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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Second Widow's Son: The Messiah to Nain

According to AncientSandals.com the city of Nain was located just 7 miles outside of Nazareth, where the Lord and Savior was raised, and one could see it from Nain. Nain lay just on the north side of Moreh, the hill of the Rabbi, the place Abraham had set the first altar of God, between Sichem and Moreh. The authority and sovereignty of the 'shoulder' (Sichem or Shechem) and the hill of the Rabbi leave little doubt, that this place was ordained one day for a great work of God, and the history of Israel had already proven it: long before Jesus came to Nain, Elijah had already raised the son of the Shulamite widow, the Widow of Zarephath, in a city nearby[] many centuries before the day the Lord and his disciples came to the gate of Nain.1

Jesus and his disciples have just been in Capernaum the day before, where he encountered a Roman Centurion, a friend of the local synagogue, who pleaded on behalf of his servant who was sick. Healing the soldier's servant by the word of his mouth, Jesus commended the Centurion, a gentile, for faith greater than he had found in Israel: a remarkable commendation.The authority of the Lord and Savior was comprehended by a representative of brutal Rome, who understood power and authority.

Leaving Capernaum, on the next day, Jesus and his disciples come to the gates of the city of Nain, meaning 'pleasant'.
Luke 7:11 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.

Jesus walked always in sovereign paths, so it would be error to suggest that they 'happened on' a funeral in a random city, nonetheless Jesus and his disciples,as they enter the gate of Nain on the North side of Moreh, encounter the weeping and mourning of a death procession for the only son of a widow of Nain.

Funeral processions in those days in Israel were not the sanitized ceremonies we have now in the 21st century, with brief memorials. Death and life were important in Israel, and even though death was all around in Roman-occupied Israel, through open killings and crucifixion, and even live burnings. Remembering the deceased person, though was not an hour long quiet memorial: it often lasted days, especially for an important person. When Jacob [Israel] dies, Joseph leads a band of Egyptian government officials back to Machpelah and 'AbelMizraim' {the sorrow of Egypt] to make mourning for his father, lasting some time:
Gen 50:9And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company. Gen 50:10 And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which [is] beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days. Gen 50:11 And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This [is] a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abelmizraim, which [is] beyond Jordan.

The death of the great man and father Jacob was mourned first seven days with a small army and entourage in attendance, even commemorating with a name change the place of mourning. As Jesus enters into Nain, though the son's name is not mentioned, nor is there knowledge of his eminence, there does appear to be a great attendance on the death of this only son:
Luk 7:12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.

Widows and only Sons

The plight that met the widow on that sad morning, caused Jesus to be greatly moved: it is not made clear when his own earthly father Joseph died, but it appears to have been before his ministry, so Jesus both from the mind of Messiah as well as from experience growing up knew how hard it was for a widow in Israel. These were the days long before welfare systems and retirement homes: a woman whose husband died was remanded to family members to care for her: if the man had brothers or a living father, they were to provide for her, and in both testaments, 'raise up seed' for the deceased son. If a woman had no living relatives, her children were to care for her if she was of a certain age, for it was hardly a day of women's rights, and women were seldom hired for more than menial tasks. A widow therefore would hardly be able to take care of herself, and given the rebuke of Jesus to the Pharisees regarding the 'devouring of widow's houses' it was highly likely, that little help was to be found at the Temple, though this was their charge. (e.g. Anna the prophetess who abode at the temple).

One can only imagine that the hardship for this widow in Nain was even worse than for most, for having lost her husband, she now was losing her son, which meant a very sorrowful life of want and trial in old age. Jesus had compassion. He comforts her and admonishes her not to weep; this would certainly be insensitive, unless he intended a great work of God to follow:

Luk 7:13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.

Much of what Jesus does in the New Testament does not require words, or only requires words. As Jesus comforts the widow, the admonition not to weep is with great cause: he walks over to the bier that the pallbearers are carrying and with only a touch, they stop, and Jesus commands the son who has died, to rise:

Luk 7:14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare [him] stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.

It is interesting to note that the pallbearers stand still with Jesus' touch of the bier. It is also interesting to note that Jesus is touching death: if the son did not arise at command, this would have been an unclean act for a rabbi in Israel. Jesus does touch the bier though, and gives the command so often heard "Arise".
The word 'arise' seems very clear, and certainly is, just as it is accurate. The greek word for arise is


The meaning can range from getting up from a static position, to rising from death,  and is used in many of the healings Jesus and later the apostles performed.  At the very least, the implication is a change in state.

No sooner are the words spoken by the Lord,  the young man from Nain sits up in his coffin and begins to speak.  The dead son is no longer dead, and is delivered to his mother:

"And he that was dead sat up and began to speak.  And he delivered him to his mother"  Luke 7:15

The reaction of the people at the funeral,  wailing in the procession,  is understandably one of raw astonishment:  they had no doubt heard of Jesus and the miracles he was performing in the region:  having just arrived from Capernaum,  a short distance,  he had just healed by word alone the Centurion's servant, and previously cast out devils in the synagogue there.  Similarly, his fame was spreading rapidly,  as he healed a man of palsy,  Peter's mother-in-law,  and a multitude of others:  even John the Baptist in Herod's prison, sent messengers to ask him if he were the Messiah or were they to look for another.   As the disciples walked into Nain, and as Jesus spoke the words that healed the mother's only son,  the fulfillment of their expectations was solidified.

The passage regarding their reaction mentions that they were struck with fear.

"and there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people." 7:16
There is a healthy fear of God that often confronts one who encounters God in a 'theophany' or 'christophany' such as when Daniel is confronted by an angel from Heaven, or similarly, Ezekiel.  The awe and glory of God is great, unexpected,  and beyond the range of normal experience.   In the venue of 'normal' experience, we adapt easily to things within a general range of experience.  When something unexpected or even phenomenal happens, we still have the ability to assimilate or accommodate the new information:  e.g. if someone sees an object in the sky that is not an expected one,  they 'adapt' the idea to the category of 'flying objects'  and until more is known, are satisfied with the general comfort zone of what they believe will be explained.

Here, though,  the crowd is at a funeral:  they are headed in the direction of a burial,  and instead of a burial and mourning,  the intrusion of life over death enters in,  defying description or understanding and causing fear:  Israel was no stranger to at least some miracles by this point, they were the 'children of the prophets' and through the centuries there had been many unusual events,  including the raising of a child to life by Elijah, (1 Kings 17:21-22) or the miracle of the 8 days of oil for the Maccabees.  However, the one raising from death was many centuries before, and oil lasting 8 days, while astonishing, is not the same, as a boy sitting up at his funeral,  raised from death by the touch of the Messiah.   Fear is often a reaction to what cannot be understood or comfortably fit into any mental or emotional framework we understand.   Certainly also, the presence of Messiah was so astounding that even the touching of his hem in one instance brought healing: there was a sense of his glory.   The first assumption though, was that Jesus was a prophet, or 'nabe' for at least the office of prophet still existed and was comprehended. (e.g. Anna and Simeon, at Jesus' birth both gave prophetic utterances and blessings).

In any event, the fear was more of an awesome fear,  equated with 'God visiting his people':  the people who witnessed the raising from death did not see it as some mere 'rousing from sleep',  but as a real coming back to life,  which indicates that there was no question in the minds of all that the son had indeed died.

In the end,  restored to life and his mother,  Jesus had brought unspeakable joy and hope to the bleakest of situations.   Rumors regarding the event stirred though, and also travelled throughout all Israel:   as mentioned, when John the Baptist heard, he immediately dispatched his disciples to inquire of Christ's Messiahship.    They ask:

Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? 7:20b

Before Jesus even answers,  the answer comes in the events before them: 

7:21  And in that same hour, he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.

