Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #21 – Jesus Heals Many Sick in Gennesaret

After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.

I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at

Jesus Heals Many Sick in Gennesaret

Matthew 14:34-36

And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Mark 6:53-56

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

General Observations

Gennesaret is a land that was incredibly fertile, to the point the Rabbi’s called it the Garden of God”. The very name Gennesaret comes from two Hebrew words. “Gan” in the Hebrew means garden, with the second portion from the Hebrew “sarim”. meaning prince. Gennesaret may mean “princely gardens” and in the days of Christ, this small area of the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee (also known as the Sea of Gennesaret) was home to an area full of fruits and vegetables. The land could produce not only a multiple variety of food stuffs, but each crop would produce an abundant harvest!

Gennesaret, being just west of Capernaum was a central base of operations for the Lord during His early ministry, when the miraculous acts of the Lord increased in intensity. This very passage speaks of the healing of many. And the apostles provide very little information when compared with the many miracles that are spoken of. It’s almost as if the apostles are starting to see a pattern in the physical healing and the effect of it.

Yet as we continue in our series on the mighty works of Jesus, we will begin to see the Lord leaving this northern region where He performed so many of His miracles, and where His ministry went through a period a tremendous popularity. As we see Him moving into His next phase of ministry, it is good to remember that His time in the north was planned from centuries before.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of the Messiahs ministry in the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali in his 9th chapter and Matthew connected Jesus’ ministry with this prophecy.

Matthew 4:14-16 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles–
the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

The people had seen a great light, and on them a light had dawned. This period of time when the Lord was in the region provided multiplied proofs of His identity, and at no time since has a people had such a bright light shine (in relation to miracles produced).

Everyone recognized Him and they all understood He was a great miracle worker, but for some reason this region fell under condemnation by the Lord later in His ministry.

Matthew 11:21-24 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Per the passage, everyone in the region of Gennesaret were either witnesses or recipients of the Lord’s presence. When I say everyone, (and being an engineer by trade), I automatically think of the population that would be in the area. This was difficult to determine with a desktop search, but the area itself is generally considered to be about 3 miles long from south to north and about 1¼ miles broad, form shore to rocky foothills. Given that this area was predominantly a farmers paradise, I intended to calculate a potential population, assume a percentage of sick amongst the population and provide a number of healings performed. I nixed that foolishness, since even within the passage the author describes the extent of coverage as being “all that region”. I will not attempt to define the limits of “all that region” for that may cover cities like Capernaum, maybe even Bethsaida. Dang it all if even as I read the passage again, the verse speaks of going into villages and cities also.

This explosive burst of miracles performed by the Lord might well have encompassed many more than I first thought. Nevertheless, the audience was massive, most likely (in my humble opinion) greater than the 5,000 He recently fed.

He sure was popular!

When did the Lord perform this mighty work?

One additional assumption of mine that was wrong when I first considered this miracle, or should I say period of miracles, is the duration described within this short passage. The passage speaks of the Messiah going from village to city, and throughout the countryside. This surely was not an hour stint (as I assumed) where He stopped for a quick visit. We are not even told if He had plans upon arriving here that was interrupted by the crowds!

Again, the duration of this prolonged period of miracles can only be guessed at, yet it seems to beg a day or two, maybe more. He travelled through the area, and the population retrieved the sick to meet with Him. This was not a efficiently planned ministry stop over that catered to the Messiah’s crowded day planner!

See https://www.bibletimelines.net/timelines/jesus-ministry

Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See above for a description of the area, its fruitfulness and general size. Also, see Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.

Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?

The passage does not provide a motivation of the Lord in the healing of multitudes, and it seems He was somewhat passive in the act of healing. Yes, the passage speaks of the crowd imploring Him, requesting healings, yet the action of healing also is described as the woman with a blood disorder. See Jesus #14 – Jesus Heals a Woman in the Crowd.

Remember that the woman simply took the healing. She didn’t approach the Master for permission, but simply took power from Him by touching the fringe of His garment. (Desperate for a healing or great faith?)

The fringe of his garment seemed to be a key for the crowds in getting what they wanted, for in both passages in describing this mighty work, the fringe of His garment is referred to. Even as the crowd clambered about Him, grabbing and clutching, He provided the light necessary, in the form of miracles to see the truth of His person.

But I have to ask myself if the physical healing became a stumbling lock to receiving spiritual healing? Nothing in this specific passage addresses this concern of mine, yet I wonder…

What was the message for the original audience?

The message to the original audience was that He was a patient and beneficent miracle healer. At no time in either of these passages in Matthew or Mark is there any description of those being healed as confessing Him for who He was. Now I realize silence is not a good basis to build a teaching on, yet the intent of the miracles, if I understand them correctly, is not simply the physical healing, but identification of the Great Healer being present, the One of whom the nation of Israel (and the world) needed to recognize as the Messiah, the Deliverer sent by God.

Yet, and it seems anticlimactic to say this, but all we have is many multiple physical healings, and that is all. And since this region came under condemnation by the Master a bit later in His ministry, I assume this display, or notification of His arrival was not received as intended.

What is the message for us today?

The message that screams out to me is the tremendous patience and goodness of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s recall that this period of time originally began with the Master seeking a time of rest and regrouping with His men.

Mark 6:31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

This intended plan was dashed, for instead of rest, He fed five thousand, spent a night in prayer, rescued the disciples on the sea (walked on the water out to their boat in the early morning), and now was besieged by even greater crowds than the day before. Yet He continued in the midst of tiredness, frustration of intended effects, and a broken expectation of rest with His disciples.

One item that seems to echo in my thoughts is that the display of miracles by the Master did not produce a vibrant Christian experience, or revolutionize the area, produce a spiritual revival or initiate a great missionary effort. It was simply physical healing for multitudes that seemingly produced no real spiritual fruit.

Sad, since this area is known as a fruitful garden!

Might that be something for us to understand in our efforts to those who are outside the Body? Is the existence of miracles, (or at least the claim of miracles), automatically a sign of healthy spiritual life and fervor? Do miracles produce spiritual life!

Matthew 7:22 – 23 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

As I mentioned above, it seemed Jesus was mighty popular during this period of His ministry, yet the popularity didn’t translate into the intended effect of changed lives. No repentance or true faith is spoken of, yet He sure was popular!

Jesus is somewhat popular in our society nowadays, and yet when I ask who He is, I receive many various descriptions from declared believers. Popularity of Jesus is dependent on the understanding we each have of Him, and if we see Him only as a miracle healer, One who is there to serve us, this may be replicating the people of Gennesaret.

Did I mention that this region was never spoken of in a positive manner after this explosion of light?

Food for thought.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion. If you know someone this blog may bless (or challenge), send them a link, so they may join us in our discussion

Come join us at Considering the Bible

Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #20 – Jesus Walks on Water

After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.

I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at

Jesus Walks on Water

Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night, he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.”  So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Mark 6:45-52

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

John 6:16-21

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

General Observations

Mark says the disciples were to go to Bethsaida? In the feeding of the five thousand, the gospels tell us they were already at Bethsaida. What is going on?

Mark 6:45 states that they were to pass over to Bethsaida, to the other side. This was a point of confusion for myself until I considered a passage in John. You see, John describes their trip as being “across the sea to Capernaum”. So, is Bethsaida located also near Capernaum?

Well, to this day, there is research being performed by archeologists on the exact location of the town of Bethsaida. Even if Bethsaida is successfully located, it was also common in ancient days to have two towns named the same.

A solution to this conundrum may exist in the naming of cities in the ancient world. John describes another Bethsaida in John 12:21, calling it “Bethsaida of Galilee” Could Bethsaida of Galilee be a settlement near Capernaum? If so, this may be the solution.

As an aside, I understand the gospel of Mark to be the gospel Peter oversaw in the writing, and that he gave direction to Mark in the recording of the the life of Jesus. If this is true, consider that Mark did not concern himself with Peter’s walking on the water, or that the Lord rescued him from his sinking.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

This miracle had a limited audience, in that the only ones who witnessed this incredible happening were the disciples themselves. Mark is specific in stating in Mark 6:49 & 50 that “they saw Him walking on the sea”…”and they all saw Him and were terrified”

This miracle was provided for the disciples and spoke to their relationship with the One walking on water. It is also interesting that all other miracles performed were for the sake of the sick, infirmed or dead. This miracle was “self inflicted”, in that the Lord Himself was the object of the miracle. He did the miraculous, that is, He walked on the water!

When did the Lord perform this mighty work?

Immediately after He fed the five thousand. This is important to remember as we go through this miracle.

See https://www.bibletimelines.net/timelines/jesus-ministry

Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.

Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?

