Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Knowing God’s word … missing God’s heart. Knowing Jesus intimately

In the Gospels, …  Jesus spoke God’s Word, and demonstrated God’s heart.

In the Gospels, the religious leaders knew, studied, memorized and sang God’s word
… but somehow, missed
God’s heart.
 

If we’re not careful, we too can unconsciously become so saturated with a wealth of information,
…. yet lack humility, grace & compassion.

Sadly, … when our faith is not consistent with our actions & behavior
we become like the religious leaders in Jesus’ day.
Sadder still, …. we may be totally oblivious of our behavior
… but clear as day to those around us, … as it impacts them.

O … May we be more like Jesus.

By His word and deeds, Jesus inspires us to be more like Him,
as He moulds our hearts and character to develop,

** a humble, grateful heart
** a forgiving heart
** a compassionate heart

Let’s be more like Jesus,
know & experience His Word & power,
know His heart, … feel & live His heart,
as we fellowship with Him and His word daily.

We’ll be considering 3 examples from the Gospels.
As usual, … Jesus short answers are life changing :-).

He said to me, “What do you see? …” – Zechariah 4:2 (NIV)

 


A humble, grateful heart 

Luke 7:36-50 (NIV) Woman wash Jesus feet
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 

47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

While the Pharisee’s peers distanced themselves from Jesus, and trying to find ways to accuse Him, Simon invited Jesus home for dinner.  Perhaps Simon wanted to find out who Jesus is …. if this man were a prophet

An unexpected guest arrives …
From his understanding of the scriptures, Simon the Pharisee, immediately knew that this lady did not measure up – a sinner, (a woman in that town who lived a sinful life).  She was different from the Pharisee and his guests.   According to his yardstick, ‘righteous’ folks like him do not associate with ‘unclean’ folks like her.  She was also an un-invited, un-welcomed guest who simply did not fit into the ‘purity’ of his group.

Jesus did not reject her,
He welcomed her … He forgave her sins.
Jesus demonstrated God’s heart.

The Pharisee viewed the woman as a worse sinner (five hundred denarii)  
While he did not view himself as one also (fifty denarii)

In Jesus’ parable, the moneylender forgave both person’s debt … big and small debts.

Jesus asked the question,
“Now which of them will love him more?”

 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Simon answered correctly!
He was theologically right.
Jesus commended him, and loved him.

However, Jesus showed him what his attitude, his heart was like.

The issue in the parable was not about the size of the debt.

Neither of them had the money to pay him back

Both were bankrupt,
not able to pay the debt, whether it was 50 or 500 denarii;  both were indebted.
We all are not able to redeem ourselves from our sin …whether large ones or small ones; i.e. sin is sin, … no larger ones or smaller ones.

James 2:10 (NLT)
For the person who keeps all of the laws except one
is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.

The moneylender freely chose to forgive both their debts.
He was fair & impartial to both.
None of them earned it, or deserved it.
Forgiveness is a gracious gift from God.

“Now which of them will love him more?”
The question Jesus asked involves the response, attitude of the one who owes the debt, which was forgiven, written-off, erased.

Whatever our lifestyle,
how grateful are we to God who mercifully forgave all our sins?

Our gratefulness … will fire up our love for Jesus,
and drive us to act to honor Him,
just like the woman, … with her tears, kisses and perfume.

1 John 4:19 (NKJV)
We love Him because He first loved us.

When we realise how big our sin is,  and appreciate/treasure how great His grace & mercy to us is, … we’ll be deeply humbled.
Our eyes will be on Jesus, and loving Him
… rather than focusing on the faults of others,
i.e., being gracious & forgiving to others.

In this account, the actions of the Pharisee and the woman,
spoke what was in their heart.

Although, the woman said nothing,
she was commended by Jesus :-).

The Pharisee felt he was better than her.
He thought Jesus would rebuke the woman for her sinful lifestyle, like a good prophet should.
In the Pharisee’s mind, some people were excluded from his circles, … hence God’s circle.

