Bible · Church · Church Authority · Commandments · Traditions

Traditions – 4

In our last post on Traditions, we suggested that the apostle Paul referred to “traditions” in the beginning of the 11th chapter of 1 Corinthians, and to the

Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. – 1 Corinthians 11:2

Fifteen verses later, the apostle writes

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. – 1Co 11:17 ESV

Paul commended the church for “maintaining the traditions”, yet needed to correct the Corinthians in the understanding of the head covering practice (tradition), and with regards to the Lord’s supper, he does not commend them (I do not commend you).

So Paul, when you say the church is maintaining the traditions in verse 2, I am beginning to wonder if you are referring to other traditions beyond the two you speak of in this chapter. Both the head coverings and the Lord Supper is requiring correction.

Is “to maintain” a polite way of saying the Christian church is keeping all the traditions alive with some correction needed in two of them? Is Paul speaking with grace towards this church, seeking to find something good to speak of prior to correcting them?

Nevertheless, we enter into the second tradition that many churches classify as an ordinance. The Lord’s Supper will be the subject of this post.

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. – 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 ESV

Divisions in the church. Paul’s first concerns in dealing with the Lord’s Supper is unity in the Body. Paul does not address what may be a fevered discussion in you church, whether you have wine of grape juice, leavened or unleavened bread, one cup or many cups, once a week or quarterly, beginning of the service or end of the service. The arguments go on ad nauseum, and prove the very point of the apostle. He called this church immature, and detailed numerous problems throughout this letter, exposing their childishness.

Of course this immaturity is what causes divisions, and Paul understands this better than most, but again, he is looking for something amongst the mess to speak well of. Check out verse 19, where the factions in the church actually expose the mature members, the genuine followers.

there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized

He finds some glimmer of reality in this debauched church, but immediately corrects the body, staing the divisions they live in expose the churches intentions, for in their actions they expose what they want, what they are looking to enjoy during the Lord’s Supper. Satisfying their gluttony. Serving their self. I have wondered in the past that the ones who are genuine, who are recognized, are the same group who Paul later on speaks of going hungry, and are humiliated during the Lord’s supper in having nothing.

Might this teaching of division have more to do with class structure as opposed to a doctrinal difference?

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ESV

Paul gives a history lesson, providing what the apostles must have supplied him, as the Lord established this tradition amongst His followers. So many things to consider in this passage, but I need to focus on the tradition topic within the church for this blog. Notice this practice/tradition/ordinance is to be practiced until He comes. No mention of scheduled rules or cycles to practice this tradition. This eating and drinking had a purpose, that is to proclaim the Lord’s death. The eating and drinking was not to provide an opportunity to gorge my appetite.

In every church I have ever attended, the opportunity to gorge my appetite has been completely removed. Usually a portion of a cracker and a few drops of grape juice are provided in a structured environment, controlled by sober men with deliberate actions in front of the group. This is not what I seem to read in this passage. It seems the Corinthians, in exercising this tradition, were coming together for what appears to be more like a pot luck with the body, as opposed to a structured ceremony.

Could this tradition be more about sharing of our goods, of providing a meal, of breaking bread with those we have fellowship with and recognizing the Lord’s death as opposed to a ceremony?

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another– if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home–so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. – 1 Corinthians 11:27-34

When the Corinthians came together to remember the Lord’s death, was it with an attitude of self serving gluttony, or with a proper reflection of the self giving sacrifice of the Lord in His death?

Jesus gave. We consume.

When Paul speaks verse 29, I am torn as to whether he speaks of the Lord’s body (Jesus physical body in the heavens) or the Lord’s body (Jesus mystical body, the church)

For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.

But Carl – read the passage. Paul speaks of “the body”. Not necessarily the Lord’s body, i.e. as some may have thought of earlier, thinking Paul is speaking of the Lord’s physical body in the heavens, the body that was broken and torn for our salvation.

I sense that Paul’s primary concern in this tradition is the unity of the group, unity of the body of believers. The body he speaks of is the church itself.

Love the body, in practical ways. Be harsh on yourself in your self judgement, and gracious to those who also trust in the living God. Wait for your brother. Satisfy your cravings in private in order to serve your brother in public. Don’t bring judgement to the church.

