THE TWO TAX COLLECTORS

 

Levi and Zacchaeus were two tax collectors that took advantage of their positional authority to reign in wealth at the expense of the taxpayer.  Paid by the Roman government, they were to collect money to finance the occupying army of the Roman Empire.   Outside of the Romans themselves, they were the most despised group in Israel.  Caught up in greed, they would manipulate the taxes so that they got their “fair” share, while ensuring that the Roman’s coffers stayed full.  It was these two individuals that Jesus sought out to change their lives forever.

Levi (Matthew) was sitting in his tax office (booth) gathering the bounty, when Jesus changed his life with two little words: “Follow me.” Those words are still offered today.  Jesus is not concerned with someone’s history of what he has done or is doing.   He offers a life of forgiveness and purpose.   Levi immediately responded to Jesus’ invitation and exchanged his love of money for his love of others.  We do not know the immediate chain of events, but it seems Levi accompanied Jesus for a number of days before he held a dinner party for those tax collectors that had previously worked with him.  Jesus was the main speaker and Levi was the illustration of a changed life.  I can hear Levi standing up and saying, “What He has done for me, He can do for you!”  We need that kind of witnessing today.  A changed life should be contagious by the offering of our testimony.   Also at the dinner were Scribes and Pharisees.  They sat in back of the room and challenged Jesus’ disciples as to why Jesus would be eating with tax collectors and sinners.  Jesus overheard their judging and simply responded by telling them that when someone is sick they need a physician.  What followed was a “homework” assignment that, sadly, the Pharisees would fail to complete.  He told them to “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”  (Matthew 9: 9-13)  Jesus wanted to see them exhibit mercy instead of meaningless rituals.  Today, Jesus would like to see mercy and compassion instead of religious exercises.

Zacchaeus was a district manager (chief) of the Roman tax bureau in the Jericho area.  He had made himself very rich by “cooking the books.”  One day, Jesus was traveling through Jericho and saw Zacchaeus up in a tree.  He had climbed up there to get a better look at Jesus, since he was short, and the crowd was so big he could not get a good visual of Jesus.  Jesus simply told him to get down because He was going to stay at his house.  Zacchaeus’ excitement must have been palpable, for a man with a reputation like Jesus to come to his residence was almost unbelievable.   The people who heard the exchange began to “grumble” about how bad it was for Jesus to go to a sinner’s house.  We will always have murmurers and complainers, especially when people do not understand the facts behind the situation.  It was during the meeting at his house that Zacchaeus’ life would change forever.  Whatever Jesus said caused Zacchaeus to stand up and proclaim that he would give half of his goods to the poor, and if he had cheated anyone, he would restore them four times.  Jesus not only heard his words, but saw his heart and proclaimed, “Salvation has come to this house.”  Jesus then continued with a teaching about faithfulness. (Luke 19:1-27)  Today, Jesus is still offering an invitation to follow Him, and whoever accepts His invitation will experience a life changing reality.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

OUR ALL KNOWING GOD

Is God aware of our thoughts, words and actions, and if He is, do these things influence His involvement in our lives?  Scriptural exposure will reveal that God is very much conscious of every aspect of our lives: body, soul and spirit.  In fact, nothing exists outside of His awareness.  If He is knowledgeable of every aspect of our lives, then He must be aware of the challenges to our faith.  How is He involved when tragedies strike?

Man has always quested to be able to express himself without restraints.   Around the world, revolutions abound with regularity as dictatorships and communistic/socialistic governments are challenged.  People want freedom, but they also want the government to provide for them.  The Christian is part of the Kingdom of God.  There are “laws” to follow which do not jeopardize their freedom to accept or reject.  God’s Kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom that is displayed through its citizens.  God is not a dictator, but He lays out His will through His Word.  It is up to the Believer to decide what to do with it.  When the Christian walks in His Word, he will experience what an abundant and full life is all about.  When he ignores the Word, the consequences of his rejection will be displayed by his actions and responses to life.

Many wonder how much physical protection is offered to the Believer.  How far reaching is God’s “hedge?” (Job 1:10)  Instead of wondering about our physical immunity, let us emphasize God’s presence during those challenging times.  When tragedy strikes, stop asking God where He is, and start proclaiming, as David did, that God is my “very present help in trouble.”  (Psalm 46:1)   I have no answer as to why God allows certain things to happen, all I know is that He loves me and will never leave me during those darkest hours.  As Jesus said to His Apostles, He also says to us, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:20)  Many of the problems we face are a result of our freedom to make wrong decisions.  The problems we have in spite of our obedience to His Word are there for our learning, as well as the testing of our Faith.  The question mark should not be verbalized:  rather, the exclamation mark should always flow from our lips!

