Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #11 – Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son in Nain

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 a Widow’s Son in Nain

Luke 7:11-17

Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

General Observations

Where in tarnation is Nain? This incredible miracle of raising a dead man wasn’t performed in the City of the Great King, or presented before the hierarchy of the Jewish political and religious bodies, but in a small town north. What is the significance of mentioning Nain at the beginning of this miracle? Turns out, even the geographical references of a miracle bears witness of the greatness of our Leader.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

This miracle occurred in front of a great crowd, with His disciples in attendance. At this time, I see no reason to exclude the Pharisees from this group, as they are collecting data for their analysis and judgement in front of the Jerusalem leadership on how they are to react to such a Rabbi.

Also, a considerable crowd from the city was with the funeral procession. Many people were to witness a raising of the dead child!

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?

The previous question of where the Lord performed this miracle has become a key for my understanding of this miracle.

You see, Nain is a city that rose up a few miles to the north from the ancient city of Shunem. When I mention Shunem, a number of Old Testament passages may come to mind, but you will not find it referred to in the New Testament. By the first century, Shunem had been abandoned and Nain had risen up in the area.

One of the Old Testament passages that is eye opening for myself is the story of Elisha and the wealthy woman in 2 Kings 4:8

One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food.

Do you remember any particular instance that the people of Nain may recall of the prophet of Elisha, and this woman? As an expression of gratitude for supplying respite at her home Elisha asked his servant Gehazi, what he may do to show his appreciation. She was childless and Elisha spoke of her bearing a son within the next 12 months. She of course refused to believe, but that didn’t stop God from doing as He said.

Interesting background, but the kicker is what happens next. The kid dies! Elisha was used of God to raise the child from the dead and heal the widows broken heart.

Do you see any parallels? By now the miracle of raising this poor woman’s son from the dead by the Lord is becoming increasingly linked to this Old Testament passage. (See 2 Kings 4 for the story of Elisha and the Shummanite woman)

But there are a few differences that make our story instructive.

A Difference of Hope

The Shummanite woman sought out the Prophet Elisha. She had some hope. She had a relationship with the prophet of God and trusted in the God of Israel. She provided for God’s prophet and experienced the miraculous gift of her son.

We don’t know of the woman from Nain, whether she was a believer in the God of Israel before the miracle. Golly, we don’t know if she even became a believer after the miracle. But at the time of the miracle, she had no hope, didn’t expect any help and was in the midst of a deep lonely sorrow over the loss of her only son.

A Difference of Effort

Elisha’s efforts to raise the child for the Shummanite woman was in multiple (failed?) stages. First off, Elisha sent Gehazi, his servant to lay the prophet’s staff on the child’s face, yet the child did not respond. Elisha’s second effort was after he entered the room with the child, and alone with the child, prayed to the Lord, laying his body on the child. This effort produced a warming of the child, but no life. Upon having no success at this time, it appears Elisha became somewhat frustrated, walking back and forth in the house before once more stretching himself upon the child. Upon this third effort, the child was brought back to the land of the living.

Jesus stated seven words. No recorded mention of prayer. No preparation to perform this mighty work. He didn’t even touch the child, but only stopped the procession. Seven words, my friend. Seven words.

Young man, I say to you, arise.

His spoken word has authority. His compassion for this widow in pain delivered the son back to the mother. The comparison of efforts for these two similar miracles is somewhat startling!

A Difference of Receiving

Sometimes a seemingly insignificant detail provides an illuminating truth. Notice that upon the raising of the Shummanitie’s child, Elisha gave direction to the mother. “Pick up your son”. We don’t know the tone of Elisha’s voice, but something tells me he may not have been too approachable at the time.

When the widow from Nain was intercepted by Jesus, the text states He gave him to his mother. Jesus not only raised the child from the dead, but continued His interaction with the mother by formally/physically giving the child to his mother. Compassion extended beyond the miracle.

A Difference in Audience

Elisha, in his efforts to raise the child, performed all his actions alone, behind closed doors. No witnesses.

Jesus performed this miracle amongst two crowds as noted in the introduction, a great crowd that had been travelling with Him, and a considerable crowd associated with the funeral. Many witnesses.

A Difference in Expectation

This may be closely linked to the difference in hope discussed above, but the Shummanite woman sought out Elisha, pushing past Gehazi and grasping the prophet. She flatly stated her frustration with the prophet, blaming him for this “deception” of having a child, only to loose him to death. It isn’t obvious if she had any expectation of Elisha raising her child, but she surely sought out the prophet seeking some kind of remediation.

The poor widow of Nain expected only to see her son lowered into a grave that day. She had no one to blame, criticize or reach out to for consolation that we read of. No husband, no other children, no one to connect with in the middle of her pain.

A Difference of Deliverer

Elisha was one of the paramount prophets of the Old Testament. Although no book of the Bible is named after him, it should not be interpreted as his unimportance. More miracles were performed by Elisha than most any other prophet. A careful reading of his history compared to Elijah, shows he performed twice the number of miracles than his mentor. No small figure in the Old Testament narrative.

Yet Jesus is so much more. He is the One Elisha looked to for his ministry, and He is the One who orchestrated Elisha’s success with raising the child. He knew of this day with the widow of Nain and provided a history for the crowd to connect to, to compare, and to come to a conclusion regarding His status compared with Elisha.

What was the message for the original audience?.

The crowd was struck with fear, and they glorified God due to this mighty work. The crowd understood the miracle by claiming that “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and that “God has visited his people!” Although a positive response to the miracle, I am not convinced this was the intended message.

Consider the background we have discussed above in relation to Elisha’s miracle. In every aspect, Jesus comes out as the greater miracle worker. Aspects of His kindness and compassion explode on the scene for this widow.

Note that the crowd glorified God (although He stood in front of them ) and stated that God had visited his people (even while He walked among them). They did ascribe to Jesus the status of a great prophet, yet how great a prophet? He is upon consideration, much greater in every way than Elisha, their local prophet.

These differences must have echoed in the minds of some of the crowd after the commotion settled, and caused those with any desire to pursue God, to compare this Rabbi with the great prophet Elisha, to question their assumptions and hopefully seek Jesus out. He is certainly One to investigate, for He is not One who leaves a situation without a challenge and a choice.

What is the message for us today?

Many messages occur to me at this time, but I would like to encourage those reading that Jesus may show up at any time. This poor widow of Nain had no expectation of any deliverance on that sad day. She only knew her son was gone and that she was now all alone in the world.

As a parent who has lost a son, I can attest to the pain. Yet as a family, we had each other in our pain. I can not imagine the deep sorrow this poor lady was experiencing, yet in the midst of this great pain, Jesus strolls up to the procession, takes control, and delivers her son back to her.

Dear reader, He has the option to show up in the middle of your greatest pain, yet He is always with us, giving comfort as we seek Him. We may find Him showing up in many ways, but even in the midst of pain, we are to look to Him for guidance and His will, understanding His compassion.

Recall that He was good five minutes before this miracle, while the widow was in pain, and He is good now. He doesn’t change.


