The Faithful Prayers of Family and Friends (Part III)

Christ heals boy

(Another two-weeks-worth of lydslookonlife)

Sometimes, reading the four Gospels can be confusing, at least for me. For example, take the account of a desperate father coming to Jesus and pleading for his son to be healed, recorded in the Synoptic Gospels:

book of matthewBook of Lark

Book of Luke

 

“When they came to the crowd, a man came up to [Jesus] and, kneeling before Him, said, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not heal him.’ And Jesus answered, ‘O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.’ And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly” (Matthew 17:14-18 [English Standard Version]).

“And when [Jesus, Peter, James and John] came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw [Jesus] were greatly amazed and ran up to Him and greeted Him. And He asked them, ‘What are you arguing about?’ And someone from the crowd answered Him, ‘Teacher, I brought my son to You, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.’ And He answered them, ‘O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to Him. And when the spirit saw Him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has this happened to him?” And he said, ‘From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘“IF You can’! All things are possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out [with tears] and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ And when Jesus saw that the crowd came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You mute and deaf spirit, come out of him and never enter him again.’ And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when [Jesus] entered the house, His disciples asked Him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ And He said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer [and fasting]” (Mark 9:14-29 [E.S.V.]).

“And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.’ Jesus answered, ‘O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’ While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him to his father” (Luke 9:38-42 [E.S.V.])

FULL MOON

In Matthew’s account, the word “epileptic” is used in the English Standard Version and New King James Versions of the Christian Bible. The New American Standard Version and King James Version use the word “lunatic“, from the Greek word’s meaning of “moonstruck.” The term “epileptic” [or “lunatic”] is used twice in the New Testament, in Matthew 4:24 and 17:15. In those days, “epileptic” could be used to describe people having any type of seizures or even insanity. The New International Version says, “He has seizures.” In Mark and Luke, the boy’s father says that his son is “possessed by a spirit” and “a spirit seizes him.” (See http://www.gotquestions.org/epilepsy-bible.html)

What was the matter with the boy whose symptoms included screaming outbursts, foaming at the mouth, lack of speech, falling, rigidity and self-harm? Did he have a brain disorder we now know as epilepsy or was he demon-possessed?

Christ heals the sick

Judging by how Jesus healed the boy in all three Gospels, I believe the boy was demon-possessed and the demon used epileptic-type symptoms to torture the boy (and his father). However, this one example does not mean that everyone with epilepsy is demon-possessed. That would be a very wrong assumption. That would be like saying all people who are blind are demon-possessed because of the account in Matthew 12:22: “Then they brought Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see” (N.I.V). In reading through the Gospels, we read about Jesus healing many people who were blind but not also demon-possessed. The Bible separates epilepsy from demon-possession in Matthew 4:24: “So [Jesus’] fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought Him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, paralytics, and He healed them” (E.S.V.).

Brain

In New Testament times, people had very little knowledge of the human body, let alone the brain and the medical science which can now successfully treat various brain abnormalities, traumatic brain injuries and mental illness. The people were not able to distinguish between brain disorders and demon-possession. I believe many people were “misdiagnosed” as being demon-possessed whenever the illness was of unknown origin, and this went on throughout the centuries (I will not go into the “Salem Witch Trials” and other atrocities done out of stupidity and ignorance and closed-mindedness and NOT from the Holy Spirit). But, in the 21st Century we no longer have any excuses. As Christians who love God and desire to live in His Truth, we need to educate ourselves and have a better understanding of various medical conditions people are dealing with, especially individuals who worship with us in church. Googling is a wonderful thing. For example, just off the top of my head, you can google the question, “Does everyone with cerebral palsy have learning difficulties?” If you know me, a person with cerebral palsy, the answer to this question will not surprise you. The internet is a cool tool to find out information on all sorts of stuff, but it will never replace the extended hand of friendship when it comes to getting to know a person and empathizing with them.

me writing

As followers of Christ, we need to demonstrate Christian love and acceptance towards people who have physical and mental medical conditions and we need to value and learn from each other’s experiences. As the body of Christ, we must get rid of old stigmas which come from ignorance and hearsay and down right stupidity, which cause people to suffer in silence. Brain disorders, such as epilepsy and cerebral palsy, clinical depression and other illnesses of the brain are conditions which can be medically treated and managed, so that people can lead successful lives. These conditions are most likely not caused by demon possession in this day and age because of Christ‘s work on the cross (Colossians 2:15).

