Zacchaeus: An Encounter With Salvation

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The physician Luke is the only gospel writer to include the account of Zacchaeus, the short tax collector from Jericho who climbed a sycamore tree in order to get a view of Jesus.

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received Him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
(Luke 19:1-10)

Ironically, the name Zacchaeus comes from the Hebrew root word meaning ‘pure’ or ‘righteous’, but as a chief tax collector, this man would’ve been seen as anything but pure or righteous. Tax collectors, also known as ‘publicans’, were independent contractors commissioned by the Roman government in order to collect the various taxes, which included: income, land, property, commerce, etc. Rome would auction up these tax franchises, which would then be bought by a wealthy native of the province. Anything the purchaser might have collected above the cost of the franchise would be kept as personal profit. As you can imagine, this was a system ripe for injustice and corruption.

The collection agent would line their own pockets by charging an additional percentage on top of the taxes already owed. In the cases with merchants for example, the tax collector would arbitrarily assess the value of the goods being sold, and then charge an inflated payment for that amount. They were also known for accepting bribes and hush money from the wealthy upper class, who would typically be expected to pay more in taxes. So, in order to make up the difference for these underhanded tax breaks, the collector would then charge the common people even more. There was no recourse or method of appeal since these individuals were authorized by the Roman government. Basically, it was legalized extortion.

Not hard to imagine then, why these tax collectors were often socially despised and rejected by their fellow countrymen. They were seen as being in collusion with Rome, and therefore were viewed as traitors to their nation. An ever-present reminder of the foreign oppression.
Because of their close working association with Gentiles, tax collectors were thought of as ‘unclean,’ and were regarded along with the lowest class of sinners. They were excommunicated from all Jewish synagogues, and were not even permitted to testify in a Jewish legal court, since they were well known for being liars and cheats.

Earlier in chapter 3, Luke records that even tax collectors were among those coming out to John in the wilderness in order to be baptized.

Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he answered them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to.” (Luke 3:12-13)

When they ask John, “What shall we do?” He instructs them to no longer collect more than what is due.

In verse 2, we’re told that Zacchaeus was a ‘chief tax collector.’ So he was the head contractor of this franchise, the top of the tax pyramid, and therefore he would’ve had other collection agents working under him. It wouldn’t be surprising if he were receiving an additional percentage from each of their commissions as well.  We’re also told from the text that he was rich.
The city of Jericho was considered as the tax capitol for Palestine. Located in the Jordan valley about 17 miles east from Jerusalem, it was a wealthy center of commerce and travel. Just as we see Jesus and His disciples passing through here, thousands of other travelers would’ve passed through this area, making their way to Jerusalem for the Passover feast.
Jericho, which literally means “fragrant place,” was also referred to as the ‘City of Palms’ (see Deuteronomy 34:3), being known for its many date-palm trees. A lush oasis with plenty of vegetation and therefore a high agricultural area, even to this day. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote of it as “a divine region, the fattest in Palestine.”

Interestingly, Jericho is considered to be one of the oldest continually-inhabited cities in the world, with archaeological discoveries dating back to 9,000 B.C. Located on the northern end of the Dead Sea, it is also the world’s lowest geographical city at about 780 feet below sea level. Because of its warmer climate, Herod the great actually had a winter palace built there for himself, which brought even more wealth to the area.

So Jericho was a choice location for a man of Zacchaeus’ profession, and we see that he had indeed been financially successful up to this point.

In verse 3 we read, ‘He was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, for he was small in stature.’

Why does he want to get a look at Jesus? To see who this man was?
A mild curiosity perhaps, to see this Rabbi from Galilee that everyone was talking about. Or rather, and this is the direction I lean, perhaps there was something deeper at work below the surface. An undefined drawing within him to this compelling source of goodness that was radiated from Christ. Maybe he has heard of the compassion that Jesus displayed even for men like Him. After all, He had accepted a former tax collector named Matthew to become one of His disciples.
Even if it were on some subconscious level, I believe there was this feeling of discontentedness, a knowledge that all was not right between himself and the Lord God.
Despite all of his acquired riches, there is something missing in Zacchaeus’ life.
There’s an emptiness.
It’s not uncommon to hear of testimonials from celebrities, who, despite all the wealth and the fame, still claim to have a pervasive feeling of discontentment, unhappiness, and unfulfillment.

So often we tend to fix our gaze on material possessions, not realizing that these temporal things can never truly satisfy.
Jesus Himself specifically warns against this in Luke chapter 12 verse 15:

“Take care, and be on your guard against all forms of greed, for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

It reminds me of the superficial slogan: “He who dies with the most toys wins.”
What a sad sentiment. The truth is, he who dies with the most toys still dies, and cannot take any of those so-called toys along with him. You will never see a u-haul being pulled behind a hearse.

Due to his being short in stature, and because of the large crowd of people, Zacchaeus was unable to get a visual of Jesus. So In verse 4 we’re told that he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass by that way. This type of sycamore fig actually makes for an easy tree to climb because of their shorter trunks, which are closer to the ground, and for the way their limbs branch out in a crown-like fashion.
Surely this would’ve been an amusing sight to see. Consider for a moment, this well-known rich man, a chief publican, arrayed in his fine apparel no doubt, shimmying up into the leaves and branches of this tree. While this certainly sounds like fun to us, understand that in the culture at the time, this would’ve been seen as undignified behavior for a grown man. Think about it, who climbs trees? Children. Zacchaeus was unknowingly fulfilling Jesus’ teaching about becoming childlike in Matthew chapter 18,

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to Him a child, He placed him in the midst of them and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you shall never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-4)

I like what Matthew Henry writes about this in his commentary, “Children, when they are young, do not desire authority, do not regard outward distinctions, are free from malice, are teachable and dependent upon their parents. Children for the most part, are destitute of ambition, pride, and haughtiness.”

