HE TOUCHES HIS ENEMIES

Lk.22:50,51 – And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.

Let’s face it, none of us like to think of ourselves as God’s enemies. Nevertheless, that’s where we all started. James said to be a friend to the world is to be an enemy of God. Recognizing that is where our healing and restoration begins. Knowing our own sinfulness and hostility toward the things of the Lord reminds us of what our spiritual condition was or in some cases still is. In today’s verse we see Peter lash out at one of their enemies with a sword. An ear was cut off and fell upon the ground, Peter was rebuked, and Jesus healed the soldier’s ear right on the spot. Shocking, the touch of Jesus even effects His enemies. The lesson in this miracle? Even if you have drifted far from the Lord and you are in that enemy category there is mercy, forgiveness, and healing for you. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this scene

“He touched his ear, and healed him; fastened his ear on again, that he might not so much as go away stigmatized, though he well deserved it. Christ hereby gave them a proof, (1.) Of his power. He that could heal could destroy if he pleased, which should have obliged them in interest to submit to him. Had they returned the blow upon Peter, he would immediately have healed him; and what could not a small regiment do that had such a surgeon to it, immediately to help the sick and wounded? (2.) Of his mercy and goodness. Christ here gave an illustrious example to his own rule of doing good to them that hate us, as afterwards he did of praying for them that despitefully use us….One would have thought that this generous piece of kindness should have overcome them, that such coals, heaped on their heads, should have melted them, that they could not have bound him as a malefactor who had approved himself such a benefactor; but their hearts were hardened.”

So what condition is your soul in today? Are you like the soldier, fighting the kingdom of God? Or maybe you are like Peter, taking God’s work into your own hands. Either way, the touch of Jesus Christ changes everything.

LOVE BROKE THROUGH

Matt.20:32-34 – So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

¶They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”

So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.

I love the last three words in this verse, “they followed Him”. These blind men obviously received more than physical healing that day. How do I know? Because they followed Him. All of the reasons they wanted to receive their sight before now seemed secondary. Before, they wanted to see the sky and the grass and their families. They wanted to be able to hold down a job or just enjoy a sunny day. Now that all changed, they just wanted to see Jesus. The only explanation is that the eyes of their soul were also opened. Now they wanted to follow Jesus. Those other things had been eclipsed by the compassion of the Lord. When His love breaks through the fog in our lives, all bets are off. Here is how Keith Green describes this phenomenon in his song “Love Broke Through” from the 1970’s.

LOVE BROKE THROUGH – Keith Green

Like a foolish dreamer, trying to build a highway to the sky

All my hopes would come tumbling down, and I never knew just why

Until today, when you pulled away the clouds that hung like curtains on my eyes

Well I’ve been blind all these wasted years and I thought I was so wise

But then you took me by surprise

All my life I’ve been searching for that crazy missing part

And with one touch, you just rolled away the stone that held my heart

And now I see that the answer was as easy, as just asking you in

And I am so sure I could never doubt your gentle touch again

It’s like the power of the wind

CHORUS

Like waking up from the longest dream, how real it seemed

Until your love broke through

I’ve been lost in a fantasy, that blinded me

Until your love, until your love, broke through

That’s really how prayer often works. We think we really need that house or that raise or even our health. When Jesus shows up with the answer we get more than we bargained for. Like the blind men in today’s passage, they got more than healing. What was it that they received exactly? It was Jesus Himself. The clouds that hung like curtains on our eyes are removed by His touch.

THE KINDNESS OF CHRIST

Mk.7:32,33 – TPT – Some people brought to him a deaf man with a severe speech impediment. They pleaded with Jesus to place his hands on him and heal him.

So Jesus led him away from the crowd to a private spot. Then he stuck his fingers into the man’s ears and placed some of his saliva on the man’s tongue.

The ministry of Jesus was the restoration of beauty to His fallen creation. All of creation was tragically effected by the fall of man. In His humanity, the Creator entered creation to restore what had been devastated. That’s what His miracles were all about. When this deaf man with a severe speech impediment was brought to Jesus we get a glimpse into the beautiful kindness seen in the life of Christ. He could have easily healed this man with His word or His touch. Instead, He took this man by the hand and led Him to a private place. Jesus was not only concerned with this man’s body, He was also concerned with his feelings. In that place of privacy this poor deaf man regained his hearing as well as his life. No more embarrassment about being deaf and speaking so no one could understand. This deaf man had a new life. Here is how William Barclay describes this miracle.

