Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’ power’

The literary structure of Mark 3:7-12

We’re entering into a new section of Mark today, although it’s a short one. This passage is actually a counterpart to an earlier section we’ve already looked at in 1:35-45, where Jesus is mobbed by crowds. [These are the parallels: 1) Jesus went to desolate places – Jesus withdraws to a boat on the sea. 2) People searching, coming to him – a great crowd came to him. 3) The leper kneels to ask for healing – the crowds “fall upon” him for healing. 4) The leper seeks Jesus’ touch – the crowd seeks to touch Jesus. 5) There is geographical expansion in Jesus’ ministry around Galilee – and then throughout the region of Israel and beyond.]

And notice that these two stories about crowds and Jesus are on either side of the section on the five stories of conflict that we just finished.

A. Jesus is mobbed by crowds – Mark 1:35-45

B. Five stories of conflict – Mark 2-3:6

 A1. Jesus is mobbed by even bigger crowds – Mark 3:7-12

It was the attraction of crowds by Jesus in the first section which led to opposition from various Jewish leaders. Yet this opposition did nothing to stop even more people coming to him.

Alright, let’s go through our passage and see what God has for us today.

Mark 3:7-12

7Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea . . .

He withdrew to get away. This means he left the city of Capernaum to the more remote seashore along the Sea of Galilee in that region.

It’s possible that this is in response to the threat against his life in 3:6. (This is how Matthew takes it – 12:15). But it may also just be that he’s trying to get away from the conflict and the crowds. Jesus did this, or tried to, from time to time as we will see in Mark 6:31 where he said to his disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

In this case his attempt to get away didn’t work so well, as v. 7 goes on to say –

. . . and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him.

There are seven place designations in all. The crowd here is bigger than any before. Mark calls it a “great crowd.”

Despite the opposition of Jewish leaders, Jesus’ influence continues to grow throughout all Israel and beyond. People are hearing about what he’s doing and want to receive from him -just as they have heard others have received from him.

It’s interesting that the crowds even come from the areas connected to the leaders who oppose him. Idumea is where Herod the Great is from, whose family the Herodians support. And Judea and Jerusalem are the home base of the Pharisees and scribes.

9And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him . . .

Jesus takes action. He places a restriction on the crowd by getting into the boat. Verse 10 tells us why –

10for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him.

The people in the crowd all wanted to touch him,  not just see him or have him say something to them to be healed. So this actually presents a danger to Jesus that he will be trampled by the eager, and in some cases – desperate people in the crowd.

Although no specific healings are recorded, it’s assumed that he healed people in the crowd here as well. (Matthew 12:15 says he healed “all.”)

The phrase, “pressed around” more literally can be translated “fell upon” him. It parallels the very similar word in our next verse – “fell down before” him.

11And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him . . .

  • So those who wanted healing fell upon Jesus to try to touch him to be healed.
  • And those who were demonized fell down before him, a position of humility.

and (they) cried out, “You are the Son of God.”

The demons are responding to Jesus’ authority and power. They kneel before him and say who he is. And what they say is correct. Jesus is the Son of God. This is what God called Jesus at his baptism in 1:11. And this is what Mark calls him in 1:1. Jesus is truly the Son of God and the Messiah or anointed one.

As we saw before, Mark tells us that the demons know who Jesus is (1:34). They’re from the spirit world and know these things.

12And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

The demons know who he is, but others don’t yet understand this. And because demons aren’t the best witnesses and because Jesus wants to reveal himself in his own way and according to his own timing, he silences them. Just as he restricted the crowd, so he restricts the voices of the demons.

Again, no exorcisms are recorded, but it’s assumed that Jesus didn’t just silence them but also cast them out, as was his normal practice (e.g. Mark 1:25; 34).

Here are several things I would highlight for you from this brief passage:

1. Jesus’ amazing power and authority. This is the central theme of this whole part of Mark. In our story, Jesus can heal anyone. And he has complete power over demonic spirits. This teaches us that he has the power to save us whatever our need is; whatever our situation is. This is just who Jesus is.