Onlookers would’ve undoubtedly been snickering and jesting, but Zacchaeus wasn’t concerned about any humiliation this action might’ve warranted against him. All he cared about in that moment was finding a way to get a better look at Jesus.
See, we display how valuable or important a particular thing is to us by the tenacity in which we are willing to seek after it.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who love Your Salvation say continually, “The LORD be magnified!” (Psalm 40:16)

Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.
(Isaiah 55:6)

We see that this is exactly what Zacchaeus is doing here, seeking the LORD while He is near. In fact, this would be the very last time that Jesus would ever pass through this way. He is making His way into Jerusalem for what is now known as the ‘Triumphal Entry.’ Within about a week’s time, He will be scourged and crucified.

 

In verse 5, whenever Jesus had made His way over to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”

This is actually quite humorous to consider. Here is short little Zacchaeus perched up in this tree, and for all he’s thinking, is that now he has achieved a way to at least catch a glimpse of Jesus as He and the crowd make their way past. The last thing that was on his mind is that Jesus would somehow turn His attention towards him. He wanted to see Jesus, not to be seen by Him. Imagine though, instead of this large procession simply passing on by, they all come to a halt right here beneath this tree. And there He is, there’s Jesus. And Jesus looks up and sees Zacchaeus amongst the branches, and He calls to him by name, and tells him to hurry down, because He’s coming home with him.
The searching sinner meets the seeking Savior.

This is the first and only time we read that Jesus invites Himself to someone’s home.
Another indication that this was far more than merely a superficial curiosity on the part of Zacchaeus. There was something else at work in the soil of his heart, which our Lord fosters into life by His self-invitation.

Notice too, how Jesus uses language that seems to speak of necessity. “For today I must stay at your house.” Is this an accidental encounter?
Jesus chooses to momentarily pause His steadfast path towards the cross, in order to have fellowship in this man’s home.

And how does Zacchaeus respond?
Verse 6 says, ‘So he hurried and came down and received Him joyfully.’

Although it is Christ who initiates the interaction, and extends His own invitation, Zacchaeus received Him joyfully.

This is a perfect illustration of Jesus’ words in Revelation chapter 3 verse 20,

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Jesus takes the initiative. He approaches, He stands at the door and knocks. But He in turn must be received, welcomed into the home, and into the heart.

Zacchaeus received Him joyfully, or with gladness. There is a delight in truly receiving the Lord.  You cannot twist a person’s arm to bring about a profession of faith. No one can be argued into the kingdom of heaven. But when the Holy Spirit is at work in a person’s heart, and Christ extends His salvation, that person does not come reluctantly, but joyfully.

Notice then, the reaction of the people in verse 7, ‘And when they saw it, they all grumbled, saying, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

Even more surprised than Zacchaeus, are these onlookers who question,
“How can You possibly have fellowship with this wretched sinner? This traitor?”
“Don’t You realize what kind of man this is? How he’s acquired all his wealth? What he’s done to us?”

I always appreciated the scene in the old movie Jesus of Nazareth, where Jesus is invited into Matthew the tax collector’s home. We see a similar situation in which the people are grumbling, and someone asks Him, “You would enter the house of a sinner?” And Jesus responds, “I would enter any house where I am welcomed.” He goes on to say, “For I’ve not come to call the virtuous to repentance but the sinners.”

This scenario can be found scripturally in Luke chapter 5 verses 29-32,

Then Levi hosted a great banquet for Jesus at his house. A large crowd of tax collectors was there, along with others who were eating with them. But the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled to His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:29-32)

In this same situation recorded in Matthew chapter 9 verse 13, Jesus makes reference to the book of Hosea chapter 6 verse 6 when He says,

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)

Why did the eternal Son take on fleshly humanity and dwell among us?
To seek and to save that which was lost.
Why did He offer to enter this publican’s home to be his guest, and at the sneers of the crowd, to associate Himself with the outcast?
For that very same reason.

Alexander MacLaren writes of this, “His example is our pattern. A Christian church which does not imitate its Master in its frank and continual willingness to associate itself with the degraded and the outcast has lost one of the truest signs of its being vitalized with the life of Christ.”

In verse 8, Zacchaeus stands up and says to the Lord, “Behold Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will restore it fourfold.”

In receiving Jesus with gladness, and spending just a brief amount of time within His presence, Zacchaeus felt the holy conviction of his sin and therefore naturally knew that he must repent and make full restitution to the many persons he had undoubtedly wronged.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon writes, “Jesus Christ did not teach Zacchaeus by going to his house that character was of no consequence. On the contrary, Zacchaeus perceived at once that character was of the greatest consequence.”

At first glance, it may almost appear as if he’s casting some doubt to his own cheating conduct. But this phrase in Greek, ‘If I have defrauded anyone” does not imply doubt to the fact of guilt, but is better understood as “wherever I have defrauded anyone” or “In so far as I have defrauded anyone.”

The Law required that the wrongdoer was to make full restitution for whatever was taken, plus an additional 20% of the item’s value. (See Leviticus 6:5, Numbers 5:6-7)

Zacchaeus is willing to go above and beyond that which the law required. This is a man who previously, so desired money that he was willing to cheat and lie and to take advantage of his own people, and therefore to be alienated and despised by society. He had a love of money. His sole desire was to “get rich”, to “make that hustle.” And that is exactly what he was, a hustler. A swindler.

In Matthew chapter 6 verse 24 Jesus says,

No one can serve two masters: Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
(Matthew 6:24)

What are you serving?