In both the secular and Christian Kingdoms, people want freedom with benefits.  They both feel that they are entitled to receive everything that would help them achieve personal fulfillment.  Some Christians believe that God owes them a plethora of things related to money.  (Much of the Christians financial problems are a result of their mismanagement of money.)  GOD OWES US NOTHING but by His Grace He offers us His love with all the benefits.  If we must complain about why things are going the way they are, we need to stand before a mirror and have at it!  God knows our thoughts, words and actions, and promises to see us through the valleys and construction zones, as well as celebrating with us on the mountain tops.  Center on God’s love and you will have the answer to all you needs!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE WISE MEN’S STORY

Understanding Scripture and acting on the knowledge that it offers, gives way to wisdom which opens the door to a whole new life style.   The Bible relates an event that happened in the city of Bethlehem that would have an effect upon every living created individual, both past, present and future.   It was the birth of the Jewish Messiah.  Not only would God’s chosen people be restored to a living relationship to their Creator, but the invitation to God’s family would be offered to every person, no matter race or gender.  The news of the long awaiting Messiah was first revealed to the Shepherds who became the first evangelist to spread the “Good tidings of great Joy.” (Luke 2:10)  About 900 miles to the northeast of the city of Bethlehem were a group of scholars that made it their business to share and expand their range of knowledge.   On one particular night they happened to notice a new star that had suddenly appeared.  To them it meant that something very special had happened, but what?  Seven hundred years earlier the Southern Kingdom of Judah had  fallen to the mighty army of the Babylonians.   Many of the elite Jews and their possessions were brought back to Babylon.  Among the bounty were probably the Holy Scroll’s and religious artifacts.  One of the individuals captured was Daniel.  Many of the Jews who were loyal to God continued to worship Him in their hostile environment.   I can imagine the “wise men” engaged these new arrivals in quest of knowledge.  Studying the Scroll’s they could have found a reference to a star in Numbers 24:17.  Further study would have shown that a great person would appear on the earth. (Micah 5:2.  Daniel 9:24-27.)  Convinced in the validity of the Word, they decided to seek the individual who had just been born.

After months of travel through all kinds of terrain they finally came to the restored capital of Judah (Jerusalem.)   Desiring to find the specific location of the “King of the Jews,” they met with the political leaders to get specific directions.  I image they thought the country would still be celebrating the arrival of their Messiah.  Instead, the rulers were dumb founded.  King Herod’s cabinet immediately searched the Scroll’s and found that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2)  Herod informed the Wise Men where they could find Him.  He also told them when they found Him, to return and tell him so he could worship Him.  I imagine they thought how could Herod not have known of this great event.

Finding the house where the Messiah was, they entered and immediately fell to the ground and worshiped Him.  How long they worshiped we do not know, but when they finished, they opened the gifts they had brought and laid them at His feet.  They must have lodged in Bethlehem overnight, for they had a dream to not return home by way of Jerusalem.  So the next day, they set off by an alternate route.

What does the Wise Men’s story tell us?  They read and believed God’s written Word. (Scroll’s)  They sought Jesus. (Traveled far) They found Him. (In Bethlehem)  They worshiped Him. (Fell down before Him)  They obeyed God. (As a result of a dream)    Let us read His Word and be willing to seek Him.  Let us worship Him and then obey God’s leading!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Shepherd’s Story

During this time of year churches abound with reenactments of the events that surrounded the birth of Jesus.  Much of what really happened is glossed over with traditional interpretations.  The pageants and plays do not conflict with Scripture, but they do not give the entire picture, at least in my observation.  Let us look at the Shepherds and see if we can maybe understand a little more of what really happened.  Shepherds spent much of their time in the fields with their sheep.  Their living arrangements were limited to whatever would sustain their physical needs.  On one particular night, near the city of David (Bethlehem), there appeared an angel silhouetted by the “glory of the Lord.”  What transpired in the next few minutes would change the shepherd’s lives forever.  The angel, seeing their fear, told them not to be afraid for he was bringing “good tidings of great joy.”  He told them that “today in the city of David” the long awaited Messiah was born.  He then told them that the “Babe” could be found wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manager.  The finale was a glorious production filled with a multitude of “Heavenly hosts” praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:8-14)  The extravaganza ends with the angels ascending into heaven.