Opening the eyes of the blind was a sign of Messiah,  and here, Jesus raises the dead, cures disease, casts out evil spirits and heals blindness,  in addition to the opening of the eyes of the man blind since birth in John 9.  These miraculous events were for a purpose in Israel:  they were to confirm and declare the Messiah by signs which were prophesied in the Torah over the centuries.  Jesus answers the question of whether he is the Messiah or not for John's disciples succinctly:

"Go you way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the ded are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.  23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." Luke 7:22-3

Here in Nain, the Resurrection and the Life shows his sovereign power over life and death:  there is no power death holds, than he holds one greater.  This son of God, son of David, and son of a mother who by then it is assumed was alone in the world,  understood completely the plight of woman attending her son's funeral.   Beyond mere Love (as if it is 'mere'),  the love of God is demonstrated in the raising from death and countless other healings,  which declare that the power and presence of God is among men, and there for a purpose.  The one who affirms, "I am the Resurrection and the Life"  and " I am the Way, the Truth and the Life"  gives life, and before the end of his ministry,  will show the great triumph, of life over death.

Till the next. ekbest.

1"Nain", in Ancient Sandals[http://www.ancientsandals.com/overviews/nain.htm]

Saturday, October 09, 2010

She Glorified God: The Woman with the 18 year Infirmity

A Daughter of Abraham is Healed on Shabbat
Note: The first half of this study was erased while I was writing it. Please be patient in its reconstruction.
Jesus has recently left Bethany where Mary and Martha lived. He also has, before the healing at hand, cast out devils. En route from Bethany to Jerusalem, Jesus confronts a tragedy, which is on the hearts and minds of all who are attending to his teaching: a tower has fallen and crushed many to death in Siloam, and Pilate has killed worshipers and mingled their blood with their sacrifices.

Luk 13:1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
The question at hand was whether it was their sin or not which had caused the tragedy:
Luk 13:2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
Luk 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Luk 13:4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
Luk 13:5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish

Israel throughout its history, had a sense of immanent justice: that sin brought judgment, and they conversely reasoned that if sin brought judgment, then when one suffered tragedy or severe consequences, there must have been an antecedent sin. Jesus though seeks to teach the principle that "the rain falls on the just and the evil alike". He warns Israel, that whether or not the grave consequence is judgment or part of the natural occurrences of life, that repentance from sin should be ever at hand, as should the 'handbreadth' of our days: repentance is required always as we do not know the moment of our death.

The Lord turns to teach the parable of the fig tree, also right before the healing, with relevance both for the healing and the wellbeing of Israel. A man has a fig tree, and it is left with the vinedresser to care for. The man comes looking for the figs in the third year. (In Levitical law, the third year of a tree, the first fruits, belong to God). Finding no fruit, the owner is willing to have the tree cut down. The vinedresser, though begs the owner for one last chance at the fruitfulness of the tree, when it is given proper loving care, and carefully attended to.
Luk 13:7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
Luk 13:8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung [it]:
Luk 13:9 And if it bear fruit, [well]: and if not, [then] after that thou shalt cut it down.
Note that the owner finding no fruit, declares that the tree, without its right purpose of fruit, is 'missing the mark': it 'cumbereth the ground' or essentially is taking up space for no reason. The vinedresser though begs for one more year: when the tree is properly tended, then it will bear fruit or not: the vinedresser begs for mercy. The tree is Israel, and the Lord has come looking for fruit in the third millennia, finding none, the Messiah begs for the fourth year, when healed and loved, it will bear the expected fruit in its right purpose.

The Synagogue and the Woman with the 18 year Infirmity

It is no small coincidence that immediately prior to this healing, that Jesus tells the parable of the fig, and points to a lack of repentance toward God in the prior passage. Jesus takes his place teaching at the Synagogue this Shabbat, and the woman with the 18 year infirmity is there. The word for 'infirmity' in the Greek is:

or astheneia which refers to a weakness or illness of a bodily sort, or generally a disease or sickness.

Eighteen years is a long time to be plagued with a condition which keeps one weak and unable to live life unencumbered---just as the fig tree did not have the proper ground and care to grow, so the woman was being held captive in her condition. Her condition was so serious, that she could not lift herself up:

And behold there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity of eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. Luke 13:11

Some physical conditions are so debilitating that they bind a person in a literal prison of flesh: this woman was so bent and weak that she could not stand nor sit.
There is no witness that the woman sought help, probably assuming that the lengthy condition was beyond the healing of God. In this healing, unlike many others, it is Jesus himself who reaches out to her:

And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman thou art loosed from thine infirmity.

It is one of the healings that involves the Laying on of hands:

And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. Luke 13:13

One can barely imagine the joy of being suddenly free of a lifelong affliction. The response of the healed in Israel was almost always joy and praise. She glorified God. Who beside God could have healed such a permanent ailment?

The Healed Woman's Reaction vs. The Ruler of the Synagogue

Consider the utter joy and praise of the healed woman whom Jesus encounters in the synagogue. He is there teaching like no other, and in the midst of the teaching, the great work of God is done, and the healed woman rejoices. That is drawing near to God: that is a relationship with God. Consider also though, the reaction of the Ruler of the Synagogue near at hand. His concern? The healing took place on Shabbat. Is it right to heal on shabbat? We have seen this dilemma elsewhere in many healings; the man with the withered hand is healed on Shabbat, and so are several others. Jesus makes it clear, though, that Shabbat and healing go together: Shabbat was for healing. The Ruler is displaying 'religion'; the woman is displaying the joy unspeakable of being in the presence of the Lord and Savior, and seeing his work. It is the dichotomy and conundrum of the ages in the Church: that a miracle of God occurs in front of all, and the religious want to assess instead of praise God. The ruler is very austere in his condemnation, using the Word itself to find fault, a practice known since the Garden:

And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work; in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.

The Ruler is concerned that healing is work, but the command of the sabbath regards 'servile' work. Jesus is master of the Sabbath, of Shabbat: he is the 7th day rest: healing is rest and restoration. Healing is the work of God. Jesus is just as succinct though in the defense of the healing:

The Lord then answered him and said, Thou hypocrite, doth noth each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? 16 And ought not this woman being a daughter of Abraham whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed form this bond on the sabbath day? Luke 13:15-16

Notice that the Lord refers to her as a daughter of Abraham. Why shouldn't mercy be shown on Shabbat? With the Lord right there intrinsically declaring the righteousness of the healing? She was set free from a Satanic binding: she was delivered, on Shabbat into fullness of right purpose, because the proper ground had been given her, just as with the fig tree.

On more than one healing when the issue of healing on Sabbath is brought up, Jesus notes that the religious of the day will pull an ox out of a ditch, to protect their pocketbooks and the animal, and yet they find fault with showing mercy on the day of rest. This woman had been in captivity 18 years! Under the worst of taskmasters! The Lord of Abraham, healed a daughter of Abraham to her right purpose. How could we not even still glorify God for restoring his people to wholeness!

The People Rejoice

Until this point, the people in attendance at the synagogue are not mentioned, but now, seemingly with permission, they rejoice:

And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed; and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him. Luke 13:17

The ruler of the Synagogue, the Pharisees and Sadducees, and other religious officers, had such a legalistic bind on Israel, that the fulfilling of ordinances and interpretation of ordinances was more important to them than the fullfilling of the Covenant, the everlasting Covenant. Their binding of the people was as serious and as lengthy as the 18 'astheneia' or infirmity: they had Israel bowed and bent in a permananent palsy, unable to look up, stand up or sit up. Jesus was out for faith and love: the Rabbi from Nazareth and heaven wanted them delivered, healed and free, properly nutured to be the fullness of who they were: sons and daughters of Abraham.

Till next time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Leper in Israel: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

Leprosy was not a new disease in Israel, for by the time of the Messiah, it had been contended with over the ages. Early Levitical laws dealt with careful prescriptions regarding how to deal with the disease, and how a cure might be affected. One thing was certain though, a person, house or garment assessed with leprosy was deemed 'unclean' and the person had to be separated, the house possibly destroyed, and the garment burned. The status of 'uncleaness' was more than ceremonial: it designated a person as unfit to live among others, and became down through the history of Israel a metaphorical ensign for sin, the spiritual uncleanness which separates man from God, and men from other men.

Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy

It is after Jesus has healed the demoniac in the synagogue, casting out a devil and after Jesus heals Peter's Mother in Law of a great fever, that Jesus encounters the man with leprosy. The healing follows also the immediate healing of a multitude at the door of Peter's house on that evening, and the healing follows also the Sermon on the Mount: Jesus, having shown God's glory in his home region, now turns to "the next towns" (Mk 1:38) where he preaches throughout Galilee, casting out devils Mk1:39)

On his journey, he encounters a Leper:

And behold thee came a Leper and worshipped him, saying, LORD, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." Matthew 8:2

Luke 5:12 describes the man as "full of Leprosy", and as such, the desperate man was probably not to have been out and about, for lepers were segregated in Israel, and were required to call out to passer-byes to circumvent their pathway. (Lev 13:45) Leprosy as mentioned is found both in the Old and New Testament. The term in Hebrew for leprosy is


and included multiple skin diseases, and is probably a broader term than the New Testament


Leprosy in both Old and NT times was seen as an infection of the skin, but in the Old Testament could extend to a sort of mildew of the house or clothing.

In the New Testament, "Lepra" seems more specific: Lepers were colonized and had to cover their skin and face, and alert all of their condition. They were "unclean" ceremonially and physically, as described in Leviticus 13 and could not be touched: their exile was one of separation. The word in Hebrew, zara-at is related to words suggested as a 'depression' of the skin, having a 'march' or progress.

Lev 13:2-3 When a man shall have in the skin of the flesh a rising, a scab or a bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests."

If the skin is depressed and the hair in it turns white, "...
it is a plague of leprosy..."

The symptoms require declaring the person 'unclean'.

Cleanness vs. Wholeness
We have spoken for the past five years in these studies on healing about the idea of 'wholeness' of which Jesus spoke, of 'being made whole'. Most healings require the person with an infirmity moved back to an 'equilibrium' where all is right and as it should be: words like 'health' or 'wholeness' are equitable. 'Be made whole' is a frequent command of the Savior in the healings he performed. However, in two conditions, there are additional concerns: in vexation and the casting out of devils, there is a release from demonic control, which brings about healing and a whole state, and in Leprosy, in addition to simple healing, the exists the issue of 'cleaness'.

Being made whole in the Hebrew is 'rapha', a healing associated with God, which restores one to a 'right state'. In Greek, the word for the same idea is 'sozo' as in save (salvation), to save from judgment, or also to "keep sound".

The word 'clean, though, is "Katharizo" (same root as the English word 'catharsis')which carries the connotation of cleansing or purifying from sin, or to 'make clean'. While both dovetail in the healing of leprosy, the unclean state is of importance, because one of Jesus' works was to deliver from sin, and to purify Israel and believers to come. Jesus readily touches the man to heal him. This is a most unusual act for a Rabbi of the time, for according to Levitical law it would have left him unclean for a period of 7 days, unless he bore the exemption of a divine condition, the only such case in history or the Bible.

The Request for Healing: The Worship of a Rabbi named 'Salvation'

Down from the mountain, this healing is occurring in front of all those who have seen other healings and heard the words of this life, of the Kingdom of God as never before in Israel. They must have indeed have been astounded at the Rabbi from Capernaum who was willing to touch a Leper of no social standing whatsoever right after preaching the most famous sermon ever given.

More astounding however is the remarkable way the man approaches Jesus of Nazareth, of Galilee. No one in Israel, in a sound mind, would ever have fallen in worship to a man: it was basically unspeakable- it would be blasphemy against God and a violation of the first commandment, to "have no other gods before me". This man though, having only recently encountered Jesus, and most likely having seen his healings and works does exactly that:

"And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean" (Mt 8:2)
"And there came a leper to him, beseeching him and kneeling down to him,

"...who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him saying Lord, if thou wilt, thou cast make me clean" Luke 5:12

Why would any Jewish man in any condition fall prostrate before another in worship? Something in Jesus evoked this response, not only in this healing but in several others (samples from Matthew):
Matthew 2:11
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 8:2 (already given)
And, behold, there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

Matthew 9:18
While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.

Matthew 14:33
Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Matthew 15:25
Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

Matthew 28:9
And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Matthew 28:17
And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

These Jewish believers (a a few gentiles) knew that to worship a mere man would disfellowship them from the Synagogue and most likely the community, but they were compelled to worship him, and more than that in one instance, to declare him the "Son of God". The power of God in this one was so eminent, that the act of worship was natural.

Now, any normal Rabbi would have immediately rebuked the worship, but Jesus responds with healing. He does not rebuke them. Even after Pentecost, where Paul and Barnabas are treated as 'gods' they express their heartfelt sorrow:

Acts 14:14

Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,...

Jesus receives the obeisance and responses to the man's cry for mercy:

And Jesus put forth his hand and touched him,saying I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was clean Matt 8:3

Like all of the healings, the man with leprosy is immediately cured after having shown, of his own initiation, faith in the Lord and Savior to perform the healing. In many of the other healings, Jesus asks if they believe, but this man 'full of leprosy' runs to the feet of the Lord, falls down, and worships him in humble supplication. The reward for his faith is immediate: the leprosy is cured.
The worship of the Messiah is never chastised or punished by God or his Messiah: however the religious elite threaten many who did with expulsion, for even saying he was the Messiah. (e.g. John 9)

The command of Jesus of Nazareth

Levitical law was very clear that after a healing for Leprosy in Old Testament times, the leper was to present himself before the priest(s) and only the priest could declare him clean:

2 This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest:

3 And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper;

4 Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:

5 And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water:

6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water:

7 And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.

8 And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days...(all of Lev 14)

Jesus, the author of grace does in no way contradict nor supercede the Torah, or law, but commands the healed Leper to present himself to the priest in accordance with Levitical precepts and Mosaic law:

And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded for a testimony unto them. Matt 8:4

Two issues are here: one apparent and one hidden: the apparent one, is that true to his word, Jesus (Yshua) Christ (Meschiach or Messiah) did not come to do away with the Law but to fulfill it. His command to the Leprous man cleansed is evidence of this, and he admonishes obedience to the law in several other places in the New Testament. The High priest was commending the man to the lower priesthood in order to fulfill and glorify the law in its proper place. He did this even knowing how the priests at the time felt about him and vice versa. He maintained the dignity and respect for the Law, the Torah, and the office of priest, even while openly rebuking the corrupt priesthood of the day: all must still be fulfilled according to the Word of God. Messiah would not contradict the Law.

The more obscure issue though, is that the fulfillment of pronouncing 'cleanness' involves a detailed passages regarding water, blood, and doves, a sacrifice and a sanctification: the purification of leprosy healed is a Messianic expression, a similtude if one will understand. One becomes clean from leprosy (sin) by a blood sacrifice, and the living water, and is cleansed, the sin and disease gone, and separated (sanctified). The leper so willing to humble himself in great faith before the Lord and Savior, is purified,cleansed, made whole, and the great grace is given, of his healing pointing to the prophetic sign in Levitical Law of the Messiah, whom he has recognized, trusted and received.

The one leper that day as Jesus travelled down from the mount called upon the Savior and healing God, without regard to the consequence. Mark 1: 44 notes additionally that Jesus charged him:
See thou say nothing to any man; but go thy way....

The faith filled leper, however, committed the gracious crime so many who were healed did when confronted with this charge: he published widely what had occurred, unable to contain the joy and amazement of the great healing of Jesus, the Messiah.
But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter so much that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in the desert places; and they came to him from every quarter. Mk 1:45

Faith and Joy begets faith and joy in Israel. Jesus was not admonishing with some false humility for the leper cured to tell no one: He simply knew what would happen and sought the orderly spread of the Gospel and the presentation of the King of Israel to his own. The Sovereignty of God is bound up in the healing of the man with Leprosy.

Till next time,
Elizabeth K Best

Monday, July 05, 2010

Ye Men of Israel, Why Marvel ye at this?

Peter and John Heal the Beggar at the Gate Beautiful

The First Healing Following Pentecost

That day of Pentecost was like no other day in history. Men were gathered from the fours corners of the world as the Book of Acts records, and they heard and saw things hard to be understood. The Holy Spirit, by the promise and covenant of God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah, had come to indwelling living men: they spoke in the 16 languages of the men around them, all proclaiming the glory of God. Over 3000 were saved that day.

