Lessons on Leadership from Nehemiah
The young man had no hope of any cure. He was a paralytic (Mark. 2:1-12). There was no rehab to help him rise from his bed. His life was totally dependent on others. He needed help with even the most of needs in life. His friends could run, jump,and play. He is bound to the bed. The future for opportunities were almost nil. What does he have to look forward to?
However, one thing he does have is four friends. Four faithful friends. Four dependable friends. Four determined friends.
The Miracle Worker is in town. The house where He is, is filled to the brim. No one can even get through the door. But his friends are determined to get him before Jesus. So, they tear a hole in the roof and let him down. Jesus sees the man on his bed and tells him to arise and that his sins have been forgiven. The man rises, and walks. This created quite a stir, not because the man got up and walked off, but because He also said, “Your sins are forgiven.” Jesus then asks those who are stirred which is easier to say, “Arise take up thy bed and walk or thy sins are forgiven?” Well, if a man is told to take up his bed and he does not walk, then everything else is a rouse. But if he rises and takes up his bed and walks, then when he is told his sins have been forgiven, there is power behind it. If Jesus can speak and they rise and walk, Jesus can also forgive sins, therefore, showing His power, position, and His priorities. He is God in the flesh, and He came to seek and save.
Do we see Him for who He is? Do we see He can forgive sins today? Will we be like the friends or those who confront Jesus?The friends got what Jesus said and did, so did the man. Others missed it completely. The Lord proved He had the authority to forgive sins. Healing the physical malady was a sign that He had that authority.
Prayer: Our Lord, we want eyes to see who You are. We read about the sign and know You can heal. More than that, itconfirms You can forgive sins. Healing the flesh is a tremendous blessing but, greater is healing the soul. We pray for open minds and great opportunities to confess You are Lord.
In this reading we’re introduced to her. We don’t know her name. We don’t know much about her story. What we know is that she’s bent double - unable to straighten up. Have you ever thrown out your back and found yourself stooped over, unable to straighten up? Can you imagine living like that for a length of time? Your life is bound/restricted, forced to look at what no one pays attention to – the ground, feet, all that lies beneath. Unable to pick something up, like a child. Imagine sleeping – unable to stretch yourself out. This was her life. For 18 years she suffered with this ailment.
But there’s something beautiful and powerful God reveals about this woman. Where is she when we meet her in this story? She’s in the synagogue - the place of worship and learning. She has been sick for 18 years, likely praying for healing/help/relief. Yet where is she? The synagogue. She hadn’t given up on God. She didn’t allow her crippled body to cripple her faith. Nearly 20 years of suffering, and she still worshipped God. What an example she is!
In v. 12 it says that Jesus saw her. It’s not just that He noticed her. When you look at v. 16, Jesus said she had been bound for 18 long years (NASB). He saw her suffering. He saw the years of struggle. He saw her, and saw her pain. Without a doubt this woman had been seen/noticed by others. They had seen her walk by (probably annoyed she wasn’t moving faster in a crowd). They might have known her as, “that woman that’s always bent over.” They saw her but never really saw her.
He calls her over and tells her in v. 12 that she’s free of her sickness. But it doesn’t end there. He laid His hands on her. There have been times when Jesus healed without touching (Matt. 8:13). Here Jesus touched. One of the reasons would have been to show that this miracle, this healing, the power came from Jesus. She was made erect after He laid His hands on her. Touch communicates love/care. Studies have been shown that doctors who
come in and lay their hands on their patients recover more than the doctors who stand at a distance telling the news. Jesus touched those who wouldn’t have been touched like lepers, Without a doubt this woman had been bumped into, but Jesus brings healing with a gentle touch.
What was her reaction (v. 13) she was made erect “stood tall” and glorified God. She’s been freed from her sickness, freed from her restricted position, freed from having to worship looking down – she is free to stand tall and reach towards the heavens worshipping God
Not everyone is amazed and thrilled. The synagogue official is indignant. Irate. Furious. Outraged. Irritated. Bothered. Instead of rubbing his eyes in awe he’s raising his voice in anger. Who does he address? The audience. He’s trying to get the crowd back on his side. He’s mad that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, confused on the difference between what God said and what man taught. This angry official judges the woman’s intentions, that she only came to be healed, not out of her devotion to God - and tells her that she should have waited.
