A Greater Miracle than Healing: Mark 2:1-12

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Continuing moving forward in Mark’s gospel, we come to a miracle Mark includes that probably was the only one like it ever in Jesus’ ministry. One thing I find fascinating about this event is that it didn’t appear as though Jesus was actively healing people, and it is interesting who happens to be inside the home near Jesus when this event takes place.

Let’s continue reading and discover what happened. Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 2, and we will read it from the Contemporary English Version. Starting in verse 1, Mark tells us that:

Jesus went back to Capernaum, and a few days later people heard that he was at home. Then so many of them came to the house that there wasn’t even standing room left in front of the door.

Jesus was still teaching when four people came up, carrying a crippled man on a mat. But because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof above him and let the man down in front of everyone.

When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.”

Some of the teachers of the Law of Moses were sitting there. They started wondering, “Why would he say such a thing? He must think he is God! Only God can forgive sins.”

Right away, Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said, “Why are you thinking such things? Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and pick up his mat and go on home? 10 I will show you that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” So Jesus said to the man, 11 “Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home.”

12 The man got right up. He picked up his mat and went out while everyone watched in amazement. They praised God and said, “We have never seen anything like this!”

In this passage and event, we find something amazing. While those present watch in amazement as the crippled man gets up and walks out of the house, this detail did not stand out to me when reading this event this time. While this healing was amazing, a different detail in this passage stands out as being very significant.

Also significant in this passage is the faith and determination of this man’s friends. When the friends cannot get the man into the home using normal methods, they resort to something very abnormal, which ultimately was successful. But while this was amazing, it did not stand out to me when reading the passage this time.

In this passage, another detail I notice is that the crowd would not let the man’s friends carry him to Jesus. This is interesting, since the crowd would have probably liked to see Jesus perform a miracle, but they were too preoccupied with what Jesus was saying to realize the opportunity they were turning away. While this is also significant, this isn’t the big detail that stood out to me while reading this passage.

Instead, when reading this passage, I was amazed that those in the home next to Jesus were the religious leaders and teachers of the Law. While these religious teachers criticize Jesus claiming to have the power to forgive sins, the only reason they could have done this is if they were present, within earshot, and within conversational distance from Jesus. This means that some of the first people to come see Jesus when He had returned to Capernaum were the religious leaders living in this city.

While we stereotypically think the religious leaders were opposed to Jesus from the very beginning of His ministry, I think this stereotype is not entirely true. While some of the religious leaders simply disliked Jesus for His popularity because it stole from their own popularity, I believe that early on in Jesus’ ministry, everyone from the most religious and spiritual to the least religious and spiritual person took note of Jesus. With the Holy Spirit filling Jesus’ life, which happened at Jesus’ baptism, Jesus showed God’s love in powerful, miraculous ways.

Stepping back to one of the earlier details we skipped over, while the crowd did not let the crippled man’s friends enter the home with him, this was likely a God directed obstacle because it demonstrated to everyone present that these friends had so much faith in Jesus that they would stop at nothing to get their friend to Him.

I imagine the man’s friends stayed behind to fix the hole they made, but even if they didn’t, a hole in a home is less significant in God’s eyes than a healed person giving God thanks, praise, and glory, and a hole in a home is less significant than a person being forgiven of their sins.

In this event, I am amazed at the faith of the man’s friends. However, nowhere do we see any indication of the crippled man’s faith. Instead, all we see is Jesus proclaiming that the crippled man’s sins are forgiven. While Jesus might have said this because it tied into what He was already speaking about, or because He knew that it would get the religious leaders’ attention, I wonder if Jesus actually said this to the crippled man because that is what this man needed to hear.

Nothing in this event indicates the crippled man had faith in Jesus. Instead, I wonder if the crippled man believed God’s punishment was on him and that his disability was a punishment from God because of something that he had done, because of a sin he had committed, or because of something that had happened. While being healed is nice, I wonder if the real miracle in this event was the proof that this man’s sins were forgiven, and the healing solidified this truth in this man’s mind.

In this healing, Jesus not only healed this man’s disability, He also gave peace to this man’s soul that God was not angry with him, God was not mad at him, and God was not judging him. While sometimes we have to face the consequences of our own actions and our own sins, God is not mad at us or eagerly waiting to judge and condemn us. Instead, God loves us so much that He let Jesus come and take the punishment we deserved for our sins so that we can have a restored relationship with Him!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and understand that when we come to God asking for forgiveness, God has already forgiven us. While we might have to live with the natural consequences of our actions, God isn’t interested in punishing us more than our actions require. Instead, God is more interested in saving us for eternity, and bringing us home to a recreated world without sin, pain, or death.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. Don’t take my word or any pastor, speaker, author, or podcaster’s word for what the Bible teaches. Instead, study the Bible for yourself to grow your personal relationship with God and to discover God’s truth for yourself.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or choose to ignore where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in Mark – Episode 4: When a crippled man is brought to Jesus, discover some amazing truths about this miracle that we might easily overlook or miss if we aren’t paying attention.