We see here that there is a drastic change in Zacchaeus’ priorities. A shift in his focus. Now he says to Jesus, “Lord,” that is, ‘Master’, this denotes authority, ownership. “I no longer care about the money. I’ll give half of it away to help the poor, and with the rest I’ll make four times the restitution to those I’ve swindled. It’s no longer the money that I want to serve, Lord it’s you.”

One of the chief evidences of a true conversion is a reorientation when it comes to the material world. Lost individuals live as though the material world is all there is. Their focus is set on the treasures and the indulgences of this world. While saved individuals understand of heavenly realities, and therefore set their primary focus upon the spiritual rather than the natural.

Whenever Zacchaeus stands and gives this public declaration of his repentance, he is not seeking to be justified by his works, but by his good works he will now show the sincerity of his conversion. This is not the grounds or the means by which he is saved, but this is the natural evidence of that reality, the outward expression of that salvation.

Does your life demonstrate change? Does it reflect the grace and influence Christ has upon you? Do you live as though He has saved you? Are you being conformed into His image? Or are you still that same old crook?

We know that this is indeed a genuine conversion, because in verse 9, Jesus says to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham.”

I’ve always enjoyed this play on words that the Lord uses here. His very name Jesus, or Yeshua in Hebrew, literally means ‘salvation.’ A combination of ‘Yah’ or the name of God, and ‘Yasha’ meaning ‘to save, rescue or deliver.’ This is why the angel of the Lord instructed this name to be given to Him.

“She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

So in one sense, salvation had indeed come to this home that day, the actual embodiment of salvation, the Savior Jesus Christ. And in another sense, salvation had come in that Zacchaeus had now received and entered into the source of that saving mercy and grace.

This is a beautiful revelation of the Lord Jesus. That whenever we come to Christ in salvation, He not only delivers us from the penalties of sin, but He also delivers us from its bondage, the ongoing habitual nature and power of that sin. He sets us free completely, and thereby changes our focus, our priorities, and our very nature.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Now, why does Jesus say, “because he also is a son of Abraham”?
Because although Zacchaeus was indeed a physical descendant of Abraham by birth- It was only according to the flesh, in the natural.

As the apostle Paul makes clear in Romans chapter 9 verses 7-8,

Not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants. So it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise who are
regarded as offspring. (Romans 9:7-8)

And again in Galatians chapter 3 verse 7,

Understand then, that it is those of faith who are the children of Abraham.
(Galatians 3:7)

So it is here, as Zacchaeus professes his repentance and belief on the Lord, that Jesus now says he is truly a son of Abraham according to faith.

And lastly, the beautiful closing words of Christ in verse 10, “For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Jesus says of Himself, that He came on a search and rescue mission.

This reminds me of when Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep earlier in Luke
chapter 15 verses 1-7

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He told them this parable: “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
(Luke 15:1-7)

When Jesus Marveled

Jesus and the Roman Centurion
There are many occasions recorded in the New Testament in which the followers of Jesus, His disciples, or even the Jewish religious leaders, would marvel in response to His teachings or the miracles he preformed. But did you know that there are only two instances wherein it’s written that Jesus Himself marveled?

Before we take a look at these two occurrences, let us first seek to understand the meaning of the term, ‘marvel’ –  sometimes translated as, “wondered”, “amazed”, or “astonished”.

The actual Greek word is thaumazo (thou-mad’-zo) which is a verb meaning: to marvel, to wonder at, to be astonished or surprised by.

In order to better understand the meaning of the word in context, let’s look to a few other places in Scripture where it’s used.

The first of which is found in Matthew chapter 8 verses 24-27:

     And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep. And they went and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” And He said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
(Matt 8:24-27)

So in this scenario, the disciples marvel at the supernatural authority that Jesus displays over the winds and waves. Imagine suddenly going from being in the middle of a hurricane one moment, to tranquil waters and still winds the next. Consider too, that a decent portion of these fellows had been fishermen by trade. So they certainly would’ve been familiar with boating on the sea of Galilee and the various storms that would arise from time to time. Yet this was something remarkable even to them.

The second example is found in Matthew chapter 21 verses 18-20:

      In the morning, as He was returning to the city, He became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, He went to it and found nothing on it but leaves only. And He said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree
wither at once?” (Matt 21:24-27)

Here we see another display of the power and authority of Jesus’ word over nature, which again causes the disciples to marvel.

The third and final example we will look to, is found in Matthew chapter 27 verses 11-14:

Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when He was accused by the chief priests and elders, He gave no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But He gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. (Matt 27:11-14)

In this situation, the astonishment or amazement isn’t brought on by a supernatural demonstration or a miracle being performed by Jesus, but rather, by His remaining silent. Pilate, being a Roman official, is perplexed that Jesus is not attempting to plead His own defense or to vindicate Himself against these charges being brought against Him.

To be clear, there are plenty of other times this word, thaumazo is used, I’ve just chosen these three passages for the purpose of becoming better acquainted with the word and familiar with its usage in context. Now that I think we have gained that understanding, we may move on to the first instance where Jesus marvels. Matthew chapter 8 verses 5-13:

When He entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to Him, appealing to Him,    “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.”  And He said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who followed Him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go, let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. (Matt 8:5-13)

What an incredible honor right? To have Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, marvel at your level of faith. And not only does Jesus marvel at this man’s faith, He then goes on to hold it up as an example before all His followers.
Keep in mind that this man isn’t even an Israelite, he is a Roman soldier, a Gentile. So by the cultural standards, he is an outsider. Yet here he is, displaying more faith in the Jewish Messiah, than even the Jews were.

