Luke Chapter 8
Several topics in this chapter tie back in to the devotion I wrote for the previous chapter in Luke.
Jesus is acknowledged to have healed several people in the beginning of the chapter. Then later, Jesus again heals someone, but involuntarily it seems. This is a very cool moment in my opinion.
45“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Without even directing it, power left him and healed a woman. That is amazingly cool. Then he raises someone else from the dead, this time a 12 year old girl. Oh, and he also calmed a storm on the sea on his way over to this area. I want to follow that guy!
I also said last time that if you know anyone who doesn’t know the Gospel message, then bring it! In this chapter it is recorded that Jesus traveled about from town to town proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.
This is what we should be doing as well, not necessarily traveling from town to town (though some are called to do that), but spreading the word nevertheless. Verse 16 says, “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.” Why would anyone keep this good news to themselves?? Actually there are quite a few good reasons we come up with, aren’t there? Too intimidating. Not knowledgeable enough. Don’t want to offend. Don’t want to risk losing a friendship. Just don’t know how or what to say. Those all seem like good reasons. They’re not.
No reason is good enough to not share the wonderful hope that we have in the future kingdom, in everlasting life, and in being in the presence of our amazing King, Jesus Christ. Please don’t withhold this life-changing news when you have an opportunity to share it. I firmly believe that if you open yourself up to sharing it, God will provide the words for you. Don’t believe me? Try it!
And don’t be too discouraged if the news you shared doesn’t take root. Jesus warns us in the Parable of the Sower that there are many obstacles in this world that may prevent the word from taking root and fully changing someone. But don’t let that stop you. You never know when it WILL take root. How wonderful and marvelous to think that something that you shared with someone could make THE difference in that person taking a path that leads to everlasting life. Sometimes you may never even know that you made that difference until you are in the Kingdom.
Luke Chapter 7
This chapter is rich in content, and many sermons and classes have been built around the Faith of the Centurion, the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with perfume, or Jesus’ discussion on John the Baptist. All very good stuff.
But something else stood out to me today in this chapter. Isn’t it interesting how often scripture speaks to us in different ways based on when we read it? That should be a very good reason to be in the word daily.
We have a funeral this coming week at our church for a World War 2 Veteran who lived a full life and passed away peacefully, and yet Bob will still be greatly missed. Last year around this time, my dad passed away unexpectedly. I really miss being able to talk to him. I know many people who are currently suffering from or have recently suffered from cancer. Someone else in our church is still suffering through a migraine headache that started three months ago. Death and suffering stink.
With all of these things in mind, this chapter has been an encouraging reminder for me. In the opening account of the chapter, Jesus fully heals the Centurion’s servant who was near death. Then Jesus raises a widow’s only son to life, after he had recently passed!
Later, in verses 22-23, it reads, “At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.’”
Wow. Imagine the grief you would be feeling if you just lost a close loved one (some of us don’t have to imagine) and shortly afterward, the loved one is returned to us, fully healthy and alive. Or imagine if you have never had the ability to see, and then suddenly you did!
We are promised that there will be a Kingdom where the dead will have been raised back to life and where all suffering has ceased. That is hard to imagine as well. But here Jesus offers the proof that it is possible. Not only did Jesus raise the dead and fully heal the sick here and at other times, but many dead were also raised upon Jesus’ death, and then Jesus himself was raised to life. Of course only Jesus was raised to eternal life. The rest will have to wait until Christ returns.
Friends, we have access to that wonderful Kingdom that God has promised. What an amazing opportunity and reward that is. It is good to be reminded about that continually, but even more so at certain points in our lives. Do you known anyone else who could use that kind of encouragement? Do you know anyone else who doesn’t share that same hope for the future? If yes, then spread the Good News!
In this chapter we see that Jesus and the disciples are continuing an active pace proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. This lively passage not only records 6 healing incidents, but also shows 3 incidents where the teachers of the law are becoming rattled by the actions and rising popularity of Jesus.
Ready for anything and everything, the action rolls out as follows for Jesus and the disciples: 1) heals a paralyzed man, 2) calls Matthew the tax collector, 3) stops a hemorrhage in a woman, 4) raises a dead girl, 5) gives sight to 2 blind men, 6) and loosens the tongue of a mute man
Not only was Christ seemingly running a mobile emergency room, he was “hiring” new workers, contending with naysayers, and stopping to notice the big picture of the work ahead.
Verse 36 takes my breath away. “He saw the crowds and had compassion on them.” We are not lost in a crowd to Him. He knows our name and our needs. There is no end to His goodness. No bottom to the well. You can’t wear Jesus out. He’s not running on low. He’s not in a bad mood because it’s you again. “For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16
The biggest problem in these 38 verses is that Jesus needed assistance to support the needs of the “harassed & helpless.” Nothing’s changed. May God stir your heart and mine this day to be a worker fit and ready to support the hurting. Let God’s “grace upon grace” compel us to action to not overthink but DO!