Mark 6:48 states that the Lord saw His disciples were making headway across the water “painfully”. The Greek word used here to describe the disciples situation is basanizō and has the meaning of a testing, or to question by applying torture, to torment, to vex with grievous pains, or to be harassed or distressed. The disciples were in the middle of a fight for their lives, in the very arena that many thought of themselves as experts – four of them were fishermen, after all.

Matthew 14:24 describes the progress of the disciples as being a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, with the wind against them. He also uses the same word when describing the treatment of the waves on the disciples. They were being tormented by the waves!

Even John, in his abbreviated recounting of this miracle, speaks of the sea becoming rough, with a strong wind blowing.

In all of this torment that the disciples were experiencing, Jesus acts like a Savior, saving His people from a perilous situation. He had work for them and He loved them, and this was a perfect opportunity for a teachable moment. And this moment of teaching occurred by His walking on the water.

You know, I wouldn’t have expected this. As I imagined myself in the boat struggling with surviving a storm I may have never experienced, I would never have thought my deliverance would be through One who simply walked on the very water that was trying to kill me. And on top of that, He walked on water as if He was going to pass them by!

He is truly not like us!

What was the message for the original audience?

In Matthews portrayal, Peter had stepped out on the water but took his eyes off of the Lord, concentrating on his surroundings. He “noticed” the impossibility of his actions, the potential danger surrounding him, and I think that sinking feeling he felt, as his knees, waist (and shoulders?) were going under! The sea had not calmed down yet, and Peter was walking on water in the midst of a terrible storm.

In his sinking, Peter cried out the Jesus in the proper way. “Lord, save me.” Reaching out to Peter, Jesus not only delivered him, but also addressed Peter’s fear by speaking to him of his “little faith”.

In Marks recounting of the miracle, he simply states the disciples were “utterly astounded”. They were beside themselves, completely amazed. Mark doesn’t recount any command from the Lord in stilling the sea. As a matter fact, none of the gospels recount the Lord speaking to the wind or sea as He did in a previous crossing. (See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #12 – Jesus Calms a Storm). No command for nature to calm down, to settle down, to quit raging!

But that doesn’t mean He didn’t address a storm. For you see, the topic of overcoming fear is a recurring theme of this miracle. Fear of the storm, fear of a ghost the disciples thought they saw, Peter’s fear of sinking. In the midst of an incredibly fierce storm, Jesus provided relief for His disciples, not by calming the storm on the sea, but by instruction to the disciples to understand who He was.

He told His disciple to not be afraid due to His presence.

Matthew 14:27 …“Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Mark 6:50 …“Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

John 6:20 ….“It is I; do not be afraid.”

This approach to the miracle helps me to understand the last phrase Mark adds to this miracle.

Mark 6:52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Their fear was based on not catching the message of the feeding of the five thousand. If Jesus could provide for the five thousand, could He not protect His disciples? Did the disciples still not catch who they were hanging out with? Even after the storm calmed down, the disciples were amazed, utterly astounded, because they didn’t catch the intended message of the feeding of the five thousand.

Matthew closes the description of this miracle with the disciples worshipping Him, claiming He is the Son of God!

What is the message for us today?

If you are a new believer, you will see the Lord come to your aid in many wonderful, exciting and various ways. Many times as a young believer, the Lord performed acts of mercy toward yours truly that were intended to give me understanding of who my Savior is. Too few times, I got the message. I hope I am catching the message better as I mature.

If you are a maturing believer, recount the times when the Lord fed your five thousand, when He proved Himself in your past. Translate that message into whatever situation you find yourself in presently.

There is no guarantee the situation will change, just like the storm didn’t cease immediately for the disciples, yet if we understand who He is, another storm may just quit raging!


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion. If you know someone this blog may bless (or challenge), send them a link, so they may join us in our discussion

Come join us at Considering the Bible

Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #19 – Jesus Feeds 5,000

After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.

I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at

Jesus Feeds 5,000

Matthew 14:13-21

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Mark 6:30-44

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

Luke 9:10-17

On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish–unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” And they did so, and had them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

John 6:1-15

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

General Observations

This miracle is recounted in all of the gospels, and as such we have much to consider as we venture through the texts. The passage speaks of supply in the face of want, of the patience of the Master as He seeks some down time, of the disciples riding high on a recent victory. This passage has it all, and hopefully we can find a small nugget of truth that will give us guidance for the day.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Those who witnessed this miracle were those who actively participated in the work, that is the disciples, along with those who passively participated, by consuming food until they were satisfied.

Regarding the number in the crowd, the gospels tell us of five thousand men, along with women and children. Of the number of women and children, some have suggested an equal number of women (as wives) and an even greater number of children, since the assumption is that family units were present. This may be so, and if so, the volume of the audience fed that day could be as high as twenty thousand.

Since this was the time of the festivals, as John 6:4 describes, it may be that the crowd consisted primarily of men, since festival attendance was required of the males only (Deuteronomy 16:16).

No matter the number, whether five thousand or twenty thousand, the audience was huge and this miracle stands out as a well known work of God, that had somewhat surprising results.

When did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See https://www.bibletimelines.net/timelines/jesus-ministry

It is good to remember some of the happenings just prior to this miracle, and the reason Jesus sought solitude. John the Baptist had just been martyred, and this not only reinforced the obvious course of the Messiah’s ministry and life, but indicated a step closer to the inevitable confrontation with the powers that be.

The disciples had also just returned from their first missionary journey with tales of victory, and Jesus may have sought a time of reflection and review with the disciples.

Beyond both of these pivotal occurrences, Mark 6:31 simply states that the Lord sought some relief from the constant “coming and going” of the masses. He simply wanted a break.

Fat chance that was gonna happen!

Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.

Mark 6:32 speaks of the Master and His disciples heading to a desolate place for rest, while Luke 9:10 speaks of the town called Bethsaida.

Bethsaida is an interesting little town, in that Jesus included it with the town of Chorazin when He condemned the people of the region for their rejection of His ministry.

Matthew 11:21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

It is reported that the town/village of Bethsaida was abandoned in 65 AD due to the advance of the Roman armies. It is no longer a populated area.

Bethsaida is also referenced in John 1:44 as the hometown of Peter Andrew and Philip.

John 1:44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

Grassy plain of Bethsaida

There is some debate amongst scholars and archeologist as to whether Bethsaida was on the shore of Galilee or approx. 6 miles inland (as the map above indicates). For our purposes in this post, let us understand the miracle occurred outside of the town, on a grassy solitary place.

Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?

As with the last miracle, Jesus saw the great crowd and had compassion on them. They were like sheep without a shepherd. Out of this compassion, the Lord began to teach them many things. (The miracle of the feeding was, humanly speaking, an afterthought.)

Consider the compassion of the Lord, as He recognized them as shepherdless sheep, and that He began to teach, even though He sought solitude. Even as the disciples realized the lateness of the day, and was advising the Lord to “send them away”, He wouldn’t abandon the crowd. Remember – He originally came to this desolate place to find some quiet, and to reconnect with the disciples.

Something else may be going on here that is not explicitly said within the text. The disciples had just returned from a victorious missionary journey. Tasks assigned during this journey included preaching the kingdom of God, healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing lepers, and driving out demons. (see Matthew 10:8). They had just returned from exercising authority over sickness, demons and death!

Could they not feed a few hungry souls?

But alas, the Lord’s patience is present with His people, though we are such slow learners. He took what the disciples provided to Him and multiplied the scraps to feed multitudes. I suppose He was not only teaching the multitudes, but also His disciples by the actions He continually performed in front of them!

He is the Great Teacher!

What was the message for the original audience?

For the crowds, they received a meal from a miracle working preacher, after He taught the crowd of the kingdom of God. I am curious what the Lord taught, but would not be surprised if He didn’t provide instruction on the temporariness of a meal. But that is my imagination running away with the story!

The crowds may have seen the miracle, or they may not have. Over five thousand men would have created a distance that may have restricted many from seeing how this food was provided. Complete conjecture on my part, but one thing is certain, in that when Jesus raised His eyes to heaven and said a blessing, He did so to honor and thank His heavenly Father.

For the disciples, the message was somewhat different. I like what the Lord said in Matthew 14:16

“They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”

I can just imagine the thoughts running through the disciples minds. Just as they recounted their successful missionary journey, they were being challenged to provide food for multitudes. This wasn’t part of the program – Jesus spoke of glamorous healings, and sensational raising’s of the dead. Producing food for irritating crowds had not been in the original instruction from the Lord! What’s worse – after they abdicated their ability to produce the food, (which I fully understand!), they were each assigned the task of a waiter and table cleanup for the masses. This was definitely a drop in status.