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 #10 – Jesus Heals a Man’s Withered Hand

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’s Withered Hand

Matthew 12:9-14

He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”–so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

Mark 3:1-6

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

Luke 6:6-11

On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

General Observations

This post will address our passage from a perspective related to the miracle, but has been considered in two posts earlier. If the reader would like to consider them, links follow.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

The faithful were in the synagogue, along with Jesus’ disciples (it is assumed). The ever present judging Pharisees and scribes were available, to discern the Lord’s works and determine if He really is the Messiah. See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #7 – Jesus Cleanses a Man With Leprosy for background as to the reason for the Pharisees and scribes were in attendance of the Lord’s ministry of teaching!

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?

The Pharisees asked a question of the Lord. This Sabbath question was a paramount issue for the Pharisees, for it became the center of thier disputes with the Lord in many of their discussions/debates.

“Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

The Pharisees came out with a simple question, at it’s face value, for it must be obvious that since the Sabbath was one of the Ten Commandments, it must overrule any type of healing. After all, healings, if to be performed, could be done on the other six days of the week, to allow, no – to keep the Sabbath holy.

This very logic is what I believe propelled the Lord to heal on the Sabbath. The miracle was incredible, but the message was blasphemous, unless of course, a greater authority than the Ten Commandments was present. Two options, it seems to me, were available to the Pharisees

  • Admit that their reading of the Law was in error, and that the Sabbath was subservient to this renegade Rabbi, eventually admitting to His Messiahship.
  • Hang on to their religious heritage, and the current teaching of the Pharisees, under the cloak of faithfulness, and begin to plot His destruction. (Hopefully they would not destroy the Son of Man on the Sabbath though!)

On a positive note, the Pharisees eventually did learn not to ask the Master any questions, since He constantly responded with flawless logic, showing their weakness of understanding of the Word.

I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?

The Lord asked a question, after He recognized the Pharisees and scribes in attendance at the synagogue. He knew their thoughts (Luke 6:8), understood their mission, and gave them a challenge in regard to their sacred Sabbath laws.

What is the intent of the Sabbath in relation to the law? To do good or bad?

A little later in the book of Matthew, Jesus used a “greater than” argument, (Matthew 12:6, 12:41 and 12:42) but in this case, He compared good with harm, saving and destroying. He is not mincing words when He lays the gauntlet down, for He is teaching with authority, with a miracle about to happen that will reinforce this teaching. It will either light the Pharisee’s on fire for Him, or enrage them with fury towards Him. Sadly, we know which road they took!

What was the message for the original audience?

For the fringe element within the synagogue, they saw a young rabbi discuss a core doctrine of Jewish faith with the Master’s of the religion. A simple question seemed to nail the experts to the wall, with the following miracle seemingly closing the door to any argument. Those in this fringe group, listening in on the discussion with the Pharisees, and watching the healing had enough to make a decision on the importance of this rabbi.

As for the Pharisees, Jesus again linked His teaching with a miracle that was directly from on high, reinforcing the message and the Messenger. The Pharisees eyes saw a miraculous healing, but their ears refused to hear and admit to the truth. The Pharisees refused to consider that the rabbi before them may actually be the long awaited Messiah, whom they had thought they wanted.

It seems the Pharisees were not wanting to adjust their desired understanding of the Messiah based on truth and works proving such a person. They wanted a Messiah that would be as they expected, to fit their own ideas, serve their purposes. When One came that proved His identity over and over again, yet didn’t fit their preconceived ideas, they refused to repent.

I am afraid this may be a common problem amongst the faithful.

What is the message for us today?

In the Markan account, the 5th verse, the Scripture speaks of Jesus looking at “them” with anger, being grieved at thier hardness of heart. I am assuming those He was specifically looking at were the Pharisees, since the discussion was centered on the Sabbath’s intent in relation to the law, and they were the experts. He was angry with those who would eventually nail Him to a cross, but His anger was centered on their refusal to respond and thier hardness of heart.

Jesus was angry.

The term “angry” is the Greek word ὀργή, transliterated to orgē, and is found in the gospels only five times. That is amazing in itself, but what I find incredible is that this is the only passage where it describes the anger as belonging to Jesus. The other four instances speak of wrath to come, or the wrath of God on a sinner prior to faith (John 3:36).

Where are you going with this Carl?

The message I am beginning to see out of this passage is somewhat surprising to me. Understanding the inner reaction of Jesus towards those who were seeking His failure as Messiah (and His eventual death), Jesus reacted by healing a man. He did not strike them with fire from heaven, or call down twelve thousand angels to wreak havoc on them. He sent a message. He healed a man!

Consider the Messiah in this instance. He sent a message that should shake these men to the core by convicting them of their error through doing good to a poor man with a withered hand. Conviction of error was communicated to men by way of goodness, by way of healing. He, while experiencing anger, provided a healing for a man, and sent a message of truth and conviction to the Pharisees. This is amazing! When was the last time, in the throws of an “angerfest”, you decided to bless someone?

Did the Pharisees experience shame in the midst of the synagogue attendants? It seems obvious by the way they reacted! Surely, the logic and miraculous healing proved Jesus to be in the right, and therefore the experts to be in the wrong! Yet this was a message of mercy to the Pharisees. Jesus continues to provide these messages of mercy to us as we walk with Him.

Consider the next time a period of shame comes into your life. You may be experiencing shame even as you read this, having difficulty facing your friends or family due to some known error in your life. No fun! Not a pleasurable experience!

But let me ask you – How do you react when shame or embarrassment comes into your life? Think of those proud Pharisees and their decision to refuse to learn from the shame. They were fighting with the Messiah of God, and the end result was personal destruction, and to pull their beloved nation closer to utter collapse within 40 years.

Granted, I do not think any believer reading this post has a nation depending on their decisions for survival, but each reader does have the opportunity to react to personal shame in a positive manner, admitting to errors and exercising humility, even as our Master has practiced, even the sinless Son of Man!

We aren’t perfect, and we need to walk humbly with our God, knowing of His mighty mercy and our tendency to react poorly to His correction.

He really is good! Try to remember that!


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 #9 – Jesus Heals a Paralytic

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 Paralytic

Matthew 9:1-8

And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he then said to the paralytic–“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

Mark 2:1-12

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he said to the paralytic– “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Luke 5:17-26

On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he said to the man who was paralyzed–“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”

General Observations

I have to admit it. This is one of my favorite miracles, for it not only shows the Lord’s grace to a totally helpless soul, but also that the Lord responds to the love others have for the one needing help.

Note that at this time, per Luke’s account, Pharisees and teachers of the law were “sitting” and listening in on His teaching. When I read that they were “sitting”, I mentally replace that word with “judging”. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were listening to His teaching in order to discount Him, to test Him against a standard they had established.

This visitation of the Pharisees and teachers of the law was actually an expected occurrence, a response to the healing of the man with leprosy. You see, in the performing of the miracle of the leper, Jesus actually challenged the nation to investigate His work. (See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #7 – Jesus Cleanses a Man With Leprosy).

The Pharisees and teachers of the law were on assignment, listening, testing, judging and waiting for a mistake, a time when this young upstart rabbi would fail, revealing His false status. They needed some way to discount this young teacher, finding some contradiction, and thus revealing His lies and deception.

