Stretch Out Your Hand!

6On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. 7The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. 8But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And he got up and came forward. 9And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?” 10After looking around at them all, He said to him, “Stretch out your hand!” And he did so; and his hand was restored. 11But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus (Luke 6:6-11).

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. The secret police were out in force again, watching his every move. They were watching Him like a hawk as a man with a withered hand comes into the synagogue where Jesus was teaching on the Sabbath day. Did you know that Satan uses religion to control and bind people from experiencing real grace, and love and the mercy of God? The religious folk were there to try to stop the flow of God’s grace on the Sabbath. Of course, the Bible never says that healing and reaching out to others in love is not allowed on the Sabbath, that’s just religion with all its rules.

Try to picture it, Jesus is there in the Synagogue. Does the man just walk in? He is noticed by everyone including Jesus. The Lord did not heal him straight away. He calls the man to stand up so that everyone could see that he had a withered hand. With him standing in front of all, Jesus questioned the Pharisees as to what they believed about God. Should the man not be healed on the Sabbath? The Pharisees represent God as being law centered and not caring for God’s people. The religious people were totally silent at His question. Deep in the heart of every one of us, we know to do right and to take opportunity to do good, no matter what day it is. Without touching the man, Jesus tells him to do the impossible, “Stretch out your hand.” With all the people looking on, the man obediently stretches out his hand and before everyone’s eyes, the bones start cracking and opening the hand up, new flesh appears around the joints of his hand, until the hand is totally healed! All without Jesus touching him! How humiliated the religious leaders were. In fact, they were furious (v.11). They didn’t care about the man and his withered hand; they were angry at Jesus’ defiance and showing up their religious rules that was absent of the heart of God.

What religious rules do you have to deal with? Do they have the heart of God in them? These religious leaders knew the Word of God and yet they did not know the God of the Word. They thought more of the recipe than the meal itself.  The Bible tells us about how to have a living relationship with the God of the book. Let’s be careful to seek the Lord and His heart that wrote the book. This meditation is from a larger study on the topic, study 11, which you can access freely at this link. It is Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath, scroll down to read the healing on page 7. Keith Thomas

Peter’s Mother in Law Healed

We are continuing from yesterday to meditate on the power and authority of the Lord Jesus (scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts). Luke gives us another example of Jesus’ authority. The second time it is in the home of Simon Peter:

38Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them. 40When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ (Luke 4:38-41. Emphasis mine).

Some say that Peter the apostle was never married, but here in this passage we are told that Peter did have a wife. His mother-in-law was sick. Paul the Apostle also tells us that Peter had a wife:

3This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? (Cephas is another name for Peter) 6Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living? (1 Corinthians 9:3-6)

Notice how Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, “he rebuked the fever, and it left her” (v. 39). The Greek word translated into English as ‘rebuke’ is “Epitimao,” which means to blame, censure, chide, rebuke, warn or berate. It is an abrupt, curt, and biting charge pointedly expressing disapproval, the taking to task of someone for a fault, and connotes a sharp or harsh tone (Lexical Aids to the Key Word Study Bible). Wouldn’t you wonder about Jesus talking to your mother-in-law like that? More than likely, this is the first time Christ has met her. He is in Peter’s house and rebuking his mother-in-law’s sickness. Jesus would not normally speak in this kind of tone; He was speaking directly to the illness. The result? She got up totally healed and began waiting on them.

The Lord did not always address an illness or sickness in this way. It would certainly be wrong to say that every sickness has a spirit behind it. In certain countries where the demonic is openly practiced, the link between illness and spiritual practices, such as voodoo, is more common.

Verse 40 states that the people brought to Jesus ALL who had various diseases, and He laid His hands on EACH ONE and healed them. The passage above also states that demons came out of many people. He had power to shut their mouths and would not permit them to speak. The great need is for the Church today to exercise the authority of Christ and the power of God for our day and age (Matthew 28:18-19). Keith Thomas

Jesus Has Authority to Cast Out Evil Spirits.

33In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34“Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 35“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. 36All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area (Luke 4:31-37).

Luke’s focus is to show us the display of power and authority that Jesus brought against Satan and his kingdom. Twice in our passage, Luke uses the word authority (vs. 32 and 36) to describe the ministry of Jesus. In my opinion, there was more to His message than the structure of His sentences and clarity of logic. Christ did not buttress His message by quoting previous Rabbis. The Lord did not have to support His teaching in any way, for He had and has authority in Himself: “You have heard that it was said…39But I say to you…” (Matthew 5:38-39). He preached God’s Word which is dynamic and powerful itself, but not only has the Word of God authority in itself, there was and is authority and power that is intrinsic in the Speaker, the Lord Jesus.