2. By way of contrast, in this passage we learn what Jesus really wants. With regard to the crowds Jesus patiently ministered to their needs. But as John 2:24 says, “he did not entrust himself to them.” He knows that most of them are coming to him because they want something from him. This is very different than being a disciple, which involves confessing Jesus as God’s son and Messiah and sacrificing to follow him.

He also knows that the crowds are fickle. They like him now, but will eventually turn on him and yell for his crucifixion.

What Jesus really wants is not crowds. Crowds are not a mark of true success in the kingdom of God. What does Jesus want? Disciples who will give their lives for him. This is the mark of kingdom success. (See Luke 14:25-33; John 6:60-67)

With regard to the demons, they do correctly confess that Jesus is the “Son of God.” Yet this is meaningless because they do so, not out of allegiance to him, but from a position of disobedience. You can have right belief – and their confession is orthodox – but still be rejected by God. As James says, “even the demons believe that God is one – and shudder!” 1:19. What they believe is right, but it does them no good.

This is true for people as well. In Matthew 7:21 Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” These people correctly called Jesus “Lord.” They knew who he was. They even did miracles in his name. But they’re rejected (7:23) because they don’t do God’s will as Jesus teaches this.

What does Jesus want? Not just a correct confession of who he is, he wants disciples who will obey his teaching.

3. Jesus’ patient love on full display in this story. Jesus’ ministry was grueling. It was very demanding – endless crowds with endless needs. Yet still he patiently ministered to them.

His ministry to the crowds, healing and casting out demons brings to mind two passages from Isaiah, which Matthew notes in his gospel. In his version of this story in Mark, Matthew quotes Isaiah 42:1-3. I’ll just highlight one phrase from this passage. It says, “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench.” (Matthew 12:20; Isaiah 42:3)

What a beautiful picture of Jesus caring for the weak and needy. The reed that is almost broken is not crushed. The wick that is barely burning is not extinguished. Jesus gently brings them healing and wholeness.

A second passage, Isaiah 53:4 is also quoted by Matthew. This comes from a different episode, but where Jesus is doing the same thing – healing and casting out demons. It notes that this ministry “was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.’” Matthew 8:17; Isaiah 53:4. (It’s possible that Mark’s word for diseases alludes to Isaiah 53:4, more literally “afflictions.”)

Now we usually only apply this verse to Jesus’ death on the cross. But here Matthew shows us that Jesus bore human brokenness throughout his ministry – to bring healing. He takes on and bears their brokenness and gives them healing and wholeness.

Jesus’ labors during his ministry present a portrait to us of his love, which continues on today for each one of us. Just as he patiently ministered to and loved the crowds in his day, so he patiently ministers to and loves us in all of our brokenness and need and brings us his salvation.

Read Full Post »

We are in the Gospel of John once again this morning with another story of Jesus healing a person in need. But we are also moving into new territory. We are into a new section of John that begins in chapter 5 and goes until the end of chapter 10. And within this new section, the healing and teaching of chapter 5 all go together and give us some really important insights about who Jesus is. And so I invite you to read ahead and follow along as we work our way through these Scriptures in the weeks to come.

Our story

1After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades.”

After healing a royal official’s son, Jesus has now gone from Galilee back to Jerusalem. He went up for a feast but John doesn’t tell us which one. As we will see, the focus of this story is the Sabbath.

“The Jews” is a phrase that refers to a certain group of Jews – the Judean establishment and those in agreement with them, not all Jews. After all, Jesus and his followers are Jews. This section of John, chapters 5-10 is all about conflict between Jesus and these ‘powers that be,’ and ultimately their rejection of him.

pool of Bethesda

This is a model that shows us what the pool of Bethesda looked like. As you can see there were actually two of them connected together. Both of them together were as big as a football field, and are thought to have been 20 feet deep.