Also, it would be so good to hear the inflection of the disciples voice when they brought the loaves and fish to Jesus. Do you suppose the disciples came to the Lord with someone’s lunch, with a hopeless, “what can we do” attitude? I know that is my first response to a seemingly impossible request from the Lord.

Could the message for the disciples be somewhat different than what I first imagined when I approched this miracle? Could it include a realignment for the disciples thinking, an effort to bring them back down to earth, in that they still had so much to learn?

What is the message for us today?

Be prepared to be stretched.

Personally, I have been in a bit of a holding pattern recently, and as you may see, the emphasis of the passage is speaking of being stretched, used and entering new areas of service that may not be comfortable. New ventures that may be at first areas of failure, yet the Lord is ever patient with His people, and His mercy teaches us that He will be there for us as we seek Him. He is the Great Teacher!

Be prepared to learn

And we claim to be the students, the disciples as we Christians call ourselves. To be a disciple is to be a learner, but do you feel you have learned it all, that you are fully instructed in the ways of the Lord, that you are a guide to the blind and teacher of the ignorant?

Hold up a bit my friend, for this type of pride has caused me more harm than good. As a matter of fact, I can’t recall any good that it has provided to anyone!

Be prepared to be corrected, to be reproved, to come down a notch, to wait on tables even though you have recently moved a mountain. Be a good student, and as you seek Him, some humble pie may need to be consumed!


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion. If you know someone this blog may bless (or challenge), send them a link, so they may join us in our discussion

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Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #18 – Jesus Heals an Invalid at Bethesda

After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.

I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at

Jesus Heals an Invalid at Bethesda

John 5:1-17

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids–blind, lame, and paralyzed. waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred the water: whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had  One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”  And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.  So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.”  But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.'”  They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?”  Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.  Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.  And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.  But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

General Observations

Five roofed colonnades over the pool? Is it not curious that John speaks of five covered areas? In my research, I found an explanation at www.biblicalarchaeology.org

…the Bethesda Pool is described as having five porticoes—a puzzling feature suggesting an unusual five-sided pool, which most scholars dismissed as an unhistorical literary creation. Yet when this site was excavated, it revealed a rectangular pool with two basins separated by a wall—thus a five-sided pool—and each side had a portico.

This detail is one that has been used to attack the accuracy of the Scriptures over the ages. You see, no archeologist had identified this pool of Bethesda until the early 19th century. Critics assumed that someone other than John wrote the gospel centuries after the destruction of Jerusalem, supposedly describing the surroundings without ever seeing them. Once again, the critic is proven wrong! Truly, the Scriptures are constantly being verified by archeology, and provides us with a constant reminder of the fact of Jesus and His disciples walked amongst the citizens of Israel, even amongst the poorest and weakest.

This pool was called Bethesda, which means a house of mercy, or a house of kindness. With the pool designated as a “house of mercy” so close to the temple, it may speak of the spiritual temperature of the city of Jerusalem. So much suffering so close to God’s house. Many of the most religious adherents attending the temple, along with those ministering in the temple, must surely have known of this pool, and of those in need.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Every sick person in the pool witnessed this miracle. The audience was the many who had come to the pool for relief, for healing, who needed a miracle. Yet only the invalid in our passage received assistance, and not because of any great faith or virtue, but simply out of mercy. Simply out of compassion.

Verse 10 tells us that “the Jews” were present. Were they there to minister to the sick, elderly and infirmed? Did they bring hot meals to them during lunchtime? Nothing is stated regarding these acts of mercy, but they were keen to inform this newly walking un-invalid that he was breaking the Sabbath.

How utterly amazing to see a religious person ignore the work of God in order to enforce the word of man. Carrying a bed as an affront to God? How could anyone justify this as wrong? Yet the guardians of God and His temple found a way to exercise power over their flock by providing rules rules rules.

But I am getting ahead of myself!

When did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See https://www.bibletimelines.net/timelines/jesus-ministry

Recently, I published a post on this miracle from the standpoint of the timing of the miracle. Jesus on the Sabbath – Part 15 – Equal with God. It may be of interest for those who want to consider this miracle as it relates to the Sabbath.

Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.

The pool was located north of the temple, and it’s association with the sheep gate provides a hint as to it’s purpose for the temple. Could it have been a source of water to purify sacrificial sheep, prior to being offered in the temple? Some archeologists and Bible scholars believe this pool was a Jewish bath for worshippers to achieve ritual purity, but with the rumor of healings being available at the pool, all those who were in need of a miracle flocked to the pool.

Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?

Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time. Jesus determined this man would be healed, simply based out of compassion for this man who had been crippled for almost four decades. Four decades!

Jesus asked what seemed to be a foolish question. Do you want to be healed? Considering that the man was waiting for the stirring of the water and that legend spoke of the healing of the waters, it seemed to be obvious that the man wanted to be healed, but was simply unable to get to the pool.

As we read the passage, we find that this simple question was not answered directly. The man did not answer the question, request any assistance from Jesus, but simply provided the Master a reason he had not experienced any healing. He was at the pool, but had no ability to take advantage of any possible healing.

John 5:8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”

Am I right in thinking that Jesus’ response indicates a bit of impatience, a bit of frustration with this invalid? Is that fair? Jesus had been performing miracles throughout Israel, and often we hear of those witnessing the Lord’s works as spreading the news of this miracle worker far and wide. This miracle alone was not the first in Jerusalem, and His fame was spreading like wildfire. I will leave it to the reader to consider the situation, and of Jesus’ tone of voice as He responds to the invalid.

In defense of the invalid, we have to remember that he had been an invalid for close to forty years, and we don’t know how long he had visited the pool. Sure there was a miracle worker in Israel, yet why would anyone care for an old invalid man who had been forgotten by so many?

What was the message for the original audience?

For the invalid, the message was simple. Get up. Pick up your bed. Walk. All three commands were obeyed and the invalid received his miracle.

For those at the pool who were still in need, they had seen the Messiah perform a healing which indicated the Hope of Israel had arrived. The physical healing was a signpost for others to understand Who had arrived. Healing everyone would not have accomplished anything greater than what occurred that day. As a matter of fact, it may have simply redirected the focus from Him. This was a constant concern of the Messiah, that those who came to Him simply wanted their immediate needs addressed.

For those Jews who had been watching Jesus, this miracle sparked active persecution towards Jesus.

John 5:16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.

For the Jewish leadership, directing the invalid to carry his bed on the Sabbath became the straw that broke the camels back. This was too much for them. Could Jesus have simply told the invalid to get up and walk away? Sure. But He didn’t. Would this have created an equal reaction from the Jewish leadership? We may never know, but I think you can know what I think!

The miracle should have been understood differently. Jesus directed an invalid, whom He healed, to carry his bed on the Sabbath. The miracle of healing should have indicated to the Jews that Jesus was from God, but they had already determined that His source of authority came from the enemy. (See the previous post – Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #17 – Jesus Heals a Man Unable to Speak)

Now, in their minds, He was openly disobeying the rules set up by men in order to properly obey God. A rebel, an enemy of the establishment, a preacher that would not conform to their demands. But why should He conform to their demand, for He is Lord of the Sabbath, the One who established the nation of Israel and provided the ordinances, laws and ceremonies they lived by.

He is the Authority that is greater than any law they sought to obey.

What is the message for us today?

Jesus healed this invalid, though the invalid did not express any faith in Him, request any assistance or even acknowledge who He was. The invalid couldn’t even identify the One who healed him to the Jewish authorities. Jesus actually withdrew into the crowd (vs 13) after the healing. If there is ever a miracle that would satisfy our modern need for instantaneous satisfaction, this is the one.

In this miracle, this quick, instantaneous and sudden miracle working on this unknown invalid, Jesus exhibited Himself as Lord. We must allow Him to be who He is. He may, at His discretion, have compassion on any sinner or saint, whether famous or unknown, rich or poor, wise or foolish, young or old, full of faith or without belief, at any time, for any reason, without warning, and without hesitation.

His miracles, if understood properly, point to His person, to His relation to the Father and His authority over all of creation. Some miracles may occur during your walk with the Lord, and may I suggest that a proper understanding of them is critical to appreciate the wonder of the One providing the miracle.

Acts of mercy are, by their very nature undeserved, and if you are blessed in receiving a miracle in this life, consider Who it is that touched your life. Focus on the miracle provider and not on the miracle provided. Filter the fact of the miracle through the character of our Messiah.

For He is good, all the time.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion. If you know someone this blog may bless (or challenge), send them a link, so they may join us in our discussion

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Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #17 – Jesus Heals a Man Unable to Speak

After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.

