Power to Restrain Demons & People, Luke 4:40-41 & John 10:39

Jesus healed many people of all kinds of illnesses. As explained in the Gospel of Luke: “At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah” (Luke 4:40-41). Jesus also would not allow his enemies to capture him before the perfect timing of his sacrifice. Both acts of restraint are miraculous. Why?

This type of miracle in two scenarios, enacted towards demons and people have a common goal; Which is the evil intent or purpose of undermining Christ’s mission. If Jesus permitted demons to keep on testifying, it would easily prompt people to think of the Messiah only as a miracle worker and not as the Servant of God coming to redeem sinners from eternal death and hell. The same can be said for his physical enemies trying to arrest him and/or kill him before the perfect timing of Our Father in Jesus. The Pharisees’s evil intent to thwart God’s perfect plan, would allow people to accept Jesus as just another martyr and not the King of kings orchestrating the redemption of humanity in his self-sacrifice by crucifixion on his own terms. In both scenarios, the sovereignty of God in Jesus is being attacked, and Jesus won’t let it continue, MIRACULOUSLY. See Luke 4:28-30 & John 10:39. The best examples of this miraculous power is his open rebuke of the Priests in the Temple courtyards, while everyone knew posted & armed guards were available! John 2:13-25 & Matthew 21:12-13 & 23-27.

This type of miracle was even enforced by the apostle Paul towards the servant girl possessed by Satan in Acts 16:16-18. After Paul performed such miraculous power, he would be tested before courts and given the opportunity to attribute this power to Christ as Sovereign! Today, when we are given any evidence of God’s power over sinful situations, it is the sovereignty of Christ that we should proclaim openly! We should remember to proclaim His rule with compassion, as in most examples of his miraculous restraint, he would heal the sick & oppressed at the same time. Speak the truth in love, Ephesians 4:15.

Even when Jesus was giving himself over to his enemies he restrained them from killing him while being beaten repeatedly and while being scourged. Many people die while being persecuted in those ways. Was it the miraculous power of restraint on his enemies by Jesus that allowed such prolonged suffering until he died at the right time on a cross? What do you believe is the purpose of such slow torment? To prove his love for us all, even the worst of us who were in open rebellion.

Advertisements

Long-distance Healing, John 4:46-54

Jesus had completed a full circle in his travels (walking), and being back in Cana where he had turned water into wine (the first sign), he met a court official who had a direct link to royalty. This nobleman was so anxious about his son that he traveled from Capernaum to Cana, being away, he could’ve missed this son’s death, because there are at least 24 miles between both towns. This was a huge act of faith on the part of the father of noble-birth, he is truly walking by faith in Jesus as he makes the journey. Walking by faith is prescribed in at least 7 New Testament verses (2nd Cor. 12:18, Acts 9:31, 1st Jon 2:6, 2nd Jon 1:4, Gal. 5:16 & 26.. Paul mandates Christians should walk by faith in Christ in 2nd Corinthians 5:7. Jesus recognizes his faith and heals his son from over 24 miles away!

How did Jesus know who the boy was?

How did Jesus know where the boy was?

When did Jesus know the boy needed help?

Even after the father’s journey, Jesus still inquires into the authenticity of the father’s faith, “except you see signs…, you will not believe”, the father then replies, “come or he dies”. For some reason the father’s faith in Jesus is unwavering, and he holds Jesus in a unique position of power. Do we?

When Jesus said to a grief-stricken Martha that he was “The Resurrection & The Life”, Jon 11:25-27, could you reply? “Yes Lord, I believe…”. There are three other titles Jesus accepts which relates to his power over death. The Way, The Truth & The Life, and the Author of Life, John 14:6 & Acts 3:15.
The father’s journey back home was in faith, and his official entourage would be easily spotted by the messengers meeting him on the road between Cana & Capernaum. Most English versions of the Bible record the verification in their conversation about the timing of the miracle as the “seventh hour”, which in our verbiage would be close to 1pm. So we know the household was awake when the boy’s fever left him and it was not an overnight occurrence, everyone there would have recognized the moment he began feeling better. This miracle was the “second sign” 4:54, and it was different from the first sign, in that it was directed towards the Nobleman and his household in Capernaum. The first sign was directed towards his disciples. Now, he is sending a message of God’s powerful love to new believers outside his group of disciples. They’re faith is entirely dependent on the word of the father, his explanation of when and who pronounced the healing is what engenders faith in Jesus for this household in Capernaum, 24 miles away from Jesus in Cana. When the church prayed for Peter in prison, we are not told how far apart they were between the prison and the house, but it was quite a distance away when Peter got to share his explanation of what God did (Acts 12:1-17). Do you believe God can answer prayers powerfully over great distances and leave you totally unaware of the answer’s timing?

