Archive for April, 2023

4-15-2023 – A Word to the Wise – Let’s spend some time with one of the miracles of Jesus.

Examining Matthew and Luke’s story of the healing of the centurion’s servant might be fruitful and enlarge our understanding.

We now look at the text trying to picture the event and the setting. This means looking at the order of vents ands how Matthew shortens the encounter while Luke gives more details.

Luke 7:1–10 and Matthew 8:5-13

1 Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.

2 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.

FIRST (Luke) This is the background which occurs first.

3 And when he heard of Jesus he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.

4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this:

5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.

6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house,

SECOND (Luke) Now Luke tells us the centurion sends friends,

The centurion sent friends.

THIRD (Matthew) Now Matthew presents the picture that the centurion himself comes.

there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,

6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.

7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

8 The centurion answered and said,

to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself; for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:

7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.

8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

9 When Jesus heard these things he marveled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

FORTH (Luke) Now Luke concludes the encounter.

And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.

This I believe clears up any textual problems which occur when the authors emphasis different matters

We should understand that Matthew is giving an abbreviated summary while Luke goes into more detail.

Now let’s see if there are gems here to be uncovered that illuminate the living situation of the time.

First the centurion. The roman centurion was a military person set over a cohort of about 80 to 100 men. This centurion likely was about 50 years old and retired. Several things here give us this possible interpretation.

First, he is living with his family and servants. However, centurions on active duty were not allowed to be married. They were expected to be ‘married’ to their unit. They went where the cohort was assigned. No families were allowed to distract the centurion.

Another matter is this man’s wealth. Where did it come from? History tells us the basic salary of a new centurion was 1000 denarii per month the older centurions having been in several years received up to 15,000 denarii per month. Remember the base pay at this time was one denarius a day pay for the civilian population.

Back to this centurion’s wealth. It is not just his salary. Retiring he would have been given a sizable area of land usually in Galilee, or near Emmaus. This land could be used for farming and other endeavors. This land was sizable and excellent for farming.

However, there is more. If this centurion was from a wealthy family, which most of the older centurions were, then he would have access to huge amounts of family money. Much of this is addressed by early first century writers like Josephus and others.

Now we come to the issue that lies behind our inquiry. The rulers said he had built for the Jews out of his love for them a synagogue.

Now the synagogue that he built any idea the cost? Every bit of $3 million dollars in our culture! How could he afford such a price?

Given his retirement compensation, his earnings, his retirement settlement, and the wealth of his family, no problem. This is a gift for the Lord. Therefore, this encounter with Jesus, I like to think is God’s way of accepting this man’s gift.

Jesus saw in this man godliness, devotion to duty, a person unlike the rich man in the story pf Lazarus who would not even give a bread crumb to a dying man.

Moreover, this nameless centurion is not even asking for more wealth, or advancement, no, just that a suffering servant of his be healed. Nothing for himself.

We ought to be like this man and look for opportunities to bless our Lord.

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4-10-2023 – A Word to the Wise – JOHN 5: 1-16

In John 5 we meet a strange nameless person who when healed from a disease 38 years in the making returns the favor with hatred.

What may we know or suspect about this man who has been, here seeking healing at this pool?

Well, he is probably between 50 and 60 years of age. We gather this because this problem was caused by sin (14). He has been sick 38 years and therefore at least 12 but more likely 20 when he became lame. Jesus connects the sin with the physical aliment.

No doubt he is a beggar since he must provide for some basic needs. I suspect he is a dependent personality because he depends on others so heavily. If that indeed is a correct diagnosis, then we may be able to draw further conclusion.

Those with this type of personality defect are oriented towards eliciting help from others. They find it difficult to impossible to initiate for themselves. They lack self-confidence and present themselves as inept and requiring constant assistance.

Moreover, it seems there is a bit of narcissistic personality here as well. I see this in his expectation that others help or care for him and when ignored becomes angry. This sense of entitlement is coupled with a lack of sensitivity for others. this man excuses his state on others for not helping him. But given his personality I doubt anyone wanted to do anything for him.

Other things may be seen. He is not an observant Jew for he is violating the Sabbath by carrying his bed which was strictly forbidden. Moreover, he places himself in a highly idolatrous place. (This pool would be one of the pools of healing dedicated to Asclepius.) No righteous Jew would be found here lame or not.