I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at

Jesus Heals a Man Unable to Speak

Matthew 9:32-34

As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him.  And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”

General Observations

We have been in Mathew for a series of miracles and it may be profitable to recount the work of Jesus up to this point, at least from Matthews standpoint. Previous to this miracle, Jesus has

  • Healed a woman of a blood disease
  • Raised a 12 year old girl from the dead
  • Given two blind men sight

Given our last mighty work of Jesus as providing sight to blind men, it is interesting to compare the two miracles and their recipients. 

What actually was this fellows physical disability? Of course, the source of the mute man’s condition was the demon oppression, which Jesus addressed in this miracle. Yet to get a feel of this man’s existence, it is worth considering the world he lived in. The term describing this man brought to Jesus is the Greek word kōphos κόπτω (G2875), and includes the idea of deafness. Although this passage describes the man as unable to speak, the term may also include the inability to hear. If so, consider this poor man’s condition.

If deaf and mute, he was in a world where communication was limited to hand gestures, or facial expressions. Understanding the simplest message was fraught with confusion. Remember, the skill of reading and writing was not as widespread as it is today, and we may safely assume this skill was not available to this poor soul. Given this, he lived in a world of silence, restricted of any method of communication to those around him. His thoughts were his and his alone, and the privilege of sharing with another person the joys or sorrows of this life were unavailable to him. He experienced a loneliness many have never entered into.

If only mute, this condition is not much better, since he may hear a message, yet not be able to communicate his thoughts or feelings fully. This, in my opinion, would be incredibly frustrating, since I am a fairly opinionated fella!

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Those who brought the mute man. (I am assuming more than one person brought him.) These folk who brought him had heard of Jesus, and may have seen the miracles. But nothing is said of those who brought him to Jesus. They are not the focus of this miracle.

As a matter of fact, nothing is said of the mute man, other than his demon oppression and of his cure. He is a “silent” witness in all of this – no pun intended!

Two main groups are spoken of in the recounting of this miracle.

The Crowd

The crowd marveled, saying “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” To be marveled was to be amazed, to be cast into wonder. This crowd may very well be made of many in Capernaum that had seen many of Jesus’ miracles so far, yet this one amazed them. At no time does Matthew inform us of the mute man or his friend(s) requesting a healing. (Granted – they may have and Matthew simply doesn’t record it!) Yet the absence of the request allows me to think Jesus may have addressed this man’s disability without request.

Just healing a mute man for the sake of those in attendance? For the Pharisees possibly? Remember that at this time, the Pharisees are tagging behind the Lord to determine if He truly is a charlatan or the real McCoy!

A miracle for the Pharisees? Interesting possibility!

The Pharisees

Consider the progression Matthew gives us in this chapter, regarding the Pharisees attitude toward the Messiah. Initially, the Pharisees accused Him in their hearts of blasphemy in Matthew 9:3.

Matthew 9:3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.”

Then the Pharisees breach the subject of besmirching the Lord’s character with the disciples in Matthew 9:11.

Matthew 9:11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Finally, with the healing of this mute man, the Pharisees come out with their current judgement against the Master and His ministry.

Matthew 9:34 ESV – But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”

This is the first time this judgement on the Lord’s ministry is delivered to the masses, but Matthew will inform us later that the Pharisees maintained this strategy to defame the Lord.

Matthew 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”

(I have considered this passage previously in a post called Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Unpardonable Sin.)

At this point in the Lord’s ministry, and due to this mute man being healed, the Pharisees reveal their opinion of the Messiah to the masses and set themselves on a collision course with God and His Messiah.

When did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See https://www.bibletimelines.net/timelines/jesus-ministry

Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.

Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?

As mentioned above, the Pharisees had seen enough, and publicly gave a judgement against the Lord, informing the crowd of their determination of His source of power. It is quite humorous (if it wasn’t so tragic) that given the proofs of His person, those most qualified to determine His identity would be so far off in their judgement! Yet we must admit that good religion has to rejects Jesus. This miracle provides a perfect example of how religious pride breeds a rejection of the only true God.

Jealousy and pride may be found in every religion, and sad to say, even within Christianity – or should I say Christendom? Denominational claims of superiority over other groups of believers is a blight that hurts the church constantly.

What was the message for the original audience?

The message to the original audience?

It was, for the crowd, a message of amazement, a message that this itinerant preacher was constantly astounding those who came to Him. He performed mighty works that had not been seen before, and the multitude of various and diverse disabilities brought to Him did not limit His abilities to heal.

For the Pharisees, the message was received with mockery, disdain and disbelief, producing a verdict associating the Judge of all the earth as being in cahoots with the His arch enemy. Consider this reaction by the Pharisees. It is illogical, due to their pride twisting a normal thought process upside down, eliminating a thoughtful conclusion. Pride forces, against all proofs, a ridiculous conclusion that brings pain and sorrow on the ones living in that pride. Pride truly goes before destruction!

What is the message for us today?

Two reactions to the Lord’s ministry is provided for us in this mighty work.

Amazement

As those in the crowd, we may experience amazement over His grace to all in need, even to those who have no faith, as this mute man brought by his friends seems to exhibit. Each of the miracles, and each of His messages, should produce a level of amazement in our hearts. He is beyond our understanding, and this is good to remember. When He becomes like you and I in our thoughts, and we see Him as we see ourselves, we lose.

Pride

As for the reaction of the Pharisees, as believers, we are to remember that pride is the death knell of the Christian life. Pride of religious association brought the Pharisees to an erroneous conclusion concerning the identity of their Messiah. You see, the Pharisees “knew” they were right and looked down on those who were the unwashed. They were the righteous ones, the ones “in the know”, the only ones with truth, and as the pure and wise arbiters of truth for the theocracy of Israel, felt they had to protect their sheep and make a public judgement against Jesus.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

As we have seen in this miracle, one of the fallouts of religious pride is a rebellion against God and His Messiah. This religious rebellion produces many toxins within the Body of Christ, one of which is division within the Body.

Paul saw the damage of pride in the body when he wrote to the Corinthians. Consider his appeal to the Corinthians when he writes of their allegiance and pride of association to multiple parties in the church. He is shocked by the tribalism of the Corinthian church, and seeks an agreement of mind and judgement.

It may be wise to consider any attitude we may harbor toward other Christian groups, denominations, churches, associations and such, for if we judge our group to be superior to others, we may have fallen into the Pharisee trap.

It didn’t turn out well for them, for the very nation they thought they were protecting became the very nation that had one generation left before destruction. The Pharisees, fueled by religious pride, brought destruction to the nation that they were tasked to protect.

As a tonic to this toxin, consider Micah’s admonition for our final application out of todays miracle, for I fear our modern church, consisting of the modern Christian, finds the Pharisee trap very appealing for their religious life.

Micah 6:8

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion. If you know someone this blog may bless (or challenge), send them a link, so they may join us in our discussion

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Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #16 – Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.

I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at

Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

Matthew 9:27-31

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

General Observations

This miracle comes on the heels of our previous miracle of the raising of the 12 year old girl. Let’s recount the day Jesus was experiencing

  • A storm on the sea
  • A calming of the storm
  • Pigs in the lake
  • Rejection by the people of the decapolis
  • Travel across the sea again
  • Jairus begging for help
  • A woman claiming a healing
  • A raising of the 12 year old girl
  • Now – healing of the two blind men.

Quite the day!

Again, Jesus instructs the recipients of a miracle to not publish the effects of His power on their lives. In our modern culture of media attempts to grab our attention, Jesus restricts that option. Do not speak of this miracle. See that no one know about it!

This is so counterintuitive, and even as we spoke in our last blog post, the miracle is not the focus, it is still astounding that this was the only command Jesus gave these two blind men. And this command was sternly given. Jesus was not suggesting the blind men consider His suggestion. No – the command was sternly required of the blind men.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Whatever house Jesus entered (most likely Peter’s) restricted those who witnessed this miracle. Jesus and the two blind men were the only ones called out specifically in the text. Might the disciples have been included, along with the owner of the house?

When did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See https://www.bibletimelines.net/timelines/jesus-ministry

Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.

Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?

This is another time when Jesus was requested to do the impossible, and He provided.

Might the fact that the blind men referred to Jesus as the Son of David play a part in the reception of this healing. Might this provide some insight as to what is going on between the Lord and the blind men?

Let’s take a look at an Old Testament promise to get some background

2 Samuel 7:12-13

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.
He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

This “son” of David, since His throne was to be forever, was widely considered by the Jewish nation to refer to the Messiah. David’s Son would reign forever. To call Jesus the “Son of David” was to ascribe to Him the office of Messiah.

Obviously every human son of David had failed at establishing an eternal throne, and this included some truly great kings, such as Asa, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, and Hezekiah. To be called the Son of David, was to claim a very specific faith in this man called Jesus.