Spiritual pride is subtle.  The self-righteousness of the Pharisee caused him to feel ‘better than others’, ‘chosen’ and special compared to others, …. but in reality a judgmental, unmerciful attitude had crept in, …  blinding him to his own attitude and sin.
If we’re not careful, we too can be so full of ourselves, so full of self-righteousness, so full of Bible, …. yet having little room for compassion & grace for others.

For Jesus, all people were included in His circles.
Jesus demonstrated that righteousness was also about accepting everyone and anyone, and not avoiding anyone.

By looking at the faults of others in the room,
the Pharisee missed the most important person in the room
— Jesus !

By looking at other’s faults,
… we too forget that we have shortcomings too,
Unfortunately we tend to think  … ‘its always their fault!  Not ours’.

Somehow, … the Pharisee felt it was beneath him to welcome Jesus into his home in the customary way of feet washing.   Though he provided dinner for Jesus & his guests, he was not truly hospitable to Him.  Maybe, he just saw Jesus as just a son of a carpenter, … while he was part of the ruling, devout, pious Pharisee class, a religious leader.
His heart was not entirely open to Jesus.

The Pharisee did not honor & respect Jesus, his invited guest, with his actions;
he dishonored the woman, his uninvited guest with his thoughts.

1 John 4:19, 20 (NKJV)
We love Him because He first loved us.

20 If someone says, “I love God,”
and hates his brother, he is a liar;
for he who does not love his brother
whom he has seen,

for he who does not love his brother
whom he has seen,

how can he love God
whom he has not seen
?

The Pharisee saw Jesus as only a man.
By forgiving the woman’s sins, Jesus revealed who He really is, …  the guests were stunned

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

The woman saw Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us.

“But what about you?” Jesus asked.
“Who do you say I am?”      (
Matthew 16:15 NIV)

Our appreciation of who Jesus really is … will drive our worship,
just like the woman, … with her tears, kisses and perfume.

The woman’s focus was on Jesus.
She honored Jesus by humbly washing His feet.
Her heart was humbly open to Jesus.

By faith, the repentant woman received mercy and forgiveness.
She was honored by Jesus.

Like the generous widow and her last mite, this anonymous woman was honored by Jesus through her actions of faith & worship.
Even though both women said nothing, … nameless and insignificant folks in the eyes of the world,  … Jesus saw and commended their sincere faith, love, devotion & generosity.   Their names are in His book of Life, and immortalised in the gospels for generations to marvel .. shining examples to follow.

The self-righteous pious Pharisee received a loving correction.

At the heart is the attitude of the Pharisee and the woman,
i.e. theirs & our hearts.

 

What’s our attitude towards others who are not like us ?
(racial, cultural, socio-economic, status, denominational, class, lifestyle choices, etc)
Do we feel  some folks are worse sinners ?


Possibly the greatest spiritual deception
we can fall into is to think
we really love the Lord
while having little concern
for his people
– Jim Cymbala


Let’s all be on guard against self-righteousness, judgmental and “better than you” attitudes, by treasuring & cherishing God’s amazing grace who ‘saved a wretch like me’.

Jesus was a friend of tax collectors and sinners (7:34).

Self-righteous, judgmental attitudes are divisive & harmful to relationships.
Let’s truly treasure, savour, cherish the grace & mercy we’ve received,
& see others through His eyes of mercy & grace.

A grateful heart is giving & forgiving.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Let’s come daily to the word of God, and let His word  judge the thoughts and attitudes of our heart.

The woman was very bold in coming into the Pharisee’s home uninvited, breaking all protocol and decorum.
She came by faith.
She was desperate for peace with God .. and be set free.
She did not care what others thought of her.
She boldy approached Jesus.
Her focus was to receive grace and mercy from Him.

Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
She received from Jesus, forgiveness, love, peace, acceptance.

The Pharisee received a loving correction from Jesus.

The Pharisee gave Jesus a meal.
The woman boldy lavished upon Jesus her worship.

The Pharisee gave Jesus his means.
The woman gave Jesus her heart.

Interestingly, … this story is paralleled in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector prayers (Luke 18), which ends with Jesus saying,

for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
and he who humbles himself will be exalted

Luke 18:14 (NASB)

or in another translation (NLV).