Of course the Jewish leadership were in the dubious situation of determining if He truly was the Messiah, and had to have a critical mind. This it seems does not phase the Lord, for truth can easily withstand scrutiny. As a matter of fact, truth welcomes scrutiny, for the Lord did request this testing. The trouble in this scenario is that those sent to judge this new Rabbi would allow bias, pride and jealousy to color their judgement.

Not the best attitude to have when listening to the Lord when He speaks!

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

As the text states, the Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, possibly enjoying front row seats as it were. After all they were the important ones, were they? The house was packed, and it is safe to say the disciples were present. Beyond that, the remaining audience were locals of the city, neighbors and others who showed an interest in this new teacher. It was a packed house, with every opening clogged with people wanting to hear this new teaching.

Those who attended this teaching session were about to get blown away. Luke tells us that “amazement seized them all”. Amazed, or as Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines the term – “a throwing of the mind out of it’s normal state”. Truly, this audience were about to experience their mind being “blown away”.

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 with each miracle, it is becoming apparent to myself that as a miracle was performed, it revealed the mercy the Lord upon an individual and their loved ones. I assume many who read of the miracles see this as a primary reason for each miracle. After all, we understand Jesus to be the friend of sinners, the One who consistently reached out to the helpless and downtrodden, the weak and poor. This is not at all to be discounted, for He is the One who cares for us, for each of us in our circumstances, in our weakness and in our confusion.

Yet, the Lord in His wisdom and with His mission in mind, had a much greater purpose beyond exercising His grace and mercy to a few individuals in the nation of Israel. His ministry included healing, but healing was not an end to it own. Healings were an instrument to allow those with open eyes and ears to understand Who had arrived.

Both the Lord Jesus’ words and works testified to His person. The Pharisees and teachers of the law would find plenty to consider after this miracle!

What was the message for the original audience?

Friends Faith

As I mentioned above, this is one of my favorite miracles, and one of the reasons this is so, is because it seems it was the faith of the friends that brought about the mercy to be extended to this paralytic man. The men that brought their friend were late to the party, yet their faith would not miss this opportunity.

But these fellows destroyed a roof! Seems a bit much. Couldn’t it wait until the crowd dispersed? Couldn’t they have simply cried out to the Master until they got His attention? So many possible scenarios come to mind, but we have a recounting of this miracle that speaks of the paralytics friends desire to help their friend, and it seems these men were men of action!

Let’s take a moment to consider the roof. I have imagined it was literally pulled up by the friends in order to get to Jesus. Yet as I have researched this miracle, I found that the house the Lord was teaching in may have been in an upper room, such as we see in the famous Acts 1:13 account of Pentecost and also of Paul’s teaching in Acts 20:8. If so, typical upper rooms had flat roofs with parapets surrounding it as required per Deuteronomy 22:8. With all this background information, it is important to consider that these friends may not have went on a destruction spree, but used a “roof door”, that the owners used to access the roof when needed. The tiles of the roof may have been intended to be removed.

Nevertheless, whether the friends actually damaged the roof in order to get to Jesus, or used a common access point, where the tiles were intended to be used for access, both situations should not take away from the faith of these friends.

What I always come away from this miracle asking is, Did the paralytic have faith? Nowhere in the passage, is the paralytic specifically referred to as exercising any faith, and the Lord responded to the paralytic based on “seeing” the paralytic’s friends faith. The faith expressed in their effort to get a man who couldn’t move in front to Jesus.

Can you think of another instance in the Word, where the faith of friends or relatives impacted one who didn’t exercise faith? You may be surprised once you consider this question. I can think of at least three other miracles.

Proofs Provided

As mentioned above, I am convinced that this miracle was an offer to the Jewish leadership to consider Who He was. Without this understanding, it seems that Jesus initial statement to the paralytic of forgiven sins was “unnecessary” He had healed before without stating of the forgiveness of sins. Now, in front of a formal delegation of Pharisees and teachers of the law who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem (see Luke 5:17), Jesus throws the gauntlet down.

Immediately, the scribes and Pharisees began to question this statement. This is exactly the bait the Lord offered to the Pharisees, in order to provide “the judge and jury” a point of discussion. They were rightly thinking that only God can forgive sins, and if Jesus was merely a fallen man Himself, this would amount to blasphemy. Their logic was correct, and forced one of two conclusions.

Either this new Rabbi committed blasphemy, or the unthinkable was staring them in the face. Jesus offered them a choice of how to consider this mighty work, with an offered conclusion. Note the “that you may know” clause in the following passage

Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he said to the man who was paralyzed–“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” – Luke 5:23-24 ESV

Obviously, to the human eye, it was easier to claim this man’s sins to be forgiven, for this was a claim that could not be refuted, since no physical evidence would be required. Of course this claim of sins forgiven, would bring about a cleaving of opinion within the nation of who this Rabbi was, with the Jewish leadership, along with most everyone else in the nation, requiring the cruel death of the Only One who truly loved them.

Yet He claimed the paralytic had received forgiveness of sins, since a physical healing, I imagine is easier for Him. You see, to heal a physical ailment did not require a direct command from the God of the Universe, but could be performed through an intermediary, such as a prophet or as we see in the New Testament, the apostles. The healing was relatively easy for the Lord, since the the forgiveness of sins required the cross.

How could One who represented God in the healing of the paralytic, also make such a bold statement of His authority to forgive sins without bringing upon himself the judgement of breaking the 9th commandment? Unless of course He truly had this authority. By tying these two conditions together, Jesus provided the judges a logical proof of His deity. And a huge problem!

No wonder they were blown away! The confusion these poor Pharisees and scribes experienced, in a very real way, was self inflicted due to their preconceived notions of Who this One was. This is the common experience of every living soul who has considered the One who came to earth, walked about in a small nation, taught the truth and died a cruel death.

The implications of this miracle were far beyond a mere physical healing!

What is the message for us today?

I suppose the message for us today would include a minimum of two applications.

Truth Seeking

First off, Jesus isn’t threatened by honest inspection or anyone asking searching questions of His personhood. He actually invited the Pharisees and scribes to inspect His ministry, and when they came to the invite, provided them copious evidence to consider.

For any to consider asking Him hard questions might offend the Master, out of some “respect” towards God seems to me to be a wee bit of an excuse to avoid the truth. If you are a truth seeker, ask the hard questions. The problem with this is that we fear we may get the evidence that causes us to make a decision.

Let’s be honest in our claim of being a truth seeker, if we do not want to accept evidence when presented. This is a contradiction that needs to be admitted to, if we claim our intent is to find the truth, and yet allow for the rejection of evidence!

Unstoppable Friends

Consider those friends of the paralytic that decided Jesus could (and would) cure the paralytic, how they carried him from his home, saw the problem of a choked house of listeners, climbed the outdoor stairs to the roof, risked their relationship with the owner of the house in removing the roof tile, interrupted the Lord in His teaching, and lowered this man to the Lord. The friend’s faith, which the Lord saw, was the impetus of the healing.

As a matter of fact, the paralytic is passive in all the accounts. He is simply lying of a cot, being carried by his friends or healed by the Lord. Only after the healing, does the paralytic become active in any way, in that he obeys the Lords command to pick up his bed, and go home.