Then Jesus speaks. He exposes the man’s hypocrisy - these Jews untied their donkey to give it the basic needs for life – water and food. That wasn’t considered work. Jesus is saying, I just did the same thing. I untied this woman from her disease. That’s the hypocrisy. It’s ok for you to untie your animal, but not for me to untie this woman from Satan? This woman – a daughter of Abraham. She belongs to God’s people. She is a
woman of faith. It’s a term of endearment. This synagogue official made a judgment about her faith – yet Jesus praises her for her faith. She is valuable. Satan has bound for 18 long years – shouldn’t she have been released? She’s waited long enough. You’re telling her she should have waited for another day. She’s waited a long time. Why not today? Wouldn’t today be a perfect day?
From this he and all his opponents were being humiliated. There were sympathizers with the synagogue leader. They were embarrassed, humiliated by their evil, their hypocrisy. By this reasoning they cared more for their donkey than they did for this woman. The rest of the crowd was rejoicing over all that was being done v. 17.
There’s a lesson for us – are there some people in my life that I not really see? Are there people bent over with health problems, family problems, worry, stress, guilt, temptation – and I don’t see them. Many of us do good wearing masks (everything is always fine). Sometimes we can tell by the way they look, act, something is wrong. Would I see it? Jesus saw those in need. He saw those overlooked. He saw people’s suffering. Oh to be like Jesus, to have eyes that see, a heart that consider the needs of others. “Open my eyes Lord, I want to see like You.”
Christ of compassion, how touched I am to see your love and kindness. How amazed I am to see how moved you were with those who hurt. How comforted I am to see how you comforted the suffering with your healing touch. How strengthened I am to see you confront the hearts hardened by pride. Lord I want to see like you. Open my eyes, soften my heart, renew my spirit to see those in my life as you see them. Help me to see past the masks we wear, to see the needs of others, to see how I can help and serve as you would. In the way I live with others, Lord help me to be more like you.
All of Jesus’ miracles go beyond the literal fact in that there are great spiritual lessons to be learned from them. John referred to them as “signs,” meaning that they have significance beyond the outward. They point us to something deeper. Spurgeon said, “They are sermons to the eye just as His spoken discourses were sermons to the ear”. Even so, this account of Jesus raising this young man to life and giving him back to his mother is saying something beyond the actual facts of the matter. It shows us that the life-giving word of Christ is a message of hope and power in a world of despair and weakness.
This woman who had lost her husband was now in despair over the loss of her only son (Luke 7:11-17). Of course, she was powerless in the face of death. But Christ’s life-giving word brought hope and power into that dismal scene.
The Lord felt compassion for her (Luke 7:13). He felt deeply for this hurting woman. She did not ask the Lord to raise her son it. This miracle came totally from Christ’s great compassion and love. It was all of grace. Just as then, today He is our sympathetic High Priest. That kind of compassion brings hope. In our despair, we are prone to feel like nobody understands. Our loneliness intensifies the despair. But to know that someone else feels with us brings a ray of hope. We are not alone! Jesus understands and cares!
Jesus’ words, “Do not weep,” would have been insensitive if He had not been able to do something about her problem. He is lovingly calling upon this woman for a spark of trust in Himself. He is tenderly saying, “Look to Me! I can do something about the cause of your grief.”
Also, there is the hope that comes through His Word. It was His word that brought this young boy back to life. The power of God’s Word gives us great hope, because it is able to bring change to our hopeless situations.
The gospel is a message of compassion and great hope. It has the power to raise a sinner from death toile just as Jesus raised this young man. The life-giving word of Christy is a message of hope and power in a world of despair and weakness. Jesus is Lord over death When He spoke His life-giving word the dead arose, sat up, and began to speak. Christ delights to give new life.
Prayer: Lord there is power in Your word. We want the compassion that you had toward those who need the life You provide. We want to share the hope that delivers others from despair. May we be instruments of Your peace by sharing by Your word.
There’s more than meets the eye. On this day Jesus is invited to the house of a ruler of the Pharisees for dinner. People who before expressed great disdain towards the Lord are now having Him to their home for a meal. That seems like a kind gesture at face value - but there’s more than meets the eyes. Luke records that they were “watching him carefully.” This “kind gesture” was nothing more than a trap.