I imagine the shepherds sat there trying to figure out what has just happened.  When the reality of the news sank in, they decided to go into Bethlehem to see the child who was destined to change the world.  The question arises as to the time of night that the angel appeared.  I doubt it was in the middle of the night; for if it was, it would present a problem for them.  They would have to leave the sheep vulnerable to the nightly predators and travel in darkness to an unlighted, sleeping city, and try to find a special manger amidst dozens of stables scattered throughout Bethlehem.

I believe the angelic visitation was around sunrise.  As the dawn arrived, the paths to Bethlehem would become negotiable and the city would be awaking.  Markets would open and shopkeepers would be open for business.  The shepherds would be able to seek help in locating where popular stables would be located.  Finally, they were able to discover the right “barn” where the Christ Child was.  The Bible states that they began to tell, not only Mary and Joseph, but anyone who would listen, what had been told them by the angel. (Luke 2:17)  The city had awakened from an uneventful night to a day of astonishing news. (Luke 2:15-18)  The shepherds then returned to their camp “glorifying and praising God.” (Luke 2:20) The shepherds heard, believed, acted, and praised God for what they had “heard and seen” that day.

It is amazing how many times in our lives God has revealed His Word in the most unlikely places.  Sometimes it takes us by surprise and even influences our emotions.   If we believe what He has revealed to us we must then make the decision to either act or not to act on His Word.  If we chose to act, we should be ready to share with others what He has put in our hearts.  When we have proclaimed His truths, we need to glorify and praise God for what has transpired, and then prepare ourselves for both the expected and unexpected truths that will surely come!

I believe some of the greatest spiritual truths are given to simple believers who have learned not to rely on their own understanding, but to acknowledge God in whatever situation the find themselves.  Jesus thanked God that He had hidden many things from the “wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes.” (Matthew 11:25)  As the religious leaders looked for the coming Messiah, the simple shepherds saw the Christ first!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Two Commissions

Jesus commissioned His Apostles to preach throughout Israel that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand.  They were ordered not to share with the Gentiles or those in the city of the Samaritans, but only to the “lost sheep of Israel.”  The commissioned Apostles were given power to heal the sick, cleanse the Lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons.  (Matthew 10:8)  At long last, the prayers of so many Jews would be fulfilled and God would reestablish the Kingdom of Israel.  Little did they realize that the Kingdom of Heaven was a spiritual, rather than a physical kingdom.  (Matthew 10:5-7)  To a large degree, more and more Believers today identify the Kingdom with physical things, rather than the spiritual.   They think it is what can be seen and experienced, instead of what can be received and achieved through Faith.

After the Resurrection, Jesus recommissioned the twelve to reach out beyond the Jewish community.  They were to preach, witness, teach, baptize, and make disciples throughout the world. (Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19, 20)   In the second commissioning, there were five evidences that would display their authority.  They were to cast out demons, speak with new tongues, take up servants, if they drank any deadly thing they would not be harmed, and finally, they were to lay hands on the sick. (Mark 16:17, 18)  It should be noted that two of the evidences of the Apostle’s authority was a duplicate of the first commissioning: healing and casting out demons.  The three other manifestations were unique to those of the second calling.  Speaking with new tongues was pertaining to speaking in the native languages of their “global” outreach. (Example, Acts 2:5-13)  Taking up serpents was the exposing of crafty, cunning, malicious hypocrites who opposed the teachings of Jesus.  (Reference Matthew 23:33, Luke 10:19, not Acts 28:3)  Finally, if they were poisoned or drank anything detrimental to their lives, they would not be hurt. (Mark 16:17, 18)

I believe the ministry of those called in the second commissioning can be aligned with what I deem to be the five-fold ministry of a pastor today.  He is to preach (herald divine truth).   He is to be a living example of what he proclaims (witness).  He is to teach (instruct) from the Word.  He is to Baptize Believers in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and finally he is to make disciples.  Pastors need to present the Gospel with no apologies or hidden agendas.  They need to boldly speak the Word without compromise.  People desire to hear truth no matter what the personal cost of obedience would demand.  Pastors need to be a living example of what they preach.  If they are not living the Gospel outside the brick and mortar, how can they expect the people to live a Christ centered life?  The Pastor must be a teacher that instructs his followers how to apply Biblical Truths.  He does not just preach one sermon a week, and then leave his flock unattended the rest of the week.  He is a daily teacher to all who will listen.   Water baptism is not only a command of Jesus, but it is an outward expression of a newly changed heart.  Finally, the pastor is to make disciples of his people.  His members are to be pupils who move from Biblical knowledge to Biblical action.  They are trained to be extensions of Jesus.  There are many other areas in which Pastors need to involve themselves, but I believe these five are the basics.