What does this communicate to us today? How much of an impact do we have on our friends and family. Acts of goodness, that may include some risk, or inconvenience, or of an unorthodox effort, may be what is required.

After all, the Lord shocked an audience and challenged a religious leadership due to the the actions of a poor paralytics friends!

Such a fantastic miracle! He is good, and He is still providing proofs to those who ask. This day, as you go about your business, drop any attitude of criticism, and adopt an attitude of openness to His proofs!


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Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #8B – Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant

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. In our previous post on this miracle, we ventured into harmonizing the two passages, and informed my readers that this post will continue with the format we have used previously.

With that said, let’s return to the passages of the centurions servant.

Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant

Matthew 8:5-13

When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him,  “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.  I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

Luke 7:1-10

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

General Observations

We resolved a seeming problem with how this miracle harmonized in our last post. With this post we will return to our common format to respond to this mighty work of Christ with a dirty Roman, and religious Jews!

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Neither text records the miracle actually occurring. This is a moot point, since we can assume the slave recovered as many others did upon hearing and obeying the Lord’s voice. When the slave recovered, we may safely imagine that at least the house of the centurion would have witnessed it.

The audience for the discussion is much more interesting! Were crowds following the Master as He entered the city of Capernaum? If we follow Matthews gospel as chronological, (which at times does not provide this luxury) we may understand that large crowds were following Him after His sermon on the Mount. (See Matthew 8:1)

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 in many of our previous posts, the motivation, the exact reason for a specific miracle may be difficult to determine. With this miracle, the teaching that pours out from the Master’s lips provides reason enough. Of course, the preliminary motivating factor for this miracle includes faith. A Roman centurion’s faith!

Initially, I want to assign the compassion of the Lord as the reason for the miracle, in response to the centurions faith. This is definitely an underlying motivation. Yet, there seems to be a deeper reason within this discussion between the centurion (and those representing him) and the Master Himself. Matthew especially labors to explain the contradictions of what occurred to produce this discourse, and the resultant surprising outcomes! Matthew, the apostle who wrote specifically for the Jewish people, provides a message to fellow readers of the gospel, comparing the faith of a Jewish religious population with a “dirty gentile”.

What was the message for the original audience?

If we accept that the original audience included the great crowd that followed Him, we must remember that this crowd consisted of religious Jews, primarily from the region surrounding Capernaum, a city that later would become the topic of condemnation from the Master.

Jesus introduces His disappointment with the occupants of the region, comparing them with a “dirty gentile”. He often refers to those outside of the nation of Israel as examples of a faith that should have been exemplified by God’s people. (Old Testament examples of non Israeli faith include Caleb, Rahab, Ruth, Uriah, the widow of Zarapeth, Naaman, the Ninevites and Nebuchadnezzar.)

Referring to the faith of “dirty gentiles”, the Master intended to bring a realization to those who would listen, and also to shame those of the chosen nation who refused to hear. Jesus sought to break down religious pride, to even shock the religious elite into a repentance bringing true faith.

This miracle provides an opportunity for the Lord to teach those who thought they were in good standing that they may not be! No one in Israel had the faith of this Roman – a “dirty gentile”, need I remind you. No one!

This response of the Lord comes directly after the centurion speaks of authority. The centurion never mentions the term faith, only speaking of authority! This is instructive, since it is the Lord who equates authority and faith. Turns out, authority and faith go hand in hand. All faith is associated with authority, but true living faith has to be associated with the true living One of all authority. Faith in a false God, whatever that may be, is faith, but based on a non-authority.

Consider your choices during the last two years, during which we had many “authorities” telling each of us to perform certain duties. Where did you turn to for direction, when multiple voices were demanding your allegiance? Which authority did you look to for direction?

What is the message for us today?

This centurion who commands Roman soldiers compares his authority over men with the Lord’s authority over sickness, and this comparison provides the topic of faith in the Lord’s response. This centurions authority over his soldiers was used by the Master Teacher to set an an example of the One who has the greater authority.

But notice that the gospels speak of the centurion’s “highly valued” slave. This is also somewhat surprising for in the first century, slaves were simply pieces of property, even tools for the owner to do with as he pleased. When Luke refers to the slave as “highly valued” by the centurion, he used a Greek word that may also be translated as precious, dear, even honored. It appears Luke may be telling us that the slave was more than merely utilitarian to the centurion. He loved this slave.

In my imagination, this is a great mini-gospel within the story.

  • The centurion (as the Father) acted out of love for a sick slave (us).
  • The centurion (as the Father) loved the nation of Israel.
  • The centurion (as the Father) was beyond the religious life of the nation of Israel, yet ruled over the nation.
  • The centurion (as the Father) made multiple efforts to “cure” the slave, using various methods.
  • The centurion (as the Father) humbled himself in order to attain his goal.

In turn, the nation despised him.

There are multiple gospel parallels within this accounting of the centurion. Take a few moments to consider if I may have missed any.

Or better yet, consider who you identify with? The slave, the religious, or the dirty gentile?



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Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #8A – Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant

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.

Although I typically use a format I found useful for the parable posts, this particular post will be in two parts, with a possible harmonization on the two texts being considering in Part A

With that said, let’s take a look at

Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant

Matthew 8:5-13

When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him,  “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.  I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

Luke 7:1-10

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

General Observations

Who came to Jesus? Was it the centurion or the elders of the Jews or the centurions friends? Matthew states that the centurion came to Jesus, while Luke states the centurion sent elders of the Jews to Jesus. Even laterLuke adds that the centurion sent his friends.

What is going on?

Lets compare the two gospels, and try to find a resolution to this seeming problem by considering the following order of occurrences. (Thanks to CARM.org for assistance in understanding this harmonization)

The Centurion’s Strategy – Step One

Luke 7:2-5

2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” 

A setting for our story is provided. The centurion’s servant is sick, very sick to the point of death. He seems desperate, beginning with requesting favor of a miracle working rabbi in the vicinity. During the Lords teaching on the mount, the centurion may have heard of the gathering to hear the rabbi, and headed to the synagogue to plead with the elders. It seems the centurion had considerable influence with the elders, since he built the synagogue for them.

This is his first line of request to the Master.

Remember this is a centurion, who lives by considering strategy and battle plans. He is seeking success with this rabbi, and sends his first line of “attack” to Jesus in the form of the elders of the Jews.

The Centurion’s Strategy – Step Two

Matthew 8:5-6

5 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.”

Here comes the centurion’s second line of “attack”. Had the elders returned already, and informed the centurion? It seems not – see Luke 7:6 below.

So why had the centurion approached the Rabbi? Was this a calculated part of this warriors strategy, to wear the Rabbi’s possible resistance down and gain His favor?

Or had the centurion, out of anxious concern for his valued slave, simply not waited? Was the centurion showing the emotional burden of his slave’s sickness, and was simply not able to restrain himself from approaching the rabbi himself?

I am of the opinion that the centurion just couldn’t wait. He was out of his mind with worry and needed to take advantage of this rare opportunity to request help from Jesus. Who knows the exact timing and circumstance, but it seems apparent that this centurion was motivated out of love for his slave.