Immediately following the great works of Pentecost, the Gospel begins to go out in power. The apostles and disciples had seen healings and miracles before, and had even been a part of them, when Jesus was present in the flesh, but Pentecost marked the point of empowerment of the apostles and other believers like never before. The Church was booming and growing, " and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." Acts 2:47

At the ninth hour Peter and John appraoch and begin to enter the temple, the hour being the hour of prayer. Seated at the gate of the Temple, at the Gate Beautiful (for it led into God's House), a beggar sat, asking alms of anyone who entered the temple. When Peter and John walked by, they were no exception, and he begged alms of them.

The man was looking for a small benevolence to sustain life. In the first century, just as in some places today, there was no government subsistence, so those who were lame or ill or otherwise unable to work, with or without families, were set in places of busy traffic to beg alms of those passing by. The gate to the temple was a most advantageous spot to hopefully benefit from worshippers walking it.

The beggar had been lame since birth, described as 'since his mother's womb' so the condition was all he had ever known. Hoping for a small pittance though, he was about to receive more than he could have ever expected: he was about to be made whole.

The Healing of the Lame Beggar

As Peter and John, walk by, the apostle with the keys to the Kingdom, and the beloved disciple who would one day on Patmos see visions of Heaven and things to come, the beggar asked an alms.

Peter, with John, 'fasten their eyes' on him, and very simply say:

Look on Us.

The beggar indeed looks upon Peter and John, hoping no doubt to receive a small coin or so, but Peter answers in a way the beggar could not have anticipated:

"Then Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." Acts 3:6

Now, if things had been different, if these two men had not been both men of faith and endued with the power of the Holy Spirit, the 'earnest of redemption', then their command to 'rise up and walk' would have even been cruel or certainly insane, but the apostles make clear a few things here:

1. Money was not what the Beggar needed most, he needed Jesus, and healing.
2. Silver and Gold are nothing compared to the riches of the Kingdom of God.
3. We are healed, and this man was healed, by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth

The mode of healing was hardly complex, the apostle commands the man to rise up and walk, and

...he took him by the right hand and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength. Acts 3:7

As with almost all the healings in the New Testament and Old, the healing was immediate, precipitated by a command of no more than to "Look on us", by the two apostles. This was not trickery or the modern con artistry of some modern faith healers: this was the healing and making whole of a man who who "from his mother's womb" had to be carried to the gate daily to beg, for he could do no work.

Praise in Israel

The sheer joy of being released from the bondage of being lame since birth, would certainly cause joy in any, and several healings are met with this reaction. The cry though "rise up and walk" (Acts 3: 6) in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, stirs the spirit of the man, who had only asked for alms. He immediately leaps and enters into the temple, praising God:

And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God: 10 And they knew it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him Acts 3:8-10

Praise and Israel are no strangers: it is the place in the spirit of the believer and the Spirit of Israel, where God communes with man. In Psalms it is noted that

Psa 22:3 But thou [art] holy, [O thou] that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

The name 'Judah' and 'Jew' mean 'praise'. The Jewish people in the course of God's history, are the 'glory bearers' of the Lord: they exhibit to the rest of the world the glory of God, through their nature, existence and perseverance, through the Word of God and prophets of God which they have borne, and through the presence of God which though at times has been diminished, has never departed. It was to the Jews, the Children of Israel that the line of Messiah and Savior descends, it was through the Jews that our modern system of Justice descends, the Law or Torah was given to the Jews in the desert, the land of Canaan was theirs by a promise or covenant to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Praise causes Israel, (and the rest of us, learning from Israel) to draw near to God, for it is a primary 'office' of the believer. Just as the name of the Lord is Holy, so is praise: it is worship and facilitates the work of God. Countless stories have been told in which praising the Lord saved an endangered person from the horror confronting them. Praise is the habitation of the Jews and Israel, and gentile believers, when all are in God's order. It does not surprise one then when upon a touch of healing by the hand of God through the apostles Peter and John, that the immediate response is joy, and a desire to praise and worship. The man at the Gate Beautiful walks with the apostles into the Temple at the 9th hour of worship.

Astonishment and amazement are the reactions of the crowd who see the healing, "they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him." Acts 3:10
Peter in Acts 3:12 notes that the people marvel at the healing. The lame man holds on to Peter and John walking into the temple, as the people rush onto Solomon's Porch to see the healing of the man back to a whole state. Solomon's Porch is only mentioned a few times, but significantly, this is where Jesus had declared himself the light of the world in John 9 by healing a man born blind since birth. It is also though the place where following that sign of Messiahship which had to be fulfilled for Israel to believe (in Isaiah), that Jesus clearly declares that He is indeed the Messiah, in more than one way, right after noting that he is the door of the sheep and the Good Shepherd:

Jhn 10:24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
Jhn 10:25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.

He is even accused there of being insane and blaspheming God because He makes himself out to be the Son of God, a name for Messiah:

Jhn 10:30 I and [my] Father are one. Jhn 10:31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
Jhn 10:32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
Jhn 10:33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

Time vindicates all, and if there was any doubt that earlier day on Solomon's Porch, where the Temple was once dedicated, it becomes clear that the glory of the Messiah is still at work, as a man lame since birth leaps in praise and worship at the Spirit of God making him whole. Peter and John indeed point back to the Messiah on the Porch, when they gently rebuke Israel for thinking the healing could have ever emanated from them:

And when Peter waw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? Acts 3:12

They also tie Jesus of Nazareth to the God of Israel and His work, not that of some mere faith healer:

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.Acts 3:13

The second major sermon following Pentecost follows, as Peter and John explain that the love God has for Israel in this healing by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, is not quite through, as a greater healing is still to occur: the healing from unbelief. In order to accomplish that purpose though, the reason for the crippling of Israel (and all people since) in unbelief and fear is made clear

But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know; yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. Acts 3: 14-16

They point to God fulfilling the prophecies of Messiah through Jesus (Acts 3:18). They call for repentance. (Acts 3:19) with a promise of sins being blotted out, and a time of refreshing from the Lord. What is the refreshing: Jesus sent through the Holy Spirit of God.

Acts 3:20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which "God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

Note that the purpose of the prophets in Israel's history was not only to warn and guide Israel, nor only to rebuke of sin and judgment, but to tell of the coming of their King, Yshua HaMeschiach, Jesus, the Messiah. "By the mouth of ALL his holy prophets since the world began" shows clearly that more than any other reason, the coming of Messiah was their primary purpose, and the sermon on the Messiah, takes root on the porch of dedication, where Messiah clearly reveals himself, contrary to the opinion of modern unbelieving theology. The times of Pentecost are noted in Acts 3:24 as being prophesied since the time of Samuel, who both foreshadowed and spoke of the wheat harvest when the Ark of the Covenant was brought back to the 'great stone of Abel' (I Samuel 6:18) the commemoration of the first righteous sacrifice.

"Ye are the children of the Prophets", the apostles tell astonished Israel. The "children of the covenant" (Acts 3:25) and they remind Israel that the healing of Israel and causing them to stand
(Eze 37:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.)

is a great act of covenant. He reminds them who they are, greatly beloved of the Father

...And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Acts 3:25

The primacy of Israel as the glory of God is also noted

"Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." Acts 3:26

When the first fruits of the harvest of Pentecost come in, they are at the Gate Beautiful, the way in to worship and praise, to be met by the knowledge and presence of Messiah. This healing was the door to preaching the crucified, the declaration that all Messianic prophecies had been fulfilled to the children of the prophets. A book from 1909 called "The Gate Beautiful" notes the story that when Charles Kingsley died (author of "Water Babies), he spoke the words, "How beautiful God is!". Isn't this the perfect declaration for the story of Israel, healed and made whole, with the vail lifted to repent and see her Savior for the first time.