Jesus Hug

With that said, I do believe that Satan is real and causes evil all around the world and all around us. However, as Christians, the devil cannot possess us, because we belong to Jesus Christ and nothing will ever take us away from Him (See Romans 8:38-39). Satan does try his “damnedest” to oppress us with his conniving lies and “devilish” schemes. That is why prayer, Bible study, corporate worship and fellowship with other believers in Christ who are accepting and validating are so vitally important to our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual wellbeing (See II Corinthians 10:3-5 and Ephesians 6:10-18).

a. christ trusting

Going back to the story of the father and his only son: Why does Matthew record the father saying that his son was an “epileptic” and Mark and Luke record him saying that he “has a spirit”? The father probably said all of the above; anything to get Jesus’ attention. Can you see in your mind’s eye the unconditional tireless love this father had for his only son who was being tortured so? Can you hear the anguish and desperation in his voice? “But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” There was caution in his voice because Jesus’ disciples were not able to heal his son. Jesus encouraged the father to believe in Him by saying, “‘IF I can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” The father was honest and sincere in his reply: “I believe; help my unbelief.” This father had a courageous, yet humble faith, just as the Canaanite woman had, and Jesus honored his humble honesty and healed his son.

Before this healing took place, in all three Gospel accounts, Jesus expressed anger and frustration: “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you?” (Luke 9:41a). Who was Jesus talking to? This will be our topic in two weeks.

Christ's cross defeated devil

“He [Jesus] disarmed the [demonic] rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him [by the cross]” (Colossians 2:15 [E.S.V.]).

HALLEJUJAH (PRAISE THE LORD)! AMEN (SO BE IT)!

The LydcHRISTIAN BLOGGER WOMAN

 

Lydia

The Faithful Prayers of Family and Friends (Part II)

(Think of this post as two-weeks worth and it won’t seem so long.)

wolman at the wellwedding in cana

Some Scripture passages are very hard to understand, especially those in which Jesus is not the Jesus I’ve grown to know. For example, take the account of the Canaanite woman coming to ask Jesus for her daughter’s healing from demon possession (See Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-29): On the surface, Jesus appears very mean and insulting. He is not the Jesus who treated a “sinful” woman with compassion and forgiveness (See Luke 7:36-50). He is not the Jesus who talked with the Samaritan woman at the well (See John 4:7-26), when it was unheard of for a Hebrew teacher [rabbi] to talk to a woman in public, let alone a Samaritan (foreign) woman. This is not the Jesus who obeyed His mother, even though it was not His time to begin his ministry, and turned water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana (See John 2:1-11) (You can learn a lot about a man by how he treats his mom). What happened to Jesus that made Him respond to the Canaanite woman in such a harsh way? This is when I need help from reliable biblical resources to get answers. After reading many, the website that makes the most sense to me is: christianthinktank.com/qcrude.html.

Christ healin mobGRAIN PICKING

In the passage found in Mark, it reads “Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre” (v. 24). It’s always good to read a passage of Scripture in its context. In Mark 6:53-56, we read that Jesus and His disciples left Gennesaret and neighboring villages and towns, after being mobbed by the people who wanted Jesus to heal them. In the beginning of Chapter 7, Jesus and His disciples were questioned by the Pharisees and teachers of the law about their “unclean” habits. This is why Jesus took his disciples near Tyre, not to the town itself but, to a secluded house for a REST. Jesus wanted His disciples to rest, much like He wants us to rest in Him and recharge our batteries from time to time, even weekly or even for a time each day. Let’s look at the parallel passage in Matthew 15:22-28:

book of matthew

“Leaving that place, Jesus and His disciples withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sydon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to Him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.’ Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to Him and urged Him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’ The woman came and knelt before Him. ‘Lord, help me!’ she said. He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she said, ‘but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith. Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”

How did this woman find Jesus and His disciples? Answer: She was a courageous mother who would stop at nothing to help her daughter. She knew more about Jesus than many of the Hebrew religious leaders did or would admit. She was a Gentile and even considered to be a “pagan” by the Jewish religious leaders. She knew that Jesus was the One everyone was waiting for. She knew that Jesus would help her daughter.

