Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Jesus Christ P38 (01-19-21)
A topic that often comes up is praying for healing, as we hear about these so-called healing ministries. As difficult as it is to see a loved one paralyzed or maimed, it is still not our place to heal at will. God is the one in authority over all things, and He also did not heal everyone. For example, He did not heal those in his hometown and marveled at their lack of faith. Then there is this faulty idea that if I had enough faith then this or that person would be healed. That is so damaging, this teaching, causing people so much heartbreak and pain.
There is this improper emphasis on my faith, or on me, to do something. But faith is in the person of Jesus Christ. This faith is expressed through a child of God, in a dynamic, relational faith in Christ, through someone who knows God and is operating on the basis of what is true. This faith is a trust in the will of he Father just as Jesus had.
Jesus is the perfect example of what it means to walk in faith. We are to imitate, not his actions, for those were what God told him to do. And God certainly does not ask us to die on a cross for the sins of the world. But He told Jesus to do so. So we must look into these things and ponder these things more carefully, otherwise we could be believing error and caught up in all kinds of unnecessary heartbreak, pain and even doubt of God’s love for us because we are believing in a God of our own imagination. Do we expect Him to act in the way we want Him to act instead of relying on the perfect love of God, in His timing and His way?
This all goes back to the purpose of the miracles of Jesus, identifying Himself as the promised Messiah to Israel, and in accordance with the plan of God for the redemption and salvation of mankind. So when we look at Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, do you not recall that Jesus had waited four days when Mary and Martha first called him to come? For us, any time is right, and usually we want immediate action, but Jesus is always right on time. When Jesus did come to the house of Mary and Martha, Lazarus had already died. So did God not care? Of course Jesus cared. Jesus always acts right on time, in accordance with the will of His Father. He did not do anything unless the Father told him to do it and He did not say anything unless the Father told him to say and what He said was exactly as the Father wanted Him to say. Jesus lived in total dependency upon His Father.
So at the right time, Jesus called Lazarus out from the grave, and he was made alive. But what to me is more profound is what Jesus said to Martha, when Martha had said to him, “If you had only been here my brother would not have died.” Jesus spoke to her spiritual truth that speaks more than just a physical healing. He told her about new spiritual life that He came to give, and that He is that life.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
How many times do you observe that when Jesus performed a miracle, he performed a miracle far greater than the actual physical miracle. He captivates the hearts of men. He speaks deep into their deepest need in their spirit, a need of new spiritual life. Here is Peter, who comes to recognize his sinful condition, and tells Jesus to turn away from him, yet Jesus responds with such tenderness and tells him not to be afraid. Here you have a blind man who asks for sight, and later he receives new spiritual life, more than just physical sight. You hear the man born lame, and God tells him his sins are forgiven and then he heals him physically. There was always some spiritual truth that grabs the attention and heart of the one who was healed or the one who saw a miracle performed on his behalf. That is the amazing love of God, that he meets a need we hardly knew we had that is deeper than the need we even asked for. Our understanding is often so small, focused only on the things of the natural world, but God illuminates our understanding to those things of a spiritual nature, which is really what we need, and is the greater need.
As we said before, the miracles of Jesus always had a spiritual truth that needed to be revealed to mankind. Jesus wanted Mary and Martha, and you and me today, to know that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. In other words, this life down here is temporary. We shall all die, but there is a life called eternal life, that is far superior to a physical life with indwelling sin. God wants to put His very life inside each and every one of us so that not only for that one day, that after our body returns to dust, we will get a new immortal body not plagued with sin and death and see Jesus as He really is, but also so that you can have that relationship with God right now in your mortal body, so you can experience by faith all that God desires for you; the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. In Christ, you learn to allow Him to work the fruit of the Spirit in you and through you. This peace is not as the world gives, because that is only temporary peace. The joy that God gives is something that does not depend on circumstances, and who can explain it? It surpasses understanding.
Now let us go to John 4:49-52 and see another example of Christ performing a miracle.
49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
In other words, he had encountered him and was begging Jesus to come, because he had a child that was dying.
50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”
Now, that is all Jesus said.
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”
53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.
54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.
What was the purpose of the miracle? So he and his household would believe. What was the miracle? Well, at the very time Jesus told him, “Go home. Your son will live.”, the fever broke and his son lived. Once again, it tells us that when Jesus says, “I have been given all authority on heaven and earth, over all things”, we realize Jesus also has the authority over these types of things. He has the authority to say that the boy is going to live. The fever is going to break. Why? Because the Father told him to.
17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
There again, there is a misconception, that many times is in the Christian faith. We believe that if Jesus did that, and he can just heal at will, then I guess we can. The issue is, “Yes, he could, but he didn’t.” In other words, did Christ heal everybody he came in contact with? No, he did not. How come? Did he not have compassion? Did he not have the power to do so? What was the problem there?
4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.