“He took the man aside from the crowd, all by himself. Here is the most tender considerateness. Deaf folk are always a little embarrassed. In some ways it is more embarrassing to be deaf than it is to be blind. A deaf person knows he cannot hear; and when someone in a crowd shouts at him and tries to make him hear, in his excitement he becomes all the more helpless. Jesus showed the most tender consideration for the feelings of a man for whom life was very difficult….The whole story shows us most vividly that Jesus did not consider the man merely a case; he considered him as an individual the man had a special need and a special problem, and with the most tender considerateness Jesus dealt with him in a way that spared his feelings and in a way that he could understand.”

I love this story. Jesus loves me personally. He loves you personally. He has a plan of restoration in our lives. No matter what has been stolen from you He has come to make all things beautiful in your life again.

THE MUTE SHALL SING FOR JOY

Is.35:6 -then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;

The miracles of Jesus are like glimpses into man’s soul. Isaiah’s prophecy of the mute singing for joy, paints a picture for us of the amazing works of God. One example was in Mark 7, where a deaf man with a severe speech impediment was brought to Jesus. Jesus took him by the hand to a private place, put His fingers in the man’s ears and touch his tongue with saliva. In the next few moments this man’s whole being was flooded with sounds. The sounds must have sound like a magnificent orchestra of joy. How could he keep silent? He had to lift up his voice and join with the heavenly song. Here is how John Gill describes today’s verse.

“the tongue of the dumb shall sing; this had its accomplishment, in a literal sense, at the first coming of Christ, Mat 9:32, Mat 12:22 and, in a spiritual sense, in many who before had nothing to say to God in prayer, nor in praise; nothing to say of Christ, or for him; or of the blessed Spirit, and his divine operations; but now, by divine grace, are made to speak unto God, both in a petitionary way, and in a way of thankfulness; and of Christ, and of the blessed Spirit; and of the great things each have done for them; and even to sing for joy, because of the wondrous blessings of grace they were made partakers of; and many more such there will be in the latter day, when the Spirit is poured down from on high.”

All of us spent most of our lives deaf to the song of the Lord that constantly fills our world with His song of joy. Even those of us that have walked with the Lord for a time may find our hearing dull and the song far away if not non-existent. Allowing Jesus to draw us aside Himself is essential for us to recapture the song. When He puts His hand on us we can here the song of heaven flooding us with His joy once again. What is our response. Like the mute in Isaiah’s prophesy we too have to sing for joy.

THE BLESSING OF THE SECOND TOUCH

Mk.8:17,18 – But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?

This conversation with His disciples took place between two miracles where we see Jesus using very personal and unusual measures. In Mk. 7:31-37 Jesus healed a deaf man. The method Jesus used was very personal, so personal as to be quite embarrassing. First, He physically led the deaf man away from the crowd, implying personal touch. Next, Jesus put His finger into the man’s ears. Then, He spat and touched the man’s tongue with His spittle. In Mk. 8:22-26 we see Jesus ministering to a blind man. His tactics were strangely similar. He grabbed the man by the hand and led him outside of the village. Then Jesus actually spat on his eyes and laid His hands on him. Partial healing occurred and then Jesus laid His hands on him again.

The message of these miracles is one and the same for His disciples. Here is an explanation from the ESV Study Bible.

“The disciples’ hearts are still partially closed to the depth of Jesus’ teaching and person, for he asks if they do not yet perceive or understand. Although Jesus does not rebuke them as hard-hearted “hypocrites” like the Pharisees and scribes (7:6), they still lack full understanding of who Jesus is. While the Pharisees reject Jesus’ teaching outright, the disciples are slow to appreciate it. The figurative reference to eyes and ears echoes the healings of the deaf man (7:31–35) and the blind man (8:22–26). Jesus wants to open the “ears” and “eyes” of the disciples’ hearts.”

Specifically what was the message of the healings? First, get out of the influence of your old “village”, come out of the world. Next, allow Jesus to move in close, maybe closer than you are comfortable with. Also, don’t shrink back from His unusual tactics. Obviously the spit and the touching is about as close as someone can get to us. This closeness is where we receive His impartation. The disciples had seen many miracles and heard great teachings from being with Jesus. Even with all of that, their vision and ability to hear Christ was clouded. They too saw the spiritual world as trees walking. Jesus was drawing them in closer that they could understand who He was and the powerful message of the cross.