Give – don’t consume.


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Bible · Church · Church Authority · Commandments · Traditions

Traditions – 3

In our last two passages in Matthew and Mark, we looked at the corruption of a tradition by the elders. A tradition based on the fifth commandment, relating to honoring your parents. Jesus brought us back to the original authority, and put the religious leaders in their place.

Prior to Jesus rebuke, many may have considered the ongoing tradition of the elders as being an acceptable method of worshipping God. Jesus laid that idea to rest. This leads my suspicious mind to consider whether some of our current practices are actually creating traditions that may be avoiding teaching of the Apostles for the church.

Hopefully we will gain some understanding from the remaining passages that speak of traditions provided to the church.

Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. – 1 Corinthians 11:2

Ok, so this passage from Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, is commending the Corinthian church that they are maintaining the traditions he had delivered unto the church. A promising start in this study. Interesting that Paul provided a tradition (or multiple traditions) that he expected them to follow. But our question has to be – What were these traditions?

Immediately after this verse, Paul delves into the controversial head covering teaching, which speaks of authority, headship and honor. Fifteen verses later, he speaks of instructions (traditions?) that he does not commend the church for, that is, in their keeping of the Lord’s Supper. At the turn of the page, in the beginning of the next chapter, Paul makes a topical shift to spiritual gifts. Therefore, I would suggest Paul refers to two traditions in chapter 11.

Head Covering

If you have been following this blog, you may remember a post supplied on May 21st, where I provided a link for some teaching on 1 Corinthians 11:13-15. (See Let Me Tell You a Story – Head Coverings). In that post I spoke of my own struggle with this topic of head covering and found some answers in the link provided. Nevertheless, the intent of this post is to consider the tradition Paul handed down to the Corinthian church, what it was, was it cultural and are we to follow this tradition even today.

After the last two posts, where Jesus corrected the religious teachers and brought them back to the original authority, I am fearful of finding some excuse or reason to avoid this teaching. I suppose my concern is that I don’t quite understand this teaching.

Is it a tradition that emphasizes headship and honor, using a culturally accepted practice (long hair on a woman) to indicate submission and honor to her head? Or is it a tradition that is non-cultural, that is every lady in all of the churches worldwide, needs to have a covering in order to honor her head, her husband.

In two verses prior to 1 Corinthians 11:5, where a covering of the wife’s head is referred to, note that the submission of Christ to God is not described “visually”, i.e. with or without a covering on His head.

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. – 1 Corinthians 11:3

but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. – 1 Corinthians 11:5

As I mentioned in the linked post above, my family and I attended a brethren chapel for years where this passage was referred to in order to justify coverings on ladies heads while in worship. As a baptist entering into this environment, I had many questions, and struggled with it for quite a while. One fine believer told me that the entire passage made sense when he read the last phrase in the tenth verse.

That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. – 1 Corinthians 11:10

His logic seemed irrefutable. The angels would have no concern for cultural practices, so this practice, that of covering a wife’s head in honor of her husband must be universal and not simply cultural.

This argument was convincing and nearly tipped me into accepting this as God’s intent, until I did a bit of digging and found that “angels” could be translated as messengers and may be simply referring to a company of men attending the church service.

In this passage, headship and authority is the principal theme, and my understanding is that the covering/veil used by the Corinthians was their culturally acceptable manner of displaying who was head and who wasn’t head. A definite order of responsibility (not of worth) is addressed in this passage.

This tradition, of headship, and of displaying the headship within the church has become derelict with our modern Christian lives. The modern church rebels against any hint of a man being the head, and of the woman honoring the husband. A full front attack on manhood has been active for decades, and the church, except for a small minority, has faithfully followed this tempting teaching.

It is a rare family that exercises this tradition, and that has a family order of a male head, with a submissive wife and obedient children. This, I believe is the intent of this tradition Paul speaks of within the church, and it’s natural outflow into all of the believers life.

Now before you claim I am some misogynistic woman hater, please slow down. I love women. I personally have hung out with a lovely person who is a woman for over forty years. She is truly my help meet and my best friend. I would be lost without her. Beyond my biased feelings toward this lady I know, I have also found that that some of the most spiritual people I have met happen to be women.