Praise the Lord.

till next time, ekbest

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mad Among the Graves of Israel: Jesus Sets a Captive Free

The Madmen of the Gadarenes, Who Wandered Among the Graves of Israel

Since the beginning of time, the discussion of what 'mental illness' is and what it is not has prevailed, with little definitive conclusion: mental aberations have been approached in as many ways as any human issue has. Psychologists, likewise have had a very difficult time dealing with the concept of mental illness, ranging from some who see it as behaviors needing modification, to others such as Dr. Thomas Szasz who in the book, Myth of Mental Illness described it as akin to a language which one chooses to express themselves in the world. Ancient thinking, long before the discipline of psychology arose, regarding mental aberration, sometimes ascribed it to 'devils' or 'evil spirits' in many cultures or later to even 'magnetic fields' such as in 'mesmerism'.

As a former university professor who taught psychology, like many other lecturers, my introductory lecture to 'Psychopathology' or Abnormal psych used to begin with considerations of what was normal and what was not, and how those ideas had evolved over the centuries. Surely, most Psychologists have steered far from the concept that mental illness is 'demonic': not only do they not entertain that it is, they find the proposition mental illness itself. About the closest psychological approaches have gotten, were the APA Convention Keynote lecture in the 1960s called "Psychology and Satan", comparing psychological reductionism to the'nihilistic satanic spirit" or to Rollo May, the eminent existential psychologist's description of the demonic as what overpowers a person in "Psychology and the Demonic". The notion though of faith, and devils, or the Gospel are anathema to most psychologists who seek only what they consider 'scientific' explanations of mental illness, which they find and dismiss on a regular basis, never reaching either a consensus or a solution.

The 'demonic' though does exist, and is accounted for by observation in all religions of the world: the Jews speak of dybbuks, Muslims hold exorcisms as do Catholics, and many cultures worship spirits of the dead. Animism in African cults or in Voodoo cults in the Carribean deal in the demonic all the time, and surprisingly, today, no police department in any major city is without an introduction to the concept since cult worship and satanic worship often arise in the investigation of linked crimes.

Whether or not one believes there is a devil or devils, is not a function of centuries: as many believe now as in ancient times, and probably just as many do not believe. What has been very carefully documented in many instances though, is a manifestation which is beyond mere human troubling, and which responds to prayer and the word of God, and even now to casting out.

Jesus and Paul both were accused of being madmen themselves such as in John 10:20 when Jesus was accused of being 'beside himself', or in Acts 26:24 when Paul was confronted with the statement..."much learning doth make thee mad." The Scribes and Pharisees, particularly the latter, tried constantly to ascribe the great miracles ,works and healings of the Messiah as due to having a devil, or by 'Beelzebub' the Lord of the flies, literally, but referring to Satan. Jesus, frustrated with their lack of understanding, explained that a house divided against itself will not stand, and that the power of God is the greater power in overthrowing the 'strongman' of vexation, or oppression of a devil. In the above passage by Paul though, his retort is direct and to the point:

"I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak forth the words of truth and soberness" Acts 26:25"

Madness in the Bible is found from early times, usually referred to as 'madness' but later referred to as 'beside himself' or 'lunatick'. Forms of what we call mental illness such as drunkenness are seen from early: it is one of the first things that occurs when Noah plants vineyards after the flood (Genesis 9...) Dt. 28:28 mentions madness, and Judges 9:23 speaks in first mention directly of an 'evil spirit'. When Saul fails to obey the prophet, and is prematurely divested of the Kingdom, an evil spirit comes upon him (I Sam 16:14-16), and it is David's music which calms him. Isaiah notes the madness of diviners in 44:25; and Jeremiah equates idolatry as madness in Jer 50:38. Oppression is said to make a wiseman mad (Ecc 7:7). It is in the New Testament though, that the issue of madness and demon or devil possession is taken on, and Jesus and his disciples make it clear that those held in bondage by 'vexation' of devils are not nearly as insane as those who choose the wisdom of this world over the wisdom of the Word of God.

I Cor 1:20 Where is thewise? where isthe scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom ofthis world?

1:25 Becasue thefoolishness of God iswiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and God hat chose the weak things of the workd to counfound the tings which are mightly.
It is with this backdrop that the Messiah confronts those vexed with devils: clearly Jesus believed in devils and people were astounded when he cast them out: persons long held as 'crazy' in moments were sane and sober. Even in his first acts of his ministry, when a devil possessed man rises to confront Jesus in the synagogue, Jesus begins setting those in bondage free. While it may be difficult for modern Christians to speak in this parlance, the Lord and Savior who could hardly have known less than we about his creation, counted much 'madness' as the possession of devils, and not a disease to be treated or behaviors to be modified. We are often too willing to receive his teachings about heaven and salvation, and yet act as if there was not a divine warfare going on: even in the face of observed cases of demon possession in the 20th and 21st century.

Jesus confronts two Men from Gadara

There are three accounts in the Scriptures, of Jesus' healing of the madman of the Gadarenes. Just before coming to the region around Gadara, which is on the shores of Galilee, many healings had already occurred: a Leper had been healed (Mk 1:40), the centurion's servant had been healed (Luke 7:2), Peter's Mother in Law was healed from a fever in Mt 8:14-15, followed by a multitude of healings that evening, and Jesus had just finished rebuking the winds and the sea in Mt 8:26. The disciples had already in astonishment declared "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!" (Mt 8:27)

Coming into the Gergesenes , two men encounter Jesus both of whom are mentioned as being possessed with devils, but little mention is made of the second, and only in the Gospel of Matthew.

Map courtesy of Wikipedia

While some try and skew the 'extra' information, it is really typical of eyewitness accounts: in several passages of scripture, more than one person is mentioned as healed e.g. in the healing of Bartimaeus, and it is not a contradiction, but instead an issue of choice of report: since more detailed information was written down about a 'main' healing, some accounts in the synoptic gospels ('with one eye') some report only the main, and some include every detail.

The both are mentioned as coming out of the tombs, and "exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. Mt 8:28.

Luke describes the Mad man as one which had

...devils longtime, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. 8:27.

He is described in other passages as coming out of the city, and as spending night and day wandering the mountains and being driven out into the wilderness.
For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness. 8:29

The condition of the man is similar to other descriptions of those caught in the bondage of vexation or devil possession:
1. A loud voice: the word in Greek is Megas Phone, where we derive our english word megaphone. While 'loud voice' of the same origin is also used of Jesus' final words on the cross and others speaking merely loudly, it is of some interest in mention of devil possession as even modern clinical descriptions account some 'patients' as having 'rapid speech' which is loud, forced, and run-on speech. The devils in both the instance of the madman of the Gadarenes and in the demon possessed man in the Synagogue at Capernaum confront Jesus in the same way, and in similar voicing.
2. Adjuration- In 4 passages having to do with the same two instances just mentioned, the same pattern of encounter occurs, where Jesus is besought, or 'adjured' to not torment the devils.
...I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. Mark 5:7

3. Torment- It is interesting to note that the devils are beseeching Jesus not to torment them: for it is a slander of the Savior (he does not torment) but they do! The distress experienced by the 'minor leaguers' of Satan's armies, is the same distress persons living unclean lives have around people living pure lives: the descrepancy is painful: here the descrepancy is so wide it must feel like torment to the devils. Note also that the solution to torment is in I John perfect love, because 'fear hath torment' and 'perfect love casteth out fear.'

4. Homeless wandering- The devils drive their victim to and fro: wandering into mountains and wilderness, on the outside of the city. Their relations are broken by the bizarre nature of the vexation, and judgment is erased or impaired.

5. Cutting himself with stones-note the devils drive the man to self-destruction.

6.They fear an early destruction: Mt 8:29---"art thou come hither to toment us before the time. It is curious to note that the devils know their end: they know there is an appointed time for their destruction.

7. They KNOW who Jesus is, yet know they are not of him. They state emphatically they are not of him:
What have I to do with thee,Jesus [thou] Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. Luke 8:28

Note the four comparison verses, the first two regarding the devils at the Capernaum
synagogue,and the second regarding the madman of the Gergesenes:

Mark 5:7-And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, [thou] Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.

Luke 8:28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, [thou] Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not.

Mar 1:24 Saying, Let [us] alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

Luke 4:34 Saying, Let [us] alone; what have we to do with thee, [thou] Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.

