Jesus healed the man who was not in his right mind living
naked out by the tombs, cutting himself. When Jesus healed the man, the people
saw him dressed, speaking plainly and in his right mind.
The symbolism of being naked is that those who are naked are
not protected and not covered by the robe of righteousness from Christ. They
are open to the elements and to the evils of the world.
The man is cutting himself, which reveals his dishonor
toward his body and his disrespect toward himself.
The fact that the man was not speaking plainly tells us that
he was not fully in the Word and was not understanding the Word of God being
spoken to him.
Not being in his right mind explains that the devil is taking hold of the mind God has given him. Not being plain in speech makes it clear that God is not in control of the man’s thoughts.
The man when he was healed served as an object lesson in and
of himself. This man’s newfound ability to speak, his clothed body, his clear
mind and his end to cutting made people realize that Jesus was at work. The man
himself spread the word that Jesus had transformed him and that Jesus was his
Savior. People came to believe in Jesus because of this man and what they had
witnessed happening to him.
There were 10 men with leprosy who met Jesus on the road,
begging for mercy that they might be healed. How bold it was to plead for mercy
from Jesus. It shows that they trusted and believed that Jesus could heal them.
It also shows courage and strength on Jesus’ part that he was willing to draw
close enough to the 10 lepers to hear them and listen to them. It was customary
at the time not to interact with lepers and not to get too close to them, lest
you become infected. If we are sick and in need of help and healing, we should
not be too proud or afraid to ask Jesus for assistance. We should not hold back
from requesting his mercy toward us. We should seek help and healing from him
alone. Whenever we are sick and in need, our first response should be to go to
Jesus. Nothing else gives us the help and healing we need, no matter how
frightened we may be.
Jesus’ instructions to the men is for them to go and show
themselves to the priests. The men did as they were told. On their way they
were made clean again. Jesus had healed the men. There was excitement and joy.
We can image the men cheering and celebrating and running to their homes to
enjoy what had happened to them with their relatives and friends. But the
actions of one man was to return to Jesus and give him thanks for the miracle
of healing he had been blessed with through Christ.
To the shock of everyone, this man was a Samaritan, not of
the people of Israel. The Samaritan knew what it felt like to be ostracized and
how special it was to be recognized and healed by Jesus since he was an
outsider. This Samaritan bowed before Jesus, showing his humility. He did not
deserve this goodness toward him from Jesus, he knew. We, too, should show
humility and thanksgiving for the great goodness shown to us in Christ’s help
and healing of our illnesses and of our sinful condition.
After the Samaritan bowed before Jesus, Jesus asked, “Is the
only one to return to give thanks this foreigner?” Jesus acknowledges that this
is unusual. How sad and unfortunate for those who did not return to give thanks
and receive blessing from Christ. How joyful and fortunate for the Samaritan to
return to give thanks and receive blessing from Jesus. Jesus told the Samaritan
man, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Jesus made it clear that healing from
him gives us the energy to move forward in our work with him. Having faith and
trust in him is what motivates us to act. Faith in action would have been a new
way of approaching life for the Samaritan man. Instead of pulling away from others
because of his disease, he would now be drawing close to others to care for
them and love them as Jesus did for him. Instead of living in fear for his life
on the outskirts of town, the man would be living in confidence and strength,
knowing that Jesus had healed him. For those who did not turn to give thanks,
their lives lacked faith. Their healing is not attached to Christ by not
returning to give thanks. The joy of new lives is not accompanied by
thanksgiving to Jesus and thus is not as fully experienced by the nine that are
healed but did not return to Jesus.
When Jesus encountered the centurion, it was the centurion who knew what Jesus could do for him. He asked for healing for his sick servant. The centurion understood what it meant to be leader over others. “I say ‘Go’ and they go. I say ‘Come’ and they come.” He knew the power a leader had and obedience a servant under his command had. We learn that Jesus is our supreme leader and we are his servants. It is our duty to obey him. The centurion showed obedience to the Lord, through his words and actions, and the Lord healed the centurion’s servant. The Lord even said, “Not in all of Israel have I found such faith.” This was a shocking statement because the centurion was not a member of the tribes of Israel, God’s people. The centurion was a Roman, an enemy of the people of God. The Romans were rulers over the Israelites. Israel was an occupied nation. What is interesting is that we live as foreigners in a foreign land. We are not citizens of the earth, but citizens of God’s kingdom. What this reminds us of is that followers of Christ are present in the kingdom of God. But there are those like the centurion who honor and respect the Savior and trust his judgment even though he is part of a group that does not believe in him.
The feeding of the 5000 is a good example for us of the
generosity of Christ. Taking 5 loaves and 2 fish and turning them into enough
food to feed 5000 is a clear depiction of how Christ takes the little we have
and makes it more than enough for all who are gathered. The Bible says that
there were 12 basketsful of leftovers. Again the number 12 is a symbol of the
12 tribes of Israel and the 12 disciples to mean all of God’s people and all
who follow Jesus.