You see, sometimes folk get confused when dealing with this topic. They think the spirituality of a person is dependent on outward position or visibility. But this is not so! A quiet woman may have more influence with God than some flamboyant “in your face” preacher. Remember we are dealing with the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that, in the world’s eyes, is completely upside down.

I seem to remember a passage in the word which speaks of the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.

but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. – 1 Peter 3:4

Consider your family order. If you are a man in the family, love your wife, cherish her, team with her, talk with her (not at her!) and give yourself for her. Lead her into godly decisions and encourage her.

If you are a lady who seeks to honor God, honor your husband. Give him the freedom to make mistakes, support him when you “know” he is wrong. Discuss the issues with him, and trust God in your husbands discussions. (Yelling “I told you so” is not a godly action!) Don’t emasculate him! He desperately needs your support! And, by the way, the Lord is looking for a gentle and quiet (not a forceful and argumentative) spirit in supporting your mate.

As an aside, and for your reference, I am supplying a few verses of Paul’s teaching regarding headship. It may be of some use in helping you understand the apostles teaching, and in defending the order of headship (authority and accountability) within a church, and a family.

Head of every woman is man

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. – 1 Corinthians 11:3

Woman is the glory of man

For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. – 1 Corinthians 11:7

Woman was created from the man

For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. – 1 Corinthians 11:8

Woman was created for the man

Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. – 1 Corinthians 11:9

As mentioned in the beginning of this post, I believe the apostle addresses two traditions for the church in this chapter, and since I am a bit long in the tooth with this post, will defer to the next one to discuss the Lord’s Supper as a tradition


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Bible · Church · Church Authority · Commandments · Traditions

Traditions – 2

In our last post we looked at Matthew 15:1-9 and shared a personal story that brought the concept of conflicting authority to the fore front. As we mentioned, traditions have two core components, that of an authority establishing the practice, and followers faithfully following the practice, of handing the practice down to the next generation.

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) — 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”- Mark 7:1-13 ESV

Mark spends a bit of time explaining the traditions of the elders, since his audience is Greek, and not Jewish as Matthew’s. The two quotes of Exodus Jesus uses are identical, and Mark also directs our attention to Jesus recitation of Isaiah 29:13

And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, – Isaiah 29:13 ESV

Traditions are based on two foundations, that of an authority and of consistency. Authority was addressed under Matthew 15, where as this passage, this passage actually speaks of both, especially the last phrase.

Their fear of me is a commandment taught by men

Whatever fear the masses had of God was based on the elders teaching, of the elders slight twist on the command, that muddied the water and nullified God’s intent. The elders claimed the authority, rejecting the command of God, and the tradition was replaced with vain worship. Empty worship. No one was practicing the original tradition, and it had effectively been replaced by the error of well-meaning(?) elders.

The last phrase of this passage has intrigued me, not necessarily as a summary statement, but that I hear a bit of sarcasm in Jesus voice.

You have a fine way….

Is Jesus speaking with a bit of sarcasm in His voice? He is the Master Teacher, and effectively uses multiple manners of teaching. Is He commending them in their sin? As if saying … You have expertly performed the duties of nullifying the commandment of God in order to gain for yourselves. You are practiced and skilled teachers, you are very good at rejecting the commandment of God!

Can you imagine an itinerant preacher silencing the religious professionals in such a way? He is so awesome.

Mark continues with his recitation of the discourse and it seems to be harsher, as if he is not pulling any punches. Notice that while Matthew speaks of “not needing to honor his father”, Mark has it as “you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother”

Both Matthew and Mark give us Jesus teaching on traditions, at least a teaching on the corruption of a tradition that was established by God, but had been hi-jacked by others.

It is instructive that this passage, along the the Matthew recounting, speaks of the dangers of simply following religious traditions without going to the foundation, the original authority and intent of that authority. Religious professionals provide revisions and refinements to the original command in order to assist us, and in turn, actually assist us in turning away from God. (As if we need any help in turning away!)

Take some time during your busy day today, to ask the Lord to expose an area of your religious life, just one area or teaching that may be distracting you from following God’s commands. As mentioned in the previous post, one area of authority conflict opened my eyes to many other areas, and has revolutionized my understanding of faith, love and walking properly before God.