In each of these, there are shared characteristics of how the devils encounter Jesus. Note, that Jesus in cases of demonic possession addresses the devils and not the person, since the devils have often 'displaced' the person.

3. The devils are not of the Lord and Know it:
In each similar statement, the devil(s) possessing the man, ask "what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth/". They both know who he is, and are basically admitting that they are not 'of' him: they are saying they have no part in him. They also fear

4. Destruction- and they intuit that an encounter with the Messiah of Heaven means their destruction---this is so much so that it causes the torment mentioned above. We will note a little further in the study that their doom is indeed imminent, as they beg Jesus for a 'way out' of not having to return to the deep, or abyss.

5. As mentioned, they know who He is. Some have a problem with that, and wonder how the devils would call out his name: his name then and now is Holy. They are though of a non-earthly nature: the fallen angels were once angels of heaven. James notes regarding the depth of belief required of God, that 'even the devils believe and tremble': it is not merely assenting to who He is, but trusting in the fullness of the covenant. They declare his name sometimes correctly, and sometimes in a grandiose sense (Well, God is grand, indeed, but in an exaggerated false piety), such as Jesus, thou S.on of God, and Jesus [thou]Son of the most high or most high God. In the Capernaum incident it is "thou Jesus of Nazareth", or "the Holy One of God. In Acts, with the woman with the spirit of divination (Python) it is likewise: 'these are the servants of the Most High God' repetitive, and one can only imagine, with an aberrant over-religiosity. They know him indeed, but as an adversary.

The devils also appear to know two other things: 1) that there is a time for their destruction already set (Art thou come hither to torment us before the time; and 2) that He is about to cast them out, because they beseech, beg or adjure him to grant them a preferable host of the swine, rather than to be 'hostless'. They beseech him to 'Let us alone', fearing the torment, but it is they who are on 'private property',having destroyed and vexed God's creation.It is a paradox to hear in the Word, devils begging for mercy.

The Casting Out, and the Swine Host

While their are two men mentioned in parallel passages, since the emphasis is primarily on the one we refer to as the 'Madman of the Gadarenes, or Gergesenes', references will be toward him. As he 'comes out of the city' he encounters Jesus, who has just arrived from across the Galilee. He is naked, and out of control,

Luk 8:27 And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in [any] house, but in the tombs.

It is curious that as devils 'overthrow' a person, they appear to overthrow reason, moral sense, and a sense of what some philosophers have called 'being in the world'.(dasein: as devils are mentioned to seek 'desert places' they drive their host away from normal society and healthy relationships into isolation. In this case it is literal: the Mad man of Gadara lives and wanders among the tombs and mountains. As Jesus approaches the man, though, just as he encountered the devil inthe Capernaum synagogue, he does not speak to the man, but to the devil, and reacts to what the man says, as being from them: in the extreme form then,it appears that the 'overthrow' of the person is so great, that the demonic presence has all but cast him out.

These devils, though, present a name when asked, which is not present in other times of casting out devils.

Luk 8:30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him.

The giving of the 'name' of the devil(s) is interesting, and also indicates the degree of overthrow. The word 'Legion' in Greek means roughly the same as in English,


Vine's Lexicon describes a legion thusly:

otherwise spelled legeon, "a legion," occurs in Mat 26:53, of angels; in Mar 5:9, 15, and Luk 8:30, of demons. Among the Romans a "legion" was primarily a chosen (lego, "to choose") body of soldiers divided into ten cohorts, and numbering from 4,200 to 6,000 men (Gk. speira, see BAND). In the time of our Lord it formed a complete army of infantry and cavalry, of upwards of 5,000 men. The "legions" were not brought into Judaea till the outbreak of the Jewish war (A.D. 66), as they were previously employed in the frontier provinces of the Empire. Accordingly in its NT use the word has its other and more general significance "of a large number.

The naming then of a legion of devils inhabiting a human host, makes it easy to see why the extremity of behavior would be seen. They had crowded out the human personality or 'self'. In the commanding out of 'Legion' though, the devils request Jesus to send them into another host:

Luk 8:31 And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.

Following the loud voice cry of the demoniac discussed above, the casting out is a simple command:

Go. Matthew 8:32

The demons are sent out of the man, and into a herd of swine which was grazing nearby. (Luke 8:32) It is not known nor made clear why Jesus would grant such a request, but one conjecture might be that he was 'killing two birds with one stone': swine were unclean animals, not suitable for food or product in Israel, as commanded by Torah. The Rabbi of Nazareth was in a sense giving his opinion of swine herding in the region, when he permits the devils to go into the herd of swine, which then go mad, and rush over a cliff. They essentially end up in their infernal destination, despite their 'adjuration'.

One other note, though, regarding the 'legion': it was not only the size comparison which is eminent, but also that as we have mentioned before, in the divine warfare, both the angels of God and the devils of Satan or in Hebrew 'shatan', are organized by rank, order and authority: the divine battle involves intent, rank, and reason: it is beyond most of us to comprehend the unseen to that degree, which is why obedience, trusting and unwavering, regardless of human logic is required to accomplish the work of God. The result? the whole herd runs violently down the steep place into the sea and perishes in the water. They are as violent and irrational in the swine as they are in the man.

The Gadarene

The Gadarene vexed by the devils, does one thing prior to the healing by casting out when he sees Jesus: he falls down and worships him:

Mar 5:6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,

The worship of the Lord, in humility and praise often exacts what nothing else can: a solution beyond human reasoning. Whether it is instigated by the remnants of the person, or the remnants of his will, or whether it is of the legion, the worship still shows that the incarnate nature of Jesus, God-made-man was somehow immediately recognizable to all who encountered him, even those in a dissensioned condition. While it is a little lengthy, consider the times in the New Testament, when people ran to Jesus falling on their knees in worship:

[Select for Copy; Double click to (de-)select all] Mat 8:2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
Mat 9:18 While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.
Mat 14:33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Mat 15:25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
Mat 18:26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Mat 28:9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
Mat 28:17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
Mar 5:6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
Mar 15:19 And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing [their] knees worshipped him.
Luk 24:52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
Jhn 9:38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

The worship of Jesus, such a seemingly blasphemous thing in the Jewish mind, would indeed have been blasphemy if he had been merely human: indeed in Acts, when two of the apostles heal, a whole town attempts to worship them as gods, and they hurriedly rebuke them for doing so! (Acts 10:25) The worship of Jesus though was a wondrous thing, which not even onlookers seemed to think strange, and while the Pharisees tried to rebuke him on many points of doctrine and practice, until the very end, they say nothing. (until he has laid his life down). No mere man could command worship without it being a major issue: Jews were dying rather than declare Caesar a god.

more to follow....

Publius's Father: The Healing of a Great Fever by Paul

By the end of the Book of Acts, there is little that Paul and his fellow apostles have not seen. He has been shipwrecked, brought before Kings, beaten half to death, stoned, imprisoned, and by the end of the account of the history of the apostles, the shipwrecked Paul winds up on the island of Melita with a "barbarous people" who showed them "no little kindness". The first act of kindness is to try and warm the castaways from the sea with a fire. As Paul sits before the small comfort in the cold and rain, the world adds insult to injury: as Paul gathers sticks to add on the fire, a viper jumps from the heat and fastens itself to his hand.

The people of the Island of Melita are not Christians nor Jews: like so many that Paul encountered in his travels, they are pagans, with the various gods of the region, usually of the Greek variety. Even these kindly pagans, though have the idea of divine providence or imminent justice: they expect that Paul, pulled from the sea must have done something terribly wrong,positing him to be a murderer, that "vengeance suffereth not to live". (Acts 28:4)

.there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.6Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god. Acts 28:4-6

Two aspects emerge in the thinking of the Melitans encountering Paul on the shore that day:

1. Immanent Justice: He must have been a murderer because even after having been saved from the sea, he was bitten by a deadly viper, and

2. Divine nature or Intervention: Because he survived the viper bite, which would have killed most men, he must be a god or of a divine nature.

