He Shouted All the More

35As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41″What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. 42Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God (Luke 18:35-43).

This blind man must have heard testimony about Jesus at some time because, when he was told it was Jesus of Nazareth, his response was to call out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v. 38). Even though he was told it was Jesus of Nazareth, he did not call Him by that name. He cried out to Jesus as the Son of David, a title for the Messiah (Messiah is the Hebrew word for Christ; it means God’s Anointed One). He began to cry out for mercy:

39Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:39).

The blind man could not be kept quiet by those around Christ! There will always be those who do not want us to get excited about Jesus and His Word, they would seek to quieten us down from calling upon Him. Some on the outskirts of the crowd could not hear the master teach over the beggar’s shouting. They rebuked him and told him to be quiet, possibly because they thought he wanted money from Jesus. Decide now not to listen to those voices. This blind man could not be quieted down. A different Greek word is used the second time. In verse 39 it is translated: “he shouted all the more” (v. 39). The Greek word translated as “shouted all the more,” is krazō, which means to scream or shriek.[1] In his desperation he began to loudly scream out to the Lord. The tense of the Greek also brings out the fact that he kept on shouting and screaming. He would not shut up.

The picture we get is of a man going crazy with emotion. There is desperation behind the blind man’s voice. It is very likely that he had heard of Christ and His power beforehand but had never got the opportunity to call upon Him. In hearing testimony from others about Christ, he had concluded that this was the prophesied Messiah, the Son of David. He had decided that he would not miss any opportunity if Messiah showed up. The Spirit had already been working in his heart to produce faith for when the opportunity came. If there was ever a picture of one who sought for Christ with all his heart this was it. The blind man had this one opportunity and he was not going to let Jesus go by without doing all in his power to get his need met. He began to call out to the Lord with his whole heart and voice, just as the Spirit has told us in the Book of Psalms: “and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (Psalm 50:15). This calling out to the Lord when in trouble is not something that we should allow to lightly pass us by, because there is great spiritual truth set out plainly before us. This is not just regular prayer, but a deep crying out in distress and anguish of soul. 16As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. 17Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice (Psalm 55:16-17).

Leonard Ravenhill, the Bible teacher, has said that God doesn’t answer prayer, He answers desperate prayer! I’m not sure I completely agree with that statement, but there is a truth that is worth extracting from the quote. Desperate prayer touches the compassionate heart of God. Again, and again, we read of encouragement to cry out to God just as the blind beggar did. For instance, in all the troubles that King David went through at the hands of King Saul, the Lord taught him to call and cry out to Him: “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears” (Psalm 18:6). We see example after example in the Gospels of desperate people getting their need met by Jesus. How about you? Jesus is passing by—are you going to remain quiet, or are you willing to call out to Him with all your heart and soul. Keith Thomas

[1] e.Sword.com

How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!

24Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” 28Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” 29″I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life” (Luke 18:24-30).

In his Gospel, Matthew tells us that, when the young man heard the entry requirement, “he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Matthew 19:22). The Lord did not go after him and renegotiate the terms. After all, a rich man coming to church could do a lot of good. Jesus watched him walk away, saying that it was a hard thing for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. “Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

There are three common explanations that will help us to understand Jesus’ words. One suggestion is that the eye of the needle refers to a small door in the walls of a city. The tour guide in Israel, for instance, will point you to a small door at Bethlehem that is called the Eye of the Needle door. They say that the small door stopped raiders riding into the city on their horses, raiding and pillaging, and then riding out again. When a merchant would come in with his camels, they had to be stripped of everything and then had to bend down to get into the city.

The second explanation put forward by Origen and Cyril of Alexandria was that kamēlon was a misspelling of the word, “rope,” kamilos. For those that hold to that view, it should read, “It is easier for a rope to go through the eye of a needle.” One would have to unravel every strand of the rope to get it through the needle.