The issue is Jesus said, “In my humanity, I walk in total dependency upon my Father and I do nothing unless the Father tells me to do it. If the Father tells me to do it, I will do it. He will do it through me. But if the Father does not tell me, I do not do anything.”
49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
So when Jesus said to this man, “Go home. Your son is going to be well”, it is because the Father told him the son is well. So Jesus has authority to say, “Your son is well”. How could he have known that unless God had told him? So that is what the entire Christian is about today. It is listening to what Jesus says. That is what took place. The man took him at his word, stepping out and acting on that.
If a person is walking in a newness of life, and God will never tell him to do something contrary to the word of God, then you act upon that and you are going to see a miracle in front of your face. That is the way a miracle takes place.
We have people today who are involved in a teaching that is very heretical in nature, that we come down to the point where we think, “I am a new creation. Jesus lives in me, and I am in his body, and I have been given all authority, so everything that I think, and everything I say must be from Jesus.” Thinking like that, I am like a little Jesus, and I have become a little god here on this earth even though scripture says we cannot discern good from evil. We say “Yes we can discern good from evil and right from wrong” not realizing that the only way you, as a child of God can discern good from evil and right from wrong if you discern it out of the word of God, but so instead you make it up on your own, and you make decisions on your own, such as judging man’s motives and thoughts. Unless you are God, you better stay out of that arena. Yet people are teaching that.
There are people teaching that we do not have flesh. It is just gone. They say, “We do not have indwelling sin living in us. It is just plain gone.” Now, I look at that and say, “You will have to tear up a lot of scriptures with that type of teaching.” Paul very definitely states the fact that it is no longer I doing it but it is sin living in me. That is just one passage among many.
16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[sin-indwelling flesh] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
Also, take a look at your mindset and your actions and interview your wife and your husband, if you do not think you have indwelling sin living in you. What is taking place is people are getting puffed up with these idle notions, that “Christ is alive living in me and I do not have a sin nature any more”, or “I do not have indwelling sin.” I still have a human nature just like I have a spiritual nature.
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
I only have one identity. I do not have two identities. I am not a child of God and a child of the devil at the same time. Before I came to Christ, I was a child of the devil. It makes no difference how nice I was or how I acted. That is who I was. My father was that of the devil. Today, I am a child of God. I only have one identity but that identity lives in a body of flesh. In that body that we live in, it has indwelling sin living in it. I have a nature that is human and that new identity that I have is living, or indwelling, in a nature that is human.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
So there is where the conflict comes. It will always be warring. The spirit will always be warring against the flesh and the flesh against the spirit. That will be going on until we go on to be with the Lord. Ejected out of this body is then where we will strictly be a spiritual being. We will be out of this body and see Him as He really is. I cannot wait for that day, and I am sure everyone around me cannot wait for that day as well. That is the condition of man, and we have to understand that.
1 John 3:1-3
1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
As a spiritual being, I have the ability to listen to what God is saying, matching that up to the word of God. If it is contrary in any way, then it is not God telling you. But if it is consistent, then we can act upon it and we will see a miracle of God.
Let us look at Luke 7:11-16 for another miracle of Jesus.
11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”
You take a look at that, first of all, what was the motivation for raising the dead man? First of all, it shows the compassion of God. Once again, Jesus did nothing unless the Father told him to. So the compassion of God said, “I am going to raise that boy.” The Lord saw her. His heart went out to her, “Don’t cry”. In other words, it was motivated by compassion. How did he do it? He touched the coffin. He said “Young man, get up”. He spoke in the authority God gave him to speak. God told him what to say. Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you get up.” And the young man got up. So when God says, “get up”, you might as well get up. There is no sense in lying around any longer. So what was the response to that. They said, “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”
17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
Once again, those miracles were constantly what God used to solidify the truth that Jesus, the one that I have written about, the whole Old Testament is about, that the Messiah is here. Those miracles were proving that to the people to whom he had written in the Old Testament that He was coming and is now stating He is here.
Let us look at Matthew 20:30-34 about the blind man.
30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
There again, you see the compassion of God there. Here were some men. What kind of faith did those men have? They knew something, for they referred to Jesus as the Lord, the son of David. They understood that. They asked for mercy upon us. So, Jesus asked them, “What do you want me to do?” We want our sight. So he touched their eyes and gave them sight. What was the result of that? They got up and followed him.
Following him not for the rest of their lives to be on a circuit talking about how I once was blind but now I see, but of seeing how that physical healing was a picture of the spiritual healing that is more important than any physical healing will ever begin to be. To realize that we are blind spiritually and to be able to see spiritually is the greatest miracle that will ever occur on the face of this earth.
My spiritual birth back in 1969 is the greatest miracle I will ever experience. There is nothing to equal that. One day I was going in one direction and the next day I was going in another. One day I was blind as a bat, and the next day you can see the wonders of Christ Jesus. One day being a total illiterate to spiritual things and the next day getting into the bible and being able to understand and absorb spiritual things, a total new birth in Christ, the greatest miracle that man will ever experience.