A person with spiritual authority brings forth a clarity and conviction that speaks to the heart and will of a listener. Jesus was said to have authority and power: “With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” (v. 36). Exousia (authority) is the permission or authority to do something; it denotes the right to do something. The other word translated into English as power (v. 36), is the Greek word Dunamis, from where we get the English word dynamite. This word means to be capable, sufficiently powerful. It is intrinsic power. Exousia is likened to the traffic cop standing at an intersection directing traffic. He has authority to tell you to do something.  If you do not do it, then he has dunamis (power) in his gun strapped to his waist to make you do it! Demons recognize this authority and power. It is important for us to get a firm understanding of the authority and power that resides in Christ Jesus Himself. Let us try and get a handle on this important truth, for He has also given authority to His Church to carry on His ministry (Matthew 28:18-20).

Exousia (authority) is often used of a king conferring his authority or permission to exert a certain action. There are different kinds of authority, but all are spiritual in nature. There is nothing tangible to grasp. You can’t see authority. Authority, though, has to have power along with it. There is no authority if power is not delegated to back it up. Jesus gave the seventy disciples power and authority to drive out demons and to heal sicknesses, and the result was that the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:17). Authority is exercised in an office situation by the use of power along with it. For instance, your boss exercises authority over you by his use of rewards for correct action, e.g. a salary increase or promotion to a higher level. There is also coercive power, i.e. the boss can use the threat and fear of being dismissed or a pay downgrade to influence your performance.

True spiritual leadership is never forced upon the will of the person led. A person with true spiritual leadership should never have to say that he is the leader. True spiritual authority is not coercive (forced), nor does it make a person feel inferior, but it respects moral freedom.

Jesus exercised true spiritual authority in His leadership. He never forced His will over people. His leadership style was one of true agape love which ignited a desire from those who heard His words to want to be like Him! You can only exercise true spiritual leadership when you have earned the right by the degree of your character and the presence of the Spirit in your life.

Taken from the more complete study in the book of Luke, study 7. Jesus’ Authority over Demons, found in the middle column under the title “Luke, A Walk through the Life of Jesus. Keith Thomas

Did You Know That You Have an Angel?

14Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14).

The writer of the Book of Hebrews in the Bible states that God knows ahead of time just who will take up God’s free offer of the gift of Salvation, and that He assigns an Angel to us, even before we actually commit ourselves to Christ. The creator God, the Lord of all the Earth, lives outside of time and acts inside of time on the basis of what He knows you will do with the gift of God—the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus.  An angel of God has been assigned to you if you have become or will become a Christian—only time will tell as to whether or not you respond to Him. You might have noticed that the passage above says that the angels are sent to those who will inherit salvation—future tense. This angel sent to you is a ministering spirit sent to serve you.  The Bible has many instances of angels serving God and His people down through the ages. We don’t talk to the angels or reach out to them—we talk to God about what ever we are going through, and He instructs His angels as to what to do. Of course, there are evil angels as well, Satan is an evil angel that heads up an army of evil angels that are opposing God and seeking to corrupt and destroy God’s greatest creation—Man. Most of the time the angelic beings are not seen, but occasionally God has let men see just how many are on our side

In the Old Testament book of 2 Kings there is a story of a king reigning in Aram who was angry because his actions and intentions were somehow being made known to the armies of Israel. He could not understand how Israel knew everything he was doing, and everything he plotted (2 Kings 6:8-10). He thought that he had a spy amongst his leaders. His problem was that Israel had a man of God, Elisha, who lived his life in such a way that he was able, by the Spirit of God, to know the very words that the King of Aram spoke in secret to his generals (2 Kings 6:11-12). God was revealing these things to Elisha, who was very aware of the unseen realms, and who had an intimate and powerful prayer life, which gave him this special insight.  When the King of Aram found out about Elisha’s gift, he was so enraged that he sent his army to the town where Elisha lived, hoping to kill or capture him:

14Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. 16“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them17And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked (2 Kings 6:14-18).

When Elisha’s servant looked at the size of the army of Aram around and about the city, he began to lose heart. Things looked hopeless when seen only from an earthly perspective. But all was not as it seemed. There were spiritual forces around Elisha and Gehazi, his servant, which the young novice to the things of God was unaware of. Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened to the unseen angels in the spiritual realm around them. All of a sudden, at the prayer of Elisha, he saw beyond this physical world to the reality of the spiritual forces of God that were previously hidden from him, angelic beings that were much more powerful than the army of Aram. He saw the armies of heaven protecting and surrounding the prophet of God, available to serve him in whatever way the prophet prayed. The enemies of Israel were defeated with one display of God’s power at the prayer of Elisha. We too, as servants of the Living God, have angelic hosts that protect us. Maybe its about time you called upon the Lord to help you in what you are going through? Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (delivered) (Joel 2:32).

Keith Thomas