A Father’s Plea for His Son (Part Two)

Luke 9:37-45

I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t.” Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long will I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” As the boy was still approaching, the demon knocked him down and threw him into severe convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And they were all astonished at the greatness of God (9:40-43a CSB).

Next in this section, we see a society unable to help to father or his son (9:40-41a). Here was the weakness of the church in its early form, nine of the Twelve apostles. Even though the apostles had cast out demons before this, they were unable to help now. They later asked the Lord why they could not (Mark 9:28-29). Many look to the church in their time of need. Unless the church has the wisdom to point them to the Lord Jesus Christ, they will be disappointed. A church without the power of the risen Christ cannot help this needy world. How are we demonstrating that Jesus Christ is able to save and to change lives?

We also observe the corruption of the world. Jesus was very troubled by what he saw. The whole scene reeked of sin, especially two sins. There was the sin of unbelief. The father had little faith, the apostles did not act in faith, and it is doubtful that the crowds believed that the boy could be healed. There also was the sin of religious perversity. The law experts were debating with the disciples, rather than being concerned about the needs of a boy made in the image of God (Mark 9:14). When someone is in need is not the time to engage in doctrinal debates. Yes, we must always serve others according to the truth, but I refer to foolish arguments when there are hurting people to be helped. Such evil talk can be no more than an attempted smokescreen to hide from the duty to help others. Let us minister to the hurting, the grief-stricken, and the emotionally distraught when they are before us. During this pandemic, we all have such opportunities.

Our hearts and thoughts should be fixed on the Savior who is able to heal (9:41b-43b). Rejoice in the Lord’s willingness to heal. The words “Bring your son here” are an invitation to the boy and his father to experience the Savior’s power. First, Christ ministers hope to the father. One of the first things you need to share with people around you is hope. We live in the age of despair, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic. People everywhere are falling deeper into the swamp of depression. Its leads to suicide. It also leads to alcohol abuse. My friends, we have hope in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Every sinner can be sure to find words of welcome from Jesus Christ. Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NLT; cf. Mark 10:14, 21, 49).

Most people who read these blogs are believers in Jesus Christ. But I don’t know where these words might be found by others. So I say this. Though you may have been alienated from God, he is willing to receive and forgive people that have not had room for him in their lives. You may have opposed God and not loved God. But today, there is good news! Step back into full reality and ask the living God to become involved in your life in a personal way. The way to God is through his one and only Son, Jesus Christ. He will never turn you away.

Let us consider Christ’s almighty power. He had power over the demon. He rebuked the evil foe and cast him out of the boy. At the same time he had power over physical injury. He healed the boy of all his afflictions. And Christ’s compassion. He gave the boy back to his father. Jesus “not only heals the paralytic but also forgives him (5:17-24), not only cures the centurion’s servant but also commends the centurion (7:2-10), not only restores to health the Gergesene demoniac but also makes him a missionary (8:26-39), not only heals but also comforts the woman who touched his garment (8:43-48), not only raises from the dead the daughter of Jairus but also sees to it that the child gets something to eat (8:40-42, 49-56)… just as the son of Nain’s widow was not only raised from the dead but then also very tenderly returned to his mother…” so now the boy is returned to his father (Hendriksen).

The Savior focused on his mission (9:43b-45). Christ reminded the disciples of his mission. He did this while the crowds were caught up in the experience of the miracle. They are only concerned about the wonder that occurred. His followers or learners must see deeper. Think about the significance! God’s Son is present! Repent! He directed them to pay careful attention to God’s plan for his Son. “All this should not make you forget the reason that I am here.”

The apostles failed to grasp what Jesus was telling them. What is the meaning of “It was hidden from them.” Who hid it from them? The test does not say, so it is useless to speculate. What we should learn is that in situations more than human agents may be involved. They visibly failed. The solution to their ignorance was right beside them. Yet they were afraid to ask Jesus! The lesson is not merely that good men may be spiritually ignorant. It is not an excuse for you or me to remain ignorant. Instead, Luke tells us what we should do about spiritual ignorance.

What should parents do when we are troubled about our children? We should pray. Call on the name of the Lord who is able to save. Spread the whole situation before the Lord. Tell him your sorrows and your fears. Ask him to be merciful to your child. The Lord Jesus cares about the sorrows of concerned parents. As long as a child lives and a parent prays, there is hope.

