PARTNERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART LXXXVIII
For centuries God held out His Hands for strayed Israel to come back to Him (Isaiah 65:2)! Then, God sent His Son and they killed Him (Acts 2:22-28) — and then — God sent His Spirit who cannot be killed. The Holy Spirit came to keep the memory of Jesus alive and that is the reason why the Holy Spirit was sent into the world (John 16:4-15). The Spirit’s primary task was to closed down the cage (Israel) that was too small to hold Jesus, the Son of God, and set Him free to save the world (John 3:16). The Spirit of Christ is the “New Wine” that the old wineskins could not hold (Matthew 9:17). The Holy Spirit cannot and does not do anything different from what Jesus did, and that is why His followers must always go back and learn what Jesus did. Jesus set an example of how to save the lost, while He himself was lost in the world. But, he did overcome the world (John 16:33). The Holy Spirit draws people, but not without human assistance. Now, this is important to being a witness for Christ. The Holy Spirit is not drawing the sinner, but the Holy Spirit is the “Witness” to the sinner. “For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). “Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners” (Mark 2:17). It is tragic when a sinner had to tell the righteous that they were lost (John 9:30-33).
Jesus did not wait for people to find Him. Jesus had a way of showing up when He was needed. Jesus felt and sensed the burdens and the problems people had. Even as a man, Jesus read their minds and corrected them with parables and lessons. Jesus went to a synagogue to teach where He met a man with a withered hand. And the leaders, who followed a tradition that did not allow healing on the Sabbath, and therfore they regarded the sickness as a sin. To these people, a withered hand was a sign that someone had sinned, but Jesus did not hold to such thinking (John 9:1-3). Both parties, the leaders and the people, needed to have their minds corrected on what was the right thing to do on a “Holy Day of Rest,” and for a handicapped to be healed. Even a handicapped person can, with some assistance, serve God and man with honor. The incident was recorded in Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6, and in Luke 6:6-11, and that incident has various valuable applications.
On another sabbath, when Jesus entered a synagogue and taught, a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.’ And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And he looked around on them all, and said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus (Luke 6:6-11).
JESUS HAD A GREAT DAY IN CAPERNAUM, HIS NEW HOME WITH PETER’S IN-LAWS
Nazareth rejected Jesus and drove Him out of town. Jesus then went to Capernaum, found twelve ready men to be with Him. Then Jesus entered a synagogue where He silenced a demon from making Him public. That evening Jesus went to the home of Peter’s mother-in-law, who required healing. She opened her home and Jesus healed many (Mark 1:9-34).
And immediately Jesus left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they know him (Mark 1:29-34).
While every one was sleeping, Jesus withdrew to pray alone. And when His disciples found Him, Jesus took them on a mission tour in Galilee. A leper hindered Jesus from spreading the news by publicizing what Jesus had done. Therefore, Jesus had to return to Capernaum and deal with one of the largest burdens men carries, “Sin and Forgiveness.”
And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” And being moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter (Mark 1:40-45).
And when Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, brining to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Now Some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Rise take up your pallet and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic — “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12).
These two incidents have profound implication, for those who want help from Christ or from anyone else. The leper had the faith that Jesus could heal him. And he left it up to Jesus to do it. The leper was not taught how to believe; therefore, his condition led him to demand to trust in Jesus as his only hope. The man on the stretcher had faith in his four friends and in Jesus because Jesus could heal him on the spot. In instances where people did not believe, Jesus could do little (Mark 6:6). I do know what the leper and the paralytic felt like because I, too, was put in a helpless condition due to a fire accident. And I had to put all my faith and my trust in the medical profession and their assistance to save my life and restore me to full health, which took a year and a half. My physical condition was never restored; however, in the process, my mind emerged as far more efficient than the loss of the use of my hands. When it comes to salvation, we all face the hopeless condition! And we have no other option than to put our lives in the power of the Name of Jesus, the only “One” who can save us (Acts 4:12).
Sin, and being unwilling to forgive, and not to share burdens and guilt, keeps man from being saved and held captive, even here on earth. Both men, the leper and the paralytic, had to deal with sin before Jesus could heal them. Sin is the heaviest burden that man carries and which impairs his life and his health. The leper walked away clean, and the paralytic walked and carried his stretcher. And therefore, four men were set free to tend after their own needs. Just to confess and sing songs will not do — we have to take up some burdens, we have caused, and deal with them. We must make a deal with Christ before our “light of life” goes out; for the things we could not mend, and obey “His Command.” Therefore, we have to make amend for the wrong we have done, while we still can. Here are several examples that we need to consider. These examples teach us that we cannot sway God with prayers and petitions, but we can with leading a life of forgiveness.
And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the Judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper (Luke 12:57-59)!
You have heard that it was said to the men of old. ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment. ‘But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny (Matthew 5:21-26).
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:15-22).
And when you pray, you must not be like hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.’
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:5-15).
He (Jesus) also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisees stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14).
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).