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Flashback Episode — The Second Miracle: John 4:46-54

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Moving forward through Jesus’ miracles, we come to another miracle, which is tagged as Jesus’ second miracle at the conclusion of it. But when we read how John introduces us to this miracle, I wonder if Jesus would rather not have done any miracles.

Let’s dive into our passage and discover some things it can teach us about faith, about Jesus, and about how Jesus went about His ministry. Our passage is found in the gospel of John, chapter 4, and we will be reading it from the New Century Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 46, John tells us that:

46 Jesus went again to visit Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. One of the king’s important officers lived in the city of Capernaum, and his son was sick. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to Jesus and begged him to come to Capernaum and heal his son, because his son was almost dead. 48 Jesus said to him, “You people must see signs and miracles before you will believe in me.”

Let’s pause reading here for a moment because what Jesus has just said is powerful for us to pay attention to. In a short, quick statement, Jesus calls out everyone present, which would include the disciples, this officer making the request, and everyone around on the idea that miracles make one worthy of faith and belief. The idea then is implied that if a greater miracle worker came around, we should switch our allegiance over to the new miracle worker.

When saying it like this, the idea sounds crazy, but it isn’t a stretch to imagine people thinking this way. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn of people living today who believe that they should follow someone working miracles.

However, also tucked within Jesus’ challenge is something we could call a cry to not base our faith on signs or miracles. I imagine the way Jesus said these words was challenging and confrontational with emotion, possibly a hint of sadness, in His words.

While John tells us that Jesus replied to the king’s officer with this statement, Jesus starts His response by saying “You people…” which implies that Jesus was speaking to a larger group of people or segment of the population.

Jesus replied by saying, “You people must see signs and miracles before you will believe in me,” and let’s pick back up in verse 49 to learn what happened next:

49 The officer said, “Sir, come before my child dies.”

50 Jesus answered, “Go. Your son will live.”

The man believed what Jesus told him and went home. 51 On the way the man’s servants came and met him and told him, “Your son is alive.”

52 The man asked, “What time did my son begin to get well?”

They answered, “Yesterday at one o’clock the fever left him.”

53 The father knew that one o’clock was the exact time that Jesus had said, “Your son will live.” So the man and all the people who lived in his house believed in Jesus.

54 That was the second miracle Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.

In this passage, and specifically in how this passage ends, we discover something amazing. John tells us in verse 54 that this miracle “was the second miracle Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee”.

The implication is that Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine. In the timeline of the gospels, this event likely happened right before Jesus is run out of the Nazareth synagogue that we began this year by looking at.

When we frame this miracle with the detail that the only miraculous thing Jesus had done up to this point was turning water into wine, this officer’s belief is amazing. John described the miracle turning water into wine as something that the servants and early disciples knew, but it wasn’t something that was known beyond those two groups – that is, unless word spread because people had been talking about it.

However, while turning water into wine is amazing in itself, healing someone of a deathly illness is something much greater. A cleaver magician might be able to replicate the first miracle, but this second miracle would require divine intervention, because Jesus didn’t come to heal the man’s son personally, and he didn’t give any medical advice for how to turn the son’s condition around.

By asking Someone who had only turned water into wine up to this point for a miracle, this official is displaying an incredible amount of faith when there hasn’t been a track record for this type of miracle yet. Later on, Jesus will be known for healing people, but at this point, He was only the carpenter’s Son who could turn water into wine.

The official had faith in Jesus’ ability to perform a miraculous healing, and even though Jesus challenges the whole group, and possibly the entire generation of people, on the idea that they must see miracles before they will believe, the simple act of this official coming to ask Jesus for help is a powerful demonstration of faith. This official models faith like we should have faith. The official took Jesus at His word and returned home to find His request answered.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always intentionally seek God first and place your hope, faith, trust, and belief in Him. We should be willing to ask God for help even if we don’t have any evidence of God helping in the specific way we are asking. This official only knew Jesus could help with drinks that had run out, but that was enough to ask Jesus to do the impossible. While we know Jesus is able to do the impossible, we shouldn’t discount our own requests thinking He is either above them or unwilling to help. God wants to help us in our own situation, and it is up to us to simply ask.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow your personal relationship with Jesus. A pastor, author, speaker, or even a blogger or podcaster can give you things to think about, but always take what you learn and match it up with what you read and discover in the Bible. God is not going to randomly choose to contradict His Word, and because of this, we can use the Bible as a guide for our spiritual lives today.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or deviate away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of Miracles – Episode 4: Moving further in the gospel of John, we come to the miracle where Jesus heals an official’s son. Discover something we can learn from this event about how we should have faith in Jesus, and something we should not depend on when believing in Him.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.

