Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Eleven: The Rise of Opposition of Jewish Leaders   Restitution of All Things
  Home Table of Contents Previous Chapter Next Chapter
New Testament Bible Story

Chapter Eleven:

The Rise of Opposition by Jewish Leaders


JESUS AT HOME

     Certainly the Gospels show and record that Jesus was a
wandering preacher, moving about all over the Holy Land. It is
also recorded that at times He really did not know where He was
going to rest and sleep for the night, and there were probably
many times He and His disciples slept under the stars during the
warmer parts of the year.
     While all the above is true, there is recorded for us an
interesting verse in the Gospel of Mark. We read in chapter two,
and verse one, " And when He was come to Capernaum after some
days, it was reported that He was AT HOME. "
     Mark does not say He was in the home of a friend, or
relative, or in the home of one of His disciples. Mark says He
"was at home." A phrase that within the context of words around
it, would indicate this home was Jesus' home.
     And coming from a background of the carpenter trade, it
should not take us by surprise that either with Joseph (His
earthly adoptive-father) and/or with His other brothers, they built a
house for themselves, or specifically for Jesus, at some point in
past time. 
     Mark puts it in such language that indicates this was Jesus'
home at Capernaum. And while "at home" we have the story that
follows, which contains certainly one large important truth Jesus
was again revealing to the masses and to the religious leaders of
the day.

JESUS HEALS A PARALYTIC AND FORGIVES SIN

     We shall let Luke tells us the story, found in his fifth
chapter. Jesus was teaching (as we have seen, at home in
Capernaum), and some of the Pharisees and teachers of
the law were sitting there. They had come from every town of
Galilee and Judea, even from the city of Jerusalem itself.
     Some men carrying a man on a bed, one who was paralyzed,
came to the house hoping to bring the paralytic to Jesus for
healing. Yet there was such a large crowd of people in the house
and door-ways, it was impossible to get through to where Jesus
was. But, they were not about to give up that quickly. One of the
men suggested they go up on the roof top (the houses were built
with flat roofs in the Holy Land in those days), remove some
tiles and let the paralyzed man on his bed down to Jesus from the
roof top. The others all thought this was an excellent idea and
so proceeded to follow that suggestion.

     Imagine the scene. First, a whole appearers in the roof, all
look up, and secondly, behold down comes a bed with a paralyzed
man laying on it.  It would seem Jesus (and probably all the
other people present) knew exactly what they wanted done. He
perceived they had much faith. He looks at the paralytic and
says, " Man, your sins are forgiven you. "

     Sometimes in the foolishness of our mind we may do a silly
or dare-devil physical act (that God would not have wanted us to
do) and it sometimes ends in the physical breaking of our body in
some form. Whatever this man had done to bring about his
paralyzation, Jesus knew it was a sin (not revealed to us exactly
what or when or how), and told him He would forgive that sin.
Now, other examples in the Gospels show us that not all bad
physical problems that happen to us are the result of some sin we
do, but there are times it could be. This is a case of where
Jesus knew the man's physical problem was the result of some
foolish physical sin he had done.  In the most part God does not
inflict us with physical ailments when we sin in mind, thought,
or word. If He did then most of us would be crippled a thousand
times over. But there are times God allows some of our foolish
physical actions to move in dire results. He may not always
step in and prevent the tragic end result of our physical errors.

     Jesus forgave the sins of this man and was willing to heal
his physical body.

     Well, at those words by Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees
looked at each other in shock and anger, saying among themselves,
"  Who can forgive sins but God only? " 
     Jesus knew what they were saying. He could read their hearts
and the looks on their faces. 
     " Why do you question in your hearts, " said Jesus to them,
" which is easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to
say, 'Rise and walk'? But I said it the way I said it so you may
know the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins. "
     
     Now, the scribes and Pharisees were correct in thinking that
only God can forgive sins in the strictest sense, and certainly
in any healing where sins are to be forgiven. Jesus was again
showing and proving to them and all the people standing by, that
He was God in the flesh, that He was the Immanuel (God with us)
that was promised to come by the prophet Isaiah. He was showing
them that as God in the flesh, He did have authority to forgive
sins. He was teaching them that He was part of the Elohim (a
singular God with a plural form) they all knew about in the Old
Testament Scriptures.

     Jesus once more turned to the paralyzed man and said, " I
say to you, pick up your  bed  (in those times people's beds were
often a roll up type mattress) and  go home. "

     Immediately the man rose up and departed, glorifying God as
he went his way. Needless to say the crowd was just amazed,
filled with awe, and praising God they said, "  We have seen
strange yet wonderful things today  " (Luke 5: 17-26).

LEVI (MATTHEW), A TAX COLLECTOR, IS CALLED TO BE A DISCIPLE

     Jesus left the home and went again besides the sea, where
even more of a crowd gathered around him. And He taught them many
things about the Kingdom of God. He was walking along a little
while later and He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus (this is he that
was called Matthew and the one whom we believe wrote the Gospel
of Matthew), sitting at the table of the tax gathering office,
and He said to him, " I want you to come and follow me. "

     We are not told any "behinds the scene" details as to
whether Levi knew Jesus from some other time before. Whatever the
case may have been, Matthew immediately rose and up and went with
Jesus. The place they were going to was Matthew's very own
house. It would seem Jesus had no hesitation at times in inviting
Himself over to certain individual's homes, and enjoying a meal
with them and others. This we must look upon as not being
"forward" or "ill-mannered" but in the context of doing the work
of God, teaching people the truths of God, calling disciples to
follow Him. It was often the way Jesus did things, and nobody it
seems got offended at that way.

     Now, some did get offended by the company of persons Jesus
did allow to be around Him when in someone's home.  This was the
case here while in Levi's home enjoying a meal, teaching and
relaxing.  
     Mark, in his Gospel says, many other tax collectors were
present (they not being liked at all by the Jews for they
collected taxes for the Roman Government), as well as
"sinners."  This word "sinners" is used often in the Gospels to
refer to "sexually immoral" people, and especially to women who
sold their bodies to men for sexual gratification.
     Well, when the Scribes (writers of the books of God as we
have in the OT) and the Pharisees (leaders of the popular common
religious party bearing that name) saw Jesus keeping company with
such people they looked down their nose and got quite indignant
about the whole scene.  " Why do you eat and drink with tax
collectors and sinners? " they asked of Jesus.
     
     Jesus gave them an answer that they could not but clearly
understand what He was meaning. " Those who are well and healthy
do not need to go to a doctor, but it is those who are sick who
need the help of a doctor, " Christ first said to them, and
concluded with, " I have come to do a work not among those who
are spiritually righteous and healthy, but among those who know
they are sinners  " (Mark 2:13-17).

     Jesus was certainly not intending to mean that He thought
the Scribes and Pharisee leaders were righteously healthy, for
other parts of the Gospels make it very clear He thought nothing
of the kind about them. We will see some pretty plain words
later that Jesus used to tell them where He thought they stood
when it came to spirituality. 
     What He said to them here was with tongue in cheek. The
scribes and Pharisees could not see their sins and lack of true
spirituality, but many others could see their own sins, such as
tax collectors (who often cheated the people through power of
authority and with fear tactics, and gained more taxes than
required by the law, pocketing it and becoming quite wealthy) and
sexually immoral persons.
     Jesus, was telling those self-righteous Scribes and
Pharisees, He was concerned with, and was there to serve and
help, those who could see their sins and wanted spiritual
healing. Those who could not, but thought they were spiritually
fine and dandy, He could not help.

     We must all come to see that no matter how "righteous" we
may be in the eyes of the society we live in, and our own
standards of life, that we still have sins, that we are sinners
in the light of the perfect holiness of God.

JESUS TALKS ABOUT FASTING

     Many people at large knew some who were either disciples of
John the baptist or disciples of the Pharisee sect. They knew
that disciples of both often fasted (going without food and water
for a day or even many days). For years they had seen and heard
of those disciples setting one or more days aside to devote to
pray, study, meditation, on the things of God. But, in observing
Jesus' disciples for maybe months, they could never see, nor did
they hear about, any of His disciples ever fasting for any length
of time. 
     Finally, some were just so bewildered by it all they had to
ask Jesus about it, that is, why His disciples did not fast,
while other disciples from other religious leaders did fast.

     Jesus gave His answer as found in the Gospel of Luke.

     "  Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is
with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away
from them, and then after that they will fast. No one tears a
piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it as a patch on an
old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from
the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old
wineskins; if he does the new wine will, as it ferments, burst
the skins and it will all spill out, and the skins will be
useless. But new wine must be put into new wineskins. Further, no
one after drinking old wine desires to drink new wine, for he
will usually say, 'The old tastes better'  " (Luke 5:33-39).

     Fasting is done to draw close to God, to really put aside
all physical things like work, play, preparing and eating food,
and to devote all the time to getting as spiritually close to God
as can be humanly possible. Fasting is to learn from God through
His word, through pray, through meditating on His word, and
letting the Spirit of the Lord teach and guide you.
     With Jesus being God in the flesh, the Immanuel, the perfect
teacher, the one to set the perfect example of human holiness
through the Spirit, and as He was also there right in their
midst, they were as close to Him, to God, as could be expected
and desired for in this physical life. Jesus' disciples had no
need to fast to get spiritually close to and in tune with God. He
was already close to them, and all the help, all the teaching,
all the answers to their questions, was there rubbing shoulders
so to speak, with them.
     Fasting, under those circumstances was not a correct or
needed mixture for spiritual insight. The old way of getting
close to God was not needed while the new way and perfect example
of spirituality, was living, walking, and talking among His close
disciples.

     As Jesus had said to them, fasting is also a time for
serious mindedness and it has some inner sadness to it, not that
that is not a good thing at times, for such can and should
produce spiritual growth and joy. But having Jesus with them was
like being at a wedding. It was a time to live with physical (and
of course mental) happiness and excitement, enjoying the day and
hour that belonged to the bridegroom. 
     For Jesus' disciples it was not a time to wander off by
ones-self, leaving Him behind, heading for the wilderness to fast
in order to get insight and teaching from God, for God was right
there with them in the flesh, in the form of Jesus Christ, to
teach and bring them insights from the Father in heaven.

     Jesus would not always be physically in their midst. One day
He would return to heaven. After that day, then fasting for His
disciples would be once more important as a method to draw close
to God, to learn of Him, to be corrected and taught by Him
through the Spirit. Until then, fasting for Jesus' disciples was
not needed as the perfect new way was so very close to them,
hence the purpose for fasting was quite redundant and unnecessary
for those who were Jesus' close disciples.

JESUS HEALS A MAN ON THE SABBATH AND ENCOUNTERS
TROUBLE FROM RELIGIOUS LEADERS

     There was in the city of Jerusalem by the sheep gate a
famous pool of water, called in the Hebrew language "Bethesda"
which means "house of grace."  It had a roof with five porches,
giving ample protection from the heat of the sun and yet easy
access to the pool itself.
     This pool was indeed a gracious place, for when the waters
moved, miraculously at times, and the invalids, blind, lame, and
paralyzed, got into the water, they were healed. 
     God, through this water miracle, was granting physical
healings to some of the people.

     It was one of the Festival times and Jesus went up to
Jerusalem and on a Sabbath day He visited this Bethesda pool. 
There He saw a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. He
was lying under one of the porches, hoping to get into the pool
when the waters moved.
     " Do you want to be healed? " asked Jesus of this man. " Oh,
yes sir, but I have no one to help me into the pool when the
water is moving. And while I'm trying to get there on my own,
someone else always gets there before me, " answered the man.

     It would seem that the miracle God gave was on a "first
come, first served" basis. It only lasted for a very short time.

     Jesus looked with sympathy and compassion upon the man and
said, " Rise, pick up your bed-roll and walk. "
     Immediately the Gospel of John records, the man was healed,
stood up, picked up his bed-roll and walked away praising God.

     It was soon noised abroad what Jesus had done. Some of the
religious leaders heard Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day. They
sort out the healed man and looking down their nose with a
condemning attitude said to him, " Do you not know it is the
Sabbath, and therefore it is not lawful for you to be carrying
around your bed-roll. " 
     The religious leaders of the Pharisee sect had about 600
laws for Sabbath observance. Most of them were of their own
making. It was all to do mainly with physical do's and don'ts.
They had become so materially minded about keeping the Sabbath
that doing kindness, showing love, having mercy, and even serving
someone in need on the Sabbath, was put to one side in favor of
keeping hundreds of physical man-made laws, one of them being
that people should not carry their bed-roll on the Sabbath. Doing
that to those religious leaders was carrying a "burden" and so
working, hence breaking the Sabbath.

     The healed man, at this moment in time, could have cared
less about any man made rule or law of Sabbath observance. All he
knew was that God had healed him and he was walking.
     " Well, the man who healed me, told me to take up my
bed-roll and walk, " replied the happy hearted man to the
questioners and condemners.
     "  So who is this man that told you to do this thing? "
asked the religious leaders.

     The healed man was now kind of stunned, for he then realized
he did not know who this man was. He would have liked to have
known, but he now remembered that after the healing the man
immediately walked away into the large crowd. At this time the
man could not tell them who it was that healed him.
     It so happened that a little later in the day, in the
Temple, Jesus found the man He had healed and spoke once more to
him.  " Ah, you are well and healthy again. Be careful to sin no
more, lest a worse sickness befall you, " Jesus said to him.

     We have seen already that some of our physical problems in
life can be our own fault, because we have done something against
the natural laws of nature. Sometimes breaking those laws, what
Jesus clearly called "sin" - sin in the physical, can lead to
physical sickness and troubles for us.  Sometimes we do foolish
things without thinking we may end up hurting ourselves.  We may
be walking along going to school, and we see this thin brick
wall, about three feet high. We think it would be fun to try and
balance walk along the top of it, so without much more thought up
we get and with one foot in front of the other away we try to
balance walk. But we maybe never did this before and certainly
had never practiced on something much lower to develop our skill
first, before trying it on a three foot wall.
     Well, we slip and fall, smash a knee, twist an ankle, or
even break a leg, as we hit the ground.  We have done a type of
sin, a physical sin against the laws of gravity and our own human
body.
     It would seem this man had done such a sin in his life (but
we are not told exactly what it was he had done) that left him
unable to walk. Whatever it was Jesus called it a sin, and told
him to be careful and not sin in this manner again, or something
worse than not being able to walk, may come upon him.

     The NT teaches that our physical bodies are the Temple of
God. God can dwell in us through His Holy Spirit, and so we then
become His spiritual Temple in a manner. He wants us to
appreciate and look after and take care of our physical bodies.
We should stop and think before we act or do certain physical
things in life, as to whether it is too dangerous, and could
possibly injure us if doing such a thing does not go smoothly.
Some things can be too "reckless" - too "far out" - too "wild"
and we are then taking chances with out bodies and minds that God
would not have us take chances with, for as He has written, our
bodies are His Temple for Him to dwell in.

     After Jesus had found the man and spoken to him again about
his healing, the man went and told the religious leaders who the
person was that healed him. He told them it was Jesus.
     All of this happening on the Sabbath was just another reason
for those leaders to seek out Jesus and persecute Him, for
breaking one of their made up laws of Sabbath observance.
     Jesus looked at them, probably with some anger, as he saw
their cold, unkind, unmerciful hearts, and said, " My Father is
still working, still doing good things on the Sabbath, and so I
will do good works also on the Sabbath. " 
     It's true, God the Father still feeds the birds on the
Sabbath day, still brings up the sun, or sends the rain to feed
the trees and flowers. Doing good to people that come our way,
and that really need a helping hand on the Sabbath is living
within the laws and love of God. It is also doing correct good
works just as God is still doing on the Sabbath.

     Well, with those words from Jesus' lips, that God was His
Father, those Jews knew He was making Himself equal with God, a
part of the very Godhead, above any angel, putting Himself right
up there on the God level of existence, as a part of God. This
made them see red hot fire. It was bursting their blood vessels.
Now they were so angry with Him for not only in their eyes
breaking their Sabbath laws, but now having the affront to
say God was His Father. 
     Those Jews now sought all the more to find a way to kill
Him. They knew what making someone your "father" mean. They knew
it was putting yourself in that "family" with that father, in as
close relationship as literally possible.  Jesus had told them
before that He was God in the flesh, that He had authority as a
part of the God family, to forgive sins on earth.  Telling them
here that God the Father was His Father, was telling them again
what He had told them before, but putting it in a different way. 
     They clearly got the message, understood fully what He was
saying, and to them it was blasphemy, and so were more determined
than ever to want to see Him dead (John 5: 1-18).

     The wonderful truth of the matter is that the NT makes it
abundantly clear that all true children of God today, have God as
their Father, and Jesus Christ as their elder brother, in as
literal a way as can be possible.  Spirit filled Christians are
now and will be in the future, a part of the very family of God,
bearing the nature and name of God. God the Father is enlarging
Himself, by having many sons and daughters born of Him (2 Cor.
6: 16-18).  All in that family will be equal in the sense that
they are equal family members, all bearing the name of that
family. But as in the human family, not all with have the same
authority or the same gifts. God the Father will always be the
head of that family (1 Cor.11:3).

     It is a wonderful wonderful honor and privilege to call God,
"Our Father."  Jesus did, and so may we.

              ................................

Written June 2001 


  Home Table of Contents Previous Chapter Top of Page Next Chapter

 
Navigation List:
 

 
Word Search:

PicoSearch
  Help