It is obvious that he does not want to be healed for he places himself in a position where even if it were true about an intervention by an angel, he is unable to reach the pool. Moreover, he is so self-centered that he is friendless. After all these years he has cared for no one, therefore no one cares for him.

Given the opportunity the man turns Jesus in to the Jewish authorities for the ‘sin’ of healing him. It may be inferred that he did not want to be healed for it would be easier living off the alms of others than having to work for a living.

I understand I might be reading a lot into the situation given the brevity of the passage However this type of personality is stands out in any crowd.

So now we inquire, just what sin brought this man here to start with? We may only guess at this point. However, since betrayal seems to be at the top of his list as evidenced by what he did to Jesus, then like Judas I would suspect dishonesty, or thievery.

So, what lesson may be drawn from this encounter? First there are physical consequences to sin for sin brought this man here and he is in danger in returning to it. Second, just because you heal the body it does not mean you heal the soul a lesson very appropriate for our day.

What other physical ailments might be connected to sin? Obviously, any of the addictions may be connected to physical ailments. Moral issues according to Proverbs 5-7 gives dire physical and emotional consequences. Anger affects bone health (Proverbs 14:30). These are a just a couple of consequences tied to physical health. There are many others.

These few versus serves as a warning about long term sin. Further this man and the circumstance stands in direct contrast to John 9 and the episode with the man born blind.

There is much to learn as one studies scripture beyond the superficial.

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3-31-2023 – A Word to the Wise – PART 9


To step across the line and commit sins of immorality, betrayal or murder marks that person’s soul. It breaks the vessel and the purpose the Lord created for that person. Based upon repentance and faithfulness a new purpose is created by the Lord. However, the original purpose is forever gone. David’s kingdom was never the same after Bathsheba.

Perhaps the extreme consequences are more understandable when we realize that the root sin involved in adultery is idolatry. Remember that God gave sex to the man as a gift, the companionship being a reminder of God’s relationship to the man. The reminder is in a tangible form of the woman. The reminder is a living testimony to God’s way with man.

Sex for the man speaks to the most intimate feelings and is akin to worship of God. This is not a new concept. How else would Satan have been able to twist the sexual aspects of man’s being into worship of idols? Most of the ancient religions had some form of sex act as part of the worship experience. Idolatry may be defined as offering worship to anyone, to anything, or any symbol other than the Lord God Almighty. When idolatry is committed, it is destructive to the soul.

The connection between adultery and idolatry is further strengthen when ones realizes that the Bible frequently uses words like unfaithfulness and adultery to describe one’s unfaithfulness to God. How often I have heard my clients describe in worshipful tones the first sexual experience in an affair. That is why particularly for the man sex outside of marriage is idolatry. It seeks to recreate outside the marriage the gift God gave for the confines of marriage. The feelings in marriage are part of one’s worship–especially thanksgiving to the Lord. Outside of marriage, the man is performing an act of worship on the woman.

It is important to realize that the whole process from onset of sin to return to a modicum of peace is about two years. This period will be very painful for both spouses. The adulterer will experience a maze of conflicting emotions. Attempts to elicit trust by either party should not be made. All demands for fidelity will lead to anger or failure. The couple talking about what has happened and the different feelings encountered can lead to closeness if done properly. At some point the sinner must experience the pain the betrayed experiences.

What about the long term, life long consequences of adultery? What is the outcome? As with any sin when one repents and turns from evil, a new future is created. If the sin and memories are committed to the Lord then eventually the Lord Jesus will take them and turn them into a lasting blessing. Once a blessing is made, the outcome may affect three or four generations in a positive manner. If not surrendered to Jesus, the negative results in terms of sin, embarrassment, anxiety, immorality, may last to the third and fourth generations.

Moses, Peter, and Paul were all three guilty of murder or betrayal. Yet, once these lives were surrendered to God, the blessings to their generation and the generations thereafter overflowed with God’s grace. Tamar, Rahab, David, Solomon, Manasseh and others were immoral and guilty of even worse sins. Yet, it was their repentance, which paved the way for blessing upon blessing to future generations.

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