that has changed. We have been born again, we have been captured by the love of God. Our love for Him is what produces this incredible koinenea in our community.

STAY IN YOUR LANE

2 Cor.6:14-16 – Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they shall be my people.”

Driving in New Orleans comes with its challenges. One of my favorites is what happens when you turn your blinker on to change lanes. Inevitably, someone will take the turn signal as a sign to speed up and block you or even better, swerve from behind you into the other lane and pass you. Thinking about this phenomenon caused me to fixate on the saying “stay in your lane”. If you wonder what this has to do with today’s verse, hold on, I’m about to tell you. The word we want to focus on out of this verse is yoked. This is a very powerful word with powerful implications about walking in the flow of the Christian community. Here is how Adam Clarke describes it.

“This is a military term: keep in your own ranks; do not leave the Christian community to join in that of the heathens. The verb yoked (heterozygeo) signifies to leave one’s own rank, place, or order, and go into another; and here it must signify not only that they should not associate with the Gentiles in their idolatrous feasts, but that they should not apostatize from Christianity; and the questions which follow show that there was a sort of fellowship that some of the Christians had formed with the heathens which was both wicked and absurd, and if not speedily checked would infallibly lead to final apostasy.”

What Paul and Adam Clarke are warning us about is not to become involved with the secular community. In other words don’t break rank with the body of Christ by becoming yoked or too familiar with worldly people. This admonition includes marriages, partnerships, and many other relationships that are not healthy for us and do not benefit or advance God’s kingdom. In other words, stay in the Lord’s lane for your life, you will be much more productive and much happier in the long run.

PARTAKERS OF HIS SPIRIT

2 Cor.13:14 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

This verse describes the very essence of our spiritual life. There is a oneness or communion shared by the members of the trinity. God is one revealed in three distinct persons sharing a supernatural communion. This is the union we were called into and the oneness Jesus was praying for in John 17. When we are born again we become sharers of His Spirit. This is the source of our union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is also the basis of our union with the body of Christ. We share more than a common doctrine or philosophy, we are sharers together of life. We are joint partakers of the very life of God who is the Holy Spirit. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on today’s verse.

“By the Communion of the Holy Ghost nothing else is to be understood but a common partaking of the Holy Ghost. Christians have the communion of the Holy Ghost that is they are partakers together with Christ and one with another of the same spirit. Christ has the spirit without measure and believers are partakers of his Spirit they have of his fullness – so they are partakers one with another of the same Spirit as the apostle expresses it in 1Cor.12:13 they all drink into one Spirit and that is meant by their having Communion of the Holy Ghost and that is to be understood that the Communion of the Holy Ghost in that blessing of the apostles in 2 Cor.13:14 which we use in dismissing our public assemblies . We wish that Christians may have the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that they may be partakers of the Holy Ghost.”

Edwards made reference to 1 Cor.12:13 – “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit”. It is in consistently drinking of His Spirit that we begin to experience the benefit of this fellowship we have been called into. This is how we participate in the fellowship, this is how we experience the oneness with the Lord and His church. Drinking together is the enjoyment of our Christian life. I can’t wait for Sunday!!!

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!

KANYE – SIGN OF THINGS TO COME

Matt:21:31,32 – Jesus said, “You’re right. For many sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes are going into God’s kingdom realm ahead of you! John came to show you the path of goodness and righteousness, yet the despised and outcasts believed in him, but you did not. When you saw them turn, you neither repented of your ways nor believed his words.”

Kanye West has got church people talking, everyone has their opinion. I guess everyone is shocked to see Kanye accept the message of Christ and repentance. Who would have thought? It’s quite shocking to see who accepts the gospel and those who don’t. That was one of the shocking things about the ministry of John the Baptist and of Jesus. The folks who were practicing religion, the Pharisees and Sadducees, were unimpressed with the ministry of Jesus and had no intention of following the Lord. Actually His ministry was quite inconvenient. On the other hand the prostitutes, the publicans, tax collectors, and all sorts of common sinners were passionately following the Lord. The church folks were disgusted with the likes of Mary Magdalene, Simon the Zealot, and Matthew the tax collector but these were part of His inner circle who followed Him with their lives and ultimately changed the world. Like Jesus said, “people’s hearts burn with extreme passion to press in and receive it (the kingdom of God)”.