Please join me in our next post where we begin to look at traditions that have been established for the church. I am looking forward to learning with you.

May God bless you and keep you in the love of Jesus and the fellowship of His Spirit.


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Bible · Church · Church Authority · Commandments · Traditions

Traditions – 1

In our introductory post, we spoke of our families traditional Christmas celebrations in order to establish an understanding of what a tradition is, and to offer my understanding of a traditions flexibility. Some of my readers may have read of our historical changes during the traditional gift giving in our home as an unwillingness to maintain a tradition, to create a tradition that would be longstanding and annually honored. This may be true.

But we all must agree that traditions start at a point in time, and are handed down to the next generation, and so on until they become “traditional”. Think of the many nations in this world and each nation having distinct traditions. Every tradition is started by an authority, possibly based on a historical happening.

For some practice to become a tradition, it must originate from an authority, who establishes the practice as worthy of repeating, and by a group of followers who consistently exercise that practice through a period of time. Within the Bible, the authority usually is God of course (there are exceptions), and the repeating of the practice is dependent on the faithful.

Traditions, based on the instruction of an authority and if practiced accurately, are worthy of maintaining. Traditions based on the instruction of an authority but not practiced accurately, are worthy or rejecting, and to return to practicing per the original intent of the instruction. Unless of course the authority repeals the practice.

Given this basis of understanding a “tradition”, lets consider Matthew 15:1-9, where Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees and scribes concerning His disciples breaking of a tradition.

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” – Mat 15:1-9 ESV

First off, let’s establish the authority of the tradition. In this passage, the Pharisees tell us the authority over this tradition of washing hands is that of the elders. The religious leaders readily admit the source of authority is mankind and not God.

Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter by returning to the ultimate authority, and also informs us of the conflict that human authority creates when introduced to assist in obeying the commandments of the true Authority. Jesus asks one tough question, centered on the authority giving the command.

Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

The Pharisees are whining about clean hands. Jesus goes for the jugular, and focuses on the fifth commandment of God, (without the resultant blessing if obeyed.)

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

No blessing is included in the passage Jesus quotes, yet Exodus provides the promise of long days in the land. No promise, but He does include Exodus 21:17, defining the judgement if the commandment is broken.

Exodus 21:17 Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.

Jesus then describes the elders efforts to “clarify the commandment” for the masses, but masterfully brings to the Pharisees (and any who may listen) the effect of modifying Gods commandments with a human tradition.

If the believer sought to honor their parents with a gift, the elders allowed that believer an exception, in order to receive the funds themselves. I am of the opinion that Jesus is actually quoting the elders instructions in the 6th verse, where the allowance to disobey is clearly offered.

he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. – Mat 15:6 ESV

Are clean hands an issue in your life? Is outward appearance a priority for you? Do you watch for insignificant rule breaking of others? In your rule keeping, do you dishonor God?

A quick story that brought this passage to life for my wife and I.

We were attending a church years ago, when a close friend and his family were seeking to enter into missionary work. I informed the leadership of our desire to divert our giving’s to this family. This was acceptable to the leadership, although they did ask for a period of time to be defined, so that the funds would begin returning to their coffers. This I gladly provided and we rejoiced in giving to this family on their way to Indonesia with the gospel.

Not long after this, my father-in-law passed away, leaving my mother-in-law a widow. Things became desperate for this sweet woman and we needed/wanted to help. This did not go over well with the church leadership, with their counsel being that we should give above and beyond the tithe to the church in order to help mom. But the tithe was to take a priority.

Eventually, after prayer one morning I landed on the passage above, and it became crystal clear as to what we were to do. Honor our parent.

Eventually this decision became a point of tension with the religious leadership. This authority conflict between the Word and the religious leaders counsel led me to study the teaching of tithing in the church, and a believers responsibility in giving. Eventually, the religious leadership asked us to leave.

Friends – religious organizations have many ways of twisting a believers obligation that negate a commandment of God. Traditions are one way these obligations are nullified. Though many traditions are established with good intentions, it seems it is inevitable that the tradition is followed without thinking, and sometimes becomes a stumbling stones for the believer.