For whoever makes himself look more important
than he is will find out how little he is worth.

Whoever does not try to honor himself
will be made important.”

For a related modern life story, please  Click here.

On another note, the woman’s expression of gratitude may appear to some as unorthodox, unacceptable,… or for others novel, creative, revolutionary.
whatever the case,
Jesus saw her heart of thanksgiving & worship.

 


A forgiving heart 

Here’s another incident, this time it involved Jesus’ disciples.

How do we handle rejection?

Luke 9:51-56 (NKJV) judgement city
51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.
54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”
55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.
56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”
And they went to another village.

James and John were nicknamed “sons of thunder”.

James and John asked Jesus, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

Earlier on in this chapter, Jesus had given His disciples power and authority over demons and diseases.

Luke 9:1,-6 (NKJV)
Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.
He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
And He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece.
“Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.
And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”
So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

As disciples of Jesus, they had spent time with the living Word of God (John 1:1).
The disciples experienced first-hand God’s power to restore lives through them.

But … power without character is dangerous.
Pride stealthly creeps in,
… spiritual pride …

After their recent ministry success in the the towns, their pride soared.
They felt important.
However, the Samaritan village refused to receive them
… ‘the men of power for the hour’.

They felt rejected,
and unfortunately, … anger and vengeance also crept in to fuel their pride,
… that’s when they asked Jesus for a judgement BBQ;
even though their lives were not in any mortal danger or loss.

Historically, during that time, Jews did not associate with Samaritans (John 4:9); … racial prejudices also crept into their hearts.

“Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

notice, ‘You want us to command fire’, they  felt they had the righteous right to exercise power and authority to command judgment.

They were going beyond their mandate of their delegated power & authority.  Instead of the healing restoration power of God, they were asking for power to destroy and judge.

They felt rejected.
It became personal.
They felt God should also reject the Samaritan town, and teach them a lesson.
They were responding in a similar way as the Samaritans, … mirroring them … but in a more destructive way

An eye for an eye ?

Jesus answered that they should respond in the opposite spirit.

What did Jesus told them earlier on how to handle rejection (as it was sure to come)?

And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city,
shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”

Just, shake off the very dust from your feet.
just, move on ..
don’t dwell on the rejection,
don’t take it personally,
shake off the dust of rejection … don’t let any rejection dust stick on us,
making our feet uncomfortable.

Isaiah 52:7 (NASB)
How lovely on the mountains

Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!

Let’s keep our feet clean & beautiful with the gospel of peace,
bringing good news of peace, happiness & salvation.

Jesus stopped them at their tracks, and reminded James and John of … God’s heart

 “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.
For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”

i.e Take on Jesus’ heart of forgiveness and mercy towards everyone, … including ourselves.

Let’s remind ourselves … what manner of spirit we are of.

Let’s take … the spirit & heart of Jesus …
learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart (Matthew 11:29)

Humility, gentleness.

What’s our attitude when others
do not agree with us,
or do not agree with our belief/values,
or reject us ?

Do we consider all bad things that happen to ‘bad people’ … as a judgment from God?

Let’s be on guard against unforgiveness. and understand God’s heart, His character.

Our reactions and actions … are a reflection of our heart.

Like the disciples when we focus on the wrongs of others’ actions (Samaritan town),
we can lose sight of our wrong heart attitude.
Like the disciples we all can easily lose sight, and justify our attitudes.

Jesus wisely taught, “… first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5 NIV).

The huge plank obstructs our view to see clearly, and  alters our reality.  Remove this plank … and we can see clearly … that our brother’s problem is just … only a tiny, minute speck.

Let’s examine our own hearts … before casting any stone.

By the way, the story ends with And they went to another village.
Let’s not dwell on rejection, … shake the dust of rejection off,
move on, and seize other new opportunities.
Carpe diem!

 

What happens when we face opposition?

In a later incident,
at the hour of crisis, when Jesus was arrested and their lives were in mortal danger in the garden of Gethsemene,

Luke 22:47-51 (NIV) Jesus heal ear
47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

The disciples asked a similar question,
Lord, should we strike with our swords?“.