It’s also noteworthy here, how Jesus points out that many will come from east and west to recline at table in the kingdom of heaven, while the “sons of the kingdom” will be cast out. He is foreshadowing the fact that salvation will be poured out to Gentile believers as well, something these men would not come to understand until later in the book of Acts, post-resurrection. Ironically, that first convert is also a Roman centurion by the name of Cornelius. (See Acts ch. 10)

Century meaning ‘one hundred’, a Roman centurion would’ve had authority over one hundred soldiers. It’s been said that they were the backbone of the Roman army. No doubt, these men commanded respect. And yet here is this war-hardened man, coming and making his appeal before Jesus- a traveling Rabbi, a holy man.
In doing so, he is displaying three important characteristics: compassion, humility, and faith. Compassion for his servant who is lying paralyzed at home. Especially in a culture wherein a servant or a slave was viewed as expendable, almost as a tool. If one wears out, you would just replace it. He could’ve had the attitude of Ivan Drago B5940307-2DE4-4723-AC89-0B0B3DAD89E9the Russian in Rocky IV: “If he dies, he dies.”

The second important characteristic he’s displaying is humility. Evident in his response “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.” He addresses Jesus as ‘Lord’ which, although may not have been the true understanding of how we now use the term, was still a recognition of respect and authority. Being a centurion in the Roman Military, he could’ve thought himself rather significant. But instead of coming with an heir of superiority, he comes before Jesus, appealing to Him in graciousness and humility.

And I believe this carries with it not only humility, but also a sense of consideration. As a Roman, a Gentile was an outsider, viewed as ‘unclean’. The Jewish people would’ve had as little dealings with them as possible, and it certainly would’ve been taboo to enter the home of a Gentile. Jesus however, shows no hesitation by this as he responds, “I will come and heal him.” But being aware that this act would’ve brought some measure of disdain upon Jesus in the eyes of His Jewish contemporaries, I believe the centurion is showing consideration in wanting to spare Jesus any kind of dishonor.

And lastly, the third characteristic displayed is of course faith. This faith is what causes Jesus to marvel. He praises this faith by turning to His followers and saying, “Truly I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” In doing so, Jesus is holding this man, a Gentile, up as an example of faith not only to the Jewish people, but also even to us today as we read of this account preserved in His word. Let us also recognize another sense of why this is such a commendable display of faith, and that is in the fact that this type of healing is unprecedented up until this point. At no other time previously, has Jesus healed someone from a distance like this. It’s always been in His presence. So the Centurion has no previous experience on which to base this belief, other than his faith alone in the power and authority of Jesus’ word.

Also take notice of how Jesus says “let it be done for you as you have believed”, in other words, ‘in the same manner, the same capacity in which you have believed, may it come to pass.’ We see this similar response of Christ several times throughout the gospel accounts, one of which is found in Matthew chapter 9 verses 27-30:

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. (Matt 9:27-30)

So He first asks these men IF they believe that He is able to perform this miracle of healing for them. Almost as if faith, the belief, is a prerequisite for the healing.
Another example of this type of response is found a bit earlier in Matthew chapter 9 verses 20-22:

And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (Matt 9:20-22)

So this woman had reasoned within herself that she didn’t even have to speak to Jesus, all she had to do was touch His outer cloak, the fringe of His garment, and she believed, she had the faith that she would be made well in doing so. Quite possibly there’s a level of humility shown here as well, because she’s aware that Jesus is very busy, he’s constantly traveling, he’s always surrounded by large crowds of people. He was actually on His way to heal Jairus’ daughter here in this story. So she was probably thinking, ‘I won’t interrupt Him, I won’t take up any of His time, I’ll just walk up and touch His cloak, and I’ll be healed.’ Touch and go, a run by healing so to speak.

From these examples, we can clearly see that Jesus is ready to meet the people where they are. You and I, He’s ready, He’s willing to meet us where we are. When the centurion comes appealing to Him regarding his servant, Jesus answers ‘Very well, I will come and heal him.’ He’s willing to meet him on that level. But the centurion rises, he elevates in faith, and says, ‘I being a man of authority, I recognize your authority Jesus. I know that you can just say the word and it will be done, you don’t even need to be present.’ And how does Jesus respond? He marvels, and then He answers, ‘May it be done to you as you have believed.’

I’ve always imagined this, “according to your faith”, almost as a credit system. The Father certainly has enough means in the account. There will never be an error message returned saying, “we’re sorry you’ve charged too much faith to this account” No, God has more than enough ability, there’s an unlimited power in the account, but it’s how much faith are you willing to express? How much do you believe? How much do you trust in Him? He certainly has the means and the ability to meet it. And of course I don’t mean for selfish desires. I’m saying faith demonstrated according to His will, according to His purpose. So make no mistake, that although I’m using language of a ‘credit system’ and an ‘account balance’ this does not mean that I’m speaking in terms of monetary wealth or finances. I’m not proposing a prosperity gospel here. This is merely a picture, an analogy that has always helped me to understand, and as C.S. Lewis would say,  ‘This is only a picture, not the thing itself, and if it doesn’t help you then feel free to throw it out.’

Another point I’d like to highlight before moving on, is that Jesus has healed this servant based soley upon the faith of the centurion soldier, not based upon any faith set forth by the servant. The servant is lying paralyzed at home, he’s helpless. Now maybe he is aware that the centurion has come to Jesus appealing on his behalf, and perhaps he is hopeful, but it’s the centurion who has sought out Jesus, it is he who has expressed faith. This is an excellent example of intercession. We use the term ‘intercessory prayer’, which is going to God appealing to Him on behalf of someone else. So may we too remember to be thankful for those loved ones in our lives who are faithful and appeal to God, making intercession to the Lord on our behalf, even in those times that we may not be aware of.

