I’m Not a Punching Bag

I’m Not a Punching Bag

Daily Reading: (Luke 6:29a):

“If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.”

As we go to Luke 6:17 we learn who Jesus is talking to when He tells the crowd to turn the other cheek. “He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon.” People who were from Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician. Culturally, the Phoenicians were Canaanites and spoke a variation of the Canaanite language and worshipped variations of the same gods as the Canaanite people in Israel. The most commonly worshipped god was the fertility god referred to as “Baal”. The Romans took the ruined city as a colony in 64 BCE, when Pompey annexed the whole of Phoenicia to the Roman Empire. Tyre was re-built under the Romans. This will be key to know as we continue in the text.

The motive of the people of the large crowd is recording in the next verse, verse eighteen: “who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases.”

Jesus makes this profound statement about turning the other cheek to the people of Judea, Jerusalem, and the Roman colony of Tyre and Sidon that has Phoenician heritage. Now if we skip down between verse twenty-six and twenty-seven there is a sub-header inserted that says, “Love for enemies.”This is where we are led to the answer as to why did Jesus say something that sounded so outlandish in Luke 6:29. To come to our answer let’s consider who were the enemies of the audience that were gathered together? Each other. Jews and Phoenicians/Canaanites or Romans take your pick. But here they are gathered together to hear Jesus and receive physical salvation. “Love your enemies” goes beyond ethnic divide here because what Jesus is talking about is that if you are a Jew and you follow Jesus, you won’t just receive this harsh treatment from the Romans you will also receive some of it from a fellow Jew.

“If someone slaps your cheek” does not refer to physical injury, but to insults and indignity. In Jewish culture, the greatest insult, the most demeaning action possible, was a slap on the cheek. It was a deliberate gesture of disrespect. This was the way Jewish synagogue leaders put people out of synagogue – especially Jews who had converted to Christianity. So the slap on the cheek refers to receiving a deep insult. Turning the other cheek means that when you are severely insulted, you don’t trade insults.

Jesus gave us this example in 1 Peter 2:23: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate.” That’s why Peter would say in 1 Peter 3:9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.” Turn the other check simple means that when you are insulted, turn the other cheek or don’t repay evil with evil, insult with insult.

In the Crowd

In the Crowd Devotional

Daily Reading: (Mark 5:25-29):

“And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.”

I guess health care has always been expensive. She went to doctors for help. But there is only so much a doctor can do- what she needed was an appointment with the Great Physician (Mark 5:26).

I am all for getting check-ups, making regular visits to doctors, but if you had on speed dial the greatest doctor in the world, the one who was there as God formed and fashioned your body in your mother’s womb, don’t you think you might reach out to Him first?

She tried everything under the sun and her condition got worse. She gave everything she had and the result was deteriorating health. She had given up the attempt of salvation from man to receive the salvation from the grace of Jesus Christ and is now ready to receive her miracle (Mark 5:27-28).

So, what we know about this woman is that she was just one of many in the crowd who had an issue. Hers was an issue of blood. I wonder about all the other issues that were there in that crowd that day. Everybody has issues. The difference between those in the crowd, that remained in the crowd with their issues, with those that experience the salvation of the Lord, are those who consider what has been said about Jesus and believed that He is the Savior and the answer to their sin problem. Sickness is a result of living in a sinful world.

Jesus is turning to face her to grace her (Mark 5:30). If this unclean woman with an issue of blood touches you, you would be considered unclean too. If she is found out there is only two options for her:

  • 1) stoned to death
  • 2) or ex -communicated from the community and rejected publicly

I don’t know which is worse because I can’t imagine living my life without ever being able to see my family again knowing they are living their lives without me. Even prisoners get visitation rights. 12 years everything is flowing from her and nothing is flowing to her. She is an illustration of what sin does. Sin steals, kills, and destroys. But Jesus has come so that we might have life to the full.

Why in Exodus 33 was Moses not allowed to see God’s face, the full glory of God, but we can? The reason is because he was living under the Old Covenant where man related to God on the basis of rules. When we relate to God based upon Old Covenant living/our rule keeping ability, we completely miss the face of Jesus and we do not behold the glory of God’s grace.

Jesus is scanning the crowd because He is adamant to show His face of approval. The approval that God has for all who by faith receive His free gift of salvation (Mark 5:32). “Daughter, (acceptance language) your faith (approval language) has made you well.” Jesus is revealing in His words and in His face, acceptance and approval for this lawbreaker because she believed in the good news that she had heard about Jesus that He is her salvation.

