Watering Down the Truth about Jesus

April 17, 2019 at 11:54 am | Posted in John | 7 Comments
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In Cana Jesus had performed His first miraculous sign (water into wine at a wedding) at the request of a mother (His own). Now at His return to Cana, He performed another miracle – this time at the request of a father.

So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.

John 4:46-47

This man did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, but he was desperate, so he pleaded with someone he thought of as a well-known faith-healer.

Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.

John 4:50

Jesus was often compassionate in answering the prayers of even those without saving faith. This is similar to – but not the same event as – another healing recorded in Matthew 8.

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Matthew 8:5-13

That time the father was clearly identified as a gentile as opposed to the father in John 4 who was likely Jewish. A belief in Jesus as a miracle worker is not saving faith, but belief in Jesus as the Son of God is.

Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

John 4:50-53

The key link is that the father – not having seen his son healed – “believed the Word” of Jesus.

After it was established that John the Baptist baptized with physical water, but that Jesus would perform a greater baptism (John 1), and after Jesus turned water into wine (John 2), and after He talked to a religious leader about being born of water and the spirit (John 3), and after He talked to a Samaritan woman about drawing and drinking water from a well (John 4), where do you think He went in John 5? To a pool of water, of course!

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

John 5:2-3 (emphasis added)

Jesus’s Response to Imperfect Faith

May 13, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Matthew | 6 Comments
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In Matthew Chapter 9 Jesus heals Jairus’s daughter and the woman with the issue of blood.

While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.

Matthew 9:18-26

Jairus was a leader among the Jews and a man; this will sound mean, but, to society’s way of thinking at that time, the woman was a “broke nobody.” Jairus worshipped at the synagogue; the woman was considered unclean. Jairus was pleading for his daughter; the woman needed healing for herself. Jairus’s daughter had been healthy for 12 years; the woman had been sick for 12 years. Everybody knew about Jairus’s problem; no one knew about the woman’s problem. Jairus needed God to increase his faith; the woman’s faith was very simplistic, childlike, and almost superstitious. Jesus ultimately healed both the woman and Jairus’s daughter. As fallen human beings, our faith, just like everything else about us, is far from perfect.

When my second daughter was born, the doctor and the nurse who were in the delivery room with my wife and I remained calm and acted very similar to the way the doctor and nurse had acted when our first daughter was born. They seemed occupied in cleaning her off, checking all her body parts, getting her onto the scale, etc. But we could sense something was wrong. She wasn’t crying nearly as loudly as our first daughter had, and she seemed to be wheezing and having trouble breathing. After a few moments, the nurse decided that she needed to be taken out. It was frightening – terrifying actually – and for the next few days our daughter was in the newborn intensive care section of the hospital on a breathing tube. We were only allowed to hold her very briefly a couple of times a day. Despite the fact that the breathing tube bypassed her vocal cords, making her crying soundless, it was obvious that she was in distress and wailing with body-wracking sobs almost constantly. One of the most frustrating things about the whole situation was that the doctors and hospital staff couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. They said it was too soon to tell, revealing only that it may be something as routine as the need to drain fluid from her lungs or something as serious as a heart valve problem. I pleaded for percentages, possible diagnoses, treatment options, contingency plans, you name it, but the doctor in charge of her case would only shake her head somberly and say that she could give me no assurance at all. I tried my best to stay with my wife, who needed comfort in her hospital room, but it was hard to stay away from the intensive care unit. They had a special waiting area, and I would sit in there all alone, all night long, pleading with the Lord to heal my daughter. This might very well be one of the most sinful prayers you can pray, but many, many times during those three days, I asked God to take my life in exchange for my daughter’s. This was one of the most miserable periods of my entire life, but I can honestly say that I probably drew closer to God in that ICU waiting room than I ever had before. I give Him glory and praise today, almost 17 years later, that He did completely heal my daughter, despite the superstitious nature of my faith.

I don’t know exactly what was going through the mind of Jairus or the woman with the issue of blood before Jesus answered their prayers, but I am eternally thankful that He does answer imperfect prayers prayed with imperfect faith.

Beware Flaky Firmness

January 20, 2015 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Biblical Walking, John, The Fives | 6 Comments
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In the days when Christ Jesus walked in Jerusalem there was, near the sheep gate of the city, a pool called Bethesda. People with diseases, injuries, paralysis, and other maladies came to this pool to wait for the water to be stirred. There was a belief that an angel came periodically, and swirled the waters with healing power, but only the first one into the pool would receive the healing. One of the people there was a man who had been disabled for a long time, and he caught the attention of Jesus:

And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

John 5:5

The Bible says that the man had an “infirmity,” which means that he lacked “firmness” or strength in his body. Either through inability, or through a secret fear that healing would entail completely changing the way he had lived for 38 years, he had never been the first one into the water.

Jesus ignored the pool and healed the man with a simple verbal command: “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” With that display of divine power, the Lord vanished into the crowd. The Jewish leaders, who were opposed to the ministry of Christ, found the man and chastised him for carrying his bed on the Sabbath.

Later, Jesus saw the man in the Temple, and said:

… Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

John 5:14

In doing so, Christ reminded the man that the “firmness” he had been given by God must be spiritual and moral firmness to match his physical firmness. Each and every one of us came into this world stricken with the infirmity of sin. We had no power to walk with the Lord, or to love or glorify God on our own. However, when Christ saves a sinner, and heals his soul, He does not do so merely for our happiness. He does it so that we have the ability and the inclination to now serve Him righteously. We must remember not to be “flaky” Christians, grateful one day and bitter the next, faithful one day and fearful the next, active one day and complacent the next. The Lord wants our “firmness” to be a constant victorious reminder of our former infirmity and glorious healing.

The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

John 5:15

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