Jesus Delivers from Demonic Spirits

Jesus_crippled_woman10On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11and 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. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” 15The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16Then 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?” (Luke 13:10-16).

The passage we are studying today is about a lady who would probably be diagnosed by physician’s today as Marie-Strümpell Disease, a fusion of the spinal bones. There are no medicines known today that can cure this physical condition. But in this particular case the disease had a spiritual cause rather than a medical. Early in the course of the disease, sufferers often find that the pain is relieved somewhat when they lean forward. Sufferers go through the day leaning slightly forward, and gradually their spine begins to fuse. The more they lean in order to relieve the pain, the greater the angle, until a patient might be bent almost double, as the lady referred to in our passage. The bones become calcified and people are not able to straighten themselves. This lady had lived with this condition for 18 years and it was steadily getting worse.

It was a Sabbath day we are told. She sat down with the others in the synagogue, even though she could not see Christ, being bent over double.  I think it is a beautiful thing that even with her disability she is still present to hear the Word of God. One gets the feeling that maybe it was her only hope. The passage seems to indicate that the Word of God was taught first, before Jesus called her out from the crowd.  There had to be a degree of trust in her heart to sit and wait and leave her condition in God’s hands. I wonder how many had noticed her or even helped her to a seat. Were other people aware that her condition was caused by demons? She could not ask for healing as it was the Sabbath day. The religious rulers would not allow healing to be practiced on the Sabbath; they considered it work. The woman sat there and silently trusted.

The Lord Jesus knew the storm of controversy that would erupt at healing the woman on the Sabbath day, but He cared more for people than all the little rules that the religious leaders had put in place. Those that were out for His blood never intimidated Him! This passage is interesting because Jesus didn’t heal her; he set her free from the demon by casting out the spirit. When the spirit was forced to leave her at the command of Jesus, she was released from her ailment. It seems to me that the demon had not only caused this crippling disease 18 years previously, but was still keeping her tied up in a spiritual way. When Jesus put His hands on her, she immediately straightened up. We are told that she praised God. What joy flooded her heart!

But at the sound of the woman’s praise, the synagogue ruler angrily tells off the woman accusing her of coming to be healed on the Sabbath. What a cold stone of a man he is! It does not seem right that he is in charge over a congregation of God’s people.  Doesn’t it make you wonder how a man with no heart and compassion can lead the flock of God?  He is indignant, what a strong word scripture uses about him. Instead of joy at this woman’s deliverance and healing, he is very angry and upset. Doesn’t it make you wonder if the demon found another home right away!

The synagogue leader does not scold the Lord for healing her, but this religious person takes it out on His people instead!  This woman had patiently sat in her seat; it was Jesus who had called her forward. It strikes me how the Lord is so quick to defend this daughter of Abraham, a child of God, from the attacks of the evil one.  It is just like the enemy to get at the Lord by attacking His people, especially when we begin to praise our God. The enemy sometimes uses religious people to squelch out the praise of God. One would expect that a leader of this synagogue would be a lover of people, but this man showed no compassion whatsoever. His words betray his heart. Something wonderful and God honoring had happened in his synagogue and he is angry about it. On the other side, though, we see how kind the Lord is. He encourages her by calling her a daughter of Abraham, even though she had just been released from a demon that had disabled her for 18 years. Jesus speaks words of love and affirmation to her. How kind and reassuring that must have felt to her.

If you want to be a person that knows the power of God and be set free in the area of your praise to God, ask God to set you free.  Raise your hands in submission to the Lord, picture Him sitting on His throne as you worship. Don’t wait until heaven before you learn to worship in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking for such (John 4:23-24).   Learn to be a worshiper who will abandon self and give Him all your praise and adoration this side of heaven. The enemy hates it when the Lord’s people move in an abandoned spirit of praise, because the Lord is enthroned on the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). The presence of God comes as the He is worshiped.