Let us take a look at another miracle with Lazarus.
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
Do you remember that Lazarus was dead, all wrapped up in his grave clothes. Jesus told them to take away the stone, and they took away the stone. Listen again to what Jesus prayed.
“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
What is the purpose of raising this Lazarus from the dead? So people may believe that God sent Jesus to this world.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
So his prayer was not to get God to do something because God tells him what He is going to do. He is not telling God what to do. God is telling him and He is doing it. His prayer, in essence, was being able to say, “over and out”. I know what you want me to do, and I am going to do it. The benefit of this is going to be that these people out here, who do not know, will know that you are the one who sent me, and I am the one whom you sent.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
They were in a graveyard. You look at that, and he said, “Lazarus, come out!”. For if he just said “Come out”, all of them would have come out. It would have been a mass exodus out of the grave. So he said, “Lazarus, come out!”
44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
This is the response of many Jews.
45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
Recall the conversation Jesus had with Martha when he first arrived when Lazarus was dead.
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
His physical miracles were always done for the purpose of explaining a spiritual truth. There is also a terrific spiritual truth with the command to take off the grave clothes and let him go. There are a lot of people who are walking around alive, just like Lazarus came alive. Now, he was dead. Now, what about us?
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins
Most of us come out of death into a bunch of grave clothes. Today, in the religious world, there are all kinds of people who have grave clothes on. They are wrapped in items of death. They are wrapped up in thoughts of death and destruction, rather than of life and love and compassion. There are people today that we can get ourselves wrapped up in legalistic grave clothes, thoughts that are totally contrary to the word of God, that after a while begin to plague us and control our lives. Jesus said, “I came to seek and to save the lost.” He said, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” He said that the thief in the night comes to steal, kill and destroy. I came to give life.”
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
47 For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Folks, we ask ourselves the question, when we are setting about trying to destroy people, their reputations, their ministries, their families, their children, or whatever else it might be, how in the world could we ever think that that kind of mindset was coming from God? Did Jesus come to destroy His own work? No. Did He come to destroy His own workman? No. Did He come to destroy families? No. Did He come to destroy churches? No. Did He come to destroy ministries that are sometimes heretical in their teaching? No. The fact is He said, “Do not try to pull the weeds out. You will also get a hold of good grass. Leave that for me. Do not go in and try to play God. You will mess things up.”
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
So Jesus never came to kill and destroy. He came to lift up, to encourage and to build. Whenever we have a mindset that is contrary to that mindset of restoration, not condemnation, we have to realize that is a mindset of Satan. That is not a mindset of God. It is the mindset of Satan. Those are grave clothes that Jesus says, “take them off and go free”.
It is always exciting to realize the miracles of Jesus and to read about them. Once again, we have to look at that and say, “Okay, what was the conclusion to all of this?” “What was the main purpose of all these miracles?” As we talked about at the very beginning, in Acts 2, “men of Israel, listen to this.”
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.
We also look in Acts 2:32-36.
32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’[Psalm 110:1]
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
So, God’s final confirmation to His relationship with Jesus Christ was spelled out in this passage of scripture, that He made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Then we ask, “What did Jesus’ miracles accomplish and did they accomplish their purpose in the people?” Keep reading.
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
Again, what does that mean? It means to change your mind. Be identified. Baptized was a means of identification. It was a word used to dye cloth. You come in with a white cloth, dye it in red and you come out with a red cloth. Who were the Jews identified with? Judaism. If you were to ask a Jew, “What do you believe in?” He would have told you, “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. If you were to ask them, “How do you receive forgiveness of sins?” They would have said, “You go to the day of atonement and allow a priest to represent us before God, in the slaying of an animal, and put blood on an altar and transfer our sins onto a sinless animal and letting him be a sacrifice, or atonement, for sins.” He says, “You need to change your mind on that. You need to repent.”
Your identification was being a Jew. Now I want your identification to be in Jesus. He alone is the forgiveness of your sins. No one is baptized for the forgiveness of sin. Water cannot forgive sin. A baptism, or the means of identification, was to be identified now with Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Only Christ can forgive sins. Your sins are forgiven by coming to the resurrected Christ.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
In Him, in His resurrected life, you have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
You do not get forgiveness of sin, redemption, in water. You have it in Christ. We are baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ. That is where forgiveness of sins takes place. Christ comes to live in you. He places us into His body by the Holy Spirit of God and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, as we read.
And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
When they were baptized, they were placed into the body of Christ.
Philip Schafff, well-known historian, and author of The History of the Christian Church states, “Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammad and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine, than all the philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of the school, He spoke words of life such as were never spoken before, nor since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet. Without writing a single line, He has set more pens in motion and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, works of art, learned volumes, and sweet songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times. Born in a manger and crucified as a malefactor, He now controls the destinies of the civilized world and rules a spiritual empire which embraces one-third of the inhabitants of the globe.”
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
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