To be called the “Son of David” also had political overtones, and by this time in the Lord’s ministry, the powers that be were already dogging the Lord. Minimizing additional fodder for the press may have been the reason for waiting to address the blind men until in the house, as opposed amongst the crowds.

What was the message for the original audience?

Let’s remember that the blind men began this request calling aloud, for all to hear, requesting the Son of David to have mercy on them. Everyone would hear this cry for help. Eventually Jesus isolated these men in a home and He challenged them to understand their confession of Him as the Son of David.

Do you believe that I am able to do this?

When you call me Son of David, there are implications associated with this claim. Do you believe this Son of David is able? Jesus didn’t ask them if He would perform the miracle, but if he could perform the miracle! I believe this is a distinction we may miss as we walk with Him, but we will get to that in the next section. For now, the focus is on the blind men, and their ability to see that their public identification of Jesus as the Son of David carried with it great baggage.

To establish a throne for ever, as Nathan the prophet spoke to David, implied a kingdom of righteousness, of no degradation of sin, of no slippage away from the God of Israel, of complete and exact compliance with the nature and character of God. In other words, this Son of David would have to be God Himself to be able to establish an eternal throne.

The blind men confessed they understood what they understood.

“According to your faith be it done to you.”

This faith, that is that Jesus was the Messiah, is what was being clarified by the Lord. He wanted to get a clear understanding of what the blind men understood when they called out “Son of David”. Based on this understanding, this miracle was provided, along with some possible associated fallout. This possible fallout may include additional persecution of the Jewish leadership in investigating this miracle.

Let’s remember that to restore the sight of a blind man was a clarion call to the Jewish leadership for some examination. No prophet in the Old Testament had healed a blind man, although we have recounts of prophets raising the dead. Compared to raising the dead, blindness was the greater (or should I say rarer) accomplishment! One of many passages claiming who can open the eyes of the blind include Psalm 146:8.

the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

The leadership would have to examine the miracle, and admit that a true miracle had occurred. This must have been galling to the leadership, since by now, their opinion of Jesus was becoming hardened into a fixed judgement against Him.

And yet Jesus sternly commanded the blind men to

See that no one knows about it.

Was Jesus exhibiting a reluctance to get the Jewish leadership involved? That was too late. The Jewish leadership had been examining the Master’s movements and miracles since the cleansing of the man with leprosy. (See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #7 – Jesus Cleanses a Man With Leprosy)

This “stern command’ sounds familiar though. When dealing with the leper, he had also “sternly charged” him with silence.

Mark 1:43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once,

He had spoken likewise to the leper, and instructed him to only provide evidence of the healing to the priests. No command to show the priest was included in the command to the blind men, for the priests were already on Jesus trail, watching His every move.

But let us not think this command was a suggestion, allowing the blind men to consider it and make a decision to lightly ignore it. This was not the intent of the command. To sternly charge was a serious matter, and carried with it a sense of anger.

Yet, the blind men did what they wanted to do. Somewhat like our modern belief system. (As an aside, a great song depicting this attitude may be found here) They simply spread His fame throughout all the district. But this was not what the Lord wanted! This was not to be done!

What is the message for us today?

Can He?

Jesus asked the blind men if He was able to have mercy on them. He did not ask them of his desires, or of His opinion, or of what the weather was like? The question was “Do you believe the Son of David is able to heal the blind?

The question was regarding strength, skill, power. The ability to perform something no one else had ever performed. Jesus didn’t ask them of His feelings toward them, or of His schedule, or of anything else.

The question centered on the blind men’s belief of Jesus ability!

Ability is the general word for a capacity to do something. It may imply that the work will be done, or can be done, but not necessarily. The Lord asked the blind men of His ability to perform a miracle. A safe assumption by this time, was that Jesus would perform a miracle. It had become evident that He was filled with compassion and the previous few minutes with the woman and Jairus’ daughter had proven His willingness to heal.

But blindness? That was a big one. If He could, He would. But could He?

What big hurdle are you facing today? What question is Jesus asking you today, to stretch your faith, to refocus on Him, to put into practice the claim we have made, that He is the Son of David and that He is ruling an eternal kingdom, granting citizenship to all those who follow.

What hurdle are you facing my friend?


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion. If you know someone this blog may bless (or challenge), send them a link, so they may join us in our discussion

Come join us at Considering the Bible

Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #15 – Jesus Raises Jairus’ Daughter to Life

After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.

I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at

Jesus Raises Jairus’ Daughter to Life

Matthew 9:18, 23-26

While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.”….And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district.

Mark 5:21-24, 35-43

And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him…….While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Luke 8:40-42, 49-56

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As Jesus went, the people pressed around him.  …… While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.

Questions to Consider

Notice the last line in the telling of this miracle.

he charged them to tell no one what had happened

How could the Lord expect this miracle to be unnoticed? The mourners were whining and crying, making a ruckus, informing the whole neighborhood of a death at the house. The parents, along with the three disciples had seen the miracle before their very eyes. Everyone would be shocked when the little girl walked out of the room! And the Lord charged them to tell no one what had happened?

But an even bigger question is – Why not publish this miracle far and wide? Why minimize the impact of the eye witness account? Let’s address this question after we look at the miracle in these three passages.

Who were the audience?

Those in attendance for this miracle are clearly defined in our text.

And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child.

In our earlier post on the woman with the issue of blood, I suggested that she may be the mother of this girl within this recounting. If my suggestion is true, (which is only a suggestion, mind you) the woman who had been healed may have raced home to see her daughter. Mark 5:37 states Jesus

…allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.

Yet obviously Jairus was allowed to follow since he had been addressed by the Master just the verse before.

One alternative for the presence of the woman was that she simply followed the Master to the home, as Jairus did, without the apostles referring to them.

The suggestion adds a layer of intensity to the miracle, as if the raising of a child from death is not enough! Yet it appeals to my curiosity, and the possibility of this “coincidence” only suggests that the Lord looks not only to heal individuals, but also to heal families.

When did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See https://www.bibletimelines.net/timelines/jesus-ministry

Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.

Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?

Jairus asked Him to heal the synagogue leader’s daughter. Jesus did more than He was asked for. Reminds me of a passage somewhere in the New Testament, describing God….

 who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us

What was the message for the original audience?

Jesus made a number of statements in this miracle, that would serve us well to consider.

Do Not Fear – Mk 5:36

But every witness and all appearances provided the fact that the daughter was dead. There was nothing left to fear. Sorrow, anger, depression – yes all this was crashing down on the father and mother. But the fear they had over the death of the little girl had been realized. How confusing for the father and mother to hear this message!

Only Believe – Mk 5:36

Believe what? The father had come to the Teacher, in hopes of a healing, of Him providing health to a sick but still breathing little girl. Once the breathing stopped, once the heart had quit, there was no earthly reason to continue to believe. It was over. There was no use in continuing to look to the Teacher for His help.

This is not the message Jesus presented to the mother and father. He is not limited by death, and in the face of an impossibility, Jesus exhorted Jairus to only continue in his previous faith, that is in the faith that drew him to the Teacher. Jesus wanted them to trust the Teacher, and not look at the situation. Faith in Him is to be continuous, in the midst of seeming impossibilities. (Easy to say my friends!)

Only believe – what an incredible thing to say to this family that had lost their little girl. As with the next three statements, Jesus shocked all who witnessed this miracle. Not only was the miracle itself shocking, everything He did was unexpected

  • His direction to empty the room but for a few.
  • His denial of the obvious death of the little girl.
  • His confidence in His abilities to perform the impossible.
  • His seemingly ignoring of the voice of the multitude.

Why are you making a commotion and weeping? Mk 5:39

The girl was dead. The common practice of the Jewish culture was loud moaning and weeping upon the death of a loved one. If the family had a bit of money, they would hire mourners to raise the volume of the grief. Loud cries of grief alerted the neighborhood of a recent death. Everyone knew it, and the mourning was simply a result of a fact everyone knew. Except for Jesus.

The child is not dead but sleeping. Mk 5:39

She is dead, and everyone in the room knows it, but not according to Jesus. She is merely sleeping. Yet, is Jesus simply renaming the state of death as sleep? Is He saying something other than the obvious?

Multiple instances in the New Testament, the reference to death is couched in the terminology of sleep. When we think of death it is without hope of returning, but when we think of sleep, the morning always comes.

This little 12 year old woke up, simply by having Jesus tell her to.

Little girl, I say to you, arise. Mk 5:41

It is interesting that in this and Lazarus’ raising, Jesus was careful to identify the subject who would rise from the dead. Even with the nameless widow of Nain, Jesus focused his word to the “young man”. See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #11 – Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son in Nain

I once heard that if Jesus hadn’t directed His command to rise to a specific person, all the dead would rise. But it wasn’t time for that to happen yet. But give Him time. He will yet call the dead from their graves.