Now before moving on, there is one more point here, that for the sake of clarity and exposition, I do feel the need to take the time to address, and that is the idea that some have argued that this relationship between the Roman centurion and his young male servant is homosexual in nature. This is not a widely held view, certainly one that I was not previously aware of until further researching this topic. And I debated with even including this portion of information within this study.  Aside from prayer, what was a convincing factor that lead me to include it, was that if I were to play devil’s advocate, in other words, if I were to be a proponent of this homosexuality theory, I could give you one half of the argument, my position, and it’s very convincing. Without the other half, without the full picture, you would be persuaded. As it’s stated in the book of Proverbs:

The first to state his case seems right, until another comes and cross-examines him. (Proverbs 18:17)

And I believe the Lord’s response to my prayer of hesitation was, in essence, ‘Well what would you have done for you?’ As I mentioned before, I was not previously aware of this viewpoint, so if someone were to have hit me with it, well then I would’ve been uninformed and unprepared. So again, for the sake of clarity and exposition, and for the equipment of truth, I have indeed chosen to include it.

So in the argument, it would be brought to attention that the word translated as ‘servant’ usually is the Greek word doulos, that is the more common term used for servant. However, with this particular servant , on several instances it’s translated using the Greek word pais. This meaning refers to a young child servant. It’s mostly used in reference to a boy, but there is a situation in Luke chapter 8 verses 49-54  where it’s used to refer to a girl child. This is where Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead. It appears twice, once in verse 51, and again in verse 54, it’s rendered as ‘child’, speaking of the little girl.

In this same account of the Roman centurion recorded in Luke, it’s always translated as doulos except once, and that is when being used by the centurion himself.

 “But say the word, and let my servant(pais) be healed.” (Luke 7:7)

This is where it would be argued that the use of this term, points to a sexual nature. However, this same word is translated in Matthew chapter 12 verse 18 in a prophecy from Isaiah being quoted about Jesus:

“Behold, My servant(pais) whom I have chosen, My beloved with whom My soul is well pleased. I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.”
(Matt 12:18)

In Luke chapter 2 verse 43, it’s used about Jesus as a boy. This is where Joseph and Mary and Jesus, when He’s 12 years old, they travel to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.

And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy(pais) Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, though His parents were not aware of it (Luke 2:43)

It’s used again in Matthew chapter 17 verse 18 where the father brings his demon-possessed son to the disciples, but they are unable to drive it out, so he then appeals to Jesus:

And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy(pais) was healed instantly. (Matt 17:18)

This child, was the man’s son. In verse 15 he clearly states, “my son”.

We have a clear example of both words being used in John chapter 4 verses 49-51:

The official said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go, your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants(doulos) met him and told him that his son(pais) was recovering. (John 4:49-51)

There are four more times where the word is used in the book of Acts, again referring to Jesus Himself.

The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant(pais) Jesus (Acts 3:13)

God, having raised up His servant(pais), sent Him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” (Acts 3:26)

were gathered together against Your holy servant(pais) Jesus, whom You anointed
(Acts 4:27)

while You stretch out Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of Your holy servant(pais) Jesus.” (Acts 4:30)

So this Greek word pais is translated a total of 24 times throughout the New Testament, and never, not once, is it used to hint or allude to a sexual relationship. As we’ve seen, oftentimes it’s used for the relationship between God the Father and His beloved servant Jesus, speaking of a Father/Son type bond.

Now there is one other distinction that will be pointed to, as a ‘one-two punch’, the second half to this same argument. That is found in Luke chapter 7 verse 2:

And a centurion’s servant, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. (Luke 7:2)

This phrase “highly regarded”, or in the King James Version, “dear to him”, is the Greek word entimos, meaning highly regarded or precious. While certainly a term of endearment, again, nowhere is this word used with any sexual connotation. In fact, had the author Luke intended to imply a sexual type love, he would’ve used the word eros instead. This word is used only five times in the New Testament, two of which appear in 1 Peter chapter 2 verses 4 and 6, both times being translated as ‘precious’:

As you come to Him, the living stone, rejected by men, but chosen and precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 2:4)

For it stands in Scripture, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in Him shall never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6)

So, having looked at each of these within context, we see that while there is obviously a level of endearment being expressed, there is absolutely no cause, no contextual basis, no plausible evidence to assume that this somehow implies a homosexual relationship. That is a biased view which would have to be read into the text, not out of it. A distorted perversion of what is actually being expressed here, which is most likely a father/son type of sentiment. Especially since these same words are used in reference to the relationship between Christ Jesus and His Father. Him being highly valued, entimos, precious in the sight of God.

Alright, that brings us to our second instance, the only other occurrence where we’re told that Jesus marveled, found in Mark chapter 6 verses 1-6:

He went away from there and came to His hometown, and His disciples followed Him.
And on the Sabbath He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to Him? How are such mighty works done by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. (Mark 6:1-6)

So the first time we see Jesus marvel, it is in response to the great faith displayed by the Roman centurion. This time though, what causes Jesus to marvel is an incredible lack of faith. He marvels at their unbelief. What a contrast. With the Gentile soldier, He finds faith from somewhere it wouldn’t have necessarily been expected. Here in His own hometown of Nazareth, a place where it would’ve been expected, it is strangely absent.

