Wednesday, July 16, 2014

THIS WICKED GENERATION.....MAKING A DIFFERENCE

It really is interesting how after the umpteenth time that I read the Scriptures a fresh idea jumps right off the pages and hits me square in the brain and spirit. Reading all four Gospels the other day I noticed that as soon as Jesus stepped on the scene with the starting of His ministry many people flocked to Him for healing. His heart of compassion was absolutely incredible! However, what really stood out to me was the sheer amount of demon-possessed individuals that were either brought to Him for healing or that Jesus encountered and healed on His journey.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke made sure that I got this image. Mark and Luke retell some of the same accounts as Matthew. Luke, being a physician, describes the events in a little more detail for us who desire more specifics. So, with these three harmonizing on this subject I concluded this was a confirmation of a great study.

References that can be looked at for this topic are - Matthew 4:24, 8:16, 8:28-33, 9:32-33, 12:22, 15:21-28, and 17:14-20 [which was a lesson taught to His disciples on this subject].

Now I would like to mention some things that caught my attention in those passages above.

In Matthew 4:24 I was amazed to find just how far people were coming with their sick, demon-possessed and their faith to seek healing from Jesus in the area of Galilee. Syria is a big chunk of land and a long way to travel. This verse says, News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them

In Matthew 8:16 the scene is a visit by Jesus to Peter's house. After healing Peter's mother-and-law the Scripture records that the amount of demon-possessed which were brought to Jesus at one time were "many". I thought physical conditions were bad back then, whew, the spiritual climate was worse than terrible. But Jesus "healed all" and the next verse states another reason, besides compassion, He healed - This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." (v.17)

The accounts of Matthew 9:32-33 and 12:22 are interesting. Both, at face value, associate not being able to speak with demon-possession. I wonder how the public or at least Matthew could tell the man was demon-possessed ASIDE from not being able to talk. Was the man violent? Was he murderous? Scripture is silent. What is pointed out - "when the demon was driven out [by Jesus], the man who had been mute spoke." And in the 12:22 verse the man could both speak and see after Jesus healed him.

Jesus' encounter with the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28 was almost a time when a healing of a demon-possessed person did not happen. This woman had evidently been pestering the disciples and finally caught up with Jesus and cried out to Him for mercy, which in the original Greek is translated compassion. Interesting reaction by Jesus - He doesn't say a word. That is when His disciples jumped in and encouraged - You gotta do something about this yellin' woman, Master. [Pritchard Paraphrase] Jesus finally decides to speak and says to the woman, "I was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel." When we are desperate and we are parents, we drop to our knees quickly. The next verse pictures the woman as such - The woman came and knelt before him. And persisting with her plea she cries out again - "Lord, help me!" The Lord then goes on to describe a social, cultural, and spiritual gap between the Jews and the Canaanites which questioned His aid for her in the first place - He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." Wow! Jesus equated, at the least, the Canaanite women as low as the Jew's dogs - "their dogs"! The woman's response is seasoned with faith and because of that Jesus said He would grant her request to have compassion. The woman had responded - "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

The thing of note for Matthew 17:14-20 was why the disciples could not perform the healing of this demon-possessed child. Matthew records Jesus saying, "Because you have so little faith." (v.20). In Mark 9:29, the same story has Jesus blaming it on the use of prayer - "This kind can come out only by prayer." Two different words used for the explanation of this occurrence, even in the original Greek - faith and prayer. You have to combine the two. The disciples evidently tried to work this out on very little faith, but needed to have had great faith and prayer saturation in this situation.

There is a message that the enemy does not want you to hear or even moreso does not want you to live out. As true believers in Christ we are empowered to make a difference physically, mentally, and spiritually in peoples lives, SO THAT all people are drawn unto God through Christ. Here are some encouraging and empowering Scriptures to lean and/or rely on for this lifestyle of making a difference:
  • ...greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
  • I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)
  • But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11)
If you are worried about what to say to our own wicked generation, recall Jesus' encouraging words in Luke - "When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say." (Luke 12:11-12)

Alright, it is time to be a vessel of healing. It is time to be a minister of God's favor. It is time to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, and to release the oppressed, because you have been anointed in This Wicked Generation to Make A Difference (Luke 4:18). Therefore, Go.