Archive for September, 2021

A Word to the Wise

9-26-2021 A Word to the Wise – ***WARNING*** The following material involving an encounter that Jesus has that is realistically portrayed here. It involves unpleasant realistic background information that brings to light an embarrassing situation thus you are encouraged to read no further.

We now turn our attention to a well-known incident in the healing ministry of Jesus. Having healed a demon-possessed man Jesus and his disciples leave the country of the Gerasenes by boat landing on the other side they are met by a large crowd waiting for his appearance.

The gospel writers describe the scene in this manner: “When Jesus returned, the multitude welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41 Behold, a man named Jairus came. He was a ruler of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet, and begged him to come into his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as he went, the multitudes pressed against him. 43

First, Jesus is approached by Jairus the writers tell us that he is one of the rulers of the synagogue. This man is desperate his twelve-year-old daughter is dying, or by now dead. So, Jesus agrees to follow him to the house.

But the journey is interrupted by a woman. A couple of details about her situation is given by the writers. First her desperate situation. For 12 years (the same number of years as the age of the child Jesus is going to heal) for all these years, she has had a problem with vaginal bleeding.

Knowing the culture of the time we get some sense of the magnitude of the problem. No one was allowed to touch her, less like her they become unclean. The Torah was very clear with very specific instructions: 19 “‘If a woman has a discharge, and her discharge in her flesh is blood, she shall be in her impurity seven days. Whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening.20 “‘Everything that she lies on in her impurity shall be unclean. Everything also that she sits on shall be unclean. 21 Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening. 22 Whoever touches anything that she sits on shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening. 23 If it is on the bed, or on anything she sits on, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until the evening. 24 “‘If any man lies with her, and her monthly flow is on him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed he lies on shall be unclean. 25 “‘If a woman has a discharge of her blood many days not in the time of her period, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her period, all the days of the discharge of her uncleanness shall be as in the days of her period. She is unclean. 26 Every bed she lies on all the days of her discharge shall be to her as the bed of her period. Everything she sits on shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her period. 27 Whoever touches these things shall be unclean and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.

In other words, she lives in a perpetual state of rejection, no one would come near her. She had gone to many doctors trying to cope with the problem spending huge sums of money but all to no avail. (These were male doctors). If we dig a little deeper, we start understanding her situation and embarrassment.

As she walked around her bloody garments would have been apparent to everyone. There were no Kotex, sanitary napkins, tampons. Unlike Egyptian women who would put dried papyrus leaves inside with a stick, this was not practiced in Israel.

Besides the sight, one of the big problems would be the smell. Attempts to cover it up were limited in this time period. Sometimes women would use some types of perfume, but it was not very successful.

So now we are getting a clearer picture of what faced this woman from day to day. On top of the rejection, loneliness, and embarrassment there are the medical problems. She would have been plagued with chronic anemia, fatigue, cramps, dizziness, and no doubt cold feet and hands. And probably quite pale. She would probably be about 22, or 23 years old. No man would touch her.

However, she was obviously well studied. She knew from biblical scripture the solution. For instance, Moses told the children the children of Israel, that they should make themselves fringes on the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put on the fringe of each border a cord of blue. It shall be to you for a fringe, that you may see it, and remember all Yahweh’s commandments, and do them; These are the fringe materials with a blue cord on the bottom of the garments worn by the men.

“So this is what Malachi is referring to when he uses the word wings or tassels. The woman knew to touch this tassel that had a blue cord interwoven in it. This is what the prophet said would have healing in it. (Malachi 4:2) “For you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. She indeed already believed Jesus to be the Messiah. She knew scripture. She knew that the Messiah would heal her and exactly how it was to be accomplished. For four hundred years this encounter had been prophesied and planned.

So, she had to approach Jesus without being seen by him or anyone else, because it would make them unclean, touch the tassel and sneak away. Neither Jesus, the disciples, nor the crowd would even know.

How could she know she was healed so quickly? I doubt that there is a woman in the whole world that does not know the answer to that question. The anemia, fatigue, cramps, dizziness, and no doubt cold feet and hands would have gone away immediately. The pale skin brightened.

However, what she did not realize would happen is that Jesus would lose something. In fact, that it would draw down Jesus’ special powers. Jesus was immediately aware of it. He felt the energy go out. There is a lesson here for us. It cost Jesus something to heal. Physically, emotionally spiritually there is a cost.

30 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in himself that the power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd, and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”31 His disciples said to him, “You see the multitude pressing against you, and you say, ‘Who touched me?’”

Jesus is asking who touched the tassel, he knew what had been done, and that it had been done on purpose. He looked around to see who had done this thing. Who knew about this access to his healing power.