GOING ASTRAY

Why didn’t Jesus answer her at first? Answer: Jesus used this as a teachable moment for His disciples. He was waiting for them to respond to the woman. From a theological point of view, Jesus, the Messiah, was sent to the Jewish Nation, who would accept Him as the Messiah, receive the Holy Spirit and, in turn, evangelize the world (See Romans 11 and 15). This is why Jesus answered the disciples, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (v. 24). [See christianthinktank.com/qcrude.html]

Feeding puppies at the table

What was Jesus doing calling the woman “a dog” (v. 26)? Answer [christianthinktank.com/qcrude.html]: “Jesus uses a mini-parable or household image about children getting temporary priority at feeding time over their play-pet puppies….Seeing exactly the subtle hint that Jesus has provided in the image, she agrees with Jesus…and points out that sometimes the puppies get little morsels BEFORE their regular feeding time, by simply hanging around the dinner table and catching the parts not used by the kids. Jesus is deeply moved by such a powerful faith – He addresses her with ‘O, Woman!’ (v. 28)…indicating deep emotional response.” [This same response was also used by Jesus in addressing His mother in John 2:4a: “Dear woman…”]

Canaanite Woman

“Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour” (v. 28). The Canaanite mother, not the Pharisees and teachers of the law who knew all about the coming of the Messiah, had “great faith” in Jesus. Unlike the Hebrew religious leaders, she did not take offence with what Jesus was saying to her. Instead, she knew what Jesus was doing and answered Him with a response that showed her great faith and boundless courage in getting what her daughter needed – to be healed and made whole. In the secular world, “courage” and “humility” are often thought of a being polar opposites. The account of Canaanite woman gives an excellent example of how “courage” and “humility” are both found in a genuine faith in Christ.
This explanation of the interaction between Jesus and His disciples, and Jesus and the Canaanite woman makes the most sense to me, because it fits in with the other encounters, recorded in the Gospels, between Jesus and women. Unlike the rabbis of the day, Jesus spoke with women and gave them the dignity and respect all people are given by God Who made us all in His image, both male and female (Genesis 2:27).

(For a more in-depth study, go to christianthinktank.com/qcrude.html, “Why was Jesus so mean and insulting to the Canaanite woman?”)

gifts of the hs 2fruit of the spirit

Sometimes, as with the Canaanite woman, Jesus remains silent to see what His present-day disciples will do when a child is born with “special needs” into their church family”. It states in the christianthinktank website that when Jesus kept silent, his disciples let the Canaanite women into the house they were staying in. Later on, in the Gospels and Book of Acts, we see these same disciples performing healings themselves because they were mandated by Jesus to do so. As we read more of the Book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament, we read less about healings and miracles and more about telling people the “Good News” of Christ reconciling the world to God by His death and resurrection (See II Corinthians 5:14-21). Not many of us have the Spiritual Gifts of Healing and Miracles, but many of us do have the Spiritual Gifts of Mercy, Helps, Giving, Hospitality, Teaching and all of us have the Fruit of the Spirit because the Holy Spirit indwells all Christians (See Romans 8:9-11). As Christians belonging to the Family of God, we are called to help parents of children with “special needs” and incorporate them into church (body) life by doing whatever it takes to minister to them, from ministering to the child, while the parents take part in worship to building ramps and installing elevators. Spiritual gifts are to be used in practical ways, as well as spiritual (prayer).

The Canaanite mother is no different from the mothers of today who fight for their children to be well and to be accepted. She reminds me a lot of my own mom who tirelessly advocated for me. Mothers of children with “special needs” will go to many doctors, hospitals and therapy clinics, trying all sorts of treatments and medications and surgeries, using all sorts of adaptive equipment, tearing down walls to make their homes more accessible, going to great lengths and doing everything it takes to make their children’s lives happier and more productive and more “normal”. They also pray unceasingly for their children. No one can fully understand the anguish they are going through, except others who themselves have children with various disabilities. But, there is Someone else who knows a mother’s broken heart – God Himself. God knows their deepest hurts and wants to fulfill their deepest needs. God listens to their every prayer and answers them one by one or all at once, right now or later, and He teaches us all, through their children, to grow in our faith in Him and to also rest in Him. God knows what it is like to see a Child suffer. God gave His Only Son because He loves us and wants to make us whole. God wants us to be His children. Healing of the body and mind may not happen on this side of heaven, but the healing of the soul means so much more. God is not limited by disabilities to save us all from sin and death and give us eternal life with Him, where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…I [Jesus] am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:4 and 5b).

“For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him (John 3:16-17).

banana split with whip cream

“How great is the love the Father has LAVISHED on us, that we should be called children of God!” (I John 3:1a).
What’s this “demon-possessioin” all about? This will be the topic in 2 weeks.

me writingChrist's hope

Lydia

The Faithful Prayers of Family and Friends (Part I)

a healing touch 2What happens when you can’t pray for your own healing? In my last post we talked about people in the Gospels who asked Jesus to heal them. Jesus did heal them and commended them for their faith. I believe that Jesus was commending their faith not only because they believed Jesus could heal them, but also because they had faith in Jesus Himself (See theologetics.com, “Your Faith Has Saved You”).