Jesus reminds the synagogue leader that animals are treated better than the Lord’s people under the heavy rules of the Jewish leadership. Doesn’t any man allow his animals to drink in the morning? One can hear the care in His voice for this poor woman that has been under the cruel bondage of Satan for 18 years.  Not another day, He says. How about you? Isn’t it time you were released from whatever has bound you. Call upon the Lord with all your heart and He will hear you (Acts 2:21).

Keith Thomas

Jesus Heals the Man Born Blind

jesus_heals_2902081As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing (John 9:1-7).

In the previous chapter Jesus had stated that He was, and is, the great I AM (John 8:58), the name God had told Moses that He was to be called by (Exodus 3:14). To the Jewish people, to make such a declaration was unthinkable! How dare He say that He was God! They were so angry at His statements about Himself that they began stoning Him for blasphemy (John 8:59). He had also stated in the previous chapter, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12). He said this about Himself while up in the Temple Courts (John 8:2), more than likely before the four big giant candelabra’s symbolizing God as the One who had been their light leading them in the darkness during the wilderness wanderings. Notice that He didn’t say I am a light, but I am the Light of the World. He claimed exclusively to be Israel’s Light. Now He is set to prove it as He is leaving the Temple precincts.  Often beggars would be sitting near the gates to the temple area, ready to hold out their hands to any worshippers whose hearts were softened by worshiping the Lord. Even today, although there is no temple there, people can often be found begging near one of the gates to the Old City. Please consider coming on tour with me some time to Israel. How life-giving it is to walk in this city that is so loved by our Lord!

Put yourself in the shoes of the man born blind. He could hear the conversation between the Lord and His disciples, but didn’t know what was going on. He more than likely heard Jesus collecting spittle in his mouth and spitting it on the ground. I would think that the Lord told him He was about to put something on his eyes. Did he know Jesus before the mud was put on his eyes? I think not. He explained later on, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see” (verse 11). If he would have known Jesus he would have said, “Jesus told me to go to Siloam and wash.”

Sometimes the Lord tests our obedience to His voice. He will offend your mind to reveal your heart. How would you feel about someone rubbing mud in your eyes? Was he offended as he stumbled about with mud on his eyes trying to find his way to the Pool of Siloam? I’m sure there were a few on the way that probably offered to give him water to wash off his face while he was going. I’m sure there were a few that laughed at his obedience to Jesus. Was someone leading him on the way? We do not know, but no matter what was on the way or who was leading him, he was determined to do just as Jesus had said. He was well rewarded when he found his way down the steps to the pool of water. He washed and was instantly healed. How determined are you to hear His Word and do the will of God? What if he had washed his eyes before He had got to Siloam? I don’t think he would have been healed and we wouldn’t be reading about his obedience to the Lord. Can I encourage you today not to compromise your faith in Christ? Hold on to Him in the midst of the darkness as we stumble towards Siloam. We might not see everything that we would like to see but obedience to Christ pays big dividends! The end of our faith is well worth listening to His Word.

This study was taken from the study of John 9:1-41, Jesus and the Man Born Blind. It’s found in the middle column under the heading of the Book of John.

Keith Thomas

What is God Like?

MMprod son-blogWhen Jesus was being criticized by religious people for spending time with those who were far off from God, He told them a story to describe what God was really like. Here’s the story He told:

11Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.12The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate (Luke 15:11-24).

Some call this story the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but the parable is more about a prodigal Father in my opinion. Now before you start writing me an email to throw me an electronic stone, let me explain what I mean by saying that the word “prodigal” is not mentioned in the text, and dictionary.com says that it means:

Rashly or wastefully extravagant”: as in prodigal expenditures on unneeded weaponry; a prodigal life. Giving or given in abundance; lavish or profuse: prodigal praise.”

Yes, the parable does tell us of a younger son who was wastefully extravagant in his sin, but the father was even more extravagant in his acceptance of the son when he came to his senses. Jesus tells this story to illustrate just how the Most High God actually is in His essence—God is love (1 John 4:8), and very extravagant with His grace, mercy and love for His children.

