Glory In The Lord

It almost sounds like the beginning of a contemporary joke. “Two men went up into the temple to pray…” However, rather than being a joke, it is a very poignant teaching on one of the most important issues we face as individuals…our attitude. Luke prefaces this parable of our Lord with the observation that it was about those that “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9). In other words, this parable is about those who have an attitude of superiority and self-righteousness.

Most of the time, the New Testament presents the Pharisees in a rather unflattering light. Jesus blasted them with a series of woes as He described the scribes and Pharisees as “hypocrites” (Matt. 23:13-33). There were exceptions, of course, but generally that was true. This parable is another example in which Jesus contrasts the Pharisees with a publican or other known sinner and the Pharisees again come up short.

Besides the fact that Jesus spoke it, two things make this parable powerful. First, the description Jesus gives of the Pharisee and the publican ring true. Everyone must have recognized its truth or the parable would fail to make it’s point. Second, generally speaking, everyone would expect that the Pharisee would be the one who was supposed to be truly righteous and the publican the one who was supposed to lack any sense of sin. But this was turned upside down by Jesus’ parable.

Notice, please, that the Pharisee prayed “with himself” but addressed God (18:11). It is almost as if he felt that he was taking God’s place! In his “prayer,” he mentions himself five times and God only once. He not only mentions himself but praises himself as he enumerates all his good deeds. The facts he lists about himself are good. It is good not to be an extortioner, or an adulterer or unjust. These things are good and Jesus does not condemn these things about the Pharisee (if they are true).

The problem with the Pharisee was that he exalted himself. He contrasted himself with the publican and assumed that he was better than the publican. Contrast him now, yourself, to the publican. The publican acknowledged the fact he was a sinner while the Pharisee boasted that he was not a sinner. The publican did not think himself worthy even to approach near to God while the Pharisee hardly mentioned God. He wouldn’t even look up to heaven while the Pharisee was looking everywhere but to heaven. He smote his own breast with his fists and asked God to be merciful to him while the Pharisee said I am not as other men are.

Jesus also contrasted the publican with the Pharisee and found that the publican went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee. He went justified because he did not exalt himself. The Bible is clear that God cannot use one that is full of himself. In fact, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). God wants only to use the weak and foolish things of the world, and the things which are despised so that no flesh should glory in His presence (I Cor. 1:27-29).

On a couple of occasions Jesus made clear that we are to be genuine, not hypocrites. Jesus warned against doing things just to be seen of men (Matt. 6:1-18). He again warned that the Pharisees did everything just to be seen of men (Matt. 23:5). And then, just before going on to describe the woes placed upon the Pharisees, He said that “whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:12). God wants us to be genuine, sincere, unvarnished servants.

Even though the Pharisee was correct that it was good not to be an extortioner or and adulterer or unjust, and even though he may have done well in doing more than required, his sense of self-worth or a sense of self-righteousness hurt his fellowship with God. He exalted himself instead of letting God exalt him. We should heed the admonition that he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (I Cor. 1:31).

Eric L. Padgett

Deeds, Death and Destiny

Jesus does not give us the name of the rich man (Luke 16:19-31), though He does give us the name of the beggar. There must have been a good reason for this. Perhaps there was no need to make a further spectacle of the rich man. Giving his name, and thus adding to his shame, would not have made the point more potent or made hearers more receptive. Often, however, you will read of commentators referring to him as Dives, but this is merely Latin for “rich man.” Traditions have also handed down a few names for the rich man, but we cannot know for certain if they are correct. In the end, his name really does not matter and thus is not given.

The beggar’s name is given, it is Lazarus. Lazarus is a form of the Hebrew name Eleazar, which means “God is help.” That Jesus gave a specific name indicates that this account might be more than just a parable for in no other parable did Jesus ever give the name of one of the individuals to which He referred. A parable is usually defined as an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. However, it is difficult to see how this is an earthly story with such a vivid depiction of the afterlife.

On the other hand, even if it were a parable, Jesus’ parables only presented that which was real, unless this account is the exception. Jesus never made up fictional characters or places, but used that which was known and used everyday. The parable of the lost coin, the lost sheep, the parable of the sower, the parable of marriage feast, the prodigal son, the pearl of great price etc., are examples of the kind of parables Jesus told. The story of the rich man and Lazarus does not fall into this category and is probably an account of something that actually happened.