Note: Believers must always be aware of which Scriptures can or cannot be applied to our everyday lives.  Any application must be Holy Spirit directed or Christians may make assumptions that lead to deception or discouragement.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SCRIPTURAL UNDERSTANDING

How we read the Scripture influences the foundation of our faith.  Over the years, I have engaged Christians on a multitude of subjects.  Many of the people I encountered had questions about Biblical interpretation.  What struck me was the overall shallowness of Biblical knowledge that some Christians displayed.  The key to understanding where someone is spiritually is to listen to what they are saying.  There are Christians who have misinterpreted the intent of the Scripture due to being told what they should or should not believe.  They also read books and periodicals that are extensions of the authors understanding.  No matter what editorial system one uses, it must always line up with the Word.  The process of misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one’s own presuppositions, agenda and biases into the Scripture is called EISEGESIS.  Sadly, many “spiritual” leaders adopt this method of teaching.  Every Believer needs to open their Bible and draw out the meaning from a text in accordance with the context and its intended meaning.  This method is known as EXEGETICAL observation.   There are some great EXEGETICAL preachers who know how to rightly divide the Word of Truth.  When you proof text what they say, your spirit will confirm the Truth.

The Bible says to “study to show yourselves approved unto God.” (II Timothy 2:15)  The study habits of Christians evidence whether or not they are serious about their faith.   Neglected study produces ineffective results.  “Roller Coaster” rides are a spiritual experience when the Bible stays shut.   Mondays will usually be a day of spiritual victories, for they are still riding high from their Sunday “feedings.”  By Tuesday, the Word has faded from their interests, and emotions and feelings begin to take center stage.  Christians must open the Word daily to understand God’s Grace and desire for our lives.  Without the Word we would never know about our Savior and Lord, and the price He paid to bring us to God.  We would never know about the Holy Spirit and His role in our lives.

Many Christians cannot even tell where certain Books of the Bible are located.  There are Believers that only know parts of the New Testament; while the Old Testament is neglected due to their belief it is irrelevant to their faith.   Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, He was schooled as every Jewish child was, in the “Old Testament” scrolls.  He was so knowledgeable of the Scriptures, that at the age of twelve He was able to discuss and even debate the Jewish scholars in the Temple. (Luke 2: 46, 47)   If Jesus spent so much time studying the Word, why should we curtail our efforts in pursuing understanding?  Jesus quoted more from Isaiah than any other “book.”  When is the last time Christians studied the Old Testament?

Timothy, an understudy of Paul, studied the Holy Scriptures (Old Testament) from his youth, and found salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (II Timothy 3:15)  Paul realized that Scripture is to be used for “doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness.”( II Timothy 3:16) When we fail to open the Word, we not only limit our spiritual growth, but open the door for Satan to influence our lives.   Inconsistent Faith is a result of inconsistent study.  I urge every Believer to take their Faith seriously.  Read and obey the Word like your life depends upon it, for it does!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SANTA TIME

As we approach the traditional date of Jesus’ birthday, the plastic cards are lifted from our wallets to a status of activity that dwarfs the past years total production of instant money.  It is during this time of the year that spending limits are disregarded.   It is the responsibility of every decent individual to give with no thought to monetary boundaries.  The Santa season helps to sustain the retailers, while sustaining and increasing the debts of so many families.

It is wonderful to give, but must it always be materialistic?  The motive behind so many “gifters” is that they are obligated to fulfill the mandatory requirements of giving or they will be labeled a scrooge or worse.  Many people look at this time of the year as a time of caring, which is displayed through “care” presents wrapped up in colorful paper.  I wonder how much thought is given to picking out the right gift or gifts.  I guess the length of the return lines will answer that question.  Some people judge the worth of a present by its monetary value instead of its usefulness or the thought behind the gift.  Children will rip apart the wrappings that took hours to prepare and then proclaim, “Is that all?”  It seems the presents are the reason for the season.