Quiet Time with God: Mark 1:29-39

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Continuing our journey through Mark’s gospel, as soon as Jesus left the synagogue where He cast out the demon, Mark describes how Jesus then heads home with of some of His disciples, and how Jesus again has the opportunity to help someone when arriving at this disciple’s home.

Let’s jump into the passage and discover what happened. Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 1, and we will read from the New International Version. Starting in verse 29, Mark tells us that:

29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

Let’s pause briefly here in our passage, because Simon’s mother-in-law’s response is one of the best responses we could have when Jesus comes into our life. When Jesus touches Simon’s mother-in-law, the fever leaves her and the first thing she does is serve Jesus. When Jesus touches our lives with some healing or some blessing, the best response we can have is serving Jesus. Like Simon’s mother-in-law, serving Jesus is the best way we can say thank you to Jesus.

However, it is also worth noting that Jesus did not heal Simon’s mother-in-law so that she would serve. In that home, there would already have been people capable of serving. Instead, Jesus helps because He can and because there is a need, and not because He wants people to serve Him. God wants to help us because that is who God is, not because God wants more servants. If God wanted servants, He could have created millions and billions of perfect servant robots who would have no freedom of choice. God gifted His creation with the gift of choice because love requires the freedom of choice for it to mean anything.

I believe Jesus also healed Simon’s mother-in-law to relieve a little piece of stress in that home. The Sabbath was given for rest, and when someone is sick, those around them helping them are not experiencing rest, and in the case of the person who is sick, while they are resting, the rest they are experiencing isn’t the same quality of rest as they would have if they were well. Jesus likely healed Simon’s mother-in-law to help everyone present enjoy that Sabbath afternoon more and to give glory to God for what He had blessed them with.

However, Mark then jumps to that evening. Continuing in verse 32, Mark tells us:

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

Pausing reading again, it appears as though Jesus is so busy helping people that He doesn’t get any chance to rest. However, while this was the case during some parts of His ministry, I believe Mark simply wants us to know Jesus’ actions and not Jesus’ rest.

Jesus didn’t spend hours healing one person, and helping Peter’s mother-in-law up out of bed wouldn’t have taken long. The time Jesus spent for each healing was likely measured in seconds rather than even minutes. After healing Peter’s mother-in-law, Jesus would have been able to spend a whole afternoon resting and simply being with the first disciples and Simon and Andrew’s family.

Also, in this second section of our passage, Jesus silences the demons, not letting them speak, likely because of what we shared in our last episode. In our last episode, we concluded that it is not wise to listen to Satan, demons, or even temptation. While Satan is capable of telling the truth, there is always a deceitful motive behind it and a majority of truth with a little lie is like a cup of water with a drop of poison. It is much wiser to reject everything Satan says and take our cue from the Bible, rather than focusing on trying to sift truth out of error.

It’s also possible Satan would try to derail Jesus’ plan using the popular belief at the time that God’s Messiah would be a military leader and that He would need followers rallied around Him to overthrow the Romans. The more people hearing validation that Jesus was the Messiah could cause an uprising that would attract the Roman army and Jesus would be killed outside of God’s plan.

However, what comes next in the passage is powerful, because Mark gives us a clue into the habits of Jesus. While it would be very easy to skip over this to get to more exciting miracles and teaching, let’s instead focus the rest of our time together on this last portion of our passage. Picking back up in verse 35, Mark tells us that:

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

In this passage, we discover that early in the morning, before the sun had risen, Jesus woke up, and went out to a place by Himself to pray and spend time with God. While we have other places in the gospels that describe Jesus spending extended periods of time praying, I don’t believe this early morning prayer time was limited to this single event.

Instead, this event might get recognition because it was the first time Jesus did this while the disciples were with Him, and it was a time where these guys who had agreed to follow Jesus had lost Jesus. It is probable in my mind that after this point, Jesus’ habit of waking up early to pray wasn’t a surprise to the disciples, and perhaps even some of the disciples formed this habit as their time with Jesus lengthened.

I also wonder if Jesus snuck out of town early that morning because of what He tells the disciples in response to what the disciples tell Him. While the disciples tell Jesus that everyone in the town is looking for Him, Jesus emphasizes the need to go to other towns and villages and do the same thing.