The picture painted by Jesus’ words is poignant. Here was a man afflicted with some great malady that kept him covered in sores (Luke 16:20). He was apparently unable to move himself, at least with any ease, because he was carried by others and “laid” at the place where he was (Luke 16:20). Because of this infirmity, he was apparently unable to work and had thus become poor. The word translated “beggar” is most often translated in the New Testament as poor. This man was laid at a rich man’s gate and would have been satisfied with only the few crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. It was this man’s sickness that reduced him to such beggary, and nothing else.

The beggar’s character is attested to by the fact that, upon his death, the angels carried him to Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22). This suggests that he was given no grand burial and it was left to the angels to treat him with kindness. Abraham’s bosom, or paradise (Luke 24:43), is the place in the Hadean realm where the righteous go to await judgment (cf. Luke 24:43 and Acts 2:26,27). His character is also attested to by the fact that the rich man sought Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his family of the reality of this place of torment to which he had been sent.

The character of the rich man is also plainly indicated. He was clothed in purple, a precious and costly dye desired by the wealthy and powerful. He wore fine linen. Every day he ate from an expensive table of delectable (Luke 16:19). He had everything he could want and more, yet he took no interest in the poor beggar who lay at his door seeking only crumbs to satisfy his hunger pains. He must have known of Lazarus for he identified him in the Hadean realm (Luke 16:23,24). Furthermore, that he only asked for a drop of water corresponds to the crumbs that Lazarus was seeking, suggesting his timidity in asking for anything more.

It is not that the man was wealthy that sent him to torment nor that he ate well everyday. It is not that he wore fine clothes which he could afford and paid for with his own money. These things in and of themselves are not sinful. There is no indication that he had obtained his wealth in a sinful manner. In truth, it was not what he did with what he had but what he didn’t do with what he had that made the difference. During his life, he could have helped Lazarus even in the smallest of ways but made a conscience decision not to. This, it seems, was his fault.

Now in torment, he wanted the assistance from Lazarus that he refused him in his life. Probably, if he had been able, Lazarus would have helped him even then. This seems to be the kind of person Lazarus was. But there was a great gulf that separated the two compartments of the Hadean realm that held the good and bad from this earth and Lazarus was not allowed, as no one is allowed, to cross the great divide (Luke 16:26). Further, no one can leave that place prematurely (Luke 16:31). Once this life comes to a close, our eternal destiny is set, forever.

Eric L. Padgett

THIS MAN RECEIVETH SINNERS

Everyone wanted to hear Jesus teach. We know the common people heard Him gladly (Mark 12:37). The Pharisees were forever listening in on Him, if for no other reason than to find a way to entrap Him in His teaching (Mark 7:1). He drew such great multitudes of people that He often had to retire to a separate place apart to get rest (Matt. 14:23). The multitudes that followed were so many that He often did not even have time to eat (Mark 3:20). The publicans and sinners also drew near for to hear Him (Luke 15:1). Even the little children wanted to hear the Lord (Mark 10:14).

On one occasion, the Pharisees were critical of the Lord on account that He received and ate with publicans and sinners, who had gathered to listen to Him teach (Luke 15:2). The Pharisees were often an haughty lot (Luke 18:11), though there were some who exhibited humbler attitudes, such as Nicodemus (John 3:1-3) and Joseph of Arimethea (Luke 23:50). But most of the Pharisees were such scoundrels that the Lord could universally blast them with a series of woes highlighting their hypocrisy (Matt. 23:13-29). The Pharisees would never think of associating with sinners (Luke 7:39).

On this occasion, the Pharisees sought to impugn the character of Jesus. They apparently addressed the people, saying, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” (Luke 15:2). They said this as if it would somehow depreciate His teaching and His character. But Jesus did not deny associating with sinners. Instead, He demonstrated that the Pharisee’s views on sin and sinners were not only incorrect but hypocritical, as well.

It stands as a truth that a human being is far more valuable than any dumb animal. Yet, the Pharisees would leave ninety-nine safe sheep of their own to find one sheep that had been lost. If you would do that for the dumb animal, why wouldn’t you do that for a lost soul? If you were to lose an