The third possibility is that Jesus was saying that, just as it is an impossible task to get a camel through the eye of the needle, in the same way is it an impossibility for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. This is a figure of speech from Mesopotamia. The saying there was of trying to thread an elephant through the eye of a needle. Of course, there were no elephants in Israel, so it was changed to the largest animal, the camel. What Jesus was saying was that it was an impossibility for a rich man to be saved by trusting that his riches had any merit on his spiritual bank account.

The disciple’s response was one of incredulity. They said, “Who then can be saved?” (v. 26). The rich were seen by the Jewish people as those who were blessed of God and accepted by Him. Their thought was that, if the rich could not get in, how could the poor? However, it is the same for rich and poor alike: salvation is an impossibility for men, but with God all things are possible. It is impossible for man to make it on his own terms. There is only one way, i.e. through the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for you and as you. What’s impossible for man is possible with God. The good news is that God has made a way. Jesus is the way! His substitutionary death on the cross was in place of guilty man. He died for you and as you. The price of death was paid by God Himself.

Peter seems to want confirmation that they are doing enough. They had left all to follow Christ. The Lord’s encouraging word to them is that they and all who follow Him shall receive many times as much in this age and in the age to come, i.e. eternal life. For everything that the Lord requires you to give up, there is so much more of life’s true riches to be gained.

The great English cricketer, C.T. Studd, was born into wealth and luxury in the 1870s. He received the finest education that money could buy, e.g. attending Cambridge University where he became captain of the English national cricket team. Studd was considered England’s greatest cricketer. He had everything going for him, e.g. a huge fortune laid at his feet at the death of his father. However, God had a different plan for him than wealth and fame in this world. He went to hear D.L. Moody speak about Christ and, at the end of the message, gave His life to the Lord. He chose to give up his estate and his fortune, and he gave it all to mission work by even going himself to China and then India and Africa, too. To many people, that decision was a rash move and a tremendous waste of intellect and ability. However, to Studd and six others who went, it was using their ability to the fullest. They laid down their will to God’s call and purposes. “Yet not my will but yours be done.” He once said:

If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him (C.T. Studd).

Keith Thomas

Got Faith?

You’ve probably heard of the famous line on many billboards and magazines: “got milk?”  How about being asked the question: “got faith?” Let’s take a quick look at some heroes of the Faith. George Müller lived in the 1800’s and was well known for trusting in the Lord God of Heaven to provide his every need while building orphanages and caring for those who would fill them.

In Bristol, England, George Müller operated one of these orphanages for two thousand children. One evening he became aware that there would be no breakfast for them the next morning. Muller called his workers together and explained the situation. Two or three prayed. “Now that is sufficient,” he said. “Let us rise and praise God for prayer answered!” The next morning, they could not push open the great front door. So they went out the back door and around the building to see what was keeping it shut. Stacked up against the front door were boxes filled with food. One of the workers later remarked, “We know Who sent the baskets, but we do not know who brought them!”

Or perhaps you are well familiar with the great “Hall of Faith” as outlined in Hebrews chapter 11. In verse 38 we read about how many before us have walked in such great faith as to live a not so glamourous life and some even die very badly for their “faith”.

Which leaves us with something that we may ask ourselves – “How in the world can I obtain a faith like that?”  I want more faith, but how do I get it? Do I just not “believe” hard enough? What do I DO to get more Faith? Or do I just simply “ask” for it? Luke chapter 8 sheds some light on these questions. A man named Jairus was in desperate need of Jesus’ healing power to save his dying 12-year-old daughter. Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue and believed that Jesus had the power to save her from the brink of death. A few verses later we meet a woman who had “an issue of blood” for 12 years. She somehow believed that if she just touched the very hem of His garment, she too would be healed, as she was, along with Jairus’ daughter. One thing they both had in common was a great, great need. When one is in dire need of physical healing especially, either for ourselves or a loved one, it certainly does bring us to a place to seek the Healer Himself. Regardless of the outcome, their faith was the “evidence of things not seen” Let’s dig a little deeper though and find the one hidden thing that had given these two such faith in Jesus’ ability to help them.