The belief that a god could come in human form was not strange nor odd to this Mediterranean people: most of their gods were in human form such as the gods on Mt. Olympus, such as Zeus, Diana, Apollo, Mercury and so forth, or lesser divinities which took the forms of nature. Paul was bringing healing and word of the true Messiah, the Living God incarnate though, and he must have spoken with care to express true doctrine. The healing that was about to occur on Melita though, was not without a preliminary dissension in the Melitan's thinking, that because Paul escaped both the sea and viper bite that he must be a god. At least one other place in Acts 14 , the same error is made of Paul and Barnabas following a healing:

Act 14:11 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.
Act 14:12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.
Act 14:13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.
Act 14:14 [Which] when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard [of], they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,
Act 14:15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:

IN Acts 14, the two are horrified at being treated as Olympian gods, and use the occasion to turn the people's attention away from idolatrous practice to the true God and his gospel, but the people quickly turn in violence and run them out of town.

In Melita though, the people are kind, and when they see Paul survive the storm and the viper, great kindnesses are extended, including an invitation to stay at the house of a 'Chief man of the island', named Publius, with whom they stay three days:

Acts 28:7 In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.

While staying with Publius, the last healing mentioned by an apostle takes place: the healing of Publius's Father.

The Healing of Publius' Father of a Fever and Bloody flux
The kindness of Publius in inviting this charismatic stranger into his home, resulted in yet another wonder of God: Paul heals the man's father.

Acts 28:8-9 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 So when this was done others also, which had diseases in the island, came and were healed.

Note that this healing, like so many of the others, including those of Jesus, sets the stage for the preaching of the Gospel. Healing is a sign of God's power and imprimatur; while the Jews looked for and required a sign, the wonders of God were also a draw to gentiles as well. When one sees the power of God in a magnificent way, one is very likely to at least listen to what is said next by the people of God who are the conduits for the wonder, in this case a healing. Almost every healing is accompanied by the preaching of the Gospel, also in power, explaining the source of the power, the healing virtue, which is the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

The Healing

Not a great deal of description is given regarding this healing by Paul. Paul enters in, prays,and lays hands on Publius' father. We have seen in other healings that the laying on of hands is taught as foundational, along with the basics of doctrine:

font color=blue>Hbr 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Hbr 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

We have also seen that even the merest touch is not required when it is the voice of God who heals: the commands of the apostles and Holy Spirit filled disciples, filled with 'living water' carried the weight and authority of Christ: even today, when modernity snubs Holy Spirit healing, a servant of Christ walking in belief, obedience and power speaks a healing, he or she does it with the Lord's permission: this is no "Heroes" type power owned by the person, but the power of God working through the person to touch those who are infirm.

It is only a fever, so common an ailment which confronts the father, but it is stopped as is the hemorrhaging, both end. A simple healing before an unbelieving group of islanders, turns into requests for healing, and belief, as well as honor for God's apostle:

Acts 28:10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.

Nothing else is mentioned of the healing or the ones that follow, but it must have been quite a harvest among the islanders, for Paul and the others stayed a full 3 months before moving on th Syracuse, Rhegium and Puteoli, and finally to Rome.

Some last thoughts on the healing: Implications for faith

In summary, a few observations are notable regarding how the pagan people of Melita encountered Paul and his survival, and later his healing of the Chief man's father:

1. Assimilation and Accomodation: When the pagan people of Melita did not understand what they saw was divine power ; without knowledge they could only attribute it to a 'god'. When people see something not in their experience, most first try to draw it into constructs they already have, e.g. a 'power' belonging to one of the 'gods'; only when they can conceive of the thing being a brand new thing outside their understanding, do they then attempt to bring it as a new idea into their understanding, and 'make room' for it.

Paul played on this a bit when he spoke in Greece and pointed to their 'unknown god', a god that was supposed to sort of 'cover' them in case they had forgotten any. Paul did not endorse the worship of pagan or Greek and Roman gods, but instead, uses the pagan construct, to bring the living God into view, for those who had no concept of the slain Lamb of God who rose from the dead. He never endorses nor aligns with idolatry nor does he or the others allow themselves to be seen as 'gods', but quickly rebukes them, but he understood how to begin to speak of Messiah to non-Jewish people.
2. Immanent Justice-We referred before to the idea of "Immanent Justice": these terms are often found in 'Developmental Psychology' when explaining how young children think. The 'barbarous people' of Melita, have the idea of 'just punishment' or 'immanent justice', that if something bad happens to someone, they are being judged for some unseen evil deed. When they see Paul bitten by a viper right after a shipwreck involving prisoners, they must feel that he really did whatever crime with which he was charged. He shakes it off, unharmed, as promised. (they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover (Mark 16:18). Some Appalachian churches even today use practices like 'snake handling' believing that true believers are tested by whether venom affects them, but that is not the spirit of the passage: Jesus refers to the event not harming believers, because the sovereign life of walking in Christ is above the natural life. To deliberately have snakes bite worshipers is to tempt or test God, to put him on trial, which we are not to do, and there is a difference between trusting his promises, and daring him to be right. In any event there is providential thinking.

3.When Paul lives the attribution is that he is good. Regarding the healing:

4.-It is immediate, as with the healings of Jesus

-It involves laying on of hands with prayer

-Multitudes show up on the island to receive healing after hearing of it. The apostle is blessed and honored in departing Melita.

This last healing in the Book of Acts in the last chapter of Acts bears the marks of all the other healings: some claim healings lapse and wane, and are only in the time around Pentecost, but this is certainly not true: this healing is in power, and in order, and leads to the salvation and healing of many. Though many today count the end of Acts to be the end of healings, tens of thousands can attest to the healing power of Jesus Christ, Yshua Ha Meschiach, Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah, through His presence in the Holy Spirit which indwells believers. Before ascending in a cloud into Heaven, Jesus , Emmanuel,"God with Us" promised that He would be the author of a Temple which could not be destroyed. The Power of God, in Healing and Prophecy, prophecy being the Testimony of Jesus Christ, is still alive today for the health and well being of His bride, the Church. Belief and the Power of God is not a dispensational age.

Till next time,
Elizabeth K. Best

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What a Word is this?!.....The Demoniac in the Synagogue in Capernaum


The First Devil Jesus Casts Out: At The Synagogue at Capernaum

While the casting out of devils is often included among the healings of Jesus and his disciples, the expulsion of demonic forces in a person is in a sense different from the other healings because it involves the process of freeing the person from a form of captivity involving mental and emotional status, although the distinction is somewhat arbitrary, since both physical healings and the casting out of devils involve spiritual, emotional , cognitive and physical healing. Certain physical 'symptoms' go with devil possession: blindness, deafness, and dumbness, for example, as the devil 'overpowers' the faculties of a person, blocking, as John Bunyan once pointed out the 'Ear gate, the Eye gate, and the gate of the mouth' commandeering the person's abilities for a satanic habitation. Still, though the lines are somewhat blurred, the casting out of devils remains a more eminent evidence of the divine battle which Jesus fought: he was taking back what was rightfully his: the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel.

The time and place of the casting out of this devil, is also remarkable: Jesus is at the beginning of his earthly ministry, and while it is not the first time he has taught in the Synagogue at Capernaum, it is one of the first as he begins the path to Golgotha: right before the casting out of the devil at Capernaum, he has announced in Nazareth, that He is the fulfillment of the promise of Messiah. Luke 4 shows Jesus teaching from Isaiah 61 in what may be seen as his 'Inaugural Address' declaring the words of Isaiah the prophet fulfilled:
Luk 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
Luk 4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
Luk 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Luk 4:19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Luk 4:20 And he closed the book, and he gave [it] again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
Luk 4:21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Nazareth is where Jesus grew up, and as He would teach, " a prophet is a prophet everywhere but in his own country", and the crowd was taken with wrath as He declared the fulfillment: they ran him out of town, by first trying to throw him over the nearby cliff! Coming from one of their own this must have sounded disturbing, and over and over throughout his ministry, as Israel saw the wonders and miracles and healings of God, they were awestruck, they thronged him seeking healing and teaching, and yet they also were afraid at something so opposed to the ordinary, to the natural, that they could not reconcile the 'new thing' and became terrified. (e.g. the casting of devils into the herd of swine).