Today, not much has changed. Church people like the status quo. Of course they want more folks but don’t rock the boat with riffraff, just give them the “quality people”. The problem is Jesus has always liked to rock the boat. Uneducated fishermen, prostitutes, tax gatherers, and a cursing Pharisee were His primary vessels. He sits in the heavens and laughs as He orchestrates His plans to change the world.

What made me start thinking about all this was Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, not exactly the pair you would have picked to represent your church last year. Kanye claims to be born again and has renounced his old lifestyle. What if his salvation is legit? This reminds me of the summer of 1973 and the movie JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. The church world was irate and even picketed some theaters, I was getting saved and beginning my gospel journey. Maybe the Lord is calling in His tax collectors, publicans, and sinners once again. Maybe Kanye is just another sign of how Jesus loves to rock the boat.

KANYE FACTOR

Lk. 13:20,21 – Jesus taught them another parable: “How can I describe God’s kingdom realm? Let me give you this illustration: It is like something as small as yeast that a woman kneads into a large amount of dough. It works unseen until it permeates the entire batch and rises high.

Since everyone else is throwing in their two cents worth I thought I might as well join in at my own peril. For the old timers I want to remind you of another very public conversion of a very public influential figure by the name of Bob Dylan. All of us Christians were so excited when someone of his influence came to Christ. For those that are too young to remember, Dylan had a huge influence on society through his music. His anti-war message was espoused by an entire generation. His conversion was quite public. He recorded two overtly Christian albums; SLOW TRAIN COMING, and SAVED. Here is where the problem came in, new Christians are often compromised when they are thrown into the public and commercialized. That’s what happened to Dylan. Seeing Christian leaders use and manipulate his celebrity for their own benefit stumbled him. Today I am not sure he still considers himself a Christian. As far as Kanye is concerned just let him be. Let him just be a young Christian. More than that puts his faith in a precarious position. The testimony of Kanye can be very powerful, it can be like the yeast in today’s verse. Here is how the notes in the Passion Bible explain this.

“The meaning of this parable is that something small can impact and penetrate something great. It is the pervading influence of virtue and truth that is highlighted here. A transformation takes place when the hidden yet pervasive kingdom impacts every part of culture and society around us.”

I personally believe Kanye’s testimony is valid. Hopefully Christians will not try to manipulate him or his story. The testimony of conversion from the life he lived can stand on its own. Being delivered from the hedonistic lifestyle and culture Kanye West helped to build is enormous and is sending shock waves through society. Here are some words from Dylan after his conversion, this is for all of us, even Kanye.

Might be a Rock-n-roll addict

Prancing on the stage

Money, Drugs at your command

Women in a cage

You may be a businessman

Or some high degree thief

They may call you doctor

Or they may call you chief

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Yes you are, you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Well it may be the Devil

Or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

PASS ME THE SALT

Lk. 14:34,35 – Salt is good for seasoning. But if salt were to lose its flavor, how could it ever be restored? It will never be useful again, not even fit for the soil or the manure pile! If you have ears opened by the Spirit, then hear the meaning of what I have said and apply it to yourselves.”

This is one of those Bible verses that is easily misunderstood or or wrongly interpreted. Like all of the teachings of Jesus, they are quite simple with huge ramifications. He is comparing our lives to salt that isn’t salty, useless. This is what the Passion Notes say.

“Followers of Jesus who are unwilling to pay the price of discipleship are like worthless salt, unable to affect anything or anyone.”

Living for Christ and turning away from a carnal lifestyle is where this starts. There is a salty taste of authenticity to a Christian who has left the worldly life and embraced Christ. The ESV Study Bible echos and clarifies this truth.

“Most salt came from the Dead Sea and contained impurities (carnallite and gypsum). If not processed properly, it would have a poor taste and would be worse than useless, being unusable for food and creating a disposal problem. If the conditions of discipleship are not kept, the disciples likewise will become less than worthless.”

Forsaking the world and embracing Christ produces what the Lord calls a saltiness in our lives. This “taste” that disciples possess is actually the taste of Christ. Those who know Christ are familiar with the taste I am talking about. The worldly life is tasteless in comparison. Here is how Adam Clarke describes this.

