Walking Through Ephesians

Walking Through Ephesians

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Feeding of the 5,000

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Today we’re looking at an incredible miracle performed by Jesus. Not including the death, burial, and resurrection, there is one miracle found in all 4 gospels – the feeding of the 5,000. Why was this in all 4 gospels? Perhaps it was because of all the people who had witnessed this miracle. Matthew tell us there were 5,000 men, besides women and children (MT 14:21). There might have been a crowd of 10,000, 15,000, or more! This was also likely the longest miracle. By the time it began, the food was distributed and ended – it likely was the longest to process. 

Let’s start with some of the background to this miracle. MK 6:30 – the apostles had just returned from the limited commission – the first time Jesus sent them out on their own to preach. MT 14:12-13 – Jesus heard about John’s death. John the baptizer was killed by Herod (and his wife) for speaking the truth. Jesus knew the same thing would be happening to Him soon. Thus Jesus and the Apostles wanted to withdraw to reflect on these things. John 6:1-2 – a large crowd sees them, and follows on land to the other side. Luke 9:11-12 – Jesus teaches them about the Kingdom. It gets late, in the evening, and the Apostles do what they typically did – let’s send 

them away. John 6:5-7 – Jesus asks a question to Philip. Notice his answer: If we had 200 denarii (days wage) wouldn’t be enough. That’s a lot of money! Philip quickly does a calculation and sees it as impossible. 

Philip is thinking in small amounts, “everyone to receive a little” – just getting a little bit. He’s thinking about just getting by – that’s not in Jesus’ mind – just enough vs. leaving full. All he saw was the problem – it’s impossible – even though the answer was standing right in front of him. He’s seen Jesus calm the sea, heal the incurable, 

change water to wine – He didn’t say, we have no money, no food, but we have Jesus!” We walk by faith, not by sight. Philip was led by sight, focused on the problems not on God. 

Andrew comes and brings a boy to Jesus who has 5 barley loaves and two fish (v. 9). Often the pictures we see of this are 5 large loaves and two big fish. That’s not the accurate picture. The barley loaves would have been more like small crackers or wafers – and the fish would have been more like dried sardines – a poor man’s food. How could something so small possibly help a problem so great? Jesus has the people sit in groups of 100’s and 50’s (MK 6:40-41), He gives thanks (Jn 6:11), He “kept multiplying” the food. The apostles were the 12 waiters. This is why it might have been the longest miracle. MK 6:42-43 – they all ate and were satisfied to their full – Jesus kept giving. They picked up 12 full baskets! What do we see from this miracle? Jesus, the son of God, touched with compassion – completely satisfies man’s need – Heaven’s abundance. 

The miracle prompts us to ask the question, “Where am I seeking the fulfillment of my hunger/desires?” Too often we look to the things of the world to satisfy real desires/longings of our hearts and like physical bread they satisfy for a moment – but it’s not lasting. 

Ask yourself: 

Is there any amount of money that can bring lasting happiness? 

Is there any amount of TV watching that can provide real fulfillment? 

Is there any video game that can supply a true sense of accomplishment? 

Is there any sporting event that can forever satisfy? 

Is there any advancement at work that will justify the toll of an absent father?

Is there any level of success that will fill the void of arrogant self-centeredness? 

Is there any sexual experience that is worth the cost of your marriage? 

Is there any website that is equivalent in worth to decades of trust? 

Is there anything in this world that can equal the value of your soul? 

The people back in John 6, after being fed a miraculous meal, came to Jesus to be given another meal (JN 6:26). Jesus didn’t give it to them. He didn’t come to end physical hunger, He came to end spiritual hunger. Jesus’ answer? Don’t seek the bread that perishes (v. 27), seek that which lasts (v.35). In a world starving for truth, starving for hope, starving for grace – in Jesus there is not just enough – there is more than enough. 

Do you remember what the prodigal son realized about his father? LK 15:17 – with the Father there is “more than enough.” Philip reasoned, “there’s not enough” (JN 6:7) and yet in Jesus they left full. Jesus offers to us a bread from which we’ll never hunger, a water from which we’ll never thirst. It’s called abundant life (JN 10:10). In Jesus there is more than enough. 

All sufficient Savior, I honor you, recognizing that fullness and completeness is found in you. You are the fullness of grace and truth. Your mercy and grace know no limits. There is no way to measure the depths and heights of your love. In this amazing miracle shown to such a full crowd, you have shown me that the source of my greatest needs is you. Help me to see through the empty offers of the world, the vain promises of Satan, and the vain efforts of my pride, to realize that my sufficiency and strength comes from you. In you there is more than enough. In you, my cup runs over. In you, I find my all in all. You are without limits, without restraints, without boundaries. You are the all sufficient Lord - fill my life and my heart completely with unceasing love and devotion for you! 

Lessons from the Syrophoenician Woman

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Towards the end of Mark 7, Jesus exited Galilee and entered the region of Tyre, Gentile territory.  He entered a house, not wanting others to know He was there.  Jesus has just concluded wrangling with the Pharisees about what constituted cleanness (Matthew 15:1-20).  He has emphasized the heart of the individual; what is on the inside is where corruption takes place. It manifests itself outwardly, but it begins with the heart. Jesus concludes by again defining defilement as moral rather than ceremonial. He seeks to get away, perhaps for some rest. He has been busy. He fed the 5000, calmed a storm, was confronted by the religious leaders, and healed many people in the towns they traveled through, but Jesus could not stay hidden.  The Syrophoenician woman found Him and was determined to have Jesus deliver her daughter from an unclean spirit. 

We can understand this mom’s heart. She desires for her daughter to be healed.  She kept asking Jesus to heal her daughter (Mark 7:26).  She was not going away until she had an answer.  In Matthew’s version of the story, she cried out for Jesus to have mercy on her and heal her daughter (chapter 15).  Then Jesus does something we rarely see; He doesn’t answer her.  He basically ignores her. The disciples, fed up with her cries, come to Jesus and ask Him to send her away. Here is where the story takes an even stranger turn.  Jesus responds to her request with these words, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (Mark 7:27). Basically, Jesus calls her a dog as He explains that His mission is to the Jews first and then the Gentiles.  Most people would have been offended, but the woman does not take offense.  She responds that even dogs receive crumbs from the children’s table. For her, a crumb was enough. Jesus’ replies, “O woman, your faith is great; be it done to you as you wish” (Matthew 15:28). When the woman goes home, she finds her daughter fully healed.

Her focus was on who Jesus was, not who she was. This woman could have been defensive towards Jesus.  He basically called her a dog, even if it was a pet dog. Somehow the woman understood what Jesus meant and was not offended.  She focused on Jesus and what He could do.  

We live in a world where people are offended easily. Being offended depends on my focus.  If we are feeling insecure, we see everything through that lens. But if we are secure in Christ, our focus is on Him. It doesn’t matter what others say. I am better able to hear what the other person is saying. It makes for a better situation.

She took seriously her role as intercessor for her daughter. The Syrophoenician woman was all in. She wanted Jesus to heal her daughter, and she was not going to be turned away easily. Her prayer was not only short and humble, but full of faith. She relied on God’s mercy and persevered with her request.   

She trusted that a crumb was enough to meet her need. Jesus said her daughter was healed.  She believed it and went home to find out that it was so. Jesus met her need in His way, and it was more than enough. How often do I bring a need to Jesus, but I want Him to meet that need in a certain way? God is more concerned about our character and who we are becoming in Him, than He is about my external circumstances.  

Prayer: Lord, we want to have great faith like this woman. We are so easily distracted and loose our focus. We begin to want You to heal and answer the way we think You should. We want to let You be the great physician. We want to be focused on Who you are, not what we want You to be. We want to have a heart like this woman who knew what she wanted and persisted.  Even if it is a crumb, if it is from You, it will be enough.