Jesus moves soon after to Capernaum, his home town, where he once again begins at the Synagogue, preaching the Kingdom of God, but a few things have already occurred: Simon, Andrew, James and John have been called (Mk 1:16,19-20), and it is after the Holy Spirit as a dove descends in the ensign of Baptism by John the Baptist. (Mk 1:9-10) This is after the temptation in the wilderness (MK 1:13), and as mentioned above, directly follows the heralding of his ministry, and the attempt to destroy Him by throwing him off the cliff at Nazareth (Luke 4:29-30).

Jesus enters the Synagogue in Capernaum on Shabbat. (Mark 1:21) In the Synagogue, among the other believers, their sits a man with what is described as an 'unclean spirit'.
And there was a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out; Saying Let us alone; what have we to do with thee thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. Mk. 1:24

This confrontation with the Lord and Savior, before more is known is astounding: the devils know who Jesus is, and are afraid of him. They cry out, "...Let us alone; what have we to do with thee thou Jesus of Nazareth...". Someone once tried to suggest that if the devils knew who he was, then maybe he was not of the Lord. Time and again, during his ministry, the Pharisees tried to ascribe his works to the devil but invariably showed a lack of knowledge about the scriptures. The devils are AFRAID of Jesus: they demonstrate the knowledge of his utter sovereignty, and that He is the Holy One: "...art thou come to destroy us? I NOW THEE WHO THOU ART, THE HOLY ONE OF GOD. (1:24). They are of an uncomfortable, but divine realm: they know who Jesus is: the long awaited and promised, the 'covenanted' Holy One of Israel. It is interesting to note that the term 'Holy One of Israel' is used 31 times as an exact term in the Old Testament, and not in the New Testament, save for this passage. The shorter term "Holy One" is used 6 times in the New Testament, but mostly in quoting the Old, and always referring to Jesus. The devil also uses the name "Jesus of Nazareth"- pointing to the location he was raised and has just been: most do not realize that before the days of Jesus, there is no city named 'Nazareth'---which means 'Branch', and no doubt comes from nazarim, which was, of course, a holy one, set apart for the work of the Lord.

The devil also knows that Jesus is capable of their destruction: no such interchange, even with the greatest of prophets has taken place before in Israel. So here we have, a Sovereign Holy One of God, who is capable of destroying the demonic. He is anathema to them: they cry "let us alone; what have we to do with thee?; the implicit response being 'nothing'.

Jesus Responds to the Devil

Jesus, while willing for the time of his sojourn here, to teach any who asked, never spends time in dialogue with devils: he casts them out. It is no less true here:
Mark 1:25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him."

He silences the devil, perhaps not wanting it to even speak of the things of God, and commands the devil to let go of the man in the Synagogue driven to disrupt the service and his purpose. The Authority of God is clearly seen, and is shortly to be remarked upon here: the presence of God is seen and felt. He speaks directly to the devil, to the 'unclean spirit' though and not to the man per se. Why? because oftentimes in possession, the devil has crowded out the free will of the person. It is easy when we see a person who has such a bizarre and anti-social countenance, acting in unholy ways to feel ill towards the person: if the reason though is demonic, the person is as much the victim or more than those offended by his actions.

Casting Out an Unclean Spirit

The unclean spirit "akathartos" (compare to the idea of un-catharted) ἀκάθαρτος and spirit, pneuma, πνεῦμα is described in Thayers as having to do with the idea of moral uncleanness, but also as of an uncleanness pertaining to ritual law described in Leviticus. In the one mention of an unclean spirit in the Old Testament, in Zechariah 13:2 the unclean spirit is associated with false prophecy: true prophecy is in line with a healthy and pure lifestyle.
Unclean spirits in the New Testament are associated always with a devil or demonic activity and always in the context of casting out the devil from a person. In one instance we will study later, the unclean spirits are allowed into a herd of swine which violently run off a cliff.

Violence characterizes the casting out of demons. ('Devil' and 'Demon' are used interchangeably, though in the KJV, only devil is used, the word for devil is δαιμόνιον or daimonion (demon). Devil when referring to Satan is 'diabolos'. In the cases of casting out demons or devils, the meaning is clearly, 'an inferior spirit', obviously not of the Kingdom of God. The violence of a devil letting go of a human host is seen here:

"And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice he came out of him". Mark 1:26

In more than one healing, two we have already seen (e.g. Father with the son with a dumb spirit who is thrown in the fire) the unclean spirit has no love of its human host. Examples in scripture of the violent behavior of devils while possessing their host or exiting their host include throwing the person into fire or water, gnashing, foaming, a loud voice or cry, and similar characteristics. This healing is no exception: the spirit TEARS the man, right there, on Shabbat in Synagogue in Capernaum(Luke 4:35) and cries with a loud voice, and throws the man, but then exited, leaves him alone:
And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him and hurt him not. Lk4:35

Once the devil is cast out, there appears to be no further harm, unless the person willingly lets down the defense of a pure life and mental/spiritual state, in which case it is Jesus himself who teaches and warns, that the process of letting down that defense opens the person up for an even more powerful overthrow (7 times).

The devils Jesus or his disciples cast out also appear to have a hierarchy and rank: for example in Daniel, there is a mention of 'principalities' when referring to the 'prince of Persia', or in the New Testament when we speak of withstanding the powers of darkness:

Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].

And Jesus is referred to as having 'spoiled principalities' in triumphing over the devil on the Cross.

Col 2:15 [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Principalities alone are neither good nor evil: they are a level of reign or rule, but devils in the divine battle appear to have 'offices' or rank. Satan has 'minions' of the 1/3 fallen angels. Lucifer is a created angel who is allowed for an uncertain reason and season to operate before the end, not a 'bad or evil god' but a created being gone bad who must like all the rest of creation bow before a Holy God, and the Name of the Lord and Savior. Phil 2:10

What a Word is This...the 'New Doctrine'

The people in Synagogue that day, in Jesus's hometown, had already been astounded: can you imagine the depth of sermon Jesus must have just preached! And from Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary whom all know! And following, a remarkable event: a devil cries out in terror at the presence and sound of the Savior's voice. A devil cries that he knows who Jesus is---not the hometown boy, but the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel: the Messiah. Devils do not know everybody---in Acts, when Sceva and the vagabond Jews try to use Jesus's and Paul's name to cast out devils, the devil cries

Act 19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

Even more astounding, Jesus casts out the devil in the presence of his most difficult audience: those who saw him grow up, and the man is thrown by the devil into the midst of them! They had never seen a devil called out! They thought it was a new doctrine and commented on the word, of the Word of God:

Mar 1:27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine [is] this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
Luk 4:36 And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word [is] this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.

The Word says they were 'all amazed' and talked among themselves as to the new teaching. They are dumbfounded at his authority, not only over people, but over the unseen. They comment on his power, crying 'What a Word is this?'

The Result

As with most of the wondrous works and healings, the immediate result is found in Mark 1:28

Mar 1:28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round

about Galilee.

The parallel passage regarding the casting out in Luke adds only that the location and time was directly at the time of his 'fulfillment' address' but the time after in Capernaum. Nonetheless the casting out of the unclean spirit in the Synagogue comes

1. after he reads Isaiah 61 in Nazareth and declares it fulfilled
2. After he rebukes Capernaum in the Nazareth Synagogue for unbelief (4:23), and
3. After the violence already mentioned.

Jesus's ministry, the sojourning of Yshua among us, comes from a number of silent years, then comes in power: God, Emanu-el is back face to face in Israel, and he is beginning to make a few things clear, about the Kingdoms of this world vs. the Kingdom of Heaven. His Son is no minor Prince, but Sar Shalom, with authority over all other kingdoms, not only of this world, but of unseen realms. The Word of God (John 1:1) delivers the Word (Is 61) in power, and with His Word, puts Satan on notice that his dark kingdom has no ultimate authority over the Kingdom,reign and rule of God in his Messiah. What a Word is this? What a Word is this,indeed!.

Till next time, much healing and many blessings. ekbest
2. 84.