In a subtle way, Jesus emphasizes in this event how He had come not just for one town or one small group of people, but to help many more people. Jesus likely wanted to also emphasize that God was willing to travel to where those who needed help were. While many people traveled to where Jesus was, Jesus also traveled to where people needed help. Jesus crossed the universe to come to earth and to redeem humanity, and He was willing to travel to where people needed help. Jesus came for more people than one town, one gender, or one race. Jesus came to help and bless humanity because God loves the human race!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life, and use Jesus’ example in this passage as a guide. While we might not have people flocking to our door and demanding our time to cast demons out of their lives or to heal them in miraculous ways, we can model our lives after Jesus by getting up early in the morning, going to a place where we can be alone, and spending time with God. Jesus modeled this for us and this is a foundational habit for a strong spiritual life with God.

Also, while growing and strengthening this habit, intentionally pray and study the Bible for yourself while you are alone with God. When reading the Bible in prayer while you are with God, He will send you His Spirit to teach you what He wants you to learn and know. While many Bibles have articles or snippets of text written by other authors within them, focus your time on God in the chapters and verses that make up the Bible. While Bibles with snippets are helpful, if you focus only on the snippets and extras, you can only grow as far as the author of that snippet has grown while God might want to teach you more. Focusing on the Bible opens the door for God to teach you about Himself and about what He wants you to discover in the pages of His Word.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or be distracted away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in Mark – Episode 3: While Jesus had every opportunity to let busyness crowd out important things in His life, Jesus was intentional about an action that we would be wise to replicate in our own lives. Discover what this habit was and another piece of Jesus’ mission in this podcast episode.

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Flashback Episode — The Wedding Miracle: John 2:1-12

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In our last episode, we started talking about Jesus’ famous first-miracle at the wedding of Cana. However, our last episode focused on the faith of those present before and after the miracle, and not on the miracle itself. For this episode, we’ll look again at this miracle, but focus in on another huge idea we can learn from it.

Let’s read the whole passage surrounding this miracle then dive into what we can discover from it. Our passage is found in John’s gospel, chapter 2, and we will read it from the New American Standard Bible translation. Starting in verse 1, John tells us that:

1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” 6 Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. 9 When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days.

While the faith of Mary and the disciples is very present in this passage, there was faith present among the servants too. I probably should have pulled this detail out last week when putting that episode together.

However, what really stands out to me is that the bridegroom receives credit for something he had no direct part in. It’s a little humoring that we don’t have any response from the bridegroom himself, and it’s possible the bridegroom was speechless not having known exactly what happened. John points out that only the servants, and the early disciples, knew where the wine came from, and that it was merely water minutes before.

But what really stands out in my mind when reading this is the statement the headwaiter tells the bridegroom. In verse 10, the headwaiter tells the bridegroom, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.

This statement is as profound in the headwaiter’s eyes as it is symbolic in our own. Too many people alive today think that what we see in this life is all there is to see. Culture pressures people to live by the philosophy “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die”—which is ultimately a recipe for living hopeless lives. The implication is that we have the good in life first, but then it just goes downhill from here. The implication is also that there is nothing to look forward to after death. The implication in the headwaiter’s statement is that after those present eat and drink freely, then those involved don’t realize that the quality of their drink is poorer than before, and in a symbolic sense, their lives begin to slide downhill as well.

But the symbolic counter-cultural message here is that Jesus flips this idea upside down. When Jesus is involved, what we thought was good wine served first is really poorer quality because what comes next is infinitely better. While those living without Jesus live hopeless lives believing that times are good then worse, when we live with Jesus, we can face the good and bad times in this life knowing that the best is still to come.

However, this isn’t the only amazing thing that stands out in my mind with this miracle and what it foreshadows.

When discovering that this miracle was Jesus’ first miracle, we see that it was at a wedding, and Jesus is responsible for resupplying the wine. Once you see this parallel, it is hard to unsee it, because during the last supper, Jesus parallels the wine with His blood which is poured out for the forgiveness of sins, and Jesus promises to wait to drink it until the great wedding feast when the church comes as a bride to meet Jesus, her groom.

At the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and the very first miracle designed to prompt people to pay attention, Jesus is at a wedding feast, and in my mind’s eye, the first thing the church will do when we have been joined with Jesus Christ is have a great wedding feast celebrating Jesus’ sacrifice and His victory for all of us!

Both the truth we see in the headwaiter’s statement and the truth we see foreshadowed in Jesus’ presence at a wedding point us to look forward to what God is preparing for us. While this life has its ups and downs, and its positives and negatives, when we live with God, we have hope. We look forward to the wedding feast, and we look forward to our future, eternal life with God forever!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always intentionally seek God first and remember that with whatever we face in this life, our future with Jesus will be better than our life in our current sin-filled world.

Also, be sure to intentionally pray and study the Bible for yourself and grow personally closer to Jesus each and every day. Don’t assume or take for granted what the Bible teaches. Choose to study God’s truth out for yourself to discover what He wants you to learn from His Story and His plan of redemption.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of Miracles – Episode 3: When Jesus turns water into wine as His first miracle, discover how this event foreshadows what we can look forward to when this life is over.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.