To be clear, when I speak of unexpectedness, I do not believe that this caught Jesus off guard or unaware. We know that John chapter 2 verse 24 says,

But Jesus on His part did not did entrust Himself to them, for He knew all men
(John 2:24)

And there are other situations throughout the gospels, in which Jesus perceives what the people were thinking, and would then address those thoughts openly. So while I don’t believe this caught Jesus unaware, it is clear that this is a manifestation of awe. Not in the admirable sense as with the centurion, but in the critical sense. This is an astounding unbelief.
Nazareth was a small, relatively obscure village, about 25 kilometers from the Sea of Galilee. Scholars have said that there would’ve only been, at most about five hundred people living there at this time.
Think about that for a moment. The fact that Jesus, the Word which became flesh, Immanuel – God with us, came and chose to live for thirty years of His humanity, in that kind of obscurity. What a privilege for this otherwise insignificant little village. That for those thirty years, they almost in a way, had the Son of God reserved to themselves. They were able to observe His outward life as He grew. They were able to socialize and to interact with Him, and to hear the words that He spoke.

Verse 2 mentions that on the sabbath, He was in the synagogue teaching. It was a customary practice that a visiting Rabbi would be given the opportunity to teach in the local synagogue, and we see this throughout Christ’s earthly ministry.

and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16)

Synagogue literally means ‘gathering’ or ‘assembly’. There were no synagogues in Jerusalem because that is where the temple was located, but these would be dispersed throughout the surrounding towns and villages wherein the Jewish people were able to gather together to read the Scriptures and to worship. A similar equivalent to our modern-day local church buildings. During His traveling circuit of ministry, Jesus and His disciples, would enter these local synagogues, where He would be given the floor to expound the Scriptures.
So initially, we see there is this respect afforded to Jesus by their giving Him the opportunity to teach. Perhaps this was motivated by a sense of curiosity, intrigue. After all, this is the hometown Son who has now become quite famous. By this point, they have surely heard of His ministry, about the miracles and the healings that he has performed. We actually see evidence of this in the text, at the end of verse 2 when they ask “How are such mighty works done by His hands?” But we see later on in verse 5, that He could do no mighty works there among them because of their unbelief. So these are obviously based on reports that they’ve been hearing about His ministry.

We should also notice that this is not the first time that Jesus has come into Nazareth to teach in their synagogue. He’s been here before about a year earlier at the outset of His public ministry. We’re told of this in Luke chapter 4 verses 16-30. This is after His baptism by John in the Jordan, after His temptation in the wilderness, it says He comes into Nazareth and enters the synagogue on the Sabbath. He’s handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and it says ‘He found the place where it is written’, so this was intentional, and He reads that Messianic prophecy in Isaiah chapter 61 verse 1, and the beginning half of verse 2. It’s important to notice where he stops reading, as the full verse reads:

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn (Isaiah 61:2)

Jesus stops reading before it mentions ‘the day of vengeance of our God’, because this will not be fulfilled until His second coming. He rolls up the scroll, hands it back to the attendant, and sits down. All the eyes in the synagogue are fixed upon Him, and He says “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” When the people heard these things, it says they were filled with wrath, and they drove Jesus out of the town and up on a hill in order to throw Him down the cliff. They were literally going to try and kill Him. But it says Jesus passed through their midst and went about His way.

So here He has come again, about a year later, after He’s been fulfilling those words of Isaiah, and after they’ve tried to kill Him the first time. This is an example of His patient mercy. As it’s written in 2 Peter chapter 3 verse 9:

The Lord is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

In verse 2 it says that they were ‘astonished by His teaching’. You will not find a better preacher than Jesus. In John chapter 7 verse 46, the officers answer about Jesus: “No one has ever spoken like this man!” So His teaching, His authority was certainly potent. We can see that their hearts were moved, but instead of yielding to the message, instead of receiving the truth, they harden themselves against it.
What’s ironic is, here are these people gathered together in this synagogue, assembled in the name of learning and sharing God’s word – and yet, here is the Word made flesh, standing before them, and He’s communicating that truth to them. And they are struck by it, they are in awe of it. But instead of receiving it gladly, they begin to question the source of it. “Where did this man get these things? What is this wisdom given to Him?”

And notice how they ask, “Is this not the carpenter, Son of Mary?” This is most likely an insult, because typically you would identify the man with his father. So even if Joseph had passed away by this point, which is more than likely, “Son of Joseph” would’ve been the natural way of wording it. And we see later in John chapter 8 verse 41, the Jewish leaders say to Jesus, “We were not born of fornication, we have one father, God.” This is a slight against Him, questioning the origin and legitimacy of His birth.

They go on to say, “the brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon, and are not His sisters here among us?” By the way, James and Judas were the half brothers of Jesus who wrote the New Testament epistles James and Jude. Anyway, these siblings being mentioned here once again disproves the Roman Catholic doctrine that Mary remained a perpetual virgin. This teaching is not only unscriptural, it is also unnecessary. Yes, Jesus was certainly virgin born. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announces that she will give birth to the Messiah, she is quite surprised and asks “How can this be since I am a virgin and have not known a man?” Also when the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph, because naturally he would have some questions. The angel reassures him to take Mary as his wife, and notice how it says, ‘he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and he took Mary to be his wife, but knew her not until after she had given birth to a son.’ (Matthew 1:24-25) So by all means, after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph had a normal fruitful marriage bearing children.

And notice what it says next, ‘and they were offended at Him.’ So not only were they disbelieving in the message, but they were also displeased with the messenger Himself. He bothers them. Have you ever noticed how people can not only disagree with the truth, but they find it personally offensive. It gets under their skin, it annoys them. They want to dismiss it, and not only that, but they want to distance themselves from it. Jesus responds in verse 4, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” Have you ever heard the expression, “familiarity breeds contempt”? That’s what’s happening here. At first glance, their questions may seem complimentary. But they are not asking these questions interested in the truth, they are asking with a sense of contempt. “But we know this man, we know His family. Isn’t this just the carpenter? He made the yoke for my oxen, granted it is the best yoke I’ve ever seen, but still, who does He think He is to come here and tell us how to live, or claim to be the Messiah?” It’s this type of attitude.
I like the response to that expression, “No, familiarity breeds contempt in contemptable people.” See, when we choose not to display respect for that which is truly respectful, we are not demonstrating a lack in that particular thing, we are demonstrating a lack in ourselves.