In a flash, in a reflex action
…  suddenly, the right ear of the servant of the high priest was instantly cut off.
(Who did it?  … see John 18:10)

Jesus said to his disciple,  “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11 NIV)

Jesus in this moment of crisis and mortal danger,
in compassion,
He immediately reached out His hand
… instantly healed the man, restored his ear,
once again, demonstrating He is the Christ (Messiah).

A divine touch of heaven’s creative glory & love
in the face of Satan’s destructive, unjust schemes.
Heavenly light piercing the descending darkness.
Grace triumphing injustice.

Even though Jesus was arrested, … Jesus used His power to heal the man.

Jesus had all of God’s power on Him.
Yet, … He did not use His power to strike Judas and the soldiers, to free Himself… instead He healed the soldier.
Jesus submitted fully to the Father’s will, and chose to go to the cross for you and me.
He did not use His power to save Himself,
so that we all can be saved.
Praise God!

Thank God!

By healing the man’s ear, he demonstrated that He did not see 2 sides of people in the conflict, i.e. those coming to arrest him, and those who supported him.  He was impartial and wanted to redeem all. What mattered was the will of the Father and the kingdom of God.

O … that we may be more like Jesus.

Indeed,
For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.

Btw, this healing is unique – no one asked Jesus to heal the man; no man’s faith was involved.  Jesus healed him out of His love and compassion – Jesus’ manner of spirit.

Luke 6:27, 28 (NASB, MSG)
…  love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

… Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person.

Jesus not only taught … He lived & demonstrated His Word consistently, … even in crisis & mortal danger.

When the man’s ear was cut off, … we’ll probably call it attempted homicide today.
Thankfully, the disciple missed, if not a resurrection would have been needed 🙂

The Lord turned a disciple’s rash mistake for His glory & praise.
He is bigger than our mistakes.

He is in sovereign control with all absolute power & authority,
though in His wisdom, … sometimes, He restrains His power …
He is working out His purposes, for His glory & praise
His kingdom come, His will be done,
Amen!

Let’s trust Him.

The man, Malchus, was healed of his severed ear, without anyone’s faith.
100% Grace and mercy!
The sovereign compassion of Jesus.

 


A compassionate heart

Here’s the third example.

At the heart of compassion … its all about people.

One of the things Jesus did that annoyed the religious leaders was what He did on the Sabbath.  Here are 2 accounts of Jesus healing others on the Sabbath:

Mark 2: 27-28,  3:1-6 (NASB)
27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath ]was made for man,
and not man for the Sabbath.

28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Jesus heal hand  He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.

He *said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!”

And He *said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?”

But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He *said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

Luke 13:10-17 (NIV)
10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

Jesus was teaching in the synagogue,
and 2 people experienced instant healings.

For the man, Jesus spoke to him, “Stretch out your hand.”
Jesus spoke authoritatively the creative Word to restore the man’s hand.
For the woman, Jesus spoke to her, “you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her.  Jesus set her free from the spirit of infirmity, and then healed her.  He loosed her from the evil spirit by His authoritative Word.

One had a physical condition in need of a creative miracle,
the other had a physical condition bound by a spirit.

The healings were immediately verifiable by everyone,
i.e. man’s shriveled hand creatively restored,
and woman’s back was straightened immediately, painlessly :-).

Unlike the healing of the blind man in John 9, the religious leaders did not challenge Jesus on the authenticity of the miracle.  Its highly probable that everyone in town knew the man and woman who were healed, who regularly attended their synagogue.

In the first healing story, Jesus was angry, grieved at their hardness of heart of the religious leaders.
Jesus’ heart — angry at their indifference, … grieved to intercede for them to change.

they were watching Him to see if He would heal him
on the Sabbath

Interestingly, the religious leaders believed Jesus had power to heal.
so that they might accuse Him
But their religious spirit & envy of Jesus had the upper hand. (Mark 15:10)
In the second healing story, Jesus did not mince his words, he called the religious leaders hypocrites (Luke 13:15).

 The religious leaders were more concerned about their own personal thirsty animals on the Sabbath,   than the woman who was physically suffering … bound by Satan for eighteen years.
They would untie and lead their thirsty animals to water without a thought about breaking the Sabbath,   yet when the woman was healed of her physical need
… they saw Jesus breaking the Sabbath.