Day One of Ramblings on Matthew 8-14
(I promise that Day Two will NOT be this long.)
Matthew 8 – 14 are interesting and BUSY chapters. When asked to write a devotion on these passages I considered many responses to the behaviors, wisdom, and wanderings of a few weeks of action from the life and times of my fascinating, jaw-dropping Jesus. Which therein lies the problem or the solution, I guess it all depends on how you want to look at it. “Overthink and Under-do”- a reoccurring, self-inflicting disorder that tends to roost, set up shop in my head, and consistently sabotage my intentions of greater good and productivity. When I cannot deliver on my promises, it literally turns me into the mother of all Grumpy Cats. Meow.
So, for the love and spirit of a new year’s endeavor, I have decided to take a stab at defeating this affliction that I’ve affectionally deemed, Thought Diarrhea, and use a different approach this week for the FUEL devotion writing campaign that might trick me into greater productivity and bundles of happiness. Consider yourself warned. I will simply be drafting thoughts over the next week regarding the chapters of Matthew 8 -14 that would be worthy of a daily Facebook post.
I am not a scholar, nor ever professed to be. I promise to be real and I’ll try to be interesting. I might be occasionally witty with undertones of sarcasm, but no promises. Would I love to spend several hours daily pouring over commentaries and exploring other viewpoints from most-worthy authors, 100% YES! Do I have the time, energy, or mental focus to pull that off this week or any week for that matter in the next projected 15 years of my life, 500% NO!!
Hence, proceed with viewer discretion.
While I often enjoy kind-hearted (if spirited) debates, please be advised that Senora Grumpy Cat transforms into Mrs. Malevolent Raging Lioness who hasn’t eaten in a “month of Sundays” when smart people start stupid arguments, especially when others are disrespected. Disagree with me all you want, but please don’t intimidate others into submission if you choose to sound in on what I have intentionally or unintentionally implied. Everyone deserves an opinion- a voice. I will defend it with wild abandon. Roar.
And now, without any further ado, Matthew 8:
Jesus is literally coming down from the mountain when he steps into the saga of Matthew 8.
The mountainside where he delivered the longest, most radical speech and teaching of his life. A speech that the last two verses of Chapter 7 says “astonished the crowds.” They were lit. (That means “beside themselves with amazement and wonder” for all those over 25 reading this post.) And who could blame them? They had never heard anyone speak or teach with his manner or authority. After delivering this brilliant, thought-provoking discourse he is besieged with the needs and requests of his ever-growing crowd of fans. This is the backdrop for the action of the next 34 verses of chapter 8.
Buckle up. In the first seventeen verses we find these healing ventures: 1) a leper who didn’t follow directions, 2) the paralysis of a servant for a non-Jew (a Roman centurion, no less) that rendered him nearly speechless, 3) a fever in a woman who jumped from the bed and then finished cooking dinner and tending to their needs, 4) a crowd of demon-possessed people who forced Jesus and his disciples to catch a boat to the other side of the lake in order to find some peace and quiet. And I thought I was busy.
Amid the next 5 verses is an interesting piece of dialogue that transpires. Perhaps my favorite. No one would deny it is tough to follow Jesus, but the cost sometimes is unimaginable, inconceivable, and quite frankly, a little harebrained. This crowd that had formed wanted more and more of Jesus. One of the groupies told him he would “follow him wherever he would go,” (verse 19), but Jesus saw through his zeal and delivered a mic drop response. “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (verse 20) No home. No RV. No tent or park bench. Not even a stinkin’ memory foam pillow. Just a ticket to ride that consisted of hundreds of miles by foot and an occasional boat or donkey if they were lucky. All, or any aboard? (Funny, we never hear about that man again.)
If this isn’t hard enough, one of the disciples sensing the tone of Jesus then turns to him and asks that he might be excused to return and bury his father before continuing. Jesus’ response; “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (verse 22)
Whoah, kinda harsh. “Uh Jesus, take two? Sure you don’t need a little caffeine, or how about a short nap before the next swarm of people arrive?”
Many traditions and duties were followed at this time that could have possibly waylaid this man’s service with Christ, especially when it came to burial. Jesus was most likely stressed from all the latest activity and found it as another teachable moment with an exclamation mark at the end! He let the disciples know in no uncertain terms that following him meant putting your own desires second to his. Jesus is to come first. It is an extraordinary sacrifice to show a sincere attachment to Jesus. Jesus wants followers, not part-time workers or even managers. He wants those who are spiritually alive to be instruments of the gospel preaching and reaching the people of the world. Nothing is more important, and nothing ever will be. Step up and strap on if you are serious about this Jesus thing. Son of God don’t play, especially after a day like this one.