There was a man at the dinner who was sick. He had dropsy - a buildup of fluid in one’s tissues. Can you see the scene? It’s the Sabbath, here’s a man who is sick, and here is Jesus. Isn’t it sad that they knew Jesus enough to try and exploit Him. They knew His heart for hurting people. They knew He had worked wonders on the Sabbath before. They knew Jesus enough to create a trap.
What is Jesus to do? He does what He always does - unafraid, unashamed, Jesus addressed their hypocrisy, and healed the man who was sick. Were they truly watching Him carefully they would see His love for His Father, and His faithfulness to the laws He spoke into existence those thousands of years before. They’d see His compassion and kindness. They’d see His power, the clear evidence that He is not merely a man, but the Son of Man - the Son of God.
Why would Jesus go to a dinner knowing it was a trap? Because there’s more than meets the eye with Jesus. He didn’t go to the dinner for just the man drowning in fluid. He went for those who invited Him, those drowning in sin. He came to reach the hard hearts with His compassion and correction. He came because He cared.
It’s easy to claim that we “know” God without really knowing Him. “I can’t come back to church, I can’t come back to God - I know God. I know what He would say.” Those words often spoken or felt comes from one who knows God is holy and righteous, that He has expectations for our lives. But with God there is more than meets the eyes. We often look at God through the lens of our relationships with others on Earth. But no one loves like God loves. The psalmist says He is,
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
Merciful, forgiving, willing to give a second chance, will always love me? That’s our God. And those laws which seem so restricting and controlling change their appearance when we realize they are gifts of a loving God, designed to help us live the best like possible - like guardrails keeping us on the road, away from serious danger.
When we “watch God closely” do we only see anger, disappointment, cold laws from a distant law-giver? Do we see His love? Do we see His desire for our best? Do we see His daily help, His constant care, how interested and invested He is in our lives? It could be time for me to admit that with God there’s more than meets the eyes!
Lord of glory, to You I bring praise. You are above all, know all, and see all. Thank you for seeing the potential in every heart, even those who only saw You as a threat and an enemy. Thank you for seeing a man who was hurting, a man who was in need of grace and compassion, rather than an object to be used, a decoy for the people’s deception. I pray you open my eyes to see You as you truly are. Overcome my bias and my preconceived judgments with Your true image revealed through Your words. And in seeing You, help me to strive ever more to pursue You in my heart and in my life”
Jesus is headed toward Jerusalem where He will meet with His appointed destiny. He is traveling somewhere along the border between Samaria and Galilee, where He enters a village and encounters ten leprous men. According to the Law, they keep their distance, but they recognize Jesus and cry out to Him for mercy.
Leprosy is a dreaded disease that is a picture of sin. This is alluded to by the fact that the lepers are cleansed (17:14, 17). Leprosy rendered a man ceremonially defiled, so that if he was healed, he still had to go to the priest and carry out an extensive ritual of cleansing before he could be accepted back into the religious community and worship (Lev. 14).
While the physical disease was horrible, the terrible social consequences in ancient Israel only added to the misery. According to Josephus, lepers were treated “as if they were, in effect, dead men.” The Mosaic Law prescribed that the person be cut off from society, including his family. He had to wear torn clothing, have his head uncovered, cover his lips and shout “Unclean! Unclean!” wherever he went to warn others to keep their distance (Lev. 13:45).
Jesus simply instructs them to go and show themselves to the priests. As they were going, they were cleansed. But only one of the ten, a Samaritan, turns back to glorify God and give thanks to Jesus for His great mercy and power. Thankfulness is an act of humility. It acknowledges our debt to the other person. Clearly, Jesus was pleased with the expression of thanks from the one and grieved at the absence of the other nine.
Now, here’s the kicker: The Bible wants all of us to see ourselves before Christ as spiritual lepers in His sight. God wants us all to see that our hearts are deceitful and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9), sick with sin, unclean before the holy God. Furthermore, just as this awful disease of leprosy separated the leper from the community, so sin causes distance and rupture in human relationships, often among family members. Just as only God could heal this dreaded disease, so only God can heal and cleanse the human heart from the awful disease of sin. Every day we should be filled with gratitude for all that the Savior did for us when we were spiritual lepers before Him.
Lord: We want to be people filled with gratitude. The cleaning You provided is more than we could ever expect. We are drawn by Your mercy. By Your mercy you cleansed us of our sins. Ho dare we fail to say, “Thank you!? We bow before You because we owe everything to You and can claim nothing from ourselves.