The Lord’s Simple Response – to a Gentile!

Matthew 8:7

7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

Jesus simply agrees to come to the centurions home to heal the slave. He agrees to come to a gentile’s home, even to possibly enter it! It is interesting that Jesus defines that He will come to the centurions home. More on this later!

Is the Master using this request to emphasize a topic, or to provide an illustration? We have spoke of the reason for the miracles in our introduction to this series, and occasionally in each post. This miracle seems to have provided an opportunity for the Lord to teach on the relationship between authority and faith. We will look at this further in our next post.

The Centurion’s Strategy – Step Three

Luke 7:6-7

6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.

Jesus went with “them”, which may be referring to the elders of the Jews. This implies that the centurion, after his personal request to the Master, rode off to return to his home. Remember my friends, he was a centurion, and centurions were afforded horses to travel about their district, while the Master simply walked everywhere.

As an aside, verse 7 mentions that the centurions did not “presume” to come to the Rabbi, but we saw just a verse or two back, that he had actually approached the Lord. This presumption of the centurion is referring to the centurions feeling of unworthiness in front of the rabbi, not of his actual actions.

Luke then tells us that as Jesus approached the centurions house, the centurion sent friends to confess of his unworthiness for the Rabbi to come under his roof. This may be the centurions way of respecting the cultural differences of the Jews, and how good religious Jews would not enter “dirty gentiles” homes. Remember Cornelius, in Acts 10, where Peter had to be convinced against his religious convictions to enter a “dirty gentiles” home to deliver the message of the gospel?

Yet the centurion does not want to loose this opportunity, and confesses his understanding of the Lords authority through his friends request to the Master.

This topic of authority is key to the miracle. The centurions understanding of authority rises to the occasion. His word is enough to move his army, to send his soldiers into battle. He does not require to be near his soldiers in order for their obedience to be exercised. His logic of authority is flawless in this regard, as well it may be for a roman soldier.

How would it be of any difference when applied to this miracle working rabbi. Why would there be location limitations imposed on the miracle working rabbi, since the miracles, in the centurions logic, are also based on authority, and not on location?

The Centurion’s Confession

Matthew 8:8-9

8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Luke 7:8

8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Authority. This topic will become a key element of our next post.

Matthew 8:10-13

10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

Luke 7:9

When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

Authority. Faith. Jesus links these topics together, and uses a “dirty gentile’s” understanding to upbraid a religious nation.

When was the last time God used an unlikely subject, even one who may seem to be against you, to teach you an important lesson? As we close this post on harmonizing this miracle, I cannot help but to encourage us all to watch for the mysterious working of God in our lives, seeking to break us down and to conform us to His image. He is mysterious in His workings, and we have to be open to His many ways of teaching, even through a “dirty gentile” who may be oppressing you!

By the way, I would have been of the “dirty gentile” persuasion (a Canadian by birth, and Texan by choice) and I use this expression only to emphasize the first century Jewish common thought. We have our own issues with dividing people from each other. This aught not to be!


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Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #7 – Jesus Cleanses a Man With Leprosy

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 Cleanses a Man With Leprosy

Matthew 8:1-4

When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.  And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”  And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

Mark 1:40-45

And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

Luke 5:12-14

While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

General Observations

This miracle speaks to a medical condition that plagued the nation of Israel for it’s entire existence. Leprosy was an incurable sickness throughout the world until very recently. The curse of leprosy produces nerve damage, resulting in blindness, kidney failure, muscle weakness and disfigurement. Beyond the medical suffering, the leper became a social outcast, condemned to being “outside the camp”.

To this day, to call someone a leper, is to imply a status of an outcast!

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Rockies

Matthew speaks of the miracle occurring as great crowds followed Him down the mountain. If we understand Matthew to be chronological here, this occurred after the Lord gave the nation of Israel the Beatitudes, the laws for Kingdom living. Luke mentions this miracle as happening in one of the cities. As an aside, this does not force a contradiction in the gospels, since it was not uncommon for a city to be at the base of a mountain.

Mount of Beatitudes

Also, it is good to understand that in Israel, a mountain is not the equivalent of the Rocky Mountains on the west coast of Canada. The Mount upon which the Lord gave the Beatitudes is commonly believed to be near Capernaum and is actually 25 meters below sea level. (Yes the top of the mountain is actually 25 meters (~80 feet) below seal level!)

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?

On first review, it seems the miracle was provided to alleviate this lepers suffering. This is the nature of our Lord, in providing deliverance for those who are suffering, looking to Him for salvation.

Alleviating the leper was not the primary reason for the miracle, for this miracle was a challenge to the nation. A challenge to the priests of Israel to research the miracle and make some decisions.

Let me explain.

The Old Testament book of Leviticus addresses leprosy in chapters 13 & 14. Chapter 13 provides detailed instructions on diagnosing the disease. Chapter 14 gives instructions to the priest on what to do if a leper was cleansed.

Throughout the nations history, no leper had been cured. Moses and Miriam were miraculous occurrences of leprosy, both in there acquiring the disease and healing of the disease. No priest’s had ever needed to refer to Leviticus 14 for directions on how to proceed. Leprosy was a death sentence for it’s victims.

Because of this non-occurrence of healing for a leper in Israel, and the Scriptures providing detailed instructions for a priest, the Pharisees reasoned that any healing of leprosy would be a Messianic miracle. This would initiate an investigation phase by the priesthood into the miracle, in order to validate the miracle. If this investigation determined the leprosy was cleansed, and the miracle was a bona fide healing, a second investigation would begin. The Pharisees would then launch an investigation of the One who performed the miracle, asking questions to the miracle worker to determine is the Messiah had truly arrived.

With this miracle, Jesus told the Pharisees to investigate. As my wife mentioned this morning, the Lord was telling the Pharisees to “get to work”! As expected, after this miracle, the gospels record instances of groups of Pharisees attending His ministry, watching His movements, questioning (and condemning) Him.

Jesus did not shy away from challenges to His ministry. He is the truth and provided the proof to those of an open mind and heart. He also understood this investigation would lead to His crucifixion, due to the hardness of the Pharisees position, and dependence on their religion.

He is the truth, and there is no denying it! For Him, to declare the truth will result in His death. For us, to deny the truth is to result in our death.

He is the One who is great! We certainly are not, and need His love and grace.

What was the message for the original audience?

The original audience, that is the great crowd, saw a miracle no other Israelite had ever seen. Multiple witnesses could be called upon for verification. The message they received, if they were literate in the Word, was one of a miracle worker being introduced formally to the nation, of One who claimed to provide proofs of His position as Messiah, and was openly declaring His claims as Messiah.

Oh, and also, they saw a leper get healed before their very eyes! How cool was that? Consider the rarity of this action of touching the leper. The passage in Matthew states that “And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him“. This is not to be discounted, since the nation had instructed every little boy and girl that to touch a leper was to become unclean, acquire the disease itself, and be rejected socially and religiously.

Jesus touched the leper and Jesus cleansed him. He did not simply declare the leper clean.