We find at verse 23 that they are finally on the boat crossing the lake. Jesus gets to take that long-deserved nap and suddenly, the plot thickens. A “furious storm” sweeps waves over the boat, terrifying even the most seasoned fishermen among them. Jesus is snoring. Horrified, they wake Jesus hoping he will save them before they all drown. He turns to them and pans, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (verse 26) He casually turns to the wind and waves, ushering them to “cut it out.” All is well. I assume this is where he resumed his nap. Disciples are picking their jaws up off the bottom of the boat and they arrive on the other side of the lake.
As if the past 27 verses aren’t packed with enough action and wonder, we round out this chapter with the last bizarre 7. Two freakishly violent demon possessed men run from a cave to “welcome” Jesus and the crew. The demons in the men beg Jesus not to torture them and instead ask, “Drive us out by sending us into those nearby grazing herd of pigs.” (verse 31) The rest is history. The poor disturbed pigs become so frightened they charge down the steep embankment and drown their sorrows and themselves in the same lake. This has been an exchange of odd proportions, but we’re not done yet. Verse 34 remarks that the townspeople were so outraged by the events and Jesus that they PLED for him to leave their region. I have experienced “hangry” before, but these people leave me scratching my head. I guess they preferred to live with the two violent demon-possessed cave dwellers and needed Jesus to get out of the way before he cursed any of their other livestock?
In conclusion, Matthew chapter 8 is remarkable and perplexing. It leaves me with more questions than answers. The certainty with how Jesus governs and the lengths he endures to seek and save the lost inspires me to keep pressing, even when it gets weird. Not everyone is going to understand. Some people will walk away from you and others will ask you to leave. I can guarantee a life of service to Christ will often be supernatural, strange, swarming, and yet, eventually sure. Following Christ is the best thing I have ever done. The uncertainty and risk pales in comparison to the joy set before us. Thank you for reading my ramblings. Tallyho!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lost heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
Happy late Thanksgiving everyone! #thankgivingisthebestholiday Although the day of turkey has passed I hope we can all be thankful for what we have considering many do not have anything at all. Recently in Saint Louis, I encountered a man named Ron who was homeless and had nothing to his name except his torn up bag and the clothes on his back. Ron, like many you may encounter in your lives, asked me for money. There are at least two easy ways to handle this situation. First, we could give them the money they were asking us about. Or second, we lie and walk away feeling like we did that person well by not giving them money that could possibly enable their bad habits.
I would say Peter and John have a more effective way of serving these people. In Acts 3:1-10 Peter and John encounter a man who can’t walk and is begging for money in front of the temple gates (a common practice in that day, which could be compared to those at the stoplights we see). Instead of giving him money, they give him prayer and healing. Something we all can afford and is always at the ready. Next time you encounter someone like this it might be appropriate to pray with them about their situation and see if something big happens.
“The blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:5). This was true when Jesus said it 2000 years ago and it is still true today. God is alive and active in our world. I hope I have made that clear through my stories this week. He still heals the blind, he still makes the lame man walk, He still cures the leprous, He still makes the deaf hear, and of course we know that He will raise the dead to life.
From the story of the blind man, we learned that God still heals our physical afflictions and healing shouldn’t be our end goal. After you are healed, you need to tell people about it! Our memory verse from Matthew says that the Good News was preached to the poor. We can’t neglect that part of our healing. We need to let others know how Great our God is and let them know that they can receive healing, too.
From the story of legion, we learned that God still heals our mental afflictions. If you have a demon in your life, something that has taken over your every action, God can take that away. Maybe He intends to do that through prayer, like in my story, or maybe He intends to heal you through the knowledge that He has placed in doctors. Once again, we need to be sure to share the good news of our healing once it happens.
From the story of being devoured by a lion, we learned that God still heals our emotional afflictions. God can lift the burdens of this world of our shoulders. Sometimes God doesn’t follow the timetable that we want him to, but that doesn’t mean he has forsaken us.
From the story of regeneration and renewal, we learned that God still heals our spiritual afflictions. Finding forgiveness from God is easy in concept but hard in practice. The Truth will set us free so long as we know the Truth and we continue in the teachings of Jesus. This means turning away from past sin and moving in the right direction.
From the story of the Law, we learned that God still heals us through the observance of His Law. God gave His law to Moses in order to protect the Hebrews from disease. Even though we don’t follow the law of the old testament, the principles still apply in modern medicine. Get check-ups and listen to the doctors that have the knowledge of nature bestowed upon them by the One who created nature.
God is Still Our Healer.