Don’t they care?
Jesus questioned their compassion for others.

Double standards!
Hypocrites.

Matthew 23:3 (NLT)
… but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.

The fruit of knowing God’s word,
but missing His heart,
without a transformation of our heart, mind & life
is hypocrisy, legalism, a judgmental attitude,
no room for grace & compassion.

On another occasion, Jesus warned His disicples,

Luke 12:1 (NIV)
Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying:
“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

A tiny bit of yeast influences the character of a large piece of dough.

Let’s heed Jesus words, and guard against hypocrisy:

** when our actions are not in sync with our words and our faith/values,
** when we tell people what they should do, but not follow what we do (double standards).
** when we ask people go & do, … and not lift a finger to do likewise. (Matthew 23:4).

All contrary to ‘leading by example’ … & not being truthful … an actor.
The Greek word in the Luke 13:15 for hypocrite means an actor under an assumed character, pretender.

Furthermore, the Pharisees in their self-righteousness, often pointed out and magnified the sins of others (eg John 8:1-11, Luke 18:9-14), … rather than their own.  They were keen to show where others have fallen short of the law, and religiously keen to keep others in line.
In so doing, they sadly missed  the opportunity to receive the Savior’s grace and experience His glory beyond the temple veil,

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14 (NIV)

See also blogpost on parable of tax collector and the Pharisee
(click here)

Jesus said, “…  But if you had known what this means,
I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’

you would not have condemned the innocent.

For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:7,8 NIV)

The Bible advocates a leadership by inspirational ‘Christ-like‘ example … leaders who set the pace.

Judges 5:2 (TLB)
“Praise the Lord!

Israel’s leaders bravely led;
The people gladly followed!
Yes, bless the Lord!

Paul said,

1 Corinthians 11:1
Follow my example,
as I follow the example of Christ.

The religious leaders envied Jesus, His teaching, miracles and growing popularity.  Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus.

When the synagogue leader told the people not to come for healing on the Sabbath, he went beyond the scriptures.  Using his authority, he wanted to control & dictate what was acceptable on the Sabbath in the synagogue, i.e. healing is not allowed here.

The leaders were afraid that Jesus was a threat to their status quo and power.
Hence, they felt the thing to do was to eliminate Him,
so that they can maintain their status quo,
their power over the congregation,
yet … they had no power to heal anyone.

At both synagogues, the well-planned and orderly service was ‘disrupted’ by miracles of people healed and set free … all because Jesus showed up at the meeting.  This had never happened before.

1 Corinthians 5:4 (NIV)
So when you are assembled .. .and the power of our Lord Jesus is present,

His manifested presence and power in a meeting.

At the synagogue,
on Sabbaths,  … God’s word was shared.

On this particular Sabbath, …  Jesus shared God’s word.
Jesus, the Word, was manifested in all His fullness and glory in their midst.

When we meet together .. do we crave for His presence ?

On this Sabbath,
some saw the Light, …. some did not, … some chose not.

The religious leaders taught the text of the scriptures, the letter of the law;  mere words.
Jesus taught the spirit of the scriptures, the spirit of the law.
He lived out the scriptures,
& demonstrated the power of the scriptures.
Action, power and words, all in sync.

Mark 1:22 (NIV)
The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.

By living out God’s word & seeing through God’s heart … something happens to our hearts when we reach out to help others in need.   Honestly, its easy to sing the hymn “Yes, Jesus loves me …” …. but loving others sometimes can be quite a stretch 🙂 ;
but in humbly doing so,
somehow our heart are softened, changed to be more like Him.

While the religious leaders were concerned about enforcing the letter of the law/rules, keeping order in their slick, polished synagogue service,
… Jesus in compassion, was concerned about each individual in the meeting – the man with the shriveled hand, and the woman whom Satan had bound for eighteen years.  He desired people’s needs be met at the meeting.

Jesus did not just teach God’s word,
His heart was concerned about meeting the needs of the people in the synagogue.  
Jesus came to the synagogue to serve the people.
He was merciful, and met their needs.  