Will Christ receive children who come to him? Yes, he will! The gospels are filled with examples of his interest in children: the nobleman’s son, Jairus’ daughter, the widow of Nain’s son, and so on. The Holy Spirit has not recorded these mighty works of Christ for without reason. They are meant to show us the interest of the Lord Jesus Christ in children. To some people, children do not count. But the Lord cares about children. So must we. Let us be diligent in bringing our children to Jesus.

We should learn the need for more than amazement. Yes, the people were amazed about what had happened. But did it do them any good? Don’t rest in any experience of religious excitement until by grace you find the Son of God.

Grace and peace,

The Compassionate Christ (Part Two)

Luke 8:40-56

Everyone was crying and mourning for her. But he said, “Stop crying, because she is not dead but asleep.” They laughed at him, because they knew she was dead. So he took her by the hand and called out, “Child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he gave orders that she be given something to eat. Her parents were astounded, but he instructed them to tell no one what had happened (Luke 8:52-56 CSB).

After the healing of the woman, Jairus would have been filled with hope. “Jesus healed this woman that no one else could help. He can heal my daughter!” But then came the sad message that his daughter had died (8:49). What hope could there be?

Third, Jesus encouraged Jairus. When he heard of Jairus’ sorrow, Jesus spoke to him. He knew the grief that would fill Jairus’ heart, so he immediately encouraged him. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15 ESV). Jairus had just witnessed the healing of a woman; now Jesus holds out hope for Jairus’ daughter. She, too, can be healed. Compare Luke 8:48 with 8:50.

He directed Jairus to his only source of help: to faith instead of to fear. God’s way of dealing with fear is to replace it with faith in the living God. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we must not give into fear. God is in control, though people’s emotions and fears are out of control. The ground or basis of Jairus’ faith became the word of Christ, who told him not to fear. Our faith has the best ground for action when it lays hold of the word of God. Read a “Big God chapter” like Isaiah 40 to feed your faith, rather than being glued to endless media reports that breed fear. Yes, I pay attention to what is happening. But I don’t devote my mind and heart to every opinion that rages through the media, including social media.

Fourth, Jesus continued to help Jairus in spite of scornful rebuke. The jeers of the crowds came when he said that there was hope for Jairus’ daughter. Notice how quickly those “mourners” changed from tears to laughter. People change their opinions quickly. One day the whole world is caught up with some idea, fad or thing. The next it lies forgotten in the dust of history. Don’t dig your own grave in the dust of short-lived popular opinion.

Today Christians still have to bear the ridicule of the world. The Christian faith can never be intellectually acceptable to those committed to the presuppositions of unbelief and hatred of God. For true Christianity demands faith in the living, sovereign God. It speaks of the God who gives life to the dead, and there is no scientific way of explaining acts of God like that. True Christianity is supernatural.

By continuing to help Jairus and exposing himself to ridicule, Jesus set up a situation that would make the glory of God shine brighter. It is as if he had said by his words and actions, “I am glad that you are all affirming that the girl is dead. Now you will have to honor God.” How should Jesus act at this point? Should he walk away because of their unbelief? Should he listen to the public opinion polls and say, “Maybe I can’t do this after all”? Should he call down fire from heaven and destroy all the unbelievers? Should he feel bad and sneak away because those people said things that hurt his self-image?

However, the Lord Jesus raised the girl to life by a simple word of divine power. Child, get up! How easy it was for the Lord of life to give life to a girl that all admitted was dead. Resurrection power is at the heart of true Christianity. Always remember this truth!

Jesus cared for the resurrected girl. He showed compassion by not allowing many to be present when he raised her from the dead. He did not make a theatrical spectacle in which all would be staring at her and yelling and screaming. (How would you respond if you witnessed a dead person brought back to life?)

Observe the contrast with the healing of the woman. She had wanted a private healing, but he made sure it is well known. Here the public is close by, but he withdrew to raise the girl in private. The Bible always shows the Lord working in a variety of ways. You cannot tie him down to a ritual or a certain procedure.

He showed compassion for her by telling them to give her food. Mom and dad need not worry about telling others the good news. The crowds would see to that. They needed to care for their daughter and enjoy fellowship with her.

Some lessons:

  • Faith should find great encouragement in the power of the compassionate Christ. Faith knows that he has the ability to help, and should find should in his willingness to help (Hebrews 4:16).
  • A needy person should not hesitate to seek help from Jesus Christ.
  • Follow Christ’s example of compassion. We cannot raise the dead, but we can raise hurting faces. We cannot heal the incurably ill, but we can show kindness to those that are.
  • True Christianity is compassionate, like Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace,

The Compassionate Christ (Part One)

Luke 8:40-56

And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (8:48 ESV).