(It’s not clear where the Sheep gate was -Nehemiah 3:1; 12:39. It was most likely a small opening in the north wall of the temple – A. Kostenberger).

“3In these (five roofed colonnades) lay a multitude of *disabled people – blind, lame, and paralyzed.” It’s unclear what this pool was used for (public baths? cleaning sheep before entrance to the temple?)  But it attracted those with physical afflictions because in the ancient world pools of water and springs were often thought to have healing powers. This is still true today in some quarters.

5One man was there who had been *ill for thirty-eight years.” As we learn from v. 7 he can’t walk. And here we learn that he has had this condition for a very long time. Longer than many people lived in that day – 38 years.

6When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’” Jesus knew, supernaturally, that the man had been there a long time longing for healing.  So Jesus initiates this conversation with him. Usually people ask Jesus for healing. Here Jesus asks if he wants to be healed.   

7The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.’”

Perhaps some of you have in your Bible, or in a footnote a longer verse 3 and a verse 4. This is a textual variant, something not found in the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament. It says that those at the pool were 3bwaiting for the moving of the water; 4for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred the water: whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had.”

This is an attempt to provide a background to our verse here. What is this stirring of the water about? An angel does this. And why does it matter that he can’t hurry in? Because only the first one in is healed.

A copyist of Scripture inserted this note in the column that sought to explain the situation or the superstition that was believed. (And some later copyist took it as Scripture).

The man thinks Jesus is wondering why he hasn’t been healed by the water yet. Does he really want to be healed? And so the man explains that he can’ walk to get in in time. He assumes that Jesus also believes in the healing power of the pool. But Jesus doesn’t operate by superstitions – he operates by the power of his word, for he is the Word made flesh. 

8Jesus said to him, ‘*Rise, take up your bed, and walk.’” His bed would have been a mat made of palm leaves or straw. This would have been be rolled up and easily carried.

The reason Jesus asks him to take up his bed and walk is to demonstrate the healing. This makes it clear that he is in fact healed.

9And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.” This is an amazing healing! He wasn’t able to walk for 38 years, but when Jesus spoke he was healed at once and then he rose up and walked. Again, John narrates really difficult miracles that Jesus does as signs that point to who Jesus is and what he does. And this one certainly qualifies.

But there’s a problem . . . “Now that day was the Sabbath. 10So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, ‘It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.’”

If you are reading this story for the first time, this is the first indication that this took place on the Sabbath.

According to Mosaic law you cannot carry a work load on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-35; Jeremiah 17:21, Nehemiah 13:15). But this isn’t what is happening here. What is really at stake here is the oral law or what is called the traditions of the Elders. According to the oral law you cannot carry an item from one domain to another on the Sabbath. And he has carried his bed from the pool of Bethesda to the temple. (M. Shabbat 7.2; 10.5) He has broken a tradition of the Elders.

[Jesus often contradicted the traditions of the Elders (Mark 7) but he does not break the Sabbath. He is not a Mosaic law breaker or sinner (8:46); he does not annul the Law (10:35).]

[In this story the focus is not on Jesus healing on the Sabbath but on carrying things on the Sabbath, since they are confronting the man, not Jesus. (The latter is taken up in 5:16 and following and 7:21-24).]

Notice in all their concern for the things of God there is no recognition of the amazing healing that just took place!

11But he answered them, ‘The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’’ 12They asked him, ‘Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk?’’ 13Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.”

He feels the pressure of the authorities and is quick to point to Jesus as the source of the problem. Jesus is now seen as leading someone astray to break the Sabbath by telling him to do this, at least according to their understanding of the Law and their extra-biblical traditions.

14Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.’”

Jesus makes a connection here between his previous physical ailment and his unfaithfulness to God. And he warns him to stop sinning so that an even worse fate doesn’t befall him. Now, of course, we have to be careful with this because there is certainly not always a connection between our sin and illness.

For instance in chapter 9:2-3 Jesus is clear that in the case of the man born blind that it was not because he or his parents sinned that he was blind. So it can be true (here, 1 Corinthians 11:30), but not always (Job and Jesus’ own sufferings). Jesus knows the connection in this case by supernatural insight. And unless God gives you this it is best not to make any assumptions.

(Notice how both the Jews and Jesus have a concern for sin in his life.)

15The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.” Throughout this passage the man doesn’t come across in a good light:

1) Jesus talks to him and heals him, but he doesn’t even know who Jesus is.

2) The man displays no faith in the story. Jesus simply found him, healed him and told him to rise up.

3) When he gets in trouble by the Jews he is quick to shift blame onto Jesus to get himself out of trouble.

4) When Jesus speaks to him again in the temple, he doesn’t thank Jesus or respond to his call to repentance.

5) Rather, he uses the healing Jesus gave him – his ability to walk – to go and find the Jews in order to turn Jesus in.

Some gleanings for us

1. Don’t be like this man. If last week the royal official was an example to us of one who had real faith in Jesus, this man is not an example to us. He received a great blessing from Jesus, but had no gratitude, and in fact turned Jesus over to his enemies.

Well, when Jesus blesses us how do we respond? With faith in him, with devotion, with gratitude? Or are we just focused on the blessing we got?

And when Jesus blesses us do we then still hang out with those in the world – who don’t know God, who don’t walk in God’s ways, who are enemies of God? (James 4:4)

Don’t follow the example of this man!

2. Nothing is too difficult for Jesus. Once again, even when a person has been unable to walk for nearly a lifetime, Jesus is able to bring instant healing. This should encourage us because this is the same Jesus who loves us and cares for us in all our difficulties.

3. Don’t focus on human teachings and miss the work of God. The Jewish leaders were zealous for mere human traditions that went beyond the word of God. And in their zeal for these, they missed out on what God was doing through Jesus – not just this healing, which they completely overlooked – but all that God was doing through Jesus. In fact, they came to oppose God and God’s work because of their concern for these lesser things that God didn’t even require.

Well, we like our extra-biblical traditions as well.

– What? New people are coming, so we are going to sing some different songs now that they can relate to? Even though there are a thousand different ways to worship God, we want what is comfortable to us. We hold on to our mere human traditions.

– What? God speaks a powerful message to us, but it came through tongues and interpretation and we don’t do that kind of stuff!

– What? God is bringing people into his kingdom here, but they are different than we are and we don’t know how to relate to them and it makes us uncomfortable.

Don’t hold on to the lessor things. When God moves, let him move.

4. Jesus gives life. This miracle is also called a sign (6:2). And what it tells us about Jesus is really the same as the last healing. Jesus is the one who gives life – resurrection life.

If we skip ahead here to John 5:21 we can see this connection. Jesus says, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son give life to whom he will.” The same word is used in v. 21, “raises” the dead as the word Jesus used in our story in 5:8 when he told the man “rise” take up your bed and walk.

This healing pictures Jesus as the one who raises the dead and gives new life. Remember, Jesus isn’t about miracles, the miracles are about Jesus – and this one teaches us that Jesus gives new life. May we all receive the new life that Jesus has for us this morning. May we be transformed by it. And may we go forth and share this good news with others.

William Higgins

Read Full Post »

We are back into our series on the Gospel of John and today we are up to the story where Jesus heals the official’s son, in chapter 4:46-54. You can follow along on the handout you have, or you can open your bibles as we go through this.

I trust that God has something really good for each of you this morning and I hope you will listen and be alert to it, so that you can receive it.

By way of review, after talking to Nicodemus, Jesus left Jerusalem for the Judean countryside where his disciples baptized many people. Then he purposed to go to Galilee, but on the way went to Samaria and talked to the Samaritan woman and also the Samaritan village of Sychar. And now he has come back to Galilee and specifically back to Cana.

Alright, let’s look at –

Our story

 46So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine.” Our story starts off harkening back to its parallel, when Jesus turned the water into wine, which also happened in Cana of Galilee. As you can see from your handout on an overview of John 2-4, these stories function as bookends to this section of John. (They are twins in these ways: There are several inclusion markers – “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did . . .” – 2:11; “This was now the second sign that Jesus did . . .” – 4:54. “Cana in Galilee” – 2:1, 4:26. 4:46 refers back to the making of wine in Cana. Both happen after a chronological note of two days – “On the third day” – 2:1; “after the two days” – 4:43. Additional parallels between both stories: 1. a need is expressed – for wine, for healing. 2. Jesus offers some resistance – “what does this have to do with me?” – 2:4; “unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe” – 4:48. 3. Faith in his power persists – “do whatever he tells you” – 2:5; “come down before my child dies” – 4:49. 4. Both focus on Jesus’ word – “do whatever he tells you” – 2:5; “the man believed the word that Jesus spoke.” – 4:50 5. Jesus responds differently than asked – he does a miracle behind the scenes on his own terms; he doesn’t come with the man but heals the boy from a distance. 6. Servants are involved in both stories. 7. Faith is noted at the end of each story – “his disciples believed in him” – 2:11; “he himself believed and all his household” – 4:53. With thanks to Ben Witherington for several of these.)

“And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill.” Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee, was about 15 miles away, close to a day’s walk.

The word for “official” is better translated as “royal official.” He probably worked for Herod Antipas. It’s possible that he was a Gentile, but this point isn’t made in the story. Although, working for Herod would make him suspect to devout Jews. He would have been well to do, or upper class. He was an aristocrat. As we will see, he has servants – v. 51.

Beyond being “ill” we don’t know exactly what his son’s condition was, except that he was “at the point of death” – vs. 47; 49; and he had a “fever” – v. 52.

47When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.”

So he has heard about Jesus, most likely from some of the Galileans who had seen Jesus’ public miracles in Jerusalem a few days before (4:45; 2:23). He comes to Jesus based on his reputation as a miracle worker. Can you put yourself in his place? You have child who is about to die and no one can help and so he comes to Jesus in hope. His request is for Jesus to come to Capernaum and heal his son. 

48So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless *you all see signs and wonders you will not believe.’” This response of Jesus is somewhat unexpected and jarring. But do notice that the “you” is plural here – “you all.” No doubt a crowd was around Jesus in Cana, so he is saying this to them as well. Perhaps the crowd wanted to see miracles in Galilee like he did in Jerusalem. (This might be behind their exuberant welcome of him in v. 45.)  They want to see their native son do miracles in Galilee as well. After all, his miracle in Galilee, turning water to wine, was a private miracle. They didn’t see it.

Jesus is here confronting mere “signs faith” among Galileans. This is a faith that is based on seeing miracles. Jesus, if you do miracles we will believe in you, Prove yourself to us! And even keep proving yourself to us with more and more miracles.

So although Jesus did miracles to create faith, it seems most often that such “signs faith” didn’t lead to its intended goal of real faith in Jesus. It didn’t lead people to understand what the signs point to – that Jesus is the eternal Son of God and that he has come to give eternal life, not just healings for this current life.

And so Jesus is challenging the man here , “Do you also just want to see if I can do a miracle?”

49The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’” The man is undeterred by Jesus’ words. He repeats his urgent request.

50Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son *lives.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.” Jesus responds to him in such a way as to give him an opportunity to move beyond mere “signs faith.” He asks him to believe without first seeing the miracle.

And the man does believe, not based on seeing a sign, but based on Jesus’ word to him. He heard Jesus’ word and he acted on it. This is true faith. His son was at the point of death and if this didn’t work this could be it. So he rests the life of his son in Jesus’ hands and heads back to Capernaum.

51As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his *child *lives. 52So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.’ 53The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son *lives.’”

So the man’s servants came to find him and tell him the good news and so they meet on the road. Between them they figure out that the boy was healed just when Jesus said that he was well – at 1:00 PM. So Jesus spoke in Cana and it happened in Capernaum, 15 miles away, right when he spoke.

Now at this time and perhaps still today, healing at a distance was thought to be harder than healing in close proximity. And this helps us understand why John included this as a “sign.” He only narrates exceptional miracles, the best of the best, that point to Jesus’ glory. 

“And he himself believed, and all his household.” His faith was confirmed. He heard Jesus’ word and he acted on this and now he has seen the result. He knows that Jesus is the one who gives life by his mere word. 

And his faith spreads. All his household believed . This would include his wife, children and servants. They believed based on his testimony about Jesus. [Most often a household would share the faith of the head of the household.]

This story illustrates how Jesus’ signs are supposed to work . They are to lead people to true faith in Jesus.

Our story ends – 54This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.”

[There are some parallels between this story and 1 Kings 17:17-24: the son of an outcast; the son died (or ill, no breath); Elijah prayed three times – “let child’s life come into him again”; the son is healed; he says, “see your son lives”; the woman acknowledges Elijah’s identity, “now I know you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is true.”]

[Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 and this story are not the same. The encounter with the royal official takes place in Cana not Capernaum; the boy is called a son and his child (paidion) and so pais must mean child, not servant here. ; the main focus of the story in the Synoptics is the Gentile’s faith whereas in John the focus inJesus.]

Some gleanings for us

1. The unlikely ones often respond to Jesus. This continues the theme developed with the Samaritan woman and the contrast there with Nicodemus. The royal official worked for Herod Antipas. He was possibly a Gentile. He was most likely not a devout Jew. These were all negatives. But he and his family responded with true faith in Jesus.

Let’s keep this in mind as we work at VBS this week. Who do you think is unlikely to respond? The disruptive one? The inattentive one? This may well be the one that Jesus will touch. This may well be the one that gets it and comes to faith in Jesus. We don’t know. We are simply called to labor patiently in love to everyone.

2. The royal official is an example to us of faith. He came based on hearing about Jesus’ ability to heal – signs faith. But then when Jesus challenged him he responded and moved to a true faith that is based on Jesus’ word.

And like him we too need to hear Jesus’ words to us, whatever that may be this morning. What is he saying to you through his word? What has he been saying to you this past week, this past month? Where is he challenging you in an area of weakness or in an area where you need to step out it faith.

Wherever Jesus is speaking you us we need to act in faith, without first seeing the results. Right? This is how faith works. First we act on Jesus’ word in faith and then we see the results in our lives. And I can assure you that he will be there for you and come through for you as he did for the royal official. When we act on his word, like him, we will go on our way and find that his promises to us our true.

3. Nothing is too difficult for Jesus. He can do miracles that are unheard of.  He can do beyond what we can ask or think. The royal official thought that Jesus had to come to Capernaum to heal his son, but he didn’t. Jesus simply spoke the word and it happened 15 miles away.

I don’t know what you are going through this morning. But I do know that Jesus is able to take care of you. There is no obstacle that can stand in his way. He can act even beyond the assumptions that we make that limit him. He can do anything.

4. Jesus gives life. In John, signs point to who Jesus is and what he has come to do. In this case the message is clear – Jesus is the one who gives life. This is who he is. This is what this sign points to.

Three times in our story the phrase is repeated: Your son lives; your child lives, your son lives. This is being emphasized. And life has a double meaning. It is not just about the healing of the boy. It also pictures for us resurrection life or eternal life.

If in the first Cana miracle Jesus is pictured as providing the wine and the joy for the party on the day of resurrection; here he is pictured as the one who brings about the resurrection itself. Through his authoritative word (John 5:25) the dead will come to life, just as this boy came back from the point of death to live.

(Is the geography that is emphasized here a part of this symbolism? Jesus is in the hills of Cana and speaks and the boy lives in Capernaum below.)

William Higgins


Read Full Post »

(Community sunrise service)

It is an honor to be able to share with you this morning. I want speak on a theme that I believe God has put in my heart – Jesus has overcome!

Scripture portrays three powerful enemies who oppose God and seek to destroy us.

The first is Sin. For sure, Scripture talks about sins in the plural. But it also talks about Sin, with a capital “S.” This is the power of sin personified as a tyrant.

God said to Cain in Genesis 4:7, “sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you.” Jesus said in John 8:34, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to Sin.” Sin is a power that comes to control and destroy our lives.

But we have good news to celebrate this morning – Jesus has overcome the power of Sin! Jesus himself was tested in every way, but without sin (Hebrews 4:15). And when he walked this earth he called all to repentance and forgiveness.

Even on the cross when he bore our sins, Sin could not overcome him, but rather his death brought about the provision for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus overcame.

And this same Jesus now sets us free from the power of Sin. Paul says in Romans 6:17-18, “thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart . . . having been set free from sin . . ..”And although Jesus tells us in John 8:34 that all who sin are slaves of sin, he also tells us in John 8:36, “if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.”

Jesus has overcome! Can I hear you say it! “He has overcome.” What has Jesus done? “He has overcome.” He has overcome the power of Sin.

Satan is another powerful enemy. In Luke 11:21-22 Jesus describes him as a fully armed strongman who holds his captives hostage. And John tells us in 1 John 5:9, that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

But, sisters and brothers, we have good news to celebrate this morning – Jesus has overcome the power of Satan! Jesus himself did not give in to Satan’s temptations and testing, and when he walked this earth he delivered people from the power of Satan, and this was especially evident when he cast out demons.

Because of the cross, as Jesus said in John 12:31, “the ruler of this world (is) cast out.” And this should not surprise us for 1 John 3:8 tells us that “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” If at the beginning of the gospel of Matthew Satan is portrayed as having authority over all the kingdoms of the world, at the end of the gospel of Matthew, after his death and resurrection, Jesus tells us, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Things are quite different – now Jesus has all the authority!

And this same Jesus now sets us free from the power of Satan. As Jesus went on to say in Luke 11, Satan may be a strong man, but Jesus is the stronger one who “attacks him and overcomes him” and sets his captives free! (v. 22). Jesus sets us free from Satan! As Paul says in Colossians 1:13, “God has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”

Jesus has overcome! What has Jesus done? “He has overcome.” What has Jesus done? “He has overcome!” He has overcome the power of Satan.

The final enemy is Death. Death is also personified in Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul speaks to Death as if it were a person. And in the book of Revelation Death is the rider of the pale horse rider who comes to bring judgment (6:8). Death is a power that enslaves and destroys us.

But, brothers and sisters, we have good news to celebrate this fine Easter morning – Jesus has overcome the power of Death! Jesus himself was not under the power of Death, but as he said in John 5:26, the Father has “granted that the Son . . . have life in himself.” And when he walked this earth he healed people and raised the dead.

Even though he died on the cross for us, Death could not keep him down. After all, as Peter says in Acts 3:15, he is “the author of life.” And as h also says in Acts 2:2, “it was impossible for Jesus to be held by the power of Death.” As Hebrews 7:16 tells us, Jesus had “the power of an indestructible life.” Jesus really is, as he calls himself in Revelation 1 (17-18) “the first and the last and the living one.” Jesus truly is “the resurrection and the life,” as he himself said in John 11:25.

This same Jesus, who is life, sets us free from the power of Death. Hebrews 2:14-15 tells us that since we are flesh and blood, “Jesus himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of Death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of Death were subject to lifelong slavery.” We no longer need to fear. Jesus sets us free!. For as Jesus said in John 11:25-26, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

Jesus has overcome! What has Jesus done? “He has overcome!” What has Jesus done? “He has overcome!” He has overcome the power of Death.

And if Jesus has overcome these most powerful enemies of God, he can overcome any obstacle that we face and give us freedom, and give us victory and give us God’s blessings. Jesus has overcome. And because he has overcome, we too can overcome through him.

William Higgins

Read Full Post »