It might sound like I am cynical, but what bothers me is that we have allowed Santa to occupy center stage, while Jesus has been pushed aside.  “He… He… He…” has given way to “Ho, Ho, Ho.”  I have no problem with a Santa-centered holiday, but why does it have to be on the same day we celebrate Jesus’ birthday?  I know that December 25th is probably not the date of Jesus birth, but through unified consensus, Christians have agreed on this date as the time to celebrate His arrival.  There are people that do not want to celebrate something they don’t believe in, and I don’t have a problem with that, but don’t try to take away or diminish what I believe in!  Why can’t we have “Santamas” in January and leave Christmas for Jesus?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

THE REMNANT

Why is there a growing anti-Christian sentiment in our country?  Why is it becoming more and more difficult to add Believers to the Body of Christ?  Why is there a growing number of Christians leaving the Faith?  Not only is the younger generation losing interest in the Church, but even those who were leaders in their churches for years, have departed in search of alternative answers to life’s challenges.   Where has Christianity gone wrong?   The foundation of our Faith is strong through Christ, but the representatives of Christ have failed to present and defend the principles of our Faith.   The more we promote humanism, the greater the exodus.  If our churches are more concerned with social interaction and activities void of spiritual impetus, it would be better to take their name off the marque and become a “service club.”

One of the greatest hindrances to Church growth is Christians who do not exemplify Jesus.  In his book, The Christ of the Indian Road, E Stanley Jones, who was a missionary to India, related a conversation he had with Mahatma Gandhi where he asked him, “What is the greatest asset in making Christianity more approachable?”  Gandhi said, “All Christians and missionaries need to begin to live more like Jesus.”  Gandhi was also reported as saying, “I love your Christ, but I dislike your Christianity.”  The world needs to see Jesus and not themselves in Christians.  Jesus never acted like the world, and the world took notice.

The Church that we have observed for so many generations is changing its appearance and identity.  The million dollar structures will always be there, but the True Church is identified as the people.  It is not the mud and mortar but the soul and spirit of the Believer that characterizes the Church.  Those Believers known as the REMNANT don’t challenge the Word, but accept the Word.  They are not spectators but participants in the Faith.  They honor their Lord by actions.  They promote the teachings of the Word instead of the doctrines of man.  They understand their positional authority and are willing to take a stand when the Faith is challenged.  Their love of God is evidenced by their love for their fellow man.  Their words exemplify their relationship with their Lord.  Their music lifts their spirits instead of catering to their flesh.  They believe all they have belongs to God.  Sin is not glossed over, but eradicated whenever it is identified.  The REMNANT believes in total commitment to God: body, soul, and spirit.

Organized churches need to realize that becoming more “carnal” friendly will only add to the problem.  Churches need to return to the basic principles of the Faith.  It is not adding programs to their church, but subtracting the non-Biblical actions they have promoted over its recent history.

I pray that the REMNANT will reenter the brick and mortar institutes and once again restore Biblical standards!   For those REMNANTS that are still holding forth in the organized church, keep on promoting the Truth without compromise.   Luke 18:8 asks that when Jesus returns, will He find Faith on the earth.  The answer is YES, if the REMNANT rises up and holds the ranks!  Amen and Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

VICTORY THROUGH THE BATTLE

This morning, I went to the local YMCA where I enjoyed a relaxing time in the Therapy Pool.  What a way to unwind and reflect on the Grace of God.  Many times we are so busy in Kingdom living that we fail to pause and bask in the blessings that we have experienced.  When is the last time we activated our pause meter and opened up our memory banks to recall the sunrises after the storms of life?  Remember when we almost gave up, and began to materialize words related to Satan’s vocabulary, words like fear, doubt, anger, worry, resentment, and other negatives?  Just when we were a candidate to receive Satan’s Medal of Valor, we looked up and saw Satan fall like lightening from the sky. (Reference Luke 10:18)  We then saw the Dove circling above us and, with that, we knew the victory was ours.  I know I am using a metaphor, but I believe it illustrates simple truth.  We need not spend too much time withdrawing from our memory bank, for there are things to be done for the kingdom which will eventually be deposited in our account.

While I was soaking up bubbles and experiencing pulsating jets of hot water, a man came into the pool, and we began to talk about things in general.  After several minutes, he began to share about the rough road he had been traveling.  The things he and his wife and other family members had gone through would challenge even the most seasoned Believer.  As I listened to him, I quickly realized his spiritual foundation was secure.  To be able to hold on to a right attitude, even in view of a “Jericho wall,” is truly a testament to the validity of God’s Word.  Quickly, I made out a deposit slip and placed this experience in my memory account.