The Lord Jesus is always the same, but the human soul varies. Some people want nothing to do with Christ. Others, whose hearts have been touched by God’s grace, long to be with him. Those who look to Christ find him to be most gracious and kind. But even among those who have received grace, well sadly, our faith fluctuates.

There is an obvious difference between this section and the previous. Before we saw Jesus rejected by a whole town, except for one man. Here, people are thronging to see and to hear Jesus. There, a man is healed; here, two females experience the miraculous power of the Lord Jesus. The Gerasene people had asked Jesus to leave, but in this account, Jairus asks Jesus to come to his house. We may learn something from this. Though Jesus had been rejected, he went about his work. He did what God called him to do. So must we. Are there some people who won’t listen as you share the gospel? Well, it happened to the Lord, too. Move on to the next one. Keep doing what you ought to do.

Jesus did not allow rejection hinder him from showing compassion. He is God and loves to do what is good and to show kindness. The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love. The Lord is good to everyone; his compassion rests on all he has made (Psalm 145:8-9 CSB).

Previously, we saw the power of Christ. Now in addition to his power, let us consider the compassion of Christ. The Gospel writers link the two miracles in this section. In one he had compassion on the socially influential, and in the other on a social outcast. The compassion of Christ knows no favoritism. In one to a girl, in the other a woman. The girl was near the end of her brief life; the woman had lived in misery for twelve years.

First, Jesus acted in spite of difficulty. Many sought Christ’s attention. Many of them were not interested in his message, but sought miracles. Soon crowds of people surround him. We have a scene similar to others in the Gospels. Compare Mark 2:2 or Luke 5:1-3. Travel in such a crowd would become quite difficult, especially when you consider the narrowness of ancient streets. The word Luke chooses (sunepnigon) is used earlier is the chapter (8:7) and means to “choke, crowd around or crush”.

Two significant events occur at this point. Jairus, a synagogue ruler and thus well-known and influential, asked Jesus to heal his twelve-year-old daughter. The girl’s need was desperate; she was dying. Jesus agreed and was on his way, when an unnamed woman sought healing for herself. She suffered from a condition that not only made her miserable for twelve years, but also made her unclean under old covenant law. This woman touched Christ’s clothing and was healed. “The edge of his cloak” may mean “the tassel on his robe” (Numbers 15:38; Deuteronomy 22:12). The corner of the cloak was worn tossed over the left shoulder. In this way, the tassel would hang down the back. This could be easily touched in a crowd.

When this touch occurred, power went out from Christ and healed her (8:46). Some may wonder about the KJV translation of “virtue”. At the time of its translation, virtue had the meaning of “power”, so it was a good translation. In our time, the meaning of the word virtue has changed, and this makes the KJV translation misleading to the modern reader. This is one reason that you ought to use a modern speech translation. If you still want to read the KJV, you are free to do so. But I strongly urge you to compare its translations against those of good modern translations, such as the NASV, the NIV, the CSV and the ESV. Please do not make the KJV the basis for your beliefs and opinions. Our language, not God’s word, has changed much in over four hundred years.

Now back to the text. The Lord Jesus Christ turned interruptions into ministry opportunities. Parents, do you think this way when your children interrupt you? Teachers of God’s word, that question by a listener, though perhaps off track, might be important for the asker and the other listeners. Act wisely, and answer immediately or after the lesson.

Second, Jesus made public the woman’s healing. It might appear that this was somewhat insensitive on Jesus’ part. He knew she was healed. Couldn’t he allow this to remain her private matter? Actually, his course of action reveals his compassion for her.

This would correct in her mind any wrong ideas she may have held about the reasons for her healing. It was her faith and not a superstitious touch.

  • The way of healing was not in the touch. To this day, people believe this. For you hear people talking about “a point of contact”. The only “point of contact” required is a submissive faith in the Lord.
  • The way of healing was not in her faith but in Christ’s power. Jesus plainly says that power went out from him. Her faith was not the healer; Jesus healed her.

This would restore her to a place in the community of Israel. Previously, to touch her meant ceremonial uncleanness (Leviticus 15:25-27). Now, she had a way to regain her place in the worshipping community (Leviticus 15:28-30). More than that, the Lord called her daughter. He welcomed her into the spiritual family of God. This is the only woman he addressed by that relational term in the New Testament Scriptures. She received a special blessing.

