John T. Willis

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jesus Heals a Blind Beggar--Luke 18:31-43

As Jesus gets closer and closer to Jerusalem, he comes near Jericho and encounters a blind beggar whom he heals. This account is in Luke 18:31-43, which falls into two parts. I. Jesus tells "The Twelve" that he must be killed and rise from the dead on the third day, but they do not comprehend his message. Luke 18:31-34. a. Jesus took The Twelve aside from those who were listening to him in 18:26. He told The Twelve that they were going up to Jerusalem and everying written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. The expression "written by the prophets" occurs also in Acts 2:23; 3:18; 17:3; 26:22-23. 18:31. b. Then Jesus explains what this means: Jesus will be handed over to the Gentiles [the Romans], mocked, insulted, spat upon, flogged [on this verb, see the similar language in Isaiah 50:6], and killed. But on the third day he will rise again. Jesus made the same announcement in Luke 9:22, 43-45. 18:32-33. c. But Jesus' disciples did not grasp or understand or comprehend what Jesus meant. This calls of mind the lack of comprehension of Joseph and Mary when Jesus was twelve in Luke 2:50, and prepares for the audience of Luke in the Emmaus story in Luke 24:27, 44-45. 18:34. II. Jesus heals blind beggar near Jericho. Luke 18:35-43. a. Jesus approached Jericho, which is very near Jerusalem. A blind man was sitting by the road begging. 18:35. b. A crowd of pilgrims going to Jerusalem passed by, and the blind him asked them what was happening. They told the blind man that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. The term "Jesus of Nazareth" may be connected with the Hebrew word "nazir," indicating a consecrated one or Nazirite, and with the Hebrew word "netser," indicating a shoot, scion, or sprout," calling to mind Isaiah 11:1, alluding to the Davidic lineage. 18:36-37. c. The blind man immediately cried out to Jesus: "Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me." Those in front of the blind man sternly ordered him to be quiet, but the blind man shouted even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me." 18:38-39. d. Jesus stopped and order the man in front who had spoken to order the blind man to come to Jesus. When the blind man came to Jesus, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do to you?" The blind man responded, "Lord, let me see again." 18:40-41. e. Jesus replied, "Receive your sight; you faith has saved you." God the Father through Jesus Christ is the great doctor, the great physician, the great healer. So Jesus healed the blind man. This is because the blind man clearly had faith in God through Jesus Christ. A similar statement appears in Luke 5:20; 7:50; 8:48; 17:19. God our Father through Jesus Christ does miraculous things when we have true faith. 18:42. f. Immediately the blind man received his sight. Naturally, the blind man "followed" Jesus and "glorified" God the great healer. When God does great things for us, it is very important to "glorify" God--see the emphasis on this point in Luke 2:20; 5:25-26; 7:16; 13:13; 17:15; 23:47. Then when all the people saw this miracle, they "praised God." See Luke 2:13, 20; 4:15; 19:37. 18:43. Share YOUR experiences and surprises and insights and reversals and aspirations with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Church Politics: This is a Heart Issue (Part 3)

The Enlightenment beginning in the late sixteenth century A. D. introduced a new way of thinking in many directions. One of these is to divide issues into specific compartments. This approach is very different from what one finds in the Bible. Here are ONLY a few examples. 1. Many religious people and churches have made a sharp distinction between "Religious Activities" and "Social Activities." In Churches of Christ, many people argued that helping the poor, the needy, the marginalized, the widow, the orphan, the alien is a "Social Activity," NOT a "Religious Activity." Thus, they argued that the responsibility of the church is to convert the lost to Christ. If one can baptize a person, the work of God is done. A study of the Bible shows how wrong this concept is. Jesus taught that in the final judgment, God will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep are the godly, and the goats are the ungodly. The criterion is NOT converting the lost to Christ, but to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome stranger into one's home, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit prisoners. James 1:27 says: "RELIGION that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." Helping the poor, the needy, the widow, the orphan, etc., lies at the HEART of TRUE RELIGION. 2. Many religious people and churches have made a sharp distinction between the church and the state, between religious activities and political and military activities. The problem with this concept is that NO ONE can separate any human being from his or her beliefs, concepts, feelings, or concerns at worship and from his or her beliefs, concepts, feelings or concerns at a restaurant or at a ball game or serving in the military or working at the job. ALL RELIGION is about ALL OF LIFE. One is VERY DECEPTIVE to himself or herself to think otherwise. Think about the life of Jesus. MUCH of what Jesus did was NOT at the temple or the synagogue, but in homes, in the field, traveling, etc. TRUE RELIGION has to do with our intimate daily personal relationship with God and the way in which we think and deal with all other people. 3. Many religious people and churches have made a shart distinction between speech and behavior at religious services and speech and behavior at other meetings. God wants everyone to be the same wherever we live. Our heart must be pure wherever we are and whatever we are doing. If a temptation or sin corrupts the heart, we must change. Our speech must be consistent. A huge problem with all of us is dishonest speech, that is, saying one thing when planning to do something very different. One important text pointing out this concept is Jeremiah 12:1-3: "You will be in the right, O Lord, when I lay charges against you; but let me put my case to you. Why does the way of the guilty prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? You plant them, and they take root; they grow and bring forth fruit; you are NEAR IN THEIR MOUTHS YET FAR FROM THEIR HEARTS. But you, O Lord, know me; You see me and test me--my heart is with you." Similarly, Paul tells Titus: "To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds are consciences are corrupted. THEY PROFESS TO KNOW GOD, BUT THEY DENY HIM BY THEIR ACTIONS They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work." (Titus 1:15-16). Share YOUR concepts and misgivings and dreams and shortcomings and beliefs with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis