Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jesus Heals Today

If the gospels are true and Jesus arose from the dead, he also said that we could do greater works than he did when he was here.  Some of the works are great works of compassion-- feeding and healing millions more than He did through feeding programs, hospitals and through great effort and compassionate wisdom.

But Jesus hasn't stopped working.  He can, and does, heal today.

This doesn't mean that to see a doctor is a lack of faith.  Jesus is happy to have us help each other and use what knowledge and resources we have to help the needy.  But like the woman who saw many doctors and then came to Jesus, we will not be denied by Jesus.

Many who are ill, who have not obtained help by any-- go to Jesus.  He can and will heal.  He won't heal everyone, it is true.  Some of us need to continue in our weakness.  But others will be healed.

I had a terrible gallstone at one point, in which I would be in pain for hours, unable to get out of bed. I couldn't pay for a doctor. A group of healers prayed for me, and I was healed, the pain never returned.

A couple years later, I had another terrible pain.  I was told by a doctor friend to go immediately to the hospital.  They ended up taking out my appendix, which was on the verge of bursting.  Then they paid for all the bills because I was poor.

Then I had a severe hormone imbalance, causing diabetes and muscle atrophy and the inability to deal with stress.  I have prayed against it.  I have sought doctor's help.  I have struggled with many symptoms and severe depression because of it.  But it didn't go away.  Thanks to medication, it is reduced, but until I am healed from it (which may never happen in this life), I still deal with bad days.

Jesus worked in all these circumstances.  In the first he healed me, just as he did in days of old.  In the second, he used compassionate people to get me to the hospital and heal me and to have mercy on my inability to pay.  In the third, I was told, as Paul, "My strength is made perfect through weakness" and I had to live with the consequences.  But I receive daily grace to deal with it and to do Jesus' work despite it.

Jesus works in all circumstances, but we must ask and we must rely on Him, no matter what.

Jesus the Healer

As the Son of God, declared so by God the Most High to all the spirit world (but not to humans), Jesus had authority to command all spirits in heaven and on earth.  He displayed this clearly by commanding evil spirits to be gone, and they left immediately.  Some, however, were attacked by evil spirits with sickness or blindness or deafness.  Not everyone’s sickness or blindness is caused by evil spirits, but those who were could be cured by the authority of Jesus.
            How did these people become attacked by Satan?  Anyone who purposely acts in opposition to God’s will is in rebellion to God.  Those who are in rebellion to God are handed over to Satan to be judged.  At this point, Satan can cause any manner of misery on those under his control.  Some he is content to only deceive, while others he causes seizures, leprosy or death.
            Jesus, however, came to take people out from Satan’s control.  He came to offer anyone who has faith in God’s kingdom and repentance of their sins a way back to God.  As he heals them, he shows that they are acceptable to God and that their cries of mercy will be listened to again.

            Jesus was teaching in Capernaum, and a huge crowd came to meet him.  In the house he was teaching in there was no room to stand, let alone to get in.  There was a man who could not walk, a paralytic, who had some friends who wanted to see him healed.  They were determined to place him before Jesus to be healed, but they couldn’t get in.  So they lifted the man up to the roof, tore the roof open and lowered the man down from the roof on his cot in front of Jesus.
            Jesus was impressed with the determination of these men.  So he declared to the paralytic in front of him, “Your sins are forgiven.  You may now ask God for healing, and he will listen to you.”  Some students of the law of Moses were there, listening to Jesus, and they did not like what they heard.  They mumbled to each other, “Who can forgive sins?  Only God alone!”  Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “So you think the Son of Man cannot forgive sins?  You have seen him cast out demons.  What do you think is easier, to declare someone forgiven or to heal them?  So you know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins, though…”  Jesus then declared to the paralytic in front of him, “Get up, pick up your cot, and go home!”  The man then stood up, picked up his cot and walked home on his own. 

            Another time, Jesus was walking from place to place, and a man named Jairus bowed before Jesus and begged him, “Please heal my daughter.  She is sick and near death.”  Jesus agreed and Jairus led him to his home. A large crowd followed them.  On the way, however, a woman who had been bleeding for years came near Jesus.  Because of her bleeding, she was declared unclean by the law and could touch no one, and she was separated from her community.  Hidden by the crowd, she secretly touched Jesus for healing and she was immediately healed. 
            Jesus, though, had felt the power go out of him and asked aloud, “Who touched me?”  One of Jesus’ regular followers mentioned to Jesus, “Can’t you see there’s a huge crowd around you?  I’m sure many people touched you…”  Jesus ignored him and kept asking, “Who touched me?”  Sheepishly, the woman declared that she had touched him and explained her story.  Jesus then smiled at her and said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Be at peace.”

            Meanwhile a messenger came to Jairus and said, “Your daughter is dead.  Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”  Jairus was in despair, but Jesus said to him, “Don’t be afraid.  Just have faith.”  Then Jesus sent all the crowds away but a few of his followers and continued to go to Jairus’ house.
            As they approached, the mourners met Jesus and Jairus.  Jesus said to them, “Why are you mourning and wailing?  The child isn’t dead—she’s asleep.” The mourners all mocked Jesus for what he said, but Jesus sent them all away.  Then Jesus took Jairus and his wife to the child’s room.  Jesus held their daughters hand and said, “Little girl, get up now.”  She then opened her eyes and got up.  She stood by her parents and Jesus said, “She is healthy now.  Get her some food—I’m sure she’s starving.  And listen to me, tell no one what happened here.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Shaman Jesus

Jesus had a different way of looking at the world around us.  He saw spirits in the lakes and rivers.  He saw many sicknesses caused by spirits attempting to attack humans.  He saw some mental illness caused by spirits.  The whole world is filled with spirits, or so did Jesus see it.

The funny thing, is any spirit-- good or bad-- he also considered to be under his authority.  If someone was sick, or even dead, he could command any spirit to do what he wanted, to the benefit of those in need.  He would command storms to shut up, tell fevers to leave and order epileptic seizures to get out.  Of course, he wasn't talking to the symptom, but to a spirit behind a symptom.

How silly, we think.  What a ridiculous way of looking at the world.  As if there were a demon behind each rock. (Just to clarify, Jesus didn't see a demon behind each rock, but a spirit-- a spiritual power that may or may not be an enemy to God or humanity).

The funny thing is, it worked.  This philosophy worked for Jesus.  He told a seizure to go and it did.  He told a storm to shut up and it obeyed.  Is this coincidence?  Rumor?  We don't know.  All we know is that we have a number of examples of this happening.

And Jesus taught about it.  He talked about an oppressed person attacked by demons, the demons being commanded to leave and then coming back eventually.

This is a part of Jesus we don't like to talk about much.  The one who considered the world under the thumb of the demonic realm and he was there, as a soldier of God, to use his authority to get it back, one person at a time.

This is a foreign Jesus, a Jesus we wouldn't ever make up.  A Jesus who doesn't fit into our way of looking at the world.  But this is also a Jesus that makes sense the ancient world would follow after him.  Jesus: Powerful Shaman is a Jesus that both ancient Jews and Pagans would follow, if it would help their problems.

The Shaman Jesus is the one people would follow, the one who would listen to his teachings, no matter how insane they were. So we are clearly getting to a Jesus that is closer to the ancient one and less one that we made up if we accept that Jesus considered himself some sort of Spirit Power. 

Jesus: The Exorcist

The Father of heaven and earth declared Jesus to be the Son of God—the inheritor of the kingdom of God.  Jesus and John the Baptist were the only humans who heard and understood this to be true.  But the whole spirit world also heard this—and many were very displeased at this announcement.  Satan and the demons of the world knew that their rule and judgement of God’s people were soon to be at an end, and they determined to stop Jesus. 

Jesus himself declared that he was at war with Satan and demons.  He said, “How can anyone plunder the warriors house unless he first ties up the warrior?  I am here to take the household of Satan away from him—and so I must first defeat Satan.”  So Jesus did battle with Satan.  Anytime he saw a spirit judging or destroying a human, he cast that spirit out of his realm.  Thus, one by one, Jesus exiled Satan’s workers out of God’s land.

Jesus’ habit was to travel to different places within Galilee and teach in their synagogues, where those who worshiped God met and prayed.  He was teaching in a synagogue in Capernaum, when a man who was demonized came up to Jesus and said, “Why are you here, Jesus of Nazareth? Are you here to destroy us? I know who you are—the Son of God!”  Jesus told him, “Shut up!  Come out of him now!”  Suddenly the man had a seizure and shrieked loudly.  Then, just as suddenly, the man became quiet and was acting normally. 
            Those watching this were shocked.  They said, “This man came to teach us—but he also has authority over the spirit world!  He commands evil, judging spirits and they obey him!”  They left the synagogue that day, and the news of what Jesus had done began to spread all over the countryside.  Soon crowds of people began to come to Jesus in Capernaum, hoping to be healed from demons, or to see someone be healed.

            Jesus said, “We need to go to other towns as well, so that the news of God’s kingdom can be given to them as well.”  So Jesus began travelling around Galilee.  The crowds became so large that soon they followed him between towns, as well as in them.  Jesus took a boat and traveled across the Sea of Galilee, a large lake between Galilee and Decapolis.

 Decapolis was an area inhabited by both worshippers of God and worshippers of many gods.  As Jesus arrived in Decapolis, a man met him at the boat.  He was a wild man, who lived in a cemetery, and he was demonized.  He would scream all night long and cut himself with stones. In the past, people had tried to chain him up because of the damage he caused, but he broke the chains and did what the demons told him to do.  As he came up to Jesus, the man bowed before Jesus.  Jesus attacked the spirit, commanding him, “Evil spirit, come out of him!”  The spirit just replied, “What business do you have with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High?  Stop tormenting me!”  Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?”  The spirit replied, “My name is legion, for we are many. Please, Son of God, do not send us out of this land!” 
            Jesus noticed a large group of pigs feeding near a mountain, around two thousand.  The spirits said, “Please, send us into the pigs!”  Jesus permitted them, saying, “Go, then, into the pigs.”  The demons left the man, and entered into the pigs.  Suddenly, all two thousand pigs went wild, and started running.  They ran up the mountain and over a cliff, and they all fell into the sea and died. 
            The pigs, however, were owned by a local and he had hired men to watch over the pigs.  Soon, a group from the town, upset at the loss of livestock, came up to Jesus and asked him to leave the area.  Jesus agreed and went back on his boat.  The man who was delivered, however, ran up to Jesus before he left and begged him, “Please, let me come with you!”  Jesus refused and said instead, “Go back to your home and tell everyone what God has done for you.”  The man obeyed Jesus, and everyone who listened to his testimony was amazed.

            Some, however, who did not like Jesus’ teaching, and did not think that God was going to change the government of God’s people, were not impressed with Jesus’ authority over evil spirits.  They said among themselves, “He is only casting out these demons by the power of Satan.  He is really supporting Satan, and is using the authority of Satan to move demons on, temporarily.”