The reason that only faith pleases God is because only Jesus pleases God and faith is nothing more than trusting Jesus. For when you trust Jesus you are adopted into God’s family and it is impossible not to be pleasing to God. When you put your faith in Jesus, you were given acceptance and approval with God forever (Hebrews 11:6).

 

 

 

 

Faith and Healing

Daily Reading: Mark 10:53: “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

The longer someone has had a debilitating condition, the harder it can become to believe for the miracle.

A hybrid word from Aramaic bar = “son,” and Greek timaios = “honorable.”

But I don’t think they are calling this beggar an honorable son- I think the deviation is bar-tim’ai = “son of the unclean,” and of the allegorical meaning = the Gentiles or spiritually blind.

The message of what people called this man is not only is he blind physically, he is (Bartimaeus) unclean and blind spiritually.

Why would he camp out at Jericho? What you might not know is the Jews were commanded by the Mosaic Law were to treat the blind with compassion and care. (Leviticus 19:14; 27:18). So, it would behoove this man to camp out near Jewish cities and he did (Mark 9:46). He hung out at Jericho.

He is going to leave behind his prime-time curb space/ financial opportunity to trust in what Jesus can do in his life, that it would be so much better (Mark 10:47).

Bartimaeus’ disability has given him the ability to overcome the noise and reach out to the Savior (Mark 9:47). Followers of Jesus have in common, a personal reaction to Jesus, a belief that there is the only one person who can meet our need.

When you are distressed, call upon the name of the Lord- and be filled with courage because He hears you (Mark 10:48-49).

In order to be physically healed (restored sight) you must first be spiritually healed and see Jesus for who He is and believe in what He can do (faith).

Everything is Possible

Daily Reading: Mark 9:23:

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

When they looked up from the mess they were in, they were amazed to find the answer to their problems, not in themselves, but in the Lord (Mark 9:15).

In order to properly understand the story in Mark 9, imagine you are one of the nine disciples who did not make the journey up the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus. A father brings his son to you, the boy has a seizure right in front of you, demonic forces at work in this instance, and you can’t heal him. How would you react? Would you;

  1. a) conclude that it’s not God’s will to heal all the sick?
    (b) tell the father that God can heal but He is not going to heal your son right at this moment – maybe in eternity?
    (c) speculate that the son has some unconfessed sin in his life?
    (d) declare that the boy is healed even though he is still writhing on the ground?
    (e) be puzzled

Matthew’s Gospel gives us the answer to the disciples response: “Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Matthew 17:19).

Jesus’ answer to their question of why they could not drive out the demon and heal the boy may surprise you. It may also answer questions you have about why more people aren’t healed today. So why did the disciples fail to heal this boy? Contrary to what you may have heard, the answer is not their faith but their unbelief.

Note that some translations interpret “unbelief” as “little faith.” So Jesus’ answer in verse 20 begins, “Because of your little faith.” But this is a poor translation that makes Jesus sound like He’s contradicting Himself. The Greek word for unbelief (apistia) in the passage above is the same word used by the boy’s father when he says, “help my unbelief.”

Some translators equate unbelief with little faith, but Jesus clearly says right after this “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Little faith is not the issue. If little faith can move a mountain, it can surely heal one small boy. It’s not about the size of your faith but whether your faith is handicapped by doubt and unbelief.

With the seizing boy, the father, like many of us, wanted God to take responsibility for the healing. “Lord, help us!” Yet Jesus said, “If you have faith, you can heal him.” We think healing the sick is God’s job, but He wants us to do it in Jesus’ name (Mark 16:18).

Why was unbelief a problem for the disciples in this case?

In his book You’ve Already Got It, Wommack identifies three different kinds of unbelief.

1)There’s unbelief that arises from ignorance

(“I didn’t know God heals the sick”)

2) unbelief that arises from bad theology

(“I don’t believe God heals the sick any more”)

3) and unbelief that arises from our natural senses

(“look at the size of that tumor!”).

How do we deal with unbelief? Starve it!

And He replied to them, “This kind (of unbelief) cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29)

Unbelief that arises from ignorance and bad theology can be corrected by showing people the truth (Mark 6:6), but overcoming natural unbelief may require prayer and fasting. If the Internet is fueling your doubts, then stay off the Internet! If your “faith sense” is dull because of your natural appetites, then curb your appetites.

“Your prayer and fasting doesn’t move God. Neither does it move the devil. Fasting and prayer moves you. It affects you… You don’t have a faith problem. What you have is an unbelief problem. Instead of trying to build bigger and bigger faith, we need to stop feeding unbelief (God Wants You Well, p.121,124).