As an aside, it is amazing in my mind to consider what the Lord did after this command. He instructed the witnesses to do two things, that is to feed the little girl, and to not tell anyone what had happened.

This may be a partial reason Jesus told the crowd that she was asleep. Those who wanted to believe, or should I say were believers already, would continue, but those who were there only for the eye candy, for the thrill of the moment, could have reason to dismiss this miracle. Jesus was allowing for some commitment to be realized in the believers minds, to believe the Messiah and not the opinion of others.

What is the message for us today?

The message for us today? This miracle is pregnant with application, from the Lord’s concern for the family unit, (if my assumption is true!) to the Lord’s command over time. What?

Time

Yes, His command over time is a very real truth that pops out of this miracle. He took time to heal a woman with the issue of blood, and yet this decision did not restrict the Teacher from accomplishing His original task. He simply did what we consider impossible.

A friend once asked me to find everywhere in the New Testament where Jesus ran. You know, where Jesus was in a hurry, or was running late. Dang it all for the time I spent looking, but I couldn’t find a place where Jesus was “late” for anything.

This miracle speaks to His schedule being per the Spirit, and that He simply looked to the Spirit as opposed to His watch. (I know I know – No watches, but it would simply be corny to refer to his wrist sundial!) He is not controlled by time, nor does the effects of time hinder Him from His goals.

Try to understand. The effects of a time delay of His late arrival, that is her death, did not hinder Him from His original goal of healing her. This microcosm of truth, if expanded to each of our lives holds great promise, for we all have things in our past that are regretful, painful, and unchangeable. The facts do not change, as the little girl actually died, but the Messiah took a painful, terminal situation and brought something truly incredible out of it.

Tell no one

Earlier I had raised the question regarding those who witnessed the miracle as not to tell anyone what had happened. I hinted that this was a separating of those who believed from those who mocked the Lord, ridiculing Him as He spoke of her being asleep. In my world, if I had performed a miracle like this after being laughed at, I would have done the old “I told you so” to those who laughed at me. I know – that is infantile, but that little child still lives in me!

Not so for the Lord. Yes, those who laughed at Him would get precious little information from the witnesses, and that may have a sense of justice about it, but we must remember, all of these miracles are not about the recipient, or the method of the miracle, or any such thing like that. The purpose of the miracle is to identify Who this teacher was.

Who was this itinerant preacher walking with some fishermen and tax collectors?

He is the reason the miracle was provided, and to draw attention to the miracle would remove the focus on Him. In my feeble mind, I see miracles as an act of mercy from the Lord, as a provision from God to get our focus on the Messiah. In our twisted thinking sometimes, we too often focus on the miracle. This ought not to be.

He is the reason miracles are possible, miracles are not an end to themselves. Miracles are provided for four reasons as I understand. See our first post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for this list. Each of these reasons are to direct our attention to Him, not the miracle.

Resurrection

The daughter was resuscitated. She would eventually pass away, and face death again. Yet this is not the condition of the saint. Resurrection, not resuscitation awaits the saint. In my busy day, I so often forget that this life is but a breath, and resurrection is awaiting this ol’ fool. But again, this is our future miracle, and great as this miracle is, let it not distract us from the One whom we shall approach.

He is the focus and be all of our meager lives. Seek Him this day, and find One who is over time, over death, and over circumstances.

He is the Lord of Glory. He is good, and He loves us. Even in the details of providing food for the little girl! He is good!


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Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #14 – Jesus Heals a Woman in the Crowd

After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.

I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at

Jesus Heals a Woman in the Crowd

Matthew 9:20-22

And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

Mark 5:25-34

And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?'” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Luke 8:42-48

for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

General Observations

I gotta ask your opinion. This miracle happens after the stilling of the storm and the healing of the demoniac. How do you think the disciples felt about returning to Capernaum by crossing the Sea of Galilee with the Master?

One additional topic under the general observations heading is to consider what disease she was healed of and the impact on her life. The Word states that this woman “suffered a discharge of blood for twelve years”.

In today’s understanding of this condition, some think it may have been uterine fibroids, which cause bleeding. If this is the condition this poor woman was suffering under, physical symptoms may have included heavy menstrual bleeding, menstrual periods lasting more than a week, pelvic pressure or pain, frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, constipation and backache or leg pains.

One other possibility is a condition called menorrhagia, or prolonged menstruation, which is abnormally heavy blood loss and cramping that makes life increasingly difficult for the modern woman, but with solutions available, thanks to modern science.

This poor woman, whether the one condition or the other, found no relief of the physical pain and suffering she lived under. Either of these conditions are debilitating for the modern woman, yet for this woman, she was to experience additional sorrows we may not have considered. Let’s take a moment to consider this woman’s life in first century Judea.

Pain

We spoke of the pain above, but I would like to remind my readers that the pain she experienced was for twelve years. A modern woman has solutions to this pain, to the point of undergoing surgery to find relief. Not so for this poor woman, for she had exhausted all her medical options. She was desperate! No one was of any use to her! She had no hope.

Poverty

We don’t know of this ladies financial standing twelve years before this meeting with the Lord, but we know of her economic status on that fateful day. Luke, (the beloved physician) flatly states

she had spent all her living on physicians

Mark adds an additional fact when he writes

spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse

This poor woman was poor! She lived in poverty and had no hope of finding any earthly resolve through physicians.

Let’s remember than many in our modern world would not experience the devastating financial impact of this condition since the advent of insurance policies and subsidized medical procedures. This poor woman had nothing left and no hope.

Rejection

The rejection associated with this disease is surely not understood by our modern society, since we do not live under the law. But this lady did, and the impact was great!

An Old Testament passage specifically dealing with this woman’s condition may be found in Leviticus.

Leviticus 15:25-27
“If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean.

Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity. And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity.

And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.

But if she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean.

She was unclean and a carrier of uncleanness. Of no fault of her own, she became someone required to be alone, in order to protect others. This command was not related to a moral standard, (as in the ten commandments, such as thou shalt not kill) but to a physical cleanliness for the sake of the health of Israel.

Everything was contaminated by her. Her bed, her furniture, her loved ones. If she had been married, and possibly a mother, this disease would require her to be isolated from her God fearing family. The continual flow would have given no hope of reconciliation, and any short term stoppage would have only dashed her hopes again and again. She was to remain isolated for seven days beyond the stoppage, having the responsibility to stay away from other Israelites in order not to contaminate them.

Of course, this particular condition depended on the honesty of the woman, for it could be concealed. It was (to a point) a matter of conscience before God in keeping this regulation. Her isolation was a result of her being obedient to the law she lived under. It was the mark of a woman respecting the law of God.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

This miracle occurred directly after Jesus delivered the demon possessed man, and the people of the Decapolis asked Him to leave. Returning to His base at Capernaum, a crowd greeted Him and His disciples. This was a crowd very familiar with the Master, having seen many of the miracles Jesus had performed, or at the very least had heard of this miracle worker. And why not, for out of the thirteen previous miracles, seven had been performed in Capernaum. Truly this city had much light shone on it during our Lord’s time on earth!

So we know the audience included a crowd familiar with Jesus, and of course the disciples were within ear shot of the Lord. The unnamed woman who received the miracle was in attendance of course, taking advantage of the multiple people to keep a low profile.

But there was one other person, who was certainly an anxious observer, one who also was facing a crisis, that Jesus seemed to consider worth waiting on for this woman.

When did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See https://www.bibletimelines.net/timelines/jesus-ministry

Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.

Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?

By all accounts, the Lord did not express any intention of healing this woman, and the entire miracle was predicated on the actions of this desperate woman, who determined the means and method of the healing. She fought through the crowd to touch the hem of His garment, after He agreed to go to Jairus’ home to see the daughter who on the brink of death. As a matter of fact, the daughter died during the healing of this woman.

Why did the Lord stop from his mission to heal Jairus daughter to heal this woman? Complete conjecture on my part, but notice that the woman’s disease had lasted twelve years, and Jairus daughter was a twelve year old girl. Considering the possibility that this woman was the girls mother, the entire family may have been destroyed by this issue of bleeding, for a synagogue leaders wife must surely follow the ordinances of the Lord and be separate from the family to keep them clean!

Certainly, as we discussed above, this woman was unclean according to the ceremonial laws of Leviticus, and this was known by only two people in the crowd. The woman and Jesus. By pushing through the crowd, this woman was contaminating every person she touched! She was to bear the burden of this action, but she was desperate. Her conscience was overridden by hope in this miracle worker.