Traditions of men, or in other words, religious requirements to “please God”, beyond the Word either become a conflict and needs to be rejected, or a repetition of the commandment in a different context.

It is safe to consider the Word only as our final authority, since the One who saved us lived and died under it’s authority and provided the church the full orbed teaching of grace and truth for us to understand.

Our next post will consider the same incident with the Pharisees, but from Mark’s perspective. Hope you can join me.


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Bible · Church · Church Authority · Commandments · Traditions

Traditions – Introduction

What is a tradition?

Do traditions help or hinder us?

Traditions give us a sense of community, of belonging and expectations, a certain rhythm in life.

Consider the tradition of opening gifts on Christmas day. This tradition in our home has went through a number of iterations, which to be honest, argues against the “expectations” concept above. But nevertheless, as our children grew, we introduced different methods of celebrating the Christmas gift opening event.

First it was a conventional delegated gift giver at the base of the tree, picking gifts for each child and waiting as we all watched them receive it and express their gratitude. Soon, the tradition became more of a game, with my wife and I staying up Christmas night and hiding all the gifts, writing out a list of riddles for each gift and which child the gift was meant for. This extended the celebration, and we found that the chillun actually worked together for the hunting. In my opinion, it was a hit with the kids. (Mom and dad were a bit tired, but hey – memories were made!)

Lately, we have considered the materialism of Christmas, and as the children matured into adults, considered the intent of the gifts in the celebration. We tended to pull away from material gifting, and moved over to creating memories for us as a family.

Suffice it to say, traditions such our gift giving at Christmas (fluid as it was), birthday parties, wedding customs and even sports events have been woven into our lives.

This short series on traditions will consider what the Word provides as guidance in the believers life. We will follow the primary Greek word “paradosis” the New Testament writers used that we understand as “tradition”. Below, find the proverbial Vines Expository definition of the term we will be looking into during our time together. Sure hope to see you at our next post as we dive into Matthew 15.


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Sabbath · Traditions

Jesus on the Sabbath – Part 15 – Equal with God

jesus-the-grain-field

Recently I penned a series of post on the Ten Commandments and as I was writing it, found that the Sabbath day was the only commandment not reapplied to believers in the New Testament.

In writing that series of posts, I was reminded that the Sabbath day was one of the main irritants between the Lord Jesus and the Pharisees.

During one of our home studies a few months back, a brother started to see that I “trivialized” the sabbath, and we chatted about how Christians “esteem one day as better than another while another esteems all days alike” He readily admits coming from a sabbatarian background and we had a good discussion. I mentioned that I see Jesus as the Christian’s sabbath, and that seemed to take him aback somewhat.. I challenged him to study Hebrews 4 and get back to me.

I started this series of post with a passage out of John 5, and I thought it fitting if we return to it as our final passage. It is, in my opinion, the most jarring statement in the New Testament in relation to Jesus’s relationship to the Sabbath.

Let’s see how the sabbath (or Jesus) becomes a tripping stone for some in the following passage

John 5:1-18

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades.

3 In these lay a multitude of invalids–blind, lame, and paralyzed.

5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.

at-the-pool-of-bethesda

Thirty-eight years an invalid.

I assume this man had been born an invalid.

No matter, since this man showed evidence of permanent incapacity.

6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”

Why ask that question? Is it not obvious?

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes I do not want help – I just wanna sit in my puddle of sobs and be left alone in my pity.

I have nothing compared to this poor soul, so imagine how easy after 38 years of suffering a beggars life, to give up and become callous to any who ask foolish questions.

Some folks don’t want help. This fella hadn’t given up yet. Desperate, but still a sliver of hope. Kinda respect that.

7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”

It seemed he came to the pool, hoping against hope to get to the pool. Remember, he is not blind or deaf, or simply has a withered hand, but he is an “established” invalid. What type of hopeless situation was this man living in? All his competitors (other suffering souls at the pool) for the rare time, if any, that the pool was “stirred up” easily could get to the pool. This man simply had to watch all his hopes being taken away from him.

Such an hopeless situation.

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

lame man

A simple command from God Almighty. Will the invalid do what has never been able to do? Current circumstances and all appearances yell that it would be foolish to try.

