Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Signs and Wonders

“As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. 43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.”” (Luke 8)

I’ve visited and attended a lot of churches in my time.  I’ve been on many a prayer list.  Online networks are awash with folk asking for prayer.  By informal survey, I could sum up probably ninety percent of those requests in one word: Healing.

I’ve never met anyone who likes being sick.  Even hypochondriacs only do it for the attention.  Our bodies live in houses and our souls live in bodies.  If we don’t like living in decrepit, broken houses infested with bugs, we don’t like something being wrong or unwelcome invaders in our bodies even more.  It hits a little too close to home, if you take my meaning.  We want health.  We dream of perfect bodies.  We long for immortality.  Disease and Death strike us as wrong as robbers breaking into our homes.

And it was no different in Jesus’ day.  The crowds thronging him were not always there to hear a good if confusing and slightly disturbing sermon.  If they were anything like us, which since they were people, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume they were, they probably preferred their physical needs met before their spiritual ones, hands down.

And Jesus obliged many of them.  My question is this: Why?

No one Jesus healed or raised from the dead is still with us so it stands to reason they all got sick again and died.  So the point was obviously not a permanent fix for our flesh.  Christ didn’t turn us into superhumans.  Likewise we can safely assume it was not a visible sign of one’s admittance into the kingdom.  We who have come later still get sick and die and accounts like the ten lepers in Luke 17 and the parable of the sower show how unbound our hearts are to our benefactor much less simple gratitude. 

Thirdly, this account of the woman with the discharge of blood (what a horrible moniker to go through history with!) completely eliminates the possibility of Jesus healing simply because he wanted to, because of his pity and sympathy.  He didn’t even know whom he had healed here.  The power of the Spirit does this without Jesus’ consent or compliance.  He’s just walkin’ ovah heah, a touch of a hem and Pow!  Power’s a’flowin’ like lightning.  Immediately, it says, immediately she knew she was healed.  Wow!  How cool is that? 

And yet, she’s dead.  Somewhere down the line, she caught something else, her body wore out or she met with an unfortunate accident and she died.  So what was it all for?  A little momentary comfort?  Is that all Jesus offers?  Is that all our salvation is good for?  A little momentary comfort?  Are we, like the atheists say, just clinging to some spiritual sweetener to ease the bitter pill of living?  Especially when all living means eventual death?  Do we come to Jesus just for temporary relief of minor aches and suffering?

Perish the thought.

43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit.” (Luke 6)

“48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” (John 4)

“It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (Heb 2)

God is testifying through the signs and wonders to whom Jesus is so we may see and believe!  What tree he is.  And what tree is he?

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’” (Rev 2)

We’ve spoken of this before but it’s worth repeating…Jesus is the Tree of Life, the Bread of Life, the Water of Life!  All who come to him in faith and humility shall have life abundant, life eternal.  He sits enthroned on the right hand of God in the sanctuary of the new Jerusalem and “through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22)  He is not just meant to be taken once, he is our SOURCE!  He is the Vine, we are the branches, we wither and die without a constant replenishing of Him.  Just as we wither and die if we do not eat, do not drink.  We must remain attached to Him! 

So what does this say about healing?  In Genesis 3 God says to God, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—”  Is it possible Adam and Eve had been in the garden all this time and never bothered to eat the fruit which would let them live forever?  Just slipped their minds did it?  Was on their “to do” list for tomorrow maybe?  Not likely.  As the Tree of Life in Revelations shows, this is not a once and done thing, this is a constant replenishment.  There is a new fruit every month.  God has never intended us to be independent of Him.  Just as a husband is never meant to be independent of his wife.  Just as a child isn’t meant to be independent of their parents.  Just as God isn’t even independent of Himself.  Jesus and the Father are in constant communion through the Spirit, perfect love, perfect submission.  Adam and Eve were always meant to eat of the Tree of Life.  This is how they lived forever.  This is what healed their bodies.  This is what the Angel with the flaming sword divided them from after the Fall.

Jesus, the Vine, the Bread, the Water of Life, came to earth then and just touching him in faith and humility was enough to taste the fruit of the Tree again!  There is much more to say, just as Jesus had much more to show us but we aren’t ready to receive it yet.  We are so broken, so lost, so wounded, so starving, so dehydrated and we don’t even have the barest clue as to our need.  We’ve barely scratched the surface in the parable in the suffering and death of our bodies.  Everything we need is Him and He is too much to comprehend at a glance, it will take eternity to learn to love Him but for today, it is enough to crawl on the earth and touch the hem of his garment and let the healing start.

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