By touching Jesus, He, by the law of God, had become ceremonially unclean, (if He had been a simple Jewish man). But this was not the case. He was not simply protected from uncleanness, but he cleansed those who reached out to Him. He is not an unwilling passive recipient of uncleanness, but an active distributor of His grace. Let me repeat this mantra, since it is a recurring theme in the life of our Savior.

He is not One who is reluctant in providing a saving act upon those who reach out to Him.

What was the message for the original audience?

The message to the woman?

First thing Jesus required was self identification of the one touching His garment. The question was baffling to all who heard Him, except for the “guilty” party. Jesus actually asked who touched Him twice. Her conscience must have struck hard at the sound of His voice, but she confessed her wrong doing. She declared in the presence of all the people why she touched Him. She came clean (in her conscience and her body) with her act of faith and confession.

Upon this public admission, Jesus followed the law’s commands and told her to go isolate for another 7 days, berating her for making Him unclean. Oh – I’m sorry – I was thinking of my natural reaction to someone interrupting my sanctified walk with the Messiah.

No no no – Our Savior surprised this lady, not only with the healing, but with His response.

Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace

I especially like the manner Matthew communicates the message of the Master to the woman.

Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.

To take heart, is another way of saying to be of good courage, or to be of good cheer. She came trembling to Jesus, and after facing Him, confessing her act, left with confidence and joy. And don’t forget – she was healed by a non-physician without permission or payment!

What is the message for us today?

No name people sometimes receive miracles. Although this woman took matters into her own hands, she is one of the few folks in the New Testament, receiving a miracle, that doesn’t have her name recorded. This is heartening for the “nobodies” in the body, those that haven’t become a name within Christianity, that haven’t attained to a professional status, or is well known for great ministry. You know the type, (unless you are one who is too busy for them).

Personally, my wife and I consider ourselves to be in this group of believers, those who have no name recognition, have no visible ministry, who plug along trying to please God in our silent efforts. Yet He loves us, and beyond that truth, He has shown us mercy in our lives.

A notable point of mercy was the healing of my favorite wife. Sweetie had been diagnosed with a fatal heart/lung condition by two different doctors, and in my trying to grapple with this news, it became obvious I had not fully absorbed the impact of this diagnosis. During a beautiful fall morning on the porch with our tea, I asked her what flowers she wanted in her garden the next year. She looked me in the eye and said it didn’t matter. She may not be around to enjoy the garden. I will never forget that morning! It finally sank in.

Multiple weeks later, the doctors, in tracking the disease, were confused in finding that the disease was no longer showing up in the testing. That was over ten years ago, and I am amazed at the mercy of God in providing my wife an extended stay on earth. And His mercy on me for letting me have her a bit longer!

He shows mercy in healing of the body. If you have been following Considering the Bible for a time, I assume you know I reject the charlatans that parade on TV, the internet and radio, making a living selling the name of Jesus the same as a bottle of snake oil, or promising health (and wealth) for only $49.95.

Yet Jesus shows mercy, in the quiet of our lives, without the need of fanfare or advertisements. As a miracle occurs, Jesus asks for public confession of the miracle and admission of any sin, in order to make the healing one which not only benefits the recipient, but glorifies God.

Have you experienced the healing mercy of God within your life? A healing of the body? A healing of the spirit? A healing of emotions. Share in the comment section below if you feel comfortable.

He is good and He is good all the time!


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion. If you know someone this blog may bless (or challenge), send them a link, so they may join us in our discussion

Come join us at Considering the Bible

Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #13 – Jesus Casts Demons into a Herd of Pigs

After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studied the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.

I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at

Jesus Casts Demons into a Herd of Pigs

Matthew 8:28-33

And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men.

Mark 5:1-20

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea. The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

Luke 8:26-39

Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

General Observations

I shall refer to Mark primarily through this post since it seems to provide the greatest details, yet a minor comment on Matthew may be prudent.

A common question arises as to whether there were one or two demon possessed men? Matthew informs us of two demon possessed men coming to Jesus, but Mark and Luke refer to one. Is this some sort of contradiction, or is this simply the gospel writers giving information they feel pertinent. After all, if two demon possessed men come to Jesus, and one of them leads the “discussion” with the Lord, this does not contradict Matthews account. Matthew does not say there was only one demoniac man. It simply clarifies that one of the men was prominent.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Looking at the previous passages in Mark 4, Luke 8 and Matthew 8, the Word describes Jesus spending the previous day with the disciples and a large crowd, delivering a number of parables. Night time fell and they crossed over “to the other side” strewn about on the sea by a great windstorm, which the Lord unexpectantly calmed.

When they landed at the other side, Jesus and His disciples were met by a demoniac. This sudden appearance of a demon possessed man may have confirmed the disciples attitude of this region being predominantly pagan. See below, under our “Where” heading for a bit of information on that.

Those in the audience included the disciples, although reference to them is strangelyabsent, the demoniacs of course, the herdsmen of the pigs (Mark 5:14) and eventually people of both the city and the countryside. What started out as an apparently chance encounter blew up to include a large crowd, presumably including the owners of the pigs that were possessed and sacrificed to the sea.

When did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See https://www.bibletimelines.net/timelines/jesus-ministry

Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.

It is interesting that the Jewish population of Jesus day considered the Gadarene/Decapolis region (east of the Sea of Galilee) to be pagan. Although the demoniac is often described as from the Gadarenes, this may have been simply the designation of the region, for the text speaks of the demoniac coming to Jesus immediately. Based on that, I consider modern day Khersa (Gergesa) to be the likely city from which the people came, and where Jesus docked the boat.

Nevertheless, the people of this area were commonly described in writings of the day as being descendants of the original seven Canaanite tribes. This people group were assumed to be descendants of the original people of the land, that were never completely removed from the land during the time of Joshua. The general Jewish population considered these folks pagan, worshippers of Baal, a people that ate and sacrificed pigs in their religious endeavors.

Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, this question occasionally defies a concrete answer, since the text sometimes allows the reader to make his own conclusions on the reason of the Lord’s work.

This miracle is, on the surface, a result of the demoniac’s interactions with the Lord. First off, upon entering the area, Jesus immediately began to say to the demoniac “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit”.

Jesus did not hesitate to enter this pagan area, exorcizing demons from the first man he encountered. As an aside, might He have been symbolically performing the task left by Joshua and the nation of Israel as they entered the region? Joshua’s generation were to remove the pagan influence from the land. Was Jesus acting as the true Joshua? If so, this is quite instructive, since Jesus left after the people of the land revealed they didn’t want to be rescued. This reveals not only the heart of men, but also of the Lord. He is One who seeks to save, but does not to force His will on those refusing. The only one delivered this day was a demon possessed man that appeared to be the least likely candidate for salvation. And the Lord did not abandon this “pagan” area, providing a light for these people. This demon possessed man, known by all in the area became a witness of the goodness of God, in the person of Jesus for the rest of his days.

The demoniac then requested a delay of tormentation (is that a word?) from the Son of of the Most High God. The demons then bargained with Jesus and had the nerve to request for the coming exorcism to be directed to the pigs.

A specific reason for this miracle is not given, other than to provide respite for a man possessed, and to change his opinion of who God truly is. Jesus ministry was cut short due to the regions rejection, as this miracle was the only ministry Jesus was able to provide before being “kicked out”!

What was the message for the original audience?

I suppose this question may have multiple answers, considering there were at least three audiences impacted by the miracle.

First, the demoniac. The message was clear. The Son of the Most High is a saving God, not a tormenting God. This single truth should make each of us consider how we view the Messiah. But that needs to be reserved for our next point. Jesus, God in the flesh, the perfect representation of our Heavenly Father, the One who did nothing without the Father’s direction, completely changed the atmosphere of the meeting. What began in an accusatory manner from the demoniac, was transformed into an atmosphere and attitude of gratitude, and a willingness to learn of Him.

Lets not miss one other point. The demoniac somehow understood the Son of the Most High to be a condemning messenger. Where did he get this from? I would suggest that the demons have to teach everyone under their influence a message of condemnation from God, in order to fuel the hatred they feed on. Consider the source!

Secondly, the disciples. They witnessed an unlikely, hate filled accusatory, demon possessed man become a follower of Jesus within minutes. Beyond this unexpected result, the Lord tossed him “back to the wolves”, telling the healed man to go home and speak of the good that the Lord had performed. The city folk, along with those of the countryside were not in an accepting mood at the time, and this fellow had mere moments with the Lord before entering “deep water”. The disciples had months with Him and will eventually accumulate years of being with Him. They had a singularly critical mission to perform, requiring much more than a simple witness.