In one version of the story, the 5 loaves and 2 fish come
from the lunch of one little boy. This detail is a reminder to us of our own
generosity that feeds into the generosity of Christ and supplies the needs of
those in need.
The disciples tell Jesus the situation of the lack of food and are pessimistic about what can be done to solve the problem. But Jesus turns the solving of the situation back on the disciples when he says to them, “You feed them.” Jesus leaves it all up to them and the miracle happens through his power in their hands.
The 5000 who receive the food are men, not including women and children. The disciples are involved in having all these people sit down. One version of the story says they sat down in groups of 1000. There must have been organization in the arrangement of crowd and the distribution of the food. You can imagine the conversation among the people as they sit down together in a certain order that would best facilitate the sharing of the food. There must have been bonds that were begun and built through this process. It is good to remember being a small part of a big assembly is vital to Christ’s overall plan. So play your part well.
We all are familiar with Jesus’ parable of the Good
Samaritan. We can learn so much from many different angles of the story. The
man who was beaten up and left for dead on the side of the road between
Jerusalem and Jericho must’ve thought no one would come to help him. He must’ve
been surprised when someone eventually stopped to help and then found out that
the person was a Samaritan—from the group of people who were his people’s
enemies, more or less. Being brought to an inn to be cared for and the care
paid for by the Samaritan must’ve been an even bigger surprise for the injured
man. This was unexpected and unusual, to be sure. But this person and this
place brought healing and wellness to the injured man. Have you ever been
helped by someone you did not know when you were in distress? Have you ever
been surprised by the source and site of help when it came? Give thanks to God
for help from unexpected people and places.
The priest and the Levite who walked by the injured man by
the other side of the road represent those of us who are busy with our lives
and not willing to stop to help those we see who are in need. The priest and
Levite are connected to jobs that are religious and related to God, so their
turning away from the injured man is unexpected and unusual as well. The
inaction of the priest and the Levite points us to our own inaction in caring
for those in need. Even though we may appear to be religious and in touch with
God, we can so often pass by those situations and those people who need our
help. We may say we are too tired, our schedules are too tight or others could
take care of the problem.
The Good Samaritan made the effort to stop and help the
injured man. He was not afraid of any differences he had with the man or any
animosity people may have felt toward him because of his heritage. He was not
afraid to touch the injured man. He was not afraid to take extra time to take
the injured man for healing and recovery and to offer extra money to aid the
innkeeper in caring for the injured man. The Good Samaritan helps us to
remember that we are to go the extra mile to care for those who come across our
path and we are to give monetarily of what we have to bless the lives of those
who are poor in spirit and in worldly goods.
The story of the healing of the paralyzed man has many
applications to our lives today. First, we look at the four friends who carried
him. What friends they were! They took the time to carry their friend to
healing. They took their friend to Jesus because they knew Jesus had healing in
his hands. Who are the friends in your life who have carried you? Who have been
there beside you through your suffering? And who have brought you close to
Jesus? Thank God for them today.
The way to Jesus was unusual. The friends carrying the
paralyzed man to Jesus could not go the normal way through the door to the
house where Jesus was. The crowds were crushing in to be near him, to listen to
him preach and to receive healing of their own. But this blocking of the door
did not stop the friends of the paralyzed man. It led them to seek Jesus by
another way—through the roof. They lowered their friend down from above to
place him right in front of Jesus. This process took strength, ingenuity and
creativity. This activity took risk and coordination among them. What ways to
Jesus have been unique and required extra insight and strategy on your part?
Thank God for helping you to see new ways to Jesus and allowing you the power
to follow through on the often unusual paths he puts before us to receive help
from our Savior.
Jesus’ interaction with the paralyzed man is rather
unexpected as well. When the paralyzed man is finally placed before Jesus, the
first thing Jesus does is forgive the man’s sins. Forgiveness is the man’s
greatest need, even more than the healing of his paralysis. Our sins paralyze
us in our faith, stopping us from growth and movement in our spiritual lives.
The removal of our sins through forgiveness in Christ is the only way we can
move forward in following our Savior. Jesus made the benefits of the
forgiveness of sins clear when he was questioned by the Pharisees. When we go
through trials in our lives, we need to remember that it is the blessing of
forgiveness in Christ that is needed most before any physical need.
Yet after providing the forgiveness of sins to the paralyzed
man, Jesus still gifts the man with healing in his body. “Rise, take your mat
and go,” Jesus says. Jesus allows us to arise from our troubles of body and
mind. We are lifted up from being down. We mirror Christ in his resurrection by
rising to new life through him.
When Jesus tells the paralyzed man to take his mat, it is
like he is saying, “Carry away all reminders of the past trials and recognize
the power you now have over those tribulations that once ruled your life.” The
mat represents the bad place the paralyzed man once was in and the carrying of
the mat symbolizes that he is not in that bad place any longer.
Then Jesus tells the paralyzed man, “Go!” This was something
he could not do previously—go forth on his own two feet and walk. “Go!” means
that the man can travel on his own by the power of the Spirit and follow the
path marked out for him by God. “Go!” means that the man is fully healed and
fully ready to move on in Christ.