FRUIT PRODUCED BY THE SPIRIT

Gal.5:22,23 – TPT –

But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions:

joy that overflows,

peace that subdues,

patience that endures,

kindness in action,

a life full of virtue,

faith that prevails,

gentleness of heart, and

strength of spirit.

It seems that Paul was describing the love of God in our hearts, we often call this the fruit of the Spirit. Obviously, the fruit of the Spirit is not a picture of a better version of you. It is better described as a dead you. You are dead and all that remains is Christ. His life is described in these words of Paul in Galatians 5. His life is pictured as the love of God in various expressions. His love is like joy that overflows. Tasting His love for us in our fallen condition is breathtaking. We are so shocked that we are literally overcome with joy. How could it be that someone like Him could love someone like me? But He does! His love produces peace that subdues. Our years of fussing and fretting over all our worries is finally done. We are literally overcome and subdued by His love. His love in us produces a patience that perseveres in all circumstances. Because of His love we will never give up, we will endure until the victory comes. Because He loves us we have to love others. What else can He do? His amazing kindness spurs us on to action. As He has done for us we are empowered and challenged by His kindness to do for others. The nature of the Lord, the essence of Who He is His goodness. His life is virtue itself. His life in us begins to pour out His goodness everywhere we go. His virtue captured us and then began to flow through us. His love for us awakens our faith. If He is for me who could be against me. As my faith soars, inspired by His love, I could never give up until I see the His purposes fulfilled in my world. The meekness of Christ is quite stunning. Think about it, the maker of all things encased in a baby’s body. His love for the “least of these” reveals the heart of the life and ministry of Jesus. His gentleness produces humility in us. Finally we are moved by His strength of Spirit. Nothing could get Him off course. He had a vision for the cross. He knew He must die if we were to live. So stir up the gift of God. Wait in His presence. As you do you will see the love of God manifest within your life, God glorified through you by the display of His fruit in our lives.

FLOODED WITH LIGHT

Eph.1:17,18 – that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened…

The touch of God brings an amazing change to our perception of the world. Our separation from God is marked by a blindness. We are blind to the glory of God. The great tragedy in this is that everything in creation exists for that one purpose, to display the glory of God. Spiritual blindness separates us from the very reason everything exists. If we can’t perceive the glory in our world, it is worse than being physically blind. If all we can see is the secondary purposes of all things, we are alienated from life. What am I talking about? The sun exists for more than creating light, warmth, and gravity for the earth. The rivers exist for more than a source of water or transportation. These things exist primarily as a window into the beauty and creativity of the Lord. When our eyes are opened we are sometimes overwhelmed by His nearness all about us. Here is a quote from Belden C. Lane describing Edwards becoming awakened to God’s glory in creation.

“As early as the spring of 1721, about the time of Edwards’s own conversion, he began to speak of “a new sense of things,” an “inward, sweet delight” that came to him from his walks in the woods of his father’s farm, his reading of the Song of Songs, and his contemplation of God. Later, in the Northampton revival of 1734, he continued to develop this general sense of the heart as well as the notion of a new spiritual sense that allows the believer to go beyond all shallow and intellectual apprehensions of God’s glory to a thoroughly sensual appreciation of its beauty. It is the difference, he could say, between rationally knowing that honey is sweet, and being able “vividly to taste its sweetness. A dozen years later, in his treatise on the Religious Affections, he went on to make this new aesthetic sense one of the chief indicators of an authentic religious experience.”

So maybe you find yourself stumbling through life unaware of His splendor all around you. If so, stop for a minute, Let Jesus take you by the hand. His gentle touch will open your eyes. In a moment of time you too will be flooded with His light.

UNDER HIS WINGS

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.

David knew about danger and he found out about divine protection. In David’s life he had escaped from the paw of a lion and a bear, managed to escape the sword of Goliath and the spear of King Saul. He had also stared down armies of Philistine enemies. He knew it was more than his cunning and skillful fighting or just good luck that kept him from being captured. His talent or good fortune could not begin to describe David’s knack at overcoming and escaping from danger. David said that his protection was supernatural. One of the secret places that David hid himself in was the cave of Adullam. In David’s mind this cave was just a picture of his true hiding place. He believed he was literally hidden away in God’s presence. After David became king he brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. It was in worshipping before the ark that David explored the glory of God’s presence. This ark was characterized by the covering wings of the angels. These are the wings David spoke of when he said he was hidden under God’s wings. Here is how Spurgeon describes David and his supernatural protections.

“Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge. Not in the cave alone would he hide, but in the cleft of the Rock of ages. As the little birds find ample shelter beneath the parental wing, even so would the fugitive place himself beneath the secure protection of the divine power. The emblem is delightfully familiar and suggestive. May we all experimentally know its meaning. When we cannot see the sunshine of God’s face, it is blessed to cower down beneath the shadow of his wings. Until these calamities be overpast. Evil will pass away, and the eternal wings will abide over us till then. Blessed be God, our calamities are matters of time, but our safety is a matter of eternity. When we are under the divine shadow, the passing over of trouble cannot harm us; the hawk flies across the sky, but this is no evil to the chicks when they are safely nestling beneath the hen.”

Worship brings us into an awareness of the presence of the Lord. One of the great blessings we find there is protection from our enemies. David longed for that secret place. For those that find that place it becomes more than a place of protection but a way to live our lives.

CREATION IS SPEAKING

Ps.19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

It is so easy in our high tech and video controlled world to lose the sense of the majesty of God we were created to enjoy. We spend most of our time indoors looking at computer screens or flat screens soaking in lifeless images and information. We live in an amazing world that is chattering and singing continuously the amazing attributes of our creator. Have you ever seen a cheetah in the wild running with all its might? Or maybe even a horse galloping with joy across a field? What about monkeys swinging from a tree or dolphins leaping for joy?Are all of these creatures random accidents displaying the good fortune of genetic luck through natural selection? All of these creatures carry within them the beauty of their maker. They exist to display God’s attributes, they are preaching a powerful revelation as they go about their daily activities. Here is a portion from Jonathan Edwards on the purpose of God’s creatures.

“So that when we are delighted with flowery meadows and gentle breezes of wind, we may consider that we only see the emanations of the sweet benevolence of Jesus Christ; when we behold the fragrant rose and lily, we see his love and purity. So the green trees and fields, and singing of birds, are the emanations of his infinite joy and benignity; the easiness and naturalness of trees and vines [are] shadows of his infinite beauty and loveliness; the crystal rivers and murmuring streams have the footsteps of his sweet grace and bounty. When we behold the light and brightness of the sun, the golden edges of an evening cloud, or the beauteous bow, we behold the adumbrations of his glory and goodness; and the blue skies, of his mildness and gentleness. There are also many things wherein we may behold his awful majesty: in the sun in his strength, in comets, in thunder, in the towering thunder clouds, in ragged rocks and the brows of mountains. That beauteous light with which the world is filled in a clear day is a lively shadow of his spotless holiness and happiness, and delight in communicating himself.”

Then we come to man. We are the only creature with the capacity of actually seeing God’s glory in creation. That can happen only when our eyes, blinded by sin, are opened by His grace. Like blind Bartimaeus of old, when our eyes are opened we can finally see the face of God.

SHALL NOT WANT

Ps.23:1 – The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

The world lives in a state of want. Enough is never enough. Billionaires never seem to have enough money, fashionistas never have enough clothes, collectors never have enough stuff. You get the picture, something inside of humans is always wanting. It has to do with the created in the image of God thing. We were created to lean and depend on Him for everything. In our present fallen condition that just doesn’t seem to be working. There is never enough stuff because stuff is not what we need. Our need is supernatural. In other words only God will do. Only when you are made new by the Spirit and become a sheep of His pasture will the wanting stop. When Christ is your shepherd, you can say with David “I shall not want” Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this.

“I might want otherwise, but when the Lord is my Shepherd he is able to supply my needs, and he is certainly willing to do so, for his heart is full of love, and therefore “I shall not want.” I shall not lack for temporal things. Does he not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can he leave his children to starve?…..Others, far wealthier and wiser than I, may want, but “I shall not.” “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” It is not only “I do not want,” but “I shall not want.” Come what may, if famine should devastate the land, or calamity destroy the city, “I shall not want.” Old age with its feebleness shall not bring me any lack, and even death with its gloom shall not find me destitute. I have all things and abound; not because I have a good store of money in the bank, not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because “The Lord is my shepherd.”

He satisfies us completely and supplies for us continuously. The world’s markets may crumble, but I shall not want. There could even be droughts and famines but there are ravens and widows set aside for His sheep. If you are His child you can say with David “I shall not want”. No matter what circumstances face you, the Lord is your Shepherd.