When the Lord has shown mercy and compassion to someone, so must we. The former outcast must be welcomed into the family of believers. Read 2 Corinthians 2:5-11. To whom do you need to show compassion? Who needs your acceptance and mercy? Who needs to know that you care?

Grace and peace,


Our Great Priest (Part One)

DSCN0646Hebrews 10:21

In human history only a few people have been called “the Great”. For example, there was Alexander the Great, who conquered a large portion of the world by the time he was thirty-three. Or think of Charles the Great, often called Charlemagne, who formed a strong empire in medieval Europe in the midst of the fractured states of his time. However, as one studies these great people, he finds out that that their greatness lasted only a short time, and their heirs could not hold their empires together or lost the vision of the “great one”.

In our text, the Holy Spirit wants us to see one who is truly great—our Lord Jesus Christ. And in particular in this verse, he glorifies Christ by calling him the great priest over the house of God. So then, as we think about what God is telling us here, we should think about what is meant by “a great priest” and the sphere of his ministry, “over the house of God”, and then the practical importance of this doctrine to us.

We must stay focused on the Spirit’s purpose. He is telling us who Jesus is in order that we will live as we ought to. So note carefully the Spirit’s method. He first reminds us of two important possessions of every believer—confidence to enter the Most Holy Place and our Great Priest—and then he sets forth a number of ways that we ought to live, since these things are so. Therefore, if we are to live as we ought, we need a clear understanding of what it means to have Jesus as our great high priest. This is important, because it is at this point that many fail. They begin with Christ, but then they promptly forget him as they seek to follow him.

For example, there are some who say, “You must go to Jesus for justification, but then Jesus will take you by the hand back to Moses for sanctification.” That is nonsense. If the law of Moses cannot justify, what makes someone think it can sanctify?

Why is Jesus called a great priest? Our Lord is called a great priest because of his dignity as the eternal Son of God. His greatness flows in part from his divine being and glory (Hebrews 1:2-3a). His greatness as God demands that he should be worshipped as Son of God (Hebrews 1:5-9). When you worship, do you approach the Lord Jesus as the glorious Son of God?

Our Lord is called a great priest because of the unique worth of the sacrifice he offered. His sacrifice is identified as “by the blood of Jesus” or by his own blood” (Hebrews 9:12). Compare also the statements made in 9:14, 25-26; 10:10.  His sacrifice is praised on account of its efficacy (the power to produce effects or results). What did Jesus accomplish on the cross? Consider Hebrews 9:12, 14, 26b; 10:10, 14). Think about shopping for a car. You might talk with a salesperson, who discusses the car and a possible purchase price. But all that talk is mere information. In order to purchase the car at that price, the sales manager or officer of the establishment must agree to the price. Then the contract is effective. Jesus was not a mere salesman. As great priest he put the contract, the new covenant, into effect by the offering of himself. This happened by his sacrifice, Jesus turned God’s wrath away from us (Rm 3:25). By his death, Jesus reconciled us to God (Romans 5:10) Any counselor can tell you how exceedingly difficult it is to restore a marriage, because the husband and the wife become alienated from each other. Most marriage problems can be easily solved, if, and this is a big if, their estranged attitudes can be brought back together. Jesus has actually brought God and believers together. “The greatness of Christ’s priesthood will never appear so fully, as when the whole virtue of his sacrifice shall be seen, when all the heirs that his blood has bought shall appear together, and all the glory and the possessors thereof” (Works of Traill, Vol. 3, p. 247; cf. Revelation 5:9-11).

Our Lord is called a great priest because of the supreme glory to which he has been exalted. Consider the contrast with the priests of the law covenant. They were always restless and active; their work was never done, because they offered a sacrifice unable to satisfy God. But Christ’s work is completed in one, supreme offering of himself. And since his sacrifice is complete, perfect, and acceptable and satisfying to God, he is able to sit in God’s presence. 1:3b; 8:1 Christ now waits for the time appointed by the Father for the final subjection of his already defeated enemies (10:13).

Our Lord is called a great priest because of the power and efficacy of his office.

  • He is able to help his people (2:14-18).
  • He continually intercedes for his people on the basis of his finished work, and this guarantees the ultimate salvation of his people (7:18-25).
  • He has a better covenant, of which he is the mediator, for his people (8:6; 9:15).
  • He will bring full salvation to his people (9:27-28).

Follower of Jesus, mediate on these truths, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Pray that he would give you a fresh sense of the greatness of your Redeemer and Lord.

Grace and peace, David