He had declared miracles before without touch, and was fully capable of standing far off and healing this leper, yet He made a point of touching the leper, the unclean, the rejected. This is backwards to the logic provided in the Old Testament. Haggai instructs us that uncleanness is transferred to the clean, and that cleanliness is not transferred to the the unclean.

Then Haggai said, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.” – Haggai 2:13

Jesus was no typical rabbi!

What is the message for us today?

Two messages seem obvious to me.

First, Jesus is the Messiah. His claims are verifiable and He wants you to investigate. He has provided multiple evidences of His Messiahship, and our ignoring of the proofs falls back on us if we ignore or reject. His greatest proof of who He is, is the resurrection. He is risen and is by very nature and work, King of Kings and Lord of Lord.

Secondly, He is a God who is not far off. He is a God who touches, who reaches out to us.

This truth came home to me during a class I taught years back. I began to hug my class mates as they entered our home, and although I was not faithful in maintaining this practice, I found that this simple act of touching opened people up to discussing issues and concerns in their lives, providing assistance (if wise) and ultimately directing them to the Lord for solutions.

The act of touching, physically touching one who is hurting, is powerful. Amongst sinners and saints, the act of touching is a catalyst for the formation of trust. How much more, when the God of the universe reaches out and touches one who is in need?

Who have you touched today? Be like Jesus, and reach out to one who is in need.


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Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #6 – Jesus Provides a Catch of Fish

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 Provides a Catch of Fish

Luke 5:1-11

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

General Observations

This is the first time Jesus provides a catch of fish for His disciples. It is the only time He provides a catch of fish prior to His resurrection, and only Luke records this miracle. The fact that this is the only gospel that records a catch of fish was somewhat surprising to myself. I expected multiple gospel accounts.

The miracle was intended for the disciples, for the Lord told His disciples to put out into the deep, implying the miracle occurred away from the crowds on the shore He had been teaching earlier.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

As I mentioned above, the principal audience was the disciples, and all others on the two boats that were to push out to the deep. Whether the crowds could see or understand what was going on is not clear, and is not disclosed as to it’s impact other than the disciples that were initially dumbfounded by the mighty work.

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?

I understand Jesus to perform His miracles for specific purposes, some of which are clearly identified within the text, and some of which are somewhat veiled. By that I mean, each of the miracles are intended to exhibit the identity of this Rabbi that was speaking new words, that He was the One that the nation waited for, longed for and hoped for.

Yet, this one miracle has a specific purpose. The purpose was not to supply food to the disciples family, for as the test states…

And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

The mighty catch of fish may have simply rotted in the sun, which I highly doubt, but the point is that the focus of the disciples lives took a major turn here. They no longer identified themselves as fishermen, for they left everything behind them. It is interesting that though the text states they left it all, this is not to be understood as they gave it away, sold it or in some way gave up ownership. No, we need to remember that later in the gospels (John to be specific), Peter is out fishing again, presumably on his boat with his equipment.

What was the message for the original audience?

What was the message. Let’s read it once more.

“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”

The message was directed to Peter, yet I am confident the other disciples heard the message. Can you imagine the Lord looking you in the eye and telling you “Do not be afraid”? Afraid of what though? They had just experienced a gold rush of profits!

When I first read this passage years ago, I thought Peter’s initial reaction was ludicrous. Pull those fish in, bank the profits and buy your wife a Maserati. How wrong was I in seeing earthly gain as the intent of the message. Peter’s ears were of a different ilk. Peter reacted properly.

…when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

The fish were simply a vehicle to stir Peter’s conscience and soul. He ignored the fish, and confessed Jesus as Lord. The text does not state that Peter simply was astonished, but that he recognized the source of this miracle, understood the authority of the One who stood beside him and confessed Jesus as Lord.

And Peter told the Lord to depart. To go away, for he was sinful. He had the natural reaction that anything (anyone) holy could not be with the unholy. He surely did not understand, as we most likely do not understand, the great desire of the Holy One to be with His creation, to find a way to be with His people. He has sought us out since the garden, and continues to seek us as we wander away. Seeking us to the point of death, even death on the cross.

Peter also confessed his sinfulness. What specifically was Peter confessing to at this time? Was it that he argued with the Lord about His initial command to set out into the deep? Maybe. At least that would be the immediate thing in my mind. Yet he didn’t confess an act of sin, but that he was a sinful man. This is instructive in my mind, since his confession spoke of his condition, and not just a single act of omission or commission.

I am of the understanding that when we recognize who Jesus is and His character, power and grace, the natural reaction is to see ourselves in the light of that understanding, to see our weakness, rebellion, and general disregard for God and His ways.

What is the message for us today?

The message for us today is “Do not be afraid”. From a stance of boldness, of a proper fearlessness, the result will be that we will “catch men”. You see, I don’t understand the phrase “You will be catching men” as a command so much as a result of understanding Who Jesus is.

So was Jesus telling Peter (and the other disciples) to not fear Him? Would that be consistent with the Biblical narrative of God’s desire to be with His people, to be in relation with Him? Peter obviously reacted in fear, as I know I would have, seeing this miracle occur in front of my very eyes. The fact that Jesus could produce an overabundance after Peter and the gang had failed, must have caused a multitude of emotions, but the overarching one was of fear.

How often the disciples must have asked each other – “Who is this that can…..”

For us today, the message seems clear. Understand who this One is, who God is, and the unbounded power and love He has expressed in the cross.

Peter began to understand because of the experience of the miraculous fish. He experienced many miraculous events. Yet Peter would admit that the greater proof of Jesus’ deity and our relation to Him must be based in the prophetic Word. Peter truly was an eye witness of His power. He actually heard the voice from the heavens, declaring the identity of Jesus. And what does Peter tell us to do? Should we seek our own miracles, dreams, or visions, finding a basis to believe in Jesus through miracles?

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,”
we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, – 2 Peter 1:16-19

With his witness of all the miracles, Peter directs believers to the prophetic word. This “knowledge” needs to find it’s roots in the Word of God, and to be understood through prayer, meditation and obedience to the known will of God.

Don’t seek miracles. Give the Lord freedom to grant at His pleasure. Crack open a Bible and find a foundation safe and secure for your faith. Gain a boldness through understanding the strength and power of the Lord Jesus, of His desire to be with you. Reject the attitude of telling Jesus to depart. Admit your sinfulness to the Lord Himself, and admit to yourself that Jesus is seeking you.

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.

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Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #5 – Jesus Heals Many Sick at Evening

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 at Evening

Matthew 8:16-17

That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.  This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

Mark 1:32-34

That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

Luke 4:40-41

Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

General Observations

Now, in the previous post, we spoke of Jesus performing the miracle of Peter’s mother-in-law being healed, and how the audience was small, and of the closest friends to the Messiah. We made comment that God is God no matter who is watching, and that His purpose in displaying power over sickness is not always for the masses. He sometimes works in quiet.

If the intent of the previous mighty work was to simply heal his disciples mother, the effect seems to be that attention was drawn to Him no matter!

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Two categories of people were brought to Jesus at sundown. The sick and the oppressed/possessed of demons. Although this is not be the first time we have come across in the gospels the existence of demons, this particular instance speaks of “many who were oppressed of demons”.

This audience was massive in relation to previous instances of Jesus’ mighty works. Mark 1:33 speaks of the whole city of Capernaum gathered at the door. Obviously not everyone was sick or demon possessed, but the spectacle of a miracle working Rabbi brought everyone out!

And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Mark 1:33

It is estimated that Capernaum had about 1,500 people residing in the city. The wedding at Cana may have had numerous guests (but few witnesses – see Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #1 – Jesus Turns Water into Wine), but with this mighty work, many in the audience were intimately affected by the Messiah through His healing ministry.

When did the Lord perform this mighty work?

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

Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?

Check out the download file provided in the introduction to this series. Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction

Why did the Lord provide this mighty work?

Matthew provides a reason. The healing ministry of the Lord, during the night of mighty works, was to fulfill prophecy.

This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” Matthew 8:17

What prophecy? What prophecy is the apostle directing us to, that Jesus fulfilled on this night of mighty works?

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows – Isaiah 53:4a

For Matthew to assign the night of mighty works performed by the Messiah as to fulfilling this prophecy is totally unexpected. When I read the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, I think crucifixion, not a single night in Capernaum. And yet Matthew associates Isaiah 53:4 with physical healing and casting out demons.

Of course, this Old Testament passage is also applied to the crucifixion by Peter in his second epistle

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 2 Peter 2:24

So, if this prophecy is fulfilled during the night of miracles, how is Matthew wanting us to understand this? May I suggest one intent of Matthew was to inform of how the miracles were performed. The passage Matthew quotes here speaks of Jesus taking our illness and baring our diseases.

Notice that both verbs have the general sense of accepting something from someone, of receiving something from someone, of carrying a burden for someone. It is not my understanding that during this night of miracles, the Lord simply deleted demons and illness. In relation to the demons, the passages speak of them being cast out. The healing of the sick is another matter, if only in my understanding.

At this point I am simply riffing, that is, supposing a thought. Was it that the goodness of God, the life resident in the Messiah, would simply overpower the physical sickness of the “patient”? Or was it that the Lord Himself “exchanged” the sickness with His health? Questions of the curious I suppose. No matter, for in the grand scheme of things, Jesus declared His identification with the Messiah found in Isaiah 53, through this night of mighty works in a little city on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus, healed and casted our demons, from residents of a city that would end up faithless towards Him.

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. – Mathew 11:23

Why did Jesus chose to heal so many in a city that ultimately would reject Him?

What was the message for the original audience?

For the one receiving the miracle

The message was that Jesus was a miracle working rabbi, that healing and casting out of demons was not beyond this One who travelled the area. Each of the recipients of a healing, would have an experience, face to face with the Messiah, an experience that should have drawn them to the Messiah, caused them to have a desire to know His message, to know Him. And yet, I can’t get away from the fact that this city ended up in greater danger of judgement than Sodom and Gomorrah.

For the Jewish leadership

None of the passages speak of the Jewish leadership, but as we will find out as we venture through these mighty works, Jesus’ displays of power over nature were not welcomed by the rulers.

For the disciples

The message for the disciples is not explicitly referred to in the passages, yet I can’t help to assume that this extended concentrated healing ministry of the Lord would have caused more questions than answers.

When will He stop? Why is He taking in so many? How can He do this? Will this healing ministry eventually heal everyone? Is Jesus going to reign over a nation of completely healthy people? (Will doctors be put out of work?)

What is the message for us today?

Hind sight is 20/20. As we watch the Messiah walk His ministry, we find that the miracles were intended to reveal His person, the God-man. Physical healing and the casting out of demons during the Master’s time of earth primarily were works that revealed His arrival, of the Kingdom of God arriving, and that the Greater King David was on the scene.

Can we as believers, by faith, demand healings of multitudes? Will not mass healings exhibit His personhood even today? Of course , this is not the history of the body of Christ. Healings may occur, (through the mercy of God), yet it is often in sickness and grief we sense God’s loving care, and realize that no matter how God deals with us, He is good, He is able and He is wise.

Some may teach that healings of this nature are the natural outcome of being a believer, that is, we also have authority over sickness. This seems to be emphasized in the “ministries” of faith healers, touting their message to the weak and infirmed. Personally, I believe many of the current “healing ministries” I have looked into reek of greed and avarice, and bring much disgrace to the body of Christ

Have you a ministry of healing? Have you, through prayer and fasting, brought health to the sick, or casted out a demon? I would appreciate if you tell your story in the comments below. Although I struggle with healing ministries, I am open to being corrected, through your personal story and the witness of the Word of God.

Thanks again for joining me as we venture through Jesus Mighty Works!

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.

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Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #4 – Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law

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 Peter’s Mother-in-Law

Matthew 8:14-15

And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever.  He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.

Mark 1:29-31

And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

Luke 4:38-39

And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

General Observations

Peter’s mother-in-law was sick, and I find it interesting that, as is commonly accepted, Mark is the gospel that Peter influenced. With that knowledge, although each of the passages above are of equal value and supplies much of the same information, I would like to dwell on Mark’s passage since it has a “personal” connection with Peter’s mother-in-law.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

The audience was a restricted group for what I can tell. Simon of course, possibly his wife, his brother Andrew, along with James and John. Oh, and the mother-in-law of course!

When did the Lord perform this miracle?

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

Where did the Lord perform this miracle?

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

Why did the Lord perform this miracle?

The passage speaks of the disciples telling Jesus of the sickness. Luke does mention that the disciples appealed to the Lord for a healing, but it is interesting that “Peter’s” gospel doesn’t mention this. Mark states they simply told Him.

No matter the inflection of the statement, the Lord thought nothing of going to the sick lady, taking her of the hand, and lifting her up. No concern of an infectious disease. No concern for His own welfare. We will see this general attitude as we venture through the gospels, that He did not refrain from reaching out to the hurting, the diseased, the poor and destitute. This concept of “no fear” speaks of His power and authority, but I will not venture down that road yet.

Let us simply take away from this passage that He did not fear those we sometimes look away from.

What was the message for the original audience?

The passage does not directly speak of the reason for the healing, or of a message that the audience was to receive, so my imagination may run amuck here!

When a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Jesus is God no matter who sees it, who the audience is or who is paying attention. Moments before, the Lord was in the synagogue, healing the demoniac, and the result was that His fame spread everywhere. Everywhere!

With this miracle, it was limited to the house of Peter. A very small number of witnesses. They had already begun to see miracles by now, and this one would be overshadowed by many others in the future. Lazarus, for instance!

Now I am not trying to say this miracle did not exhibit the glory of our Leader, or the might of the Sovereign One. No – not at all. But there is something about Jesus performing a miracle, in a small itty bitty house, with few people around. It is an exhibition of His humility in a sense, how He is One who does not seek fanfare for the sake of fanfare.

He is reaching for hearts, not seeking clapping hands!

What is the message for us today?

In the book of Matthew, the Lord spoke of a city on a hill, of a lamp not being put under a basket, and so often my mind wanders to the concept of many people seeing the city, of multitudes receiving the light from the lamp. This may be the intended effect the Lord tried to communicate, and yet this does not restrict the quiet deeds of a heart that seeks to please God.