Healing The Possessed, Mark 1:21-28

Mark records this as a first miracle, but he doesn’t specifically say it was the first. The same emphasis Luke put on the ministry of Jesus in Acts 10:38, “healing all who were oppressed by the devil”. Note, we don’t have any statements about Jesus healing “ALL” that were lepers, or blind. But Jesus was truly interested in putting a priority on defeating the Devil in people’s lives. Early in His ministry, as Jesus was in a synagogue at Capernaum, a man possessed by a demon was present and began shouting “Why are You bothering us, Jesus of Nazareth – have You come to destroy us demons? I know who You are – the Holy One of God!” Jesus commanded the demon to say no more and to come out of the man. The evil spirit screamed and convulsed the man violently and left him. The news of this miracle spread quickly through the entire area of Galilee. A priority of Jesus was to protect God’s children, and instigating an offensive move against evil in the presence of His children at a Synagogue would show his love. Jesus was already working like the good chief Shepherd that he really is, even long before he proved himself to be the Lamb of God. The forces of evil knew the real identity of Jesus from Nazareth. Calling him “from Nazareth” would be an attempt to deface his real character in front of everyone at the Synagogue, but it was a desperate cheap shot, because the demon was forced to obey the rule of Jesus as God with us. We should be prepared to pray for people under attack and caught in sin, asking God to oust demonic forces away from them, Ephesians 6:10-18. Demons do exist, that is certain. The fact that demons knew the identity of Jesus is perhaps the biggest advantage evil spirits have over worldly people. Because if people don’t know who the real enemy is, then we are not going to see our need to be on the right side. Regardless of what you believe about demon possession, it is important to know who Jesus is. The miraculous power Jesus showed over demons is to build us up in our faith of who He is. These titles are directly related to being opposed to the prince of darkness.

The Light of the world, John 8:12. 

The Holy One, John 6:69 & 17:11, Acts 3:14.

The I AM, John 8:58. 

The Lord, Matthew 17:4.

The Way, The Truth & The Life, John 14:6 & Acts 3:15.The type of sin mentioned by Paul as being in the church, not known amongst pagans, was fornication between a son and his step-mother, 1st Corinthians 5:1. Sometimes we might see the most disgusting sins in the church, but notice it was not demon possession, back then or today! No where in the New Testament is demon possession mentioned in the church, because the power and presence of the Spirit would NOT ALLOW demon possession of Christians. He may allow us to wander into sins which are disgusting, but has not and will not allow demons to take us over, if we stay faithful, we always have the power of the resurrection and the power of free will in Christ, Revelation 22:11