Healing of Malchus

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Luke 22:47-53

The tension is thick this dark night. Jesus and His disciples are praying in the garden when a large crowd appears. They come with swords and clubs, armed ready for battle. They came with one purpose, to arrest Jesus. This armed mob was led by Judas, the Apostle who chose wealth over the Savior. With a cruel kiss he betrays the Lord - the token of love now wielded as a cruel method of marking the one they came to take away. 

The disciples are unsure what to do in the moment. Some begin to question if they should defend Jesus, even using swords. That’s when Peter does what he typically does, act first - seek permission later. His brashness here could be a desperate attempt to prove his boastful claim to Jesus he made earlier that night, that he would never betray the Lord - rather he’d be faithful to Jesus and stand by his side, even if it meant death. Now he’s swinging to prove it.

His sword hits the servant of the high priest. The fact he was hit by a sword tells us he was near the front of the crowd, likely indicating his role in this whole endeavor. He came as a representative of the High Priest. He came to make sure Jesus was arrested and taken to trial. In one moment hands are laid on Jesus, and in the next a sword is swung. Peter was likely swinging for his head. The servant probably ducked and got hit in the ear. Imagine the scene - a sword is swung, you’re hit in the head, sharp-burning pain erupts. You put your hand to your head and come away with a hand covered in blood. Fear and panic set in - how bad is it? Will I live? 

But then Jesus… in a moment of immense love and compassion, touches the wound of this servant and heals his ear. This was the smallest miracle - it was just an ear. The man would live without an ear. But there is something far more powerful at play in this scene. Jesus reaches down to heal the man who came to take him to his death. This man wasn’t concerned with justice or righteousness. He wasn’t concerned with the innocence of Jesus, or the reality of who Jesus claimed to be. If he was he wouldn’t be there in the garden. He came as an enemy, and in a moment of fear and pain, Jesus showed his enemy true love. The Lord who had the power to call down legions of angels channeled that power to a small act of kindness. This is the last miracle Jesus would do before the cross - a foretaste of the greater love shown towards his enemies accomplished through his death and resurrection. 

“Love your enemies.” He commanded it, and he lived it. It’s not easy. It’s the high path we’re called to travel, of responding with kindness and compassion to those who enter our lives with swords and clubs. In a world that treats as we have been treated, that swings swords towards those who hurt us or our loved ones, what a bright light when someone chooses to overcome evil with good, to imitate Jesus in those dark times. 

The servant was named Malchus. Perhaps the reason John shared his name is that there were some who knew him. Perhaps he change, he believed, his heart was softened through the Savior’s kindness. Perhaps the servant of the high priest became the servant of the God most high. I don’t know. But I do wonder if every time he scratched that ear, if he thought back to that intense moment in the garden when he met faithful love face to face. 

“Love your enemies.” It’s more than words. It’s a way of living. The way of healing, the way of peace, the way of love, the way of Jesus. 

Righteous Savior, my heart aches reading the pages of your suffering. It mourns reading of what you endured for me, for my sins. What amazing love, what incredible grace you showed the world through facing those dark hours. I thank you for your demonstration of compassion towards your enemies. You lived what you taught, and you responded to the pain and betrayal shown to you with patience and kindness. Something as small as healing the ear of one who came to arrest you, wasn’t overlooked in your pursuit to redeem the world. Help me to see as you see, to love as you love, to treat my enemies with the same grace and kindness you showed yours - that you showed me. Give me the strength to answer harm with grace, and to seek the well-being of those around me just as you sought to seek and save the lost. Oh the riches of your goodness, oh the blessing of your faithful love. All glory belongs to you, the lamb that was slain, the king who reigns.  

The Paralytic

Monday, February 21, 2022

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.

18 Years of Suffering

Friday, February 18, 2022

Luke 13:10-17

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. 

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