Jairus was a “Ruler of the Synagogue”.  The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible states that the Ruler is a “Senior official in the synagogue of NT times. His function was to take care of the physical arrangements for the services of worship, the maintenance of the building and fabric, and to determine who would be called to read from the Law and the prophets or to conduct the prayers. The office was sometimes held for a specified period, sometimes for life. This man was inundated with and Knew The Word of God.   He heard it all the time. He knew what the Law and the Prophets (OT Bible) said. What sets him apart from many people of the same time period who knew the Word, is what he did with the Word. He believed it and acted upon his belief.

Let’s now look at the woman who was healed from her issue of blood. In Matthew 9:20-21 we read that she came from behind and “touched the hem of His garment”. The hem is the key word here that says volumes about her. In Numbers 15:38 the Israelites were commanded to put “fringes in the borders of their garments” with a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. Fringe and Hem are the same word in Greek: Kraspedon, meaning “A common noun for a wing, the skirt or corner of a garment”.   Herein lies the source of this woman’s great faith. She also Knew the Word of God. How do we know that ? In Malachi 4:2 it says “But unto you that fear My Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings. She knew where to go, Who to go to, and how to be healed because she knew the Word of God and Believed it also. The common thread here is that they both had such a faith in Christ Jesus stemming first from their Knowledge of the Word of God. Then they believed. Then they acted.

Many, many people say they believe the Word of God, but do they even know the Word of God?  In Romans 10:16 we read in the NIV “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message…” The Greek word for hearing is akoḗ meaning “doctrine taught and received with faith”

Are you lacking in faith? Do you want more faith? Read the Word of God. That’s where faith comes from.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; And in his law does he meditate day and night (Psalm 1:2).

Mike Engel

The Rich Ruler Comes to Jesus

18A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19″Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.” 21″All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth (Luke 18:18-23).

Few of the religious rulers had any time for Christ, yet this man seems compelled to get an interview with Jesus. He is so serious about finding eternal life that Mark tells us that he runs up to Jesus and falls on his knees before Him (Mark 10:17). His rich robes are all muddied in the dirt while he is on his knees blurting out, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” One of Satan’s schemes to deceive a man from turning to Christ is to have him look for things he can do to please God. People hope that God will see how hard they trying to please Him and reward our work by opening the door of the kingdom to us. Satan enjoys watching people work hard at trying to please God with their good works. He is the master of deception. The rich ruler had a serious question going on in his inner man— “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 18). This man had no assurance of salvation even though he thought that he had worked hard all his young life to gain peace with God. Before a man can receive the Kingdom, he must first see how far short of perfection he has fallen. The standard that God demands is perfection:

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).

Our problem is that we are sinners by nature and fall far short of the standard God requires. We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. It is in our very nature to sin. No matter how good a person thinks he is, just one sin makes us fall short of perfection and needful of God’s grace and mercy.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10).

The Law and Commandments was given as a means for us to see how we have transgressed over the line into sin. How would we have known what sin was without the Ten Commandments? Paul the apostle wrote: “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law, rather through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20). The importance of the law cannot be overstated. How can one have need of a Savior if he has never been convinced of his need? Presenting the gospel with no accompanying message of how a person has fallen short of God’s glory seriously minimizes the message to a person’s heart. A person loves much when he sees just how much he has been forgiven. Jesus stated it like this: “he who has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47). The greater our perception of our personal sin to a holy God, the greater our love response when we are forgiven our sin. God is looking for a love relationship with His bride, the Church, you and me. We are given an inner conscience that tells us before we sin, that what we are about to do is wrong. It punishes us as a judge if we do not listen to that inner voice and still go ahead and sin. The Internal Revenue Service received the following letter from a conscience-stricken taxpayer:

“Dear Sir: My conscience bothered me. Here is $175.00, which I owe in back taxes.” There was a P.S. at the bottom that read: “If my conscience still bothers me, I’ll send in the rest.”[1]

This rich young man’s conscience was bothering him. John Trapp said: “Conscience is God’s spy and man’s overseer.” Jesus pointed him back to the commandments, so that he could see how far short he fell. Shrugging off his conscience he claimed to have kept the commandments since he was a boy, but still something was missing. The Lord saw his heart as only God can do and told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor.