But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had been done to her, came and fell before him, and told him all the truth. Why may one ask? Why not just sneak away? Because she feared God!

I suspect Jesus brings all of this to light not to embarrass the woman but rather that others might know what she did and the outcome. We know it spread like wildfire for later we learn people everywhere are touching his tassel.

34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be cured of your disease.” This is one of those incidents where pure faith accomplished healing. Jesus was a passive participant.

But I do wonder what healing awaits us who believe. Do you think it possible that this healing power extends 2000 years?

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A Word to the Wise

9-21-2021 – A Word to the Wise – Some experiences are impossible for words

Have you ever walked by a place selling high-priced perfumes and caught a scent of the most indescribable cologne that you had ever experienced? Did that memory ever fade?

Notice the Gospel of Mark

3 While he was at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster jar of ointment of pure nard—very costly. She broke the jar and poured it over his head.

This ointment was worth at the very least a year’s wages. For that place and period, it was the most expensive available anywhere. It soaked his hair, beard, all his clothing. That beautiful scent would have lasted a week or longer. Anyone coming near Jesus would have noticed it. It was the type of scent that would turn people’s heads.

That scent would have even lingered through the Passover meal

Have you ever been in a hospital or room where a person was experiencing horrible unremitting pain with nothing to stem it? Did you notice the scent in that room, near that person coming off that person?

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and severely troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with me.”

39 He went forward a little, fell on his face, and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me; nevertheless, not what I desire, but what you desire.”

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium, and gathered the whole garrison together against him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. 29 They braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they kneeled down before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 When they had mocked him, they took the robe off him, and put his clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Do you have any idea what Jesus would have smelled like at this point? Blood streaming down his back, side, and stomach. Hair matted with thorns sticking through his skull, and the lingering fragrance of that expensive perfume lingering in the air around him.

Sometimes a smell is worth 10,000 words.

Then in a saner moment how the Lord, the God of the Universe was willing to sacrifice His beloved Son, His only Son, in this manner for….….me.

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A Word to the Wise

9-17-2021 – A Word to the Wise – I want to recount for you a scriptural story that I find relevant for our day and time. John 5:1-15

We find that Jesus heals a lame man on the Sabbath in Jerusalem.

After these things, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the sheep gate, there is a pool, which is called in Hebrew, “Bethesda”, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, or paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel went down at certain times into the pool and stirred up the water. Whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been sick for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be made well?”

The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. So the Jews said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat.” He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” Then they asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your mat and walk’?” But he who was healed didn’t know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a crowd being in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” (WEB)

The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath.

“After these things, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem”. Though John does not say so the type of information found in this chapter would cause it to heavily lean towards the Feast of Trumpets. I know the Jew did not place much emphasis on birthdays however there is a good possibility that this is Jesus’s birthday. Without going into the whys and though impossible to prove this is a special time for Jesus. It is the New Year.

This event again is Jesus initialing contact and inquiring about the situation and simply asking do you want to be better. The man goes into an extended conversation about why he is here and the failure of others to help him.

It is uncertain what the actual diagnosis would be for this man. The text says lameness. It could have been some sort of paralysis John does not go into detail. However, the text later indicates that 38 years before this the man did something, a sin, which lay at the root of the physical problems.

Twenty-one centuries later we can say with experience and certainty that many emotional, spiritual, and intellectual problems lie at the root of many illnesses.

Now I know there are several interpretations of this man’s speech but to be honest I have my own, perhaps because I have heard it too many times from a host of emotional invalids.

The core issue for this man is that it is everyone’s fault, no one will help me. May I impress on you how many times I have heard this excuse? It is always someone else who is responsible. For thirty -eight years he blamed everyone else for his misery. I have heard it from addicts, prostitutes, neurotics, and even a few psychotics. It is always someone else who is responsible.

Herein lies the spiritual problem, it is a frequent affliction in our own society, the man is self-centered, selfish, and a good candidate for a narcissistic personality disorder.

Perhaps one might interject at this point that I am being too hard, even judgmental about this poor fellow.

Perhaps, but notice verses 11-16. After Jesus heals the man, he is caught and challenged for breaking the Sabbath and the first thing he does is blame Jesus, he made me do it! At this junction, he did not even know Jesus’ name.

Jesus meets him a little later, tells him who he is, and warns him what you did 38 years ago brought this on you, repeat it and something worse will befall you. What did this man do? Went and betrayed Jesus to the Jews who now want to kill Jesus. The person who had just rescued him from 38 years of personal hell!!

I know a few who resemble this person and situation. Do you? Are you?

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