And verse 5, ‘And He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.’ What a contrast from what we’ve seen in the previous chapters. Jesus speaks to the wind and the waves, and they obey Him. He speaks to sickness and disease, and they obey Him. He speaks to unclean spirits and commands them to come out, and they obey Him. Now we’re being told of something He could not do. Now keep in mind, while I do believe the author is trying to illustrate this contrast, this doesn’t mean unable in the sense of Christ’s power or ability. If He wanted to, He could’ve healed everyone in Nazareth, all 500 villagers. We see later that He goes on to feed more than 5,000. No, this doesn’t speak of any lack in the ability of the Son of God, rather, this is a decision, a judgement. This is a consequence of their willful rejection of Him. He’s not going to reward this type of stubborn unbelief. Just as Hebrews chapter 11 verse 6 states:

For without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to Him, must first believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.
(Hebrews 11:6)

So if you are not acknowledging Him by faith, and drawing near to Him, believing that He is a rewarder of those who earnestly, diligently seek Him, then you aren’t receiving these things. But what is God’s heart? What is Christ’s heart? Look in Matthew chapter 23 verse 37:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)

No, our unbelief does not hinder God nor His ability, it hinders us.

One final thing that I believe is noteworthy to consider. That is, if we were in a church service, and witnessed one or two people being healed of some obvious illness or physical impairment, we would call that a mighty work, right? A miracle. However by Christ’s standards, what He’s been accomplishing day by day in His ministry – healing all manner of sickness, casting out demons, feeding the multitudes, for Him to just lay His hands of a few sick people and heal them, it’s almost as if He’s done nothing mighty. Verse 5 says, ‘He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.’ I would say that was a mighty work for those individuals who were sick. Imagine how grateful and relieved you would be if you were one of those people. And obviously they had the faith to come to Him, so they did receive their healing. But in comparison to the scope of Christ’s ministry, this wasn’t even considered a mighty work at all.

In closing, we’ve taken an in-depth look at the only two occurrences in scripture wherein Jesus marveled, both of which were in response to faith. One positively, at a great faith, and one negatively, at a lack of faith. Two ends of the spectrum. So we must ask ourselves, which end of the spectrum do we want to be on?

Key Truths to Meditate Upon This Passover

This year Passover begins sundown April 8th and ends sundown April 16th.

As the entire globe is experiencing a unique and uncertain set of circumstances during this Passover season, I would like to share these key truths found in God’s Word to meditate upon. Keep your eyes on Him believer.
He upholds all things. All things.
He is faithful to do His part. No question.
Will you do yours?

 

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Where is Your Wealth?

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Are you aware that wealth does not exclusively involve money or possessions?
The truest forms of wealth are those things which money could never buy. Things like contentment, joy, love, spiritual health and well-being.
Do you realize how valuable peace of mind is? Or the ability to sleep sweetly at night?
Simple pleasures that are so easily overlooked or taken for granted.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. (Proverbs 3:24)

This is how someone may outwardly own many possessions, expensive clothing, and a large bank account, but inwardly be destitute.
“For you say, ‘I am rich, I have grown wealthy and need nothing.’ Not realizing that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)

Or how another could seemingly be lowly and in poverty, but truthfully be rich.
“I know your afflictions and your poverty- yet you are rich” (Revelation 2:9)

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says,
“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked. (Psalm 37:16)

Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it.
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fattened ox and hatred with it. (Proverbs 15:16-17)

King Solomon writes,
Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his labor. This is a gift from God. (Ecclesiastes 5:19)

Notice how it is God who not only provides the wealth and possessions, but also supplies the ability to be able to enjoy them.

This is why Paul writes in his letter to Timothy,
“But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6)

According to Christ, we are to have a kingdom first mindset.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

So where is your wealth?

Godly Counsel vs Worldly Counsel

What type of counsel?

Godly Counsel vs Worldly Counsel
Discerning the Difference

coun•sel
noun
1.  advice; or instruction given upon request, for directing the judgment or conduct of another.
synonyms: advice, guidance, counseling, direction, information
2.  the lawyer or lawyers conducting a case.
synonyms: lawyer, advocate, attorney, counselor

Throughout the course of our daily living, we are continually faced with the process of decision-making. Some of these decisions seem minor and trivial, while others may have a broader range of consequences. The decisions we make, however big or small, will have an effect on ourselves, the people around us, and ultimately, the course of our lives.

I think we’ve all been in that situation where we’ve deliberated about a certain decision, and we pretty much have our minds made up as to the course we’re going to take, but then we run it by a few friends or family members in order to see if their opinions will agree with our own. We’re looking for the advice we want to hear.

As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to use discernment about what kinds of counsel we are receiving. About who we are sharing intimate details with and who we are allowing to speak into our lives.

The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.

-Proverbs 12:26

A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge is easy to him who understands. Leave the presence of a fool, for you will gain no knowledge from his speech.
-Proverbs 14:6-7

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.

-Psalm 1:1-2

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
-1 Corinthians 15:33

 
 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
-Colossians 2:8
 
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

-James 4:4

“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the LORD, “who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin.”
-Isaiah 30:1

       The word of God explains that there are two types of wisdom- godly wisdom and worldly wisdom. Worldly wisdom is any counsel, teaching, philosophy, or attitude that does not line up with the truth of God’s word. It is instead carnal, prideful, selfish, and deceitful. It is a mindset which places our own will ahead of God’s will. This type of advice appeals to our flesh, rather than to our spirit.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
-Proverbs 14:12

In the letter of James we see the contrasting nature of these two types of wisdom:

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior and deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without hypocrisy.
-James 3:13-17

     The apostle Paul writes of how the so-called wisdom of the world is actually foolishness to God:

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are worthless.”