This rich young ruler’s problem was that he loved things more than he loved God. The Lord considered this young man’s soul and saw that he was holding something back, and that it was keeping him from surrendering his life to God. Whatever crutch we lean on in life, God wants to kick away until we totally lean on the finished work of Christ. Christianity is not a crutch; it is a wheelchair—we lean our total trust on Him alone. The rich man walked away, shoulders slumped, face downcast, because his one thing that he was holding on to kept him from enjoying the spiritual rest of Christ. There is a rest for our souls when nothing is held back or kept in reserve, or leaned upon. Don’t let anything hold you back from total abandonment to Christ. He will be there to support you. That is the essence of faith. Keith Thomas

[1] 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Michael P. Green, Page 79.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4″For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ” 6And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8).

The picture Jesus gives us is that of a judge who has no relationship with God. He does not fear that he himself will be judged for his actions. In his own confession, he did not care about God or men (v. 4). This judge did not show deference to anyone. He did not have respect for the people he was appointed to judge. All judges in the land of Israel would have been aware of King Jehoshaphat’s warning to the judges that was appointed in the land of Israel. He reminded them that the Lord is watching every verdict that is made (2 Chronicles 19:5-7). This judge may have been a judge that they all knew in the area, one appointed by Herod or by the Romans. This judge’s position gave him liberty to do whatever he wanted to further his own ends.

Jesus then gives us the epitome of a helpless person in a desperate situation. She is poor and defenseless with no family to help her. Widows often experienced hardship as Luke 20:4 points out, the teachers of the Law would often devour their resources after the death of their husbands. We don’t know how she was being cheated, but the judge was certainly on the side of her opponent. What was the widow’s strategy for getting what she needed? How do you think she pursued her goal of getting justice? How is God different than this judge?

The widow had no resource in the pursuance of her claim. The only thing she could use was persistence. Her relentless pleading and begging was her only hope of obtaining the justice she deserved. Verse 3 says that she “kept coming.” She would not be beaten down by constant refusal and rejection. I picture her coming morning and evening to the courthouse. Every time the magistrate went out to market, she followed him around, persistently arguing her case. The passion of her heart began to make people talk, i.e. wondering to themselves if she was being wronged by his injustice. I’m sure she was an embarrassment to him as people learned of her plight. Finally, the unjust judge gave in to her, not due to the strength of her cause, but because she kept bothering him. He was simply being worn out!

In verse 5, the Greek word that is translated “wear me out” is hypōpiazē, which literally means, “to give a black eye.” She was beating him up, not physically, but in a figurative sense, with her insistent passion and pleading words. The same word is used by Paul the Apostle in describing his habits of personal discipline: “but I pommel [hypōpiazē] my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27). It could mean that the unjust judge thought that she might give him a black eye! More than likely, though, it was the fact that his reputation was being pummeled and taking a black eye. It also could be figurative of his losing sleep over it. He was so worn out, and it was easier to acquiesce to her plea.

This judge is a sharp contrast to the Holy God we serve. The application Jesus makes is that, if this unjust judge yields to persistent asking, then how much more will the Judge of all the earth render justice and quickly!

When Edmund Gravely died at the controls of his small plane while on the way to Statesboro, Georgia, from the Rocky Mount-Wilson Airport in North Carolina, his wife, Janice, kept the plane aloft for two hours. As the plane crossed the South Carolina/North Carolina border, she radioed for help: “Help, help, won’t someone help me? My pilot is unconscious.” Authorities who picked up her distress signal were not able to reach her by radio during the flight because she kept changing channels. Eventually, Mrs. Gravely made a rough landing and had to crawl for forty-five minutes to a farm house for help. How often God’s people cry out to him for help but switch channels before His message comes through! They turn to other sources for help, looking for human guidance. When you cry out to God for His intervention, don’t switch channels![1] Await His answer and keep looking to Him.

Keith Thomas

[1] Edited by Michael Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Published by Baker Book House, Page 279.