“A preacher, or private Christian, who has lost the life of Christ, and the witness of his Spirit, out of his soul, may be likened to this salt. He may have the sparks and glittering particles of true wisdom, but without its unction or comfort. Only that which is connected with the rock, the soul that is in union with Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit, can preserve its savour, and be instrumental of good to others.”

These words from Clarke are over two hundred and fifty years old and are exactly on point in today’s world. Authenticity is what our hearts long for. Once you taste the real found in Christ and in His word, phony Christians and preachers become pretty apparent. In the same way, Christians that have forsaken the world and have embraced Christ have a distinct flavor that Jesus called salty. Somebody pass me the salt!!!

GRACE – GRACE – GRACE

Jn.1:16 – And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

This is an attempt by John to describe infinite. Describing infinite is actually an exercise in futility (its one of the reasons the Lord gave us a prayer language) but those who have tasted grace keep trying to describe it anyway. John says that in knowing Christ we begin to have grace (unlimited, matchless grace) poured out on us. The Lord being an uncreated, infinite being has attributes that are infinite. In other words, grace is unending. By putting ourselves in a receiving mode to receive grace for grace we first find ourselves consumed with Him. He comes to us in the person of the Holy Spirit and one touch leaves us breathless. We were created as spirit beings, made in His image. Because of our uniqueness nothing less than infinite will satisfy our hungry hearts. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes it.

“So Christ is the greatest treasure of his church: he is their pearl of great price; he is the church’s portion and chief good. In him is contained all the church’s fullness; “Of his fullness she receives, and grace for grace” [John 1:16]. All her happiness, all the covenant blessings that she hath, are bound up in Christ. The church hath the Holy Spirit, which is the sum of all her good, no otherwise than through Christ and in Christ. God hath given the Spirit, not by measure unto him and from him [John 3:34]; it flows to his members, as the oil on Aaron’s head “went down to the skirts of his garments” [Psalms 133:2]. Particularly, ’tis only in and through Christ that the church hath holiness, expressed in the law of God, and happiness, expressed by the pot of manna.”

So the point that I am trying to make is this; there is more of God available for all of us than any of us can begin to imagine. Putting ourselves in a receiving mode is where this grace for grace begins. The Passion Translation brings out the results of this life of soaking in grace for grace. Jn.1:16 – TPT – “And now out of his fullness we are fulfilled!

And from him we receive grace heaped upon more grace!” So as the Lord heaps on us grace upon grace upon grace, our hearts are finally filled and satisfied to the full. GRACE – GRACE – GRACE

DIVINE REVELATION

Matt.16:17 – And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

Just giving the right answers doesn’t really mean you know what you are saying. We can even teach a smart parrot to recite the right doctrines. The Lord is looking for more than correct answers to questions, He wants us to know Him and love Him with our hearts. This was the constant problem Jesus encountered in the religious community. How many times did we hear the Lord say that you worship Me with your mouths but your hearts are far from Me? I often think about this today and even tremble in fear; how many current church attenders have an intellectual belief in spiritual things but have no revelation like Peter had in this passage. Peter had traveled with Jesus for a long time and heard Him teach and saw Him perform miracles before the light turned on. In a flash of supernatural light Peter saw it, Jesus is the Son of God. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this passage.

“His old name is mentioned to bring out the distinction between what he was by nature and what grace had made him. Simon Bar-Jona, the fluttering son of a dove, has now become Peter, a rock. He was a happy man to be taught of God on the central truth of revelation. He had not arrived at his belief by mere reason: flesh and blood had not worked out the problem; there had been a revelation to him from the Father who is in heaven. To know the Lord in mere doctrinal statement, no such divine teaching is required; but Peter’s full assurance of his Lord’s nature and mission was no theory in the head: the truth had been written on his heart by the heavenly Spirit.“

So I have to ask the question, have you seen Christ by revelation or do you just have an intellectual belief in Him? Sometimes people go through the evangelical formula and even pray the prayer and nothing really happens. How do I know ? That was my story. I had prayed the pray often but never had a heart change until the day in August of 1973 that the light turned on. Only then could I say with Peter from my heart, “Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”