The religious leaders came to the meeting to find fault with Jesus so that they could accuse him.

In contrast,
… the man and woman faithfully came to seek the mercy of God,
… & by God’s grace, they received their deliverance from Him that day.

The religious leaders was fixated about not doing any human work on the Sabbath,
They missed God’s miraculous  work of healing.

When the miracles happened, the religious leaders were angry and appalled with Jesus, and wanted him assassinated.
The woman and man praised God, and the crowd rejoiced.
the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
They loved every moment of it!  Must have been quite a loud, rowdy, spontaneous commotion at the synagogue 🙂
(so much for preserving order in the meeting)

One miracle … two very contrasting reactions.

That day when Jesus came,
was the happiest day in the lives for the woman and man who were healed.

immediately she straightened up and praised God.
Imagine if we were the woman, finally being able to walk upright without pain for the very first time after 18 long years.
… What would we have done?

Sadly … the religious leaders did not share in their joy,

… if only they saw & felt with their heart

Romans 12:15 (NIV)
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

The religious leaders received humiliation, bruised egos, and lost credibility with the people.
the rest of the people received joy and encountered God in their midst.
The healing stories instantly went viral in the towns and beyond … increasing Jesus credibility and popularity … (the last thing the religious leaders wanted 🙂 ).

Jesus was exalted.

When we miss Jesus exalted in our midst, … and focus on other things, externals, piety … we soon end up like the religious leaders; solemn, religious, legalistic, without joy.

The people saw the miracles, and their eyes were opened to the gospel,
the religious leaders had only an argument, a rule, a mindset.
This was easily crushed by Jesus’ miracles,
and Jesus’ wise words exposed their logical fallacy
– i.e. God does not work this way :-).

“a miracle is worth a 100 sermons”.

For the ones healed
at that meeting,
they met the Lord personally,
who met their needs,
as a result, the others met the Lord too.

On another occasion, Jesus said this to the religious leaders –
You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. (Matthew 22:29 NIV)

Today, … do we trust God’s Word,
and God’s power working in our midst ?

The religious leaders saw rules being broken,
the people saw the glory of God manifested.

Rules broken
… or broken lives restored ?

The letter of the scriptures,
or the spirit and power of the scriptures?


 

As Jesus was challenged a number of times about the Sabbath in the gospels,
its worth to examine this a little more,

what does the Law actually say about the Sabbath?

Exodus 20:8-11 (NIV)
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Exodus 31:12, 13 (NIV)
Then the Lord said to Moses, 13 “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.

Keeping the Sabbath was a sign of the covenant between God and Israel in the old testament, old covenant.
The Sabbath requirements was keeping it holy, a rest day for everyone.

It seems, over the years the religious leaders had inserted more stipulations about the Sabbath.

By healing on the Sabbath, Jesus demonstrated that the Sabbath was not just for everyone to cease work,
but to also
do good, serving others, demonstrate compassion to those in need (woman with infirmity, thirsty ox/donkey), set people free from bondage/affliction in His name, and enter into the Lord’s rest.

Romans 12:10 (NIV)
 Love does no harm to a neighbor.
Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Matthew 12:12 (NIV)
How much more valuable is a person than a sheep!
Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.

Mark 2:27, 28 (NLT)
27 Then Jesus said to them,
The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people,
and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.
28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

Hence, following Jesus’ example,
… righteousness is not just a state of being, or not doing bad things,
but also doing good by God’s power,
demonstrating His compassion, serving others in His name, entering into His rest.

From the earlier account of the woman who washed Jesus feet, righteousness is also not about avoiding people who are immoral or greedy or swindlers or idolaters, i.e. everyone.  (2 Corinthians 5:9-11)

Let’s be open to God to intervening in our common everyday lives … supernaturally,
Let’s open our hearts … see with the eyes of His heart,
allow Him to interrupt our status quo, our mindsets … break our clever rules & structures/frameworks … shift our paradigms,
so that we can see His glorious Light more clearly,
and people’s needs met by His loving gracious hand,
for the glory of God!
(see also Matthew 13:15)

In the Sabbath situations, Jesus was innocent.  He did not break the 4th commandment.
But when the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus, they were in danger of breaking the 6th commandment – you shall not murder.
They wanted to diminish Jesus in their lives.
Their envy, jealousy of Jesus, had turned into fear and hate.