Except for that Word that came from this teacher. How audacious for Him to simply command a cripple to do the impossible. How cruel, if but…

9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.

At once the man was healed. He who once was a burden, became a burden bearer, carrying his own mat.

Oh and by the way, it was the Sabbath!

10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.”

Here we go again.

Will this controversy never let up? This poor man just had to have some trouble on this most glorious day of being rescued from his crippling condition for over 38 years! And who but some religious folk to rain on this man’s parade (that he could actually take part in now that he can walk!)

11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.'”

Just being a good witness. Tell what you know. Nothing more, nothing less.

12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?”

13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.

It is a telling statement that the man didn’t “know” who healed him. Granted, it was early in the Lord’s ministry (aprox. 12 months) and Jesus face may not be on the wanted posters around Jerusalem yet.

Beyond that, the Lord didn’t seem to advertise Himself. A number of times, it seems He does a miracle and slips away. Almost like doing miracles was not that miraculous for Him.

He is so altogether different than us!

14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”

Was the man in the temple because the Jews dragged him there or was he there worshiping God? Don’t know, but Jesus gave this man a warning similar to the woman condemned of adultery.

15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.

In my mind this man went from a fella I respected for the hope he held onto, to a man who became a tattle tale. Is that a fair assessment? Not sure.

Could this act of tattling to the Jews be considered the sin Jesus was warning about? I will leave that question for my reader.

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

17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

slugfest

Is Jesus initiating a discussion with the Jews? Is He gonna get into it?

By golly, this one is gonna be a slugfest!

He stated His Father was working with Him in context of the Sabbath!

Verse 17 is only ten words, but ten more explosive words may not have been uttered!

18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

My friend, consider Jesus, who being equal with God, has become our resting place, or Sabbath.

Look to the Lord and let the day fade. He is worthy.


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Sabbath · Traditions

Jesus on the Sabbath – Part 14 – Unclean Spirit in the Synagogue

jesus-the-grain-fieldRecently I penned a series of post on the Ten Commandments and as I was writing it, found that the Sabbath day was the only commandment not reapplied  to believers in the New Testament.

In writing that series of posts, I was reminded that the Sabbath day was one of the main irritants between the Lord Jesus and the Pharisees.

As my reader is purveying this post, I ask that you consider the relevancy of this situation to our current conditions within the modern church.

Mark 1:21-28

21  And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching.

Jesus went into the synagogue, obviously in an effort to keep the Sabbath.  Really?

Some may see Jesus attendance at a synagogue as proof that He keep the Sabbath, and that what the Jews were really upset about was their rules and not the 4th commandment.   I’m not convinced, since there are alternative reasons He attended.  Maybe He was looking for a captive audience, and audience that showed a desire (outwardly at least for some) for a knowledge of God.

Paul entered synagogues also, but he simply did that to find Jews gathered

22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out,

Again with unclean spirits in a synagogue.  It seems the the Jewish nation was becoming familiar with familiar spirits (That wordplay may only reach those hardcore KJV folks!)

No matter, it is apparent that in the midst of Jesus ministry, unclean spirits are present.

24 “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.”

In this case, the unclean spirit cried out statements of truth.

25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”

possessed man healedBe silent?

But these statements are true and on their own, are without contradiction.

The Holy One of God will destroy the unclean spirits.  (Check out the post “Perishing in Eternal Torment” for some thoughts on destruction)

But more importantly for you and I, He is the Holy One of God!

So why be silent?

You know, when a comedian gets on stage, and some heckler is mocking him, stealing the show, or even telling good things about the comedian, the comedian needs to evaluate whether the source is benefiting his show.

In no way am I equating Jesus with a comedian, but when this passage, and others like it, come up, I think of this illustration and remember the “consider the source!”

A dirty vessel only supplies dirty water – it is tainted,

Let us be clean vessels for the Master’s use.

26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.

27 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.”

It seems this is the only time Jesus performed a miracle on the Sabbath and didn’t get into a discussion with the Jews over it.  It may have been early on in His ministry, and the shock value of His authority and effective healing may not have settled into the leaderships conscience.  But it will, and they will realize that this teacher is going for the jugular!

28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

Is His fame spreading nowadays?  Let’s seek to be clean vessels.


 

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