When healing comes to you, be ready to go as the paralyzed
man was. Be ready to go and spread the news of what God has done for you in
Christ. Be ready to help those who are in trouble by supporting them with your
presence and prayers. Be ready to lead them to Jesus for help and healing. Be
ready to step in the footsteps of Christ and go where he goes and do what he
does. Go in the name of the Lord and be his follower forever.
A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came up to Jesus
in a crowd and touched the hem of his garment for healing. Immediately Jesus
felt the healing power go forth from his body. “Who touched my garment?” Jesus
said. The woman came forth, frightened. “Your faith has saved you,” Jesus said,
and the woman went away healed. The story explains to us that it does not
matter how we come to Jesus for him to heal us, just that we come in faith.
The wise men followed the star from afar. They did not stop
until they came to the palace in Jerusalem where they thought Jesus was born a
king. But the chief priests and scribes pointed them in the direction of
Bethlehem according to the Scriptures, to the house where Jesus was.
I find it interesting that the wise men followed the Word
after they followed the star. It was the Word that put them back on course. It
was the Word that led them to Jesus, the Star of their lives. And it is the
Word that leads us to Jesus as well, who is the Star of our lives. As the
psalmist says, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
The star the wise men saw is no longer present in the sky.
But the light of the Word remains for us today. All we need to do is open the
pages of Scripture to see it. The Word enlightens our lives with hope, faith
and love. It is the Word that brings us close to the Light of the World, Jesus,
our Savior. He shines on us with forgiveness and everlasting life through his
sinless life and suffering and death on the cross and resurrection from the
The light of Christ enters into our hearts, souls and minds,
and into our very lives. We ourselves become the lights of the world because of
Christ dwelling in us. We share the light of Christ with those we meet. Our
glow of Christ’s glory from within us spreads to those around us. Christ’s
light is brighter each day as it spreads. We keep the Light alive in us through
prayer and worship and Bible study. We fan into flame the Light of Christ in
thought, word and deed. Everything we say, everything we do, everything we
think is a reflection of the Light of life. We are little lights that keep
glowing for him.
When we look at the night sky, we see thousands of stars
that make the night brighter. They make us remember that each one of us makes
the darkness of the world disappear. We are reminded that God promised Abraham
that his descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky and the sands on
the seashore. We are little lights of Christ among many. We do not shine alone.
We shine in concert with others, much like stars in constellations. Our lights
form shapes and designs that send messages to those who don’t know Christ as
the Light of the World. We work together to let people know that Jesus is the one
true Light. God made sure that the children of Abraham (of whom we are a part)
have lights that interconnect and intersect with one another. We are not random
bursts of light, but steady beams that have a permanent place in this world.
Shine on. Shine bright. Shine full that Christ might be bright always and ever
in your life and in the lives of those around you.
There will be a time when the light we shine as humans on
this earth will go out when we die. But the light of heaven will shine on in
us. We will be blessed in the heavenly realms in the city of light where we
will shine like stars as saints of God. In heaven there is light everlasting
and no darkness at all. There is no sadness, no tears, no hardship, no sickness
there. Light like no other outshines all light and there in paradise new light
from the risen Christ beams forth.
Jesus met a rich young man who asked him, “What must I do to be saved?” Jesus answered that question with a question, “What are the greatest commandments?” and went on to say, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness.Honor your father and mother, and, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said in response, “All these I have kept since my youth.” “Then there is one thing you lack,” Jesus said, “Go and sell your possessions and give them to the poor.” The young man walked away sad because he had many possessions and was not willing to give them up. Jesus said to his disciples that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. We in our world are very attached to our possessions. We become so attached that they become our gods. Think of all of our possessions—our houses, our clothes, our cars, our furniture, our dinnerware, glasses and silverware, our phones and other electronic devices—consider whether or not we can live without them. Some things we could give up easily and others we would have a hard time giving up. Why? Because they define who we are in this world. They bring us comfort and confidence in ourselves. But why is clinging to our possessions not something we should be doing? It is because those things are not who we are and those things will all pass away. What we need to cling to instead is our Savior, Jesus, because Jesus will be with us forever. He will last long past our every possession. He will define who we are beyond what we are on earth—we are children of God, saints in heaven, brothers and sisters in Christ. We don’t hang our heads in sorrow but go forth with joy with our head held high.
The parable of the sower is a good example for us of what it means to grow in the Lord. The soil of our souls greets the seed of God’s Word differently, according to its condition. The rocky soil does not let the seed of God’s Word take root and grow. The rocks are indifference and apathy. The thorny soil lets the seed grow at first, but then the thorns of life choke the seed out and prevent it from growing. The thorns are the worries, tasks and troubles of the day. The good soil lets the seed take root and grow fully. The good soil is enriched with prayer, Bible reading and devotions. When we are living in the good soil, our faith grows, the fruits of the spirit ripen and our belief in Christ deepens.