When the younger son began to reflect on his wasted life and how he had grieved his father, verse 17 says that he came to his senses and started thinking of how to get it right between himself and his father. He thought that he would be much better off than being in the pigsty if his father would accept him as a servant. His sin, he felt, no longer made him worthy of being a son. This young man began practicing his words and  “got up and went to his father” (v.20).

We are told that the son had gone to a distant country (v.13); certainly there was no need in Israel for pigs, so he was probably amongst Gentiles (non Jews) in an adjacent country. Wherever he was, we are to think that he was several miles from home. This father, a picture of the Father that loves each of us, was also a long way from home, looking and waiting for his son to turn.  As soon as the father saw his son he ran to him. There was no anger within the father; his heart was full of compassion. What is compassion? Dictionary.com says that compassion is: Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. This father, a picture of God, had been in pain for his son while he had been away from home.

This father was so ready to forgive that he does not even give the young man a chance to speak his words. He is so in love with his son. After running to his son he is unrestrained in kissing him. The Greek tense says that he threw his arms around him and kissed him again and again and again. The father expressed his kindness before the son expressed his repentance. This speaks of God’s kindness and his readiness to be reconciled to those that have been apart from His love. Finally, the young man, in the midst of sobs, I’m sure, manages to get out part of his speech that he had prepared. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father cuts him off, and speaks to his servants to bring some things.

They were told to bring the “best robe.” There is a double emphasis here in the Greek text. It speaks of the robe, that principal robe. We are not talking about a coat here; this robe speaks of the son being restored to a place of honor. It speaks to us of a robe of righteousness that covers over our pigsty of sin. The ring speaks of authority and power of attorney. In that day, rings were used to sign official documents. Often the ring had an impression on it that, when pushed into hot wax, was the official seal of the family. Pharaoh gave Joseph such a ring when he was elevated to second in command of Egypt, after interpreting Pharaoh’s dream (Genesis 41:42). We too are given authority by our God to do the works of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). The son was given shoes. No slave ever wore shoes, and the father would not let his son go barefoot. He was a son, not a slave. Our feet are shod with the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). We have been made sons of God. The servants were told to kill the calf that had been fattened ready for this day. This father had been slowly fattening the calf that he may celebrate when his son would come home. These were all gifts of grace lavished on the slave returning home to be restored to son ship. How extravagant is the Father! How ready is He to receive you as soon as you turn toward home. How about going home today?

Keith Thomas

Put Out Into Deep Water

e50c5c08f074cc102f891a7cd8a46da6He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

Try and imagine what it was like for Peter. He had been fishing all night (v. 5), and now after cleaning their nets of all weed, he was exhausted and wanted to go home. I suspect, also, that he was discouraged and disappointed with catching nothing, and that they were cleaning their nets because they were finished with them for that time.

Jesus told Peter to go out into the deep water. The deep of the Sea of Galilee measures a depth of 200 feet. There’s no way, Peter probably thought, that his nets would go anywhere near down to those depths, and during the hot part of the day, that would be where the fish would be keeping cool. That would require a lot of net, which is very unlikely that he had, but because Jesus had said so, he stepped out in obedience. Jesus was a builder, what did He know about where the fish were and how to catch them? Peter was not expecting to catch one fish. After all, he was the expert when it came to fishing. What would this builder-come-rabbi, know about fishing?

It can be scary to leave the place of the shallows to follow out into the deep, but that’s where the big fish are. That’s where we shall experience great changes to our character and grow more to be like Jesus, and I think that is what all of us would like. I remember many years ago while I still worked on my father’s fishing boat with him (I used to be a commercial fishermen), the Lord spoke to me from the above verse, challenging me to leave my father’s fishing boat behind and follow Christ. I didn’t know anything other than being at sea. I just knew that I had to follow His leading. My intellect, or it could have been the enemy, said, “What on earth are you doing?” How are you going to earn a living now—you have never worked on the shore, never worked in an office, who’s going to employ you? You’ve never been to college to learn a trade.” I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I had to leave my father’s boat behind and push out into the deep to see what God was going to make of me. I began washing windows for a living—it was a very humiliating time in my life, but learning humility was good for the soul, so I leaned into it and later became a painter and decorator while I learned the Word of God, listening to teaching tapes while I painted. I started my own painting business to support my family while church planting. Looking back, more than thirty years later, I can testify that God is well able to make of us what He wants us to be. The lessons of God have taken me deeper and deeper into Christ—not that I am perfect—that would be foolishness, but I am ever striving to fulfill His calling on my life and I trust that you are too.