-1 Corinthians 3:18-20

For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
-1 Corinthians 1:19-20

       When seeking guidance and direction for our lives, we do not need worldly wisdom, or the opinions of man, we need true biblically based wisdom. Therefore, the first step in decision making for the believer, should be bringing it before the Lord in humble submission. Seeking the Father’s counsel on the issue, through prayer and time in His word.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction
-Proverbs 1:7
 
For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding

-Proverbs 2:6

Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
-Proverbs 3:7

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”

-Psalm 32:8

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
-Psalm 37:4

This also comes from the LORD of hosts, He is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.

-Isaiah 28:29

We are told that we should delight in the counsel of God’s word, and that it is to be the guide which illuminates the path of our lives.

Your testimonies are my delight and my counselors.
-Psalm 119:24

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

-Psalm 119:105
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus reveals what is to be the believer’s number one priority amongst the cares and needs of our daily lives:

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
-Matthew 6:33
Secondly, we should seek wise counsel from other like-minded believers in the body of Christ. Those who are familiar with the word of God, and who care for our spiritual, as well as our physical well being.
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.

-Psalm 37:30

Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety
-Proverbs 11:14

Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks uprightly. Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisors they succeed. A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!
-Proverbs 15:21-23

O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.

-1 Timothy 6:20-21

For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.

-2 Corinthians 1:12

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting
to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,
and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

-Hebrews 10:24-25

In closing, I’d also like to take the time to draw attention to the definition of the word ‘counsel’ found at the beginning of this article. Notice how one of the meanings is that of a legal representative, an ‘advocate’ or ‘counselor’. What is fascinating about this, is found in the descriptive title Jesus gives regarding the Holy Spirit.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

-John 14:26

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever”
-John 14:16
 
“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me”

-John 15:26

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you, but if I go, I will send Him to you.”

-John 16:7

       The word translated as ‘Helper’(some translations use Advocate, Counselor, Comforter) here in each of these passages, is the Greek word parakletos.
Its definition is this:
a) called to one’s aid, summoned to come alongside

 b) one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, an advocate, legal assistant, defense       counselor, an intercessor

Jesus said it was to our advantage that He go, so that He may send the Holy Spirit to be our Helper, our Advocate and Counselor. As Jesus spoke these words to encourage His disciples, so may we too be encouraged by this amazing revelation.

       As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, born again to new life, we have this Spirit of truth, this Helper who will be with us forever. Who guides us in our spiritual walk, convicts us of righteousness and brings to our remembrance the testimony of Christ.
Video

Wealth & Giving

In this study, we will take a look at several passages of Scripture to see what the Bible has to say about money, true wealth, and our giving. For the purpose of clarity, I read from the NIV and NKJV. Thanks for taking the time to watch this video- my hope is that it will be a blessing to you as well.

Jesus Heals the Paralytic

1380799_10152084446704891_1350875498_nHe entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house.
Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
-Mark 2:1-5

When the scribes heard Jesus forgiving the man’s sins, they asked, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” (Mark 2:7)

Jesus then asked which would be easier to say to a paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven” or “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk”?

According to The Wycliffe Bible Commentary:
‘This is an unanswerable question. The statements are equally simple to pronounce; but to say either, with accompanying performance, requires divine power. An imposter, of course, in seeking to avoid detection, would find the former easier.
Jesus proceeded to heal the illness so that men might know that he had the authority to deal with its cause.’

“None on earth has either the authority or the right to forgive sin. None could forgive sin save the One against whom all have sinned. When Christ forgave sin, as He certainly did, He was not exercising a human prerogative. Since none but God can forgive sins, it is conclusively demonstrated that Christ, since He forgave sins, is God.”
-Lewis Sperry Chafer, Founder & President of Dallas Theological Seminary

The paralytic had not sinned against the man Jesus; the two men had never even seen each other before. The paralytic had sinned against God. Then along comes Jesus, who under His own authority says, “Your sins are forgiven.” We may forgive sins committed against us personally, but in no way can anyone forgive sins committed against God except God Himself. Yet this is exactly what Jesus claimed to do. It is no wonder therefore, why the Jewish leaders reacted so violently at these claims Christ made.

Jesus heals the paralytic 2

Yoga for Christians? Now That’s a Stretch

Yoga pose

‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit word yujir, which means “to yoke, join, unite.”
By definition, Yoga is the physical, mental, and spiritual practice, for the union of Kundalini with Shiva.

The Kundalini serpent

The Kundalini serpent

Kundalini is described as an indwelling spirit or energy, lying “coiled” at the base of the spine, represented as either a goddess or sleeping serpent waiting to be awakened.
This is known as the “Kundalini Awakening”

Shiva

Shiva (notice the serpent coiled around the neck)

Shiva, meaning “The Auspicious One” is a popular Hindu deity and considered as the Supreme god within Hinduism. Shiva is considered to be limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless.

“Yoga postures are expressions or offerings of worship to the Hindu gods. If you do these postures and you do this breathing technique and this meditation, then you will be accepted by a god, little ‘g'”
-Laurette Willis, Personal trainer, Author, and former Yoga instructor for 22 years.

There is nothing wrong with stretching, exercising, or regulating one’s breathing. But when the tenets of yoga are included, it is by definition an act of worship to spirit beings other than the God of the Bible.

It is my conviction that a true follower of Christ, once made aware of the true underlying principles of Yoga, should have nothing to do with it.