The lamp sheds light no matter the recipients, whether few or many.

Many believers may feel inadequate to be a central figure, one who is on display. There may come a time for the shy and withdrawn to take a public stand, or to rise publicly to their convictions. This is a great challenge and may be a specific calling at some time in their lives.

Yet I would like to draw your attention to a passage in Matthew that may somewhat shed some light on my muddled thoughts I am pursuing.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:2-4

Jesus did this mighty work in relative obscurity. Very few people witnessed this healing. The passage in Matthew above speaks of alms, that I understand. Yet there is a place in the believers life, that he (or she) are to go about quietly doing good to others, without fanfare or acknowledgement. Not as a showy, attention grabbing televangelist, seeking honor and glory for his own ministry, but quietly doing good to others, because it is their nature to do good to others.

Jesus did (does) good all the time. In front of friends and enemies, many and few, rich and poor, healthy and sick. He is good, it is His very nature! Out of His nature, His holy and loving character, flows acts of mercy and kindness that we are recipients of.

Do you recognize this in our Savior? Is He One who turns up in quiet areas of your life, performing good deeds quietly, seeking to minister in ways that few may not see or notice?

Be like Him. He is good.


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.

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Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #3 – Jesus Drives Out an Evil Spirit

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 our third mighty work of Jesus

Jesus Drives Out an Evil Spirit

Mark 1:21-27

And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

Luke also provides a record of this mighty work.

Luke 4:31-36

And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”

General Observations

Two items in this passage jump out to me.

First, this passage is about authority. The authority of Jesus in His words and works. Both the words of Jesus, in His teaching, and the actions He takes in His healing of this demoniac demonstrate that this humble rabbi is much more than a humble rabbi.

Secondly, as a young believer, this passage caused me a bit of confusion. If the possessed man is speaking the truth, why would the Lord of truth rebuke him and tell him to be silent?

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Of course, the disciples were present. Additional witnesses this this mighty work would include those who were in the audience, observant Jews, in synagogue for the sabbath, seeking to obey God’s call on their life.

Little did they know that God was going to show up that day!

When did the Lord perform this miracle?

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

Where did the Lord perform this miracle?

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

Why did the Lord perform this miracle?

A difficult question, for He may have simply sought to rescue this demon possessed man, or at the least remove the this disturbance in the synagogue. After all, the synagogue was a sanctified building!

I think the last phrase gives us a hint as to the reason this mighty work was performed, for the miracle supported the authority of His words, giving those who heard Him an encouragement to follow Him, or conversely, a reason to persecute Him. How often it is that it is either the one or the other.

Notice the first reference of authority in this passage, where the audience speaks of the Lord teaching “as One who had authority”, that He was not referring to other men’s teaching as the scribes would. It was common practice for the average scribe to depend on past authorities, men who had also depended on past authorities.

We know that Jesus depended on the Word of God for His foundation of teaching, and His interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures continually shocked His audience. The issue of Him not depending on past teachers, and being in sync (fully) with the Old Testament, must have been shocking to His audience.

When He performed His mighty work, this dependence on the singular Word of God, this “teaching as one who had authority”, was reinforced, and the opinion of the audience changed. This teaching was with authority! He didn’t simply appear to be “One who had authority”, but this rabbi possessed authority!

As my momma used to say, He walked the talk!

What was the message for the original audience?

The message for the original audience was that the One who was present had authority, not like the scribes, not like the teachers of the day, not like anyone else.

Thinking about this might work, it provided a number of messages to the original audience. As mentioned , those in attendance changed their opinion of the Masters teaching and ministry. They saw proof of His authority, and were not simply surprised. Mark 1:22 & Luke 4:32 both speak of His audience being “astonished” at His teaching. This word speaks of being struck with amazement. Of being shocked, even to a point of panic.

After the mighty work was performed, both writers used a different term, a term that describes the effect of the miracle to include fear. The audience were amazed at this miracle, and that amazement included the element of fear. The audience was frightened.

Of course, having a demoniac enter the sanctified area of a synagogue would be frightening to the average attendant. One who had greater authority than the demon would also incur greater fear. Who was this Rabbi?

What is the message for us today?

Who do you consider authoritative? I have spent much of my life referring to commentaries for understanding the words of Scripture, and I am thankful for the teaching they have provided. The teaching of the saints are a treasure trove of learning.

The issue is that I need to consider the teaching of past and present saints for what it is, and that the only real authority is the Lord Jesus. We are not to fall into the same trap that the scribes fell into, and that is they “depended” on past teachers, that “depended” on past teachers, that “depended” on past teachers. The source of the “teaching” was lost in dilution and the teaching being provided to the masses became a monster on it’s own.

To simply read, study, memorize and seek to understand the Living Word is one of the greatest challenges a present saint can venture into. To be sure, to seek to depend only on the Word is full of pitfalls and will induce periods of uncertainty, since we may find truths in the Word that go against our current denominational stance.

Fear not, study and search the Scripture and stand on the Word, gracefully speaking the truth in love. Finding truth from the Word and bellowing it out to all in an attitude of pride and arrogance is one of the pitfalls I can attest to. I need to constantly remind myself to walk humbly with the Lord, and exercise mercy and love towards those I am privileged to rub shoulders with.

One other truth is important, and I referred to earlier as an issue of confusion for myself as a young believer. Why would the Lord stop the declaration of the demoniac’s message.

Is not Jesus the Holy One of God? Did He not come to destroy the power of the devil? Of course these statements are true. So why did the Master command this man to be silent?

Was it too early for this truth to come out? Jesus had earlier visited Samaria, and had openly identified Himself to the woman at the well. The truth of Jesus identity had been given out to the Samaritans by this time.

Ok, so was it the audience, faithful Jews, that were not be be informed of this fact at this time? Was it too early for the religious Jew to hear the truth? Again, I am not convinced this was the reason, for at the baptism of Jesus, a voice from heaven revealed that this humble rabbi was God’s beloved Son.

So why did the Master tell this demoniac to shut up? A wonderful message needs a clean vessel to come from.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. – 2 Timothy 2:21

Although the truth came out of this demoniac, it actually damaged the message, in that all knew the demoniac was of the dark side, associated with violence, fear, lies and hatred. The message of the Lord Jesus is not to be associated with these characteristics. This is a great challenge for us who seek to represent our Lord Jesus properly.

A corollary truth also comes out of this for myself, in that I have fallen in my walk with the Lord far to often. But it is important to realize that a clean vessel does not equal a perfect vessel, or a vessel that does not need cleaning occasionally.

To be a clean vessel includes the concept of continual cleansing, as our passage in 2 Timothy informs us. Spend some time today alone with Him, and as the Lord speaks to you of areas in your life that are in opposition to His will, confess this sin, and if necessary, go to the one who you may have a strained relationship with, ask forgiveness, and seek to restore your peace with them, (if possible). Exercise humility, and a spirit of meekness, which is required for the believer to imitate, since the Master Himself is gentle and lowly in heart.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Matthew 11:29 ESV

A doctrinally pure message out of a defiled (proud) vessel may actually be an affront to our Master. Consider!

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.

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