When Peter responded to Jesus and went out into the deep, he caught a huge amount of fish. When Peter saw what Jesus did, the Lord called him to leave his nets and follow Him. You will never regret leaving the place where you are comfortable, to respond to Christ’s invitation; “Come, follow me.” The things of God come to those who respond in simple obedience. One would say, “How can I learn to minister like Jesus?” Respond to His call, do whatever he tells you to do. Jesus would say, “Come follow me, and I will make you to become…fishers of men.” The main way that we can develop a life of intimacy with Christ today is by spending time listening to Him by reading the Word of God, by prayer and seeking to draw near to Him. Surround yourself with others who are encouragers, and lovers of God. He will make you into the person you are to be, and direct your life into one of fruitfulness. He who knows you best, will invite you to walk with Him and work with Him. Keith Thomas

Taken from the study: 8. Jesus Goes Fishing: The series in the Book of Luke found in the middle column.

Why Did Christ Die Brutally?

FWhy was it so necessary for Christ to die such a brutal and violent death? Surely God could have planned an easier death for His Son? The answer, I believe, is this: only a violent death could have exposed sin in the way it so sorely needed revealing. One preacher said, “Could Jesus have exposed sin in all of its foul horror if He had died in His bed, or by accident, or by disease?” It is one of the tragedies of human life that we fail to recognize the sinfulness of sin. God’s plan was for Christ to die as a substitute for all those who would put their faith in Christ’s death as their own death, thereby showing the sinfulness of sin and the just punishment placed upon it. Out of God’s love for man, He came in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus, to take man’s place and bestow mercy and grace upon us. Another example of this kind of substitutionary legality is found in history:

During a war between Britain and France, men were conscripted into the French Army by a kind of lottery system. When someone’s name was drawn, he had to go off to battle. On one occasion, the authorities came to a certain man and told him he was among those who had been chosen. He refused to go, saying, “I was shot and killed two years ago.” At first the officials question his sanity, but he insisted that was indeed the case. He claimed that the military records would show that he had been killed in action. “How can that be?” they questioned. “You are alive now!” He explained that when his name first came up, a close friend said to him, “you have a large family, but I am not married and nobody is dependent on me. I’ll take your name and address and go in your place.” And that is indeed what the record showed. This rather unusual case was referred to Napoleon Bonaparte, who decided that the country had no legal claim on that man. He was free. He had died in the person of another.[1]

In the viewpoint of God, when Christ died, He died as a substitute to release you from the legal claims that Satan had against you because of your sin. Christ died for you and as you. God sees Christ as taking your place just as the one man went to war in another’s place.  When Christ died, God sees you as having died too:

20Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules (Colossians 2:20).

1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-3).

The Lord Jesus, through His death, burial and resurrection came to give us His life. We received physical life from our forefather, Adam, but Christ came to give us the life of God, and this life is imparted to us when we wholeheartedly put our faith and trust in Him. When we believe, our sins are washed away and the Spirit of God baptizes us into the spiritual organism of the Body of Christ. The life of God flows into each of us that are connected to Him by faith. God loves you and wants to invite you to abandon your sin and walk the rest of your life in freedom from the bondage of sin. Will you give Him your life? Pray a simple prayer from your heart asking Him to forgive your sin and come into your life. Receive the gift of God—salvation in Christ.

Keith Thomas

[1] 1500 illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Edited by Michael P. Green, Printed by Baker Book House, Page 360.