2. Did people have to “come to Jesus” to be healed? What about now?

cHRIST HEALING PARALYTIC

In the previous post, we already discussed the paralytic and his friends coming down through the roof of a house to see Jesus (See Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26). I believe Jesus saw the faith of the friends and also the paralytic himself. How else could Jesus say to the young man, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5b; also Luke 5:35)?

Centurion

In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we read about Jesus praising a Roman Centurion (a foreigner not of the Hebrew religion ) for his faith in Jesus to heal his servant who was at his house “paralyzed and in terrible suffering”. The Centurion said to Jesus, “Lord, I do not deserve to have You come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Jesus said to all who were following Him, “’I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith’…Then Jesus said to the Centurion, ‘Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.’ And his servant was healed at that very hour” (See Matthew 8:5-13). The servant was in no shape to go to Jesus himself, so his loving master went in his place. Jesus did not see a “bossy” kind of faith that commanded Jesus to heal his servant. He must have seen other Roman soldiers who arrogantly misused their authority and lorded it over the people in their charge. Most of the Pharisees and Sadducees and teachers of the law were also high-and-mighty in their misuse of authority. But this Roman Centurion had a humble faith. He knew he was a sinner and he knew who Jesus was. That is what Jesus praised him for. I believe Jesus was also extremely moved by the Centurion’s love for his servant, whom he treated as family (Also see Luke 7:1-10). As friends and family members, we have the honor to pray for those we love who may not be able to pray for themselves, for whatever reason. Those who are questioning God do not need a lecture. What they need is our tangible and emotional support and our ceaseless prayers.

Christ and little girl

In another place in the Gospels, Jesus answers a father’s plea to save his daughter from death (Mark 5:21-43): “Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there [where Jesus was]. Seeing Jesus, he fell at His feet and pleaded earnestly with Him, ‘My daughter is dying. Please come and put Your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.’ So Jesus went with him…While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus…[and said] ‘Your daughter is dead’…Jesus said, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’” When Jesus got to Jairus’ house, “He took [the father’s child] by the hand and said to her ‘Tailitha koum!’ (which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’) Immediately the girl stood up and walked around…[Jesus] told [the parents] to give her something to eat.”

Crhist Synogogue Ruler

 

 

Again, we see a man of authority, this time a Hebrew synagogue ruler, come to Jesus in all humility, frightened that his daughter may die. Like the Centurion’s servant, she was in no condition to go to Jesus herself, so Jesus came to her. Jesus said to her father, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Jesus did not rebuke him for being afraid. Isn’t it a natural response to be afraid of losing someone you love? Instead, Jesus encouraged his faith to believe in Him. At the end of the day, Jairus and his wife had a hungry daughter to feed (Also see Luke 8:40-53). In today’s world there are many things that frightened us. Sometimes, even our friends add to our anxiety. Even when they tell us the truth, as Job’s friends did, it’s at the wrong time. It is in those times, Jesus says to us, “Don’t be afraid; just believe [in Me].” Jesus will get us through our most difficult times. I know this is true from my own personal experiences with a physical disability and emotional anxiety.

High School Graduation

The love between a mother and daughter is one of the strongest bonds on earth. I know this by how much my mother loved me and how much I love and miss my mom who passed away four years ago. I saw my mother fight for me, with all her strength, to get an education. Despite my cerebral palsy with its physical limitations, my mother knew I had a keen mind. It is because of her and her prayers that I did get an education. Not only did I graduate from high school, I went on to three colleges and earned a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. All this because of God’s grace and my mother’s love for me, her eldest daughter.

banana split love

We see this same kind of courageous love in the Gospel account of “The Faith of the Canaanite Woman”, in Matthew 15:21-28. We also read another account of a father’s unconditional love for his disabled child, in Matthew 17:14-21 and Mark 8:14-32. This reminds me of my own father who loved me and cared for me, not as his “disabled daughter”, but as his “dear daughter”. I also love my father and miss him from the day he passed away in 2003 to the present day. I will always be thankful to the Lord for my parents who loved me to the end.

We will look at these two Gospel accounts illustrating a mother’s courageous love for her daughter and a father’s unconditional love for his son next time.

The Peace of Christ Be With You!

me writinggratitude

Lydia