Throughout history, when people become increasingly dogmatic, legalistic, caught up in power & outward appearances … spiritual pride,
…  the result is … a drift from being religious and pious … to intolerance, persecution, … all in the name of God.
From saving, restoring lives … to ruining lives.

Far, far, far from the heart of Jesus.

Jesus said, …”you are looking for a way to kill me,
because you have no room for my word.” (John 8:37)

O … may we have an insatiable room for His Word!


 

Back to the story, when Jesus asked the question in Luke 13:16,

“Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham …  be set free on the Sabbath day?”
Jesus mentioned Abraham.

The 10 commandments were introduced to the Israelites in Exodus 20, after they crossed the Red Sea
…. before this event …. none of the patriarchs of Israel (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc) kept the Sabbath.
Sabbath keeping was not part of the Noah and Abraham covenant with God.

Furthermore, in Genesis,

Genesis 20:17 (NIV)
17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again.

Abraham prayed, and God healed Abimelek’s household.
The first healing in the Bible :-).
The other healings in Genesis was the healing of Sarah’s barreness, and restoration of Abraham’s virility, to conceive their promised son, Isaac … Isaac also prayed for his wife Rebekah and she conceived.

Abraham healed others … Jesus healed others
…the disciples and others healed others … by the power of God,
i.e. God’s healing flows from Genesis … the Old covenant, … to the New coveanant
… & He heals today!

From another incident in the Gospels, the Jews asked Jesus,

John 8:53, 58 (NIV)
53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

Indeed, Jesus is greater than Abraham.
Jesus forgive sins, Jesus heals, Jesus is I am (Exodus 3:14).

Jesus was confronted a number of times about Sabbath keeping.
From another incident,
Jesus said, “…  But if you had known what this means,
I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’
you would not have condemned the guiltless.
For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:7,8 NIV)

By the way, in Joshua 6, … Joshua led the army to march round Jericho for 7 days … on the 7th day, the walls came down.  No sabbath keeping … & an awesome miracle :-).  He is the Lord of the Sabbath.

Later in the Gospels, … Jesus spoke to the religious leaders,
about their hearts,

Matthew 23:23 (NIV)
 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law:
justice and mercy and faithfulness;
but these are the things you should have done
without neglecting the others.

justice and mercy and faithfulness
and tithing (generosity)

Micah 6:8 (NIV)
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Further meditation – The parable of the Good Samaritan.

 


Through reading the scriptures, we learn who God is,
and gain an understanding of His heart … feel his heart.

John 5:39, 40 (NIV)
39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

God is the focus of the scriptures. This is His-story.

When Moses asked God to show him His glory, the Lord came down and revealed His name, His character.

Exodus 33:18-23, 34:5-7 (NKJV)
18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”

19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

the Lord, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin …. and just.

The Psalmist said,

Psalm 103:7 (NKJV, NLT)
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

He revealed his character to Moses
    and his deeds to the people of Israel.
The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
    slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

Moses sought the Lord, & he encountered Him.
Moses knew God’s ways,
God’s character,
he felt God’s heart,

Moses’ heart was changed.

The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (Exodus 33:11 NKJV)
The amazing revelations, experiences & prophetic impact Moses had, … did not puff him up with spiritual pride, rather,  Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3 NKJV) 

Who is wise and understanding among you?
Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.
( James 3:13 NASB)

The children of Israel saw God from afar,
They saw & experienced God’s mighty, loving works (deeds, acts) & provision,
They received God’s blessings
… missed God’s heart.

 The human heart is the most deceitful of all things

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
(Jermiah 17:9, Proverbs 4:23 )

By living out God’s word & seeing through God’s heart … something happens to our hearts when we reach out to others.


Let’s be more like Jesus,
know & experience His Word & power,
know His heart, … feel & live His heart.

 


 Daily Rice | Serving Quietly

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
March 3, 2015
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License

 


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