There are very few people in life that have affected my spiritual walk as much as a lady called Brenda.  She is almost the equivalent of Job.  Never have I seen an individual stand against physical odds so overwhelming, and yet display a spiritual stamina that defies human understanding.  There have been times in my ministry when I struggled through difficult times and even wanted to seek self-imposed exile, but then I would think of Brenda and repent of self-pity.   This lady has taken more physical abuse than anyone I have ever known.  Through it all, she has not only stayed consistent in her Faith, but continues to grow in her Faith.  She is the Christian equivalent to a Navy Seal and an Army Ranger.  Trained in the Word at the Biblical Academy, she faces on-going challenges with the resolve that nothing will separate her from the “Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)

Just as we were getting out of the pool, this man said, “You know, there is always someone that has it worse than you.”  If you are complaining because your flight is a little turbulent, buckle up the Word around you, sit upright, and remember Brenda!

EPILOGUE: There are people who are going through difficult times and would love to have someone to encourage and support them in their journey.  If you know of someone who is fighting the good fight, send them an email, card, letter, or call them, and just tell them you are thinking about them.  Drop in and volunteer to help them along their way!  Suppose it was the other way around, wouldn’t you like to be encouraged just by someone’s presence?

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

HEALING BASED ON ISAIAH 53:5?

One of the hardest things I ever did as a pastor was to bring teachings that conflicted with peoples understanding and acceptance of Biblical truths.   To open a door that leads to interpretations that challenge a Believers beliefs, will often cause responses of negative rhetoric.  Labels entitled “false prophet” will be quickly placed on a pastor that teaches anything that is contrary to the “normal” teachings of the church.  It is my hope that the barriers of personal doctrinal beliefs will not prevent a Biblical look at a subject that has been misunderstood by so many Christians.  I believe in divine healing.  I have witnessed and participated in situations that displayed the miraculous acts of God’s healing power.  There can be no doubt as to the validity of bodily healing, but the foundational Biblical support for physical healing is where the problem arises.

ISAIAH 53:5 is the “holy grail” for claiming healing.  It is promoted as the evidence that healing was achieved through Jesus at Calvary.  It is imperative that every Believer take time to study Scripture.  To simply adopt doctrines without careful Biblical analysis is doing a great injustice not only to themselves, but to those who share a similar understanding.

In Isaiah 53:4-6 we see ten words that illustrate the physical aspects of Jesus’ final hours.  These words are defined by Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon: Bore: To receive the punishment of sin upon oneself.  Carried: To receive the penalties which another has deserved.  Stricken:  To touch, to injure.  Smitten: To strike, to hurt.  Afflicted: To bestow labor upon, browbeating.  Wounded: To be pierced.  Bruised: To be smitten with stripes.  Chastisement: Correction by God.  Stripes: Marks of strokes.  Oppressed: To be harassed.   Isaiah 53:10 states that God made Jesus’ soul an offering for sin.  Verse 11 tells us that Jesus bore our iniquities.  Verse 12 reiterates that Jesus bore the sin of many.   The prophetic theme of this section of Isaiah is the forgiveness of sins and the reconciliation of man with God.  The word healed in Isaiah 53:5 is spiritual rather than physical healing.  If one wants to believe that physical healing was part of the atonement, he must put it in the right perspective.   Jesus received the stripes, not on the cross, but at Pilot’s residence.(John 19:1)  So if one wants to believe that physical healing was part of the atonement, he must base it on the “cat of nine tales” administered by the Roman soldiers and not on the Cross.  The Apostle Peter understood that Isaiah 53:5 pertained to spiritual healing and not physical healing, and restated it in I Peter 2:24.

To understand Jesus’ ministry, all we have to do is read His own words.  One Sabbath day Jesus entered the Synagogue in Nazareth and was handed the scroll of Isaiah so He could share the reading.  He found the place where Isaiah prophesied about the ministry of the Messiah. (Isaiah 61:1, 2)  When He read the passage, He simply replied, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:18-21)  Notice that physical healing was not mentioned. (The “recovery of sight to the blind” pertains to spiritual blindness; refer to John 9:39 and reference Matthew 23:16-26, Matthew 6:23, 15:14)   Physical healing was not the objective of Jesus’ ministry, rather a compassionate response to the physical challenges of the people.  After His resurrection, Jesus commissioned His Apostles to carry out His ministry.  This included physical healing which opened the door to the reality of spiritual healing.  Physical healing is still available today, but it must never be taught or sought as an end in itself.  Jesus authorized healing and that is what Believers must base their belief on, not on Isaiah 53!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment