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Posts Tagged ‘Healing’

We concluded our series from the book of John yesterday with an exploration of the story of healing of a man who was blind from birth.  Our primary focus was on the conversation between Jesus and His disciples’ in John 9:1-5.

This story is an absolutely amazing encounter with the healing grace of our Lord and it is written in more detail than most of the other stories in the book of John.  It highlights the tension that is occurring between Jesus and the Pharisees, and this passage contains one of the biggest misunderstandings of Scripture in the Bible.

John 9 vs 1-5 NASB jpg 

What conclusion can we draw from this text?  At first glance, it appears that God made this man blind so Jesus could come along and heal him.  We are going to explore the language of this text and see if we can reveal how this misconception occurred.

If we begin to apply the basic principles of Biblical interpretation, a different picture unfolds.

It is important to remember that our oldest manuscripts of the New Testament are in Greek.  They are hand written, they are written without punctuation or spaces between words, and they contain very few capitalizations.

When scholars work with these texts, they not only have to translate the words, but have to determine where sentences begin and end as well.  Sometimes it is their subjective opinion that determines the location of periods and commas.

And the placement of a period or a space can make all the difference in the world!

Let me illustrate the point.  Imagine a man came home to see this letter scribbled on a note card and lying on the kitchen table.

Honey Dinner jpg  

How can we perceive this note?

 Hey, Honey dinner is on.  I love you just a little.  Trip to the store.

Or, is it possible she is telling him:

 Hey Honey, Dinner is on.  I love you.  Just a little trip to the store.

We look at those options and consider this very easy to interpret: We conclude that she loves him, they have plans for dinner, and she has gone to the store.

Our conclusion is based on our assumption of a healthy relationship.  But what if they had just had a fight?  What if her ex-boyfriend works at a store?  What honey is she having dinner with?  What exactly is a honey dinner anyway?

Remove capitalization and punctuation from the text and things can get complicated in a hurry.

Here is another illustration.

godisnowhere jpg 

What do we have in this text?

 God is now here jpg

 

When you take a confusing situation, add a language barrier and throw in about two thousand years of time, it is possible that you could misunderstand what Jesus is communicating.

I believe it all boils down to the placement of a period — and the unnecessary addition of words for clarification.

Let’s look again at the text.  We are reading from the New American Standard Bible, one of the most literal translations available.

John 9 vs 1-5 NASB jpg 

You may notice that some of the words are in italics.  The preface to the NASB reads, “Italics are used in the text to indicate words which are not found in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek but implied by it.”  The italicized words included in this literal translation of the Scripture are an attempt by the translators to increase readability and understanding of the text.  When translators cross the line of adding “implied words,” they have moved from the function of translation and take on the role of interpreting the Scripture. 

A certain level of interpretation from translators of the Scripture is to be expected, but the interpretation will always pass through the filter of human bias and understanding.

So, literally, the words in italics are not found in the original language.  You could cross them out of your Bible and not be altering the Word of God.

Let’s try it —

John 9 vs 1-5 NASB crossed out jpg

 

This is very interesting. When we take out the words that don’t exist in the Greek we are left with an incomplete sentence in verse three.  What do we do with that? 

We realize that the conclusion of verse three is found in verse four.

John 9 vs 1-5 NASB punctuation jpg 

You may ask, “Why are you making such a big deal out of this one verse?”

It is because this verse deals with one of the foundational lies that is attacking the church: the belief that God causes sickness in people so that He can be glorified.

And it almost looks like you can find it in the Bible.  But, when you look at the text, you realize it is grammatically incorrect to make that assumption, and it is spiritually incorrect to assume it as well.

It is theologically inconsistent for God to afflict people and for Jesus to heal them.  They would be working against each other, which could lead to the incorrect conlusion, “But God afflicted them, so that Jesus could heal them.”

The truth is God doesn’t have to afflict people.  There is enough brokeness in the world without the creator and sustainer of life hurting people.

Another essential aspect of Biblical interpretation is allowing the Bible to interpret itself.  It is important to allow the Sciptures to bring clarity to difficult concepts contained therein.

Let’s look at what else the Bible says about the relationship between Jesus and God concerning healing and the source of brokeness.

Acts 10 vs 38 jpg

Question: According to this passage, who did Jesus heal?

Answer: All who were oppressed by the devil.

Question: Where is God according to this passage?

Answer: God is with Jesus.

It does not say Jesus went around healing those who were oppressed by God.  Jesus healed those who were oppressed by the devil.  The reason Jesus appeared was to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

When you see Jesus — you see the perfect revelation of the heart of God.

The confusion occurs because all of us have seen situations where someone we know or love has come through a tragic situation and drawn closer to God on the other side.

Our natural deduction is to assume God did that to them so they would learn to depend on Him.  That is where the lie creeps in —- but, the truth is that God cannot give what He doesn’t have.  God doesn’t have sickness.  He doesn’t have disease.  God is not poor or broken or ashamed.  He doesn’t give that junk away.

We live in a broken world, and people get broken because of the brokenness of sin.  But, God is not the one breaking, He is the one healing.

It is important to understand this today so we can learn to trust the heart of the Father and know His intention of goodness toward us.

Jer 29 vs 11 jpg

The key to the confusion in John 9:3 really comes from the fact that the disciples are asking the wrong question.  They are wanting to know “Why?”  Why is he blind?  Why did it happen to him?  Why aren’t I blind?  Did sin cause this? If so, whose sin?

We hear the disciples question, and we want to know the answer, too.

Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why is there hurting, hunger, and brokeness in the world.

Why?  Why?  Why?

The fact is: Jesus doesn’t often answer the why question. 

He doesn’t feel a need to justify Himself or your circumstances to you.  Rarely, if ever, do we discover why.

When we look to John 9:3 for the answer to “Why?” of course we get confused, because Jesus is not answering “Why?”

Jesus is telling us “What now?”

The key to moving forward in life isn’t found in asking “Why?”  The question we must consider is, “What do I do now?”  Jesus will lead you through that question.

 

(Blogger’s Note: A special thanks to Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, California, for first introducing me to this remarkable truth from John chapter 9.)

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My King - Bethesda Cover jpgYesterdy, we looked at the encounter Jesus had with the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda.  The man had been there, knocked down, alone, and broken for 38 years, or to put it into perspective 13,870 days.  That’s a long time to suffer!  But then Jesus came.  (Don’t you love that sentence?)  Upon arriving at the scene, Jesus spoke two sentences and the man was made whole.

All of us have areas of our lives that have been knocked down and broken.  All of us have felt alone.  All of us have cried out for the “But then” moment with Jesus.  Wherever you find yourself today, know that Jesus has the ability to change your situation in the space of two sentences.  He is the kindest man you’ll ever know, and He changes everything when He enters the room.

If you have a need and would like someone to stand with you in prayer, drop me a line today at efcsweetwater@aol.com.  Let’s pray together for your “But then” encounter with Jesus.

Podcast

Follow the link to access this Sunday’s message “Healing at the Pool” from John Chapter 5.

Links

Want to see a picture of the Pool of Bethesda?  Archaeologists believe they have found it.  You can check it out by clicking HERE.

Our first Kid’s School of Worship was an over the top radical event.  Many thanks to Pastor Lolo and the 30+ volunteers who gave their time, talent, and sweat to put together such an amazing school for our children.   You can catch a play by play recap of the School of Worship on the Beauty of the Bible weblog.  Click here to check out Night 1, Night 2, and Night 3.

On the Radar

Our Baptism service venue has changed!  We will now meet at First Christian Church on Hailey Street this Wednesday, August 5th, at 7 pm.  I hope you will come celebrate with us as our friends in Christ are baptized!  On a personal note, my heart is ecstatic as I look forward to baptizing my daughter, Brenna Grace, as my sister in the Lord this Wednesday!  You can contact me by email if you desire to be baptized this Wednesday.

The youth are leaving for Six Flags this Thursday, August 6th!  We will meet at the church at 7:00 am and be back home around midnight, with a fun-packed day in between!

School is just around the corner, and Sweetwater Aglow will be hosting their annual Back To School Prayer Walk on Tuesday, August 11, 6:30 pm, at Lighthouse Assembly (on Newman Street).  Make plans to come pray for our schools!

Are you a new member at EFC?  Interested in joining and partnering with us?  We invite you to attend a Membership Dessert on Monday, August 17, at 7:00 pm.  Childcare will be available.

You  Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Dancing Generation” by Matt Redmand
  2. “I Have Found” by Kim Walker
  3. “The More I Seek You” by Kari Jobe
  4. “When I Think About The Lord” by Shane and Shane

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, we will continue our series “That’s My King!” from the book of John.

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“The Surgeon General says it’s hazardous to breathe,” is a line from a Guns and Roses song that has always amused me.  And the headlines of recent days seem to indicate that those bad boys of the 90s may have been a little prophetic.

The looming threat of the swine flu has captured the world’s attention.  And the reaction of world government and health services seems more threatening and attention getting than H1N1.  I can perceive the need for wisdom and caution in dealing with this new strain of virus our bodies have not been prepared to fight against, but it is equally important that we are prepared to fight against the panic that wells up in our heart as we link up to our daily overdose of world news.  How do we walk in faith and courage in the face of swine flu? As I prayed with some friends over this situation today, a lady in our church reminded me of an event in the Old Testament that speaks to the circumstances we are witnessing.  In the book of Numbers chapter 21 verses 4 through 9, we read:

“Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.

Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” [1]

192px-star_of_life2_svg Can you imagine the scenario?  What is it like when your journey through the desert in open toed sandals is suddenly interrupted by fiery serpents?  The thought of it makes me shiver, and I live in a town that hosts the World’s Largest Rattlesnake Round Up. But the marvel of the story is that, in the midst of the slithery chaos, God provides a way of healing.  He says, “Look up.”  Suspended between Heaven and Earth is a memorial of your pain and the means to your healing.  And so, with snakes at your feet, and desperate screams all around, the healing for the poison that runs through your body is found in looking up.  Undistracted, undeterred, unafraid, and up.

I am thankful for those who stand at the forefront of this battle, and I pray that wisdom and grace lead them in the fight against this vicious disease.  I also pray that those who observe with a sense of helplessness as events unfold will not give their hearts over to fear and panic, but will walk in faith and peace.  It is equally true today that in the middle of the chaos, God provides a way of healing.  He says, “Look up.”

In the book of John chapter 3 verses 14 through 15 Jesus declares:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”[2]

Suspended between Heaven and Earth is a memorial of your pain and the means to your healing.  I invite you to look to Jesus for peace and healing today.


[1] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982

[2] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982

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