Thirdly, the crowds of the region, including the owners of them thar pigs. This group did not receive a message as intended, but closed their ears due to the bleeding of their wallet. They were steeped in rebellion, and possibly had been fired up by the owners in getting rid of this itinerant preacher, who decimated the local business. Two thousand pigs is a huge “flock” to loose, and I imagine the economic impact of this miracle was quite devastating. No, they would not consider who had the power to deliver men from demonic influence, since this may lead to understanding they too needed deliverance.

What is the message for us today?

From the demon possessed man’s standpoint, the message for us today is to be a simple witness, to speak of the good things that the Lord Jesus has performed in our lives. We are also to mimic the life of Christ, representing a saving God, and not to repeat the lie of a demon, assuming God “is anxious “just can’t wait” to torment His creation. What utter balderdash!

From the disciples perspective, a message for us today is to be open to surprising acts of God. This application is somewhat difficult since reference to the disciples is completely absent in this telling of the miracle. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that this miracle was not expected – dang the stilling of the sea wasn’t expected either! Jesus was One who did the unexpected.

It was a few years ago when I heard a preacher tell his congregants to expect the unexpected. Consider this statement. To expect something is to take away the character of being unexpected. Sometimes a message sounds good, but upon inspection, simply makes no sense. Such is the case with this one. The great news of the Savior is that He has the ability to surprise us with His work, and we can be thankful for His present care. But don’t try to expect (demand?) the unexpected. Just be happy that the Lord loves you and is a saving God.

From the general populations standpoint, the message is also clear. Don’t be like them! Dat’s simple now, ain’t it? These folk primarily had wrong priorities, seeing an economic impact only, and not considering the incredible human impact of the Messiah’s visit to their region. They quickly judged the One who healed, condemning Him and requesting He leave. So non-typical of the Messiah Himself. He sought them out, they sought him to leave. He looked to heal, they wanted to remain sick. He provided a hint of what may come, they decided to remain in the past.

How ’bout you?

Are you quick to judge who Jesus is? Are you rejecting Him simply due to someone’s bitter spirit or complaints? Go to the source and not some gossip rag or hatefilled preacher spreading lies about the type of God Jesus is. Remember that the demoniac assumed Jesus came to condemn.

Jesus brought salvation.

He is good, and He is good all the time!


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Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #12 – Jesus Calms a Storm

After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.

I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at

Jesus Calms a Storm

Matthew 8:23-27

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Luke 8:22-25

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

General Observations

For some reason, one of the first questions that rose in my thinking was the size of the boat. How large of a boat did the 13 men use to cross the Sea of Galilee?

That ignorance is unnecessary since a boat was unearthed near the region of Capernaum. This boat, sometimes called the “Jesus Boat” has been dated to approx. 50 BCE, and is typical of the boat Jesus and His disciples may have taken across the Sea of Galilee on that fateful night.

What is surprising is the size of the boat. Per the graphic to the right, the boat may have been 27 foot long. That is the approx. length of a UPS van.

Not an ocean liner to say the least!

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

The audience were the twelve disciples.

And other boats were with Him. Mark simply adds this snippet, without adding any additional information. Did the other boats venture out into the sea with Jesus and His disciples? Nothing else is spoken of concerning the other boats in the three gospel accounts of this miracle, yet it intrigues me that Mark added that info.

When did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See https://www.bibletimelines.net/timelines/jesus-ministry

Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.

Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?

Jesus performed this miracle at the request of His disciples, who were afraid for their lives. Turns out fear is a major theme in this miracle. Both before and after the miracle! But let us consider the circumstances for a moment.

The fishermen among the disciples knew the Sea of Galilee. They had spent their lives fishing on this body of water and knew of these dangerous gales that could strike at a moments notice. They were experienced sailors, yet with this storm they were beyond their own abilities in controlling the circumstance, in maintaining their safe passage. Prior to waking Jesus, I imagine Simon, Andrew, John and James, the experienced fishermen, had enlisted all of “them thar landlubbers” of the group into any help they could provide. Although I am somewhat reluctant to say it, this storm provided a great team building exercise, but I think this was not the intent! This storm had greater messages than that.

Wind

The wind is described as a great windstorm, and Luke provides us the added information of this storm coming down on the lake. This added information helps greatly, since it speaks of the winds from the surrounding mountains sweeping down into the hot tropical air of the lake basin. The ferocity of the wind and the contours of the land surrounding the lake merged together to create a very perilous trip across the sea. This storm may have caused the other boats that were with Him initially to turn back, but that is pure conjecture.

Waves

With the wind sweeping down on the sea, the waves became an additional threat to the lives of those in the boat. The text speaks of the boat being flooded with water. The Greek word symplēroō Luke uses in 8:23 describes the boat as being “swamped” or filled with water. This was a terrible position to be in, and for these experienced sailors to be found helpless must have been very humbling.

Golly, they can’t even take care of their Master in the very element they are experts!

What was the message for the original audience?

Where is your faith? Although the telling of the miracle often highlights a lack of faith the disciples, they knew who to go to in the middle of the storm. Admittedly they had few options beyond exhausting their own resources, and yet they went to Him, asking Him about His care for them.

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

The storm is whipping us to the point of sinking and You are asleep. Can’t you man the rigging, or take an oar to help us ride the storm out? Everyone is taking part in getting us through the storm. We need your help. Don’t you care?

It is interesting that the text speaks of the disciples waking Him, to ask of His care, and the very next verse speaking of Him waking up. Did they have to wake Him twice? That is not clear, but when He awoke, He definitely did not help the disciples in the way they had hoped.

He simply spoke to the wind and the sea. Peace! Be still!

Take a moment to consider how unexpected this assistance is. All of the disciples are in terror, doing all they know how to do, and their Teacher addresses both the obvious and not so obvious problems. The obvious problem He addressed by simply speaking two words to the elements. Calmness returns to the sea and the boat, with it’s inhabitants, are safe once more from the elements.

Yet the fear in the disciples hearts about their survival in the storm becomes great fear, not in the storm anymore, but in the identity of the One in their midst.

Who in the world are we hanging out with here? The sensory overload of the storm, the adrenaline pumping through their veins, the survival instinct that took them to their limits is to be contrasted with the One who simply spoke two words to the elements, and then challenged the disciples about their natural survival instincts as being out of place.

He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

The disciples had left all they had to follow after this Rabbi. They had seen miracles as bystanders, witnessing of His power and might, of His abilities, but this miracle included the disciples. They simply hadn’t translated what they had witnessed as they saw Him heal a leper, or raise a widows son into their own experience.

The One they were following brought great fear into their lives. What manner of man is this One? These disciples had been taught of the Lord God being over the sea, for the Old Testament speaks often of the sea reacting to the rule of God. Stories of the Lord God opening the Red Sea for Moses, of the Lord God bringing the flood in Noah’s day, and of the Lord God stilling the sea during Jonah’s rebellion.

Specific passages may have rung in the disciples ears as they considered what manner of man was in their midst.

Psalm 89:9 You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.

Psalm 77:16 When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled.

Psalm 93:4 Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!

Were the disciples beginning to grasp that the One asleep in the back of the boat moments ago is the Lord God in their midst?

What is the message for us today?

Two applications for my own life occur to me, and may apply to my reader.

Faith

A personal experience with the Lord God, in the person of Jesus Christ is the faith being questioned by the Lord to the disciples. Hearing of others experience with the Lord does not make me a disciple. Watching God do miraculous things in others lives does not make me a believer. Mental assent to truth, to agreeing that something is true or has happened in the past may provide support for my faith, but it is not faith.

Faith, if I am reading this passage correctly, is personal. It is not my Pastor’s faith, or my wife’s faith, or anyone else’s faith.

I have heard of faith as being defined as follows a few years back, and it has greatly helped me to better exercise faith in the Lord. Faith is hearing the Word of God, understanding the message of the Word, and agreeing to comply with the message. This definition helps me with the inclusion of understanding.

The disciples were beginning to understand, through their personal experience and their questioning amongst their selves of who this Man was, that they were in deep waters, (theologically speaking.) The implications began to pile up, and the emotional impact what they had just went through drove home what their eyes had only seen previously into their very hearts and lives.

Care

This tends to be a hobby horse for this blog, in that many posts seem to return to the theme of the Master’s love and goodness to His people, His creation.

How often have you questioned the loving concern of the Master when you are in the midst of a storm? The psalmist often requests the Lord to wake and defend his cause. Many times, in the Old Testament, God’s saints have asked this question, and I know I have asked this question far to often. Yet in the midst of the storm, the very request is answered, and He rises to the cry of His people.

And if we have ears to hear, we may understand that our faith may not be as it should be.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion. If you know someone this blog may bless (or challenge), send them a link, so they may join us in our discussion

Come join us at Considering the Bible