An Intro: Turning Water into Wine, Jn. 2:1-11

The Bible talks about miracles in a very specific way.  A miracle in the Bible is limited to only being action from God which surpasses the natural laws of creation, He originally placed in our world. God doesn’t call human procreation a miracle because God knows childbirth takes place within his natural laws of biology enacted since creation. However, the mystery of cell division and DNA is still partially mysterious and the wonder of it all, still leaves us referring to it as a type of miracle, but from God’s view it is not. Today in our society, we use the word miracle in a different way, such as, God working through prayer, sometimes providing strength to heal and extend physical life beyond our expectations, sometimes providing strength to grow in wisdom, faith and obedience beyond human expectations. Acts 12:5,13-16. Our usage of the word ‘miracle’ reflecting God’s activity in our lives, as being something He helped us do, that we could not do by our self, is truly stretching the Biblical definition of a miracle.  However, when we talk of God’s activity and strength, we need to let people know that God provided it. He is to be thanked and given the credit or glory for the activity or strength, see Eph. 3:14-20. Giving God the glory for any good blessing in our life is very important, however, we can do that without using the word “miracle”, perhaps better words are “grace, mercy, blessing, providence and gift” from God. Technically the first miracle of Jesus was not turning the water into wine, it was actually the miraculous perception of Jesus towards Nathaniel in John 1, understanding the character and identity of Nathaniel before even meeting him. The first “Sign” Christ performed was done almost in silence, John says “Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim” v7. In the next verse, it’s wine! The mere will of Christ in his command to “FILL”, together with the servants cooperation of “filled”, was all that was needed in order for God to turn the water into wine. Lesson one from the number one sign? God can actually do amazing things in our life, if we live in obedience to what he tells us to do. Not only was it wine, but it was good wine, as in better tasting than the wine at the beginning of the wedding, it is not a reference to higher alcohol content, but rather a reference to the higher power content of his love, which is better than wine, (SoS. 1:2).  He can turn (our love) water into wine (His Love) and within the context of a wedding, that would make clear to his disciples that human love is like water being turned into wine, in comparison to God’s love. That is what he does when we become a Christian, because he begins to pour his love into our hearts, Romans 5:5. The purpose of the miracle was to show his glory, v11, and obviously to save the wedded couple from embarrassment, which was directly connected to Mary’s real desire to solve this problem, v3-5. Another interesting note in this miracle is that it caused his disciples to believe in him, (perhaps as God’s Son or the King of Israel, see Jn. 1:49) but he was not publicly known for performing the miracle, because the ruler of the feast, spoke to the groom as if he had the best wine arranged to serve towards the latter part of the feast. This detail in the story must lead us to conclude that Jesus took the concerns of his mother and the bridal couple seriously, and so we should too. Would we go out of our way to save people the embarrassment of public indignity and save them in a humble way? If we do, it can cause us to help people to ask God for faith, because this was the effect it had on the disciples. It is God who gives us faith, and it is Christ that we should be asking to help our faith grow, v11, Mark 9:24 & Romans 12:3. The abundance of wine was superfluous to the guest’s needs, but six of these waterpots would have held (to the brim) at least 120 gallons! God’s love is always far & above all we need in order to help people grow in their faith. There is no end, nor limit to God’s love, Jeremiah 31:3. What a spectacular way to start the “signs” within the miracles of Jesus in his new ministry. God’s love is very much needed especially within Christian marriages, and it is a lack of faith & His love that causes such a high rate of divorce today.

Questions Answered

Contrasts in God’s Character, How can we help people understand that the God of the Old Testament is the same God in the Christ of the New Testament?

The same God who banished Adam & Eve from the garden and cursed Cain, Gen 4:11, is still the essence of love itself. The Old Testament records many instances when the God of Abraham sent countless of his children to their deaths in their rebellion, facing His wrath. But the prophet Micah proclaims “There is no other God like you! You forgive sin and pardon the rebellion of those who remain among your people. You do not remain angry forever, but delight in showing loyal love” Mic. 7:18. In order to help people understand that God in Jesus Christ is the same God as the God of Israel, is to clarify how Christ promised His wrathful judgment to come. The wrath of God in Old Testament times was temporary, but now we have been warned by Christ, that God’s wrath will become permanent! It is simply our responsibility to accept that God is God and his timing is not ours. Jesus said, “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish”, Luke 13:3-5

Discerning Between Spirit & Soul. Why does the Bible describe our humanity as being three-fold?

There are so many synonyms in the english language for the complexity of human behavior and our sentient being, that we are often confused about how to use all the different words. Hebrews 4:12 proclaims that there is a difference between the human soul and the human spirit and that the word of God discerns between the two parts of our humanity, which is tri-fold according to Paul in 1st Thessalonians 5:23. Both words “soul” which is PSUCHE (Mt. 12:18) in Greek, and “spirit” (Mt. 3:11) which is PNEUMA in Greek, are used interchangeably to refer to God and humanity. However in reference to humanity, soul usually refers to our life-force and mindset. Spirit usually refers to our motive & emotions.  One peculiar and unique trait of the New Testament Greek language is that only once is the word “PHANTASMA” used, and it is referring to what our imagination thinks is a visible ghost. Whereas, spirits and souls are never referred to as visible, regardless of their being evil or good.

Why do we struggle with forgiving ourselves when God forgives us?

Both factors of time and guilt, have a big role to play in being able to feel like we are forgiven when God’s word declares that God forgives us. This may be why the apostle Peter declared “times of refreshing will come”, Acts 3:19. Note the future tense plural word “times”. Perhaps one way of us understanding our own forgiveness is to have a keen sense of the difference in deliberate sin, and unintentional sin. “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries”. Hebrews 10:26-27. It is healthy to remember that “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life–to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. 1st John 5:16-17

GROWING? (2nd Peter 3:17-18)

What is the Grace of Christ? Let’s begin by looking at both John 1:14. The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to stay strong in grace, 2nd Timothy 2:1. When Christians during the first century spoke of “seeing” the grace of God, they saw people becoming Christians, Acts 11:21-23. Can you think of anything more gracious in the world, than Christ making a new creation from an old sinner? Therefore in order to grow in the grace of Christ, must have something to do with helping people become a Christian. Correct? We know for certain that grace comes in various forms according to 1st Peter 4:10, so how many ways can we think of, which people help the Lord create new creations? Most people in our fellowship call this “evangelism”, yet the word “evangelism” isn’t in any version of the Bible. Maybe a better phrase is “the work of the Lord”? See 1st Corinthians 16:10.

What is the Knowledge of Christ? Let’s begin by looking at 1st Corinthians 2:16. When we speak the truth in love, we are promised that growth will be experienced, Ephesians 4:15. When we read or speak the gospel of Christ, is love truly the motivation for reading or speaking? To grow in the knowledge of Christ must mean we are growing in whatever Christ shares about His/Our Father, since Christ was always doing the Father’s will. Please take John 17:3 very seriously as we ask in prayer for our faith in God to become knowledge in experience of his will. His life can become our experience and his life is what Christ shares with us from the Father. Christ’s knowledge helps us experience an abundant life, here and now and forever, John 10:10.

Both the grace and knowledge of Christ contains the message of righteousness. Righteousness itself is a virtue which Christ’s Spirit helps us grow, Hebrews 5:13 & 12:11 and Ephesians 5:19. God’s righteousness is a gift which no one can merit to receive, nor can anyone be smart enough to know His righteousness without having God as our teacher in what is truly right. There is a way that seems right to a person, but at the end of that way is death. (Proverbs 16:25) Being right as God in Christ defines right, leads to life, because Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, John 14:6.  Are we growing in the grace & knowledge of Christ to reflect his enlightening righteousness in this dark world?

BEYOND ELEMENTARY INSTRUCTIONS, Hebrews 6:1

Whatever subject matter is elementary or basic for one person, might be incredibly advanced for the next person. First century Christians with a background in Judaism, would be very well versed in the following topics from Heb. 6:1-2.

  1. Repentance from Dead Works.  2. Faith in God. 3. Baptisms,  4.Laying on of Hands. 5. The Resurrection,  6. Eternal Judgment.

But 21st century Christians, with a background in the restoration movement would certainly have a different list of topics which are probably elementary to most of us. In reality, it is very likely that there are a number of different faith-based backgrounds in any one single congregation of 21st century Christians. This situation would demand we consider the purpose of God’s letter to the Hebrews to tell us why any Christian would need to go beyond elementary instructions. There are three phrases which point us to the purpose of maturity.

  1. The Message of Righteousness, Heb. 5:13.
  2. Better Things Relating to Salvation, Heb. 6:9.
  3. Eagerness for the Fulfillment of your Hope, Heb. 6:11 
  4. Emulating Persevering Saints to Inherit the Promises, Heb. 6:12.

Firstly, start by writing down some Bible topics which you feel like you are more than familiar with. What are they? If you are not sure about being familiar with any topics in the Bible, can you list subjects that you are troubled or confused about?

As a first principle, we can not ignore Paul’s passage about the gospel being a priority in 1st Corinthians 15:3-5. Do we look at the death, burial & resurrection of Christ as the gospel, and everything else as doctrine? Or, do we consider that there is a significant difference between certain letters and the four gospels? What is your understanding of the authoritative inspiration of the Scriptures? Remember the context of 2nd Timothy 3:16, to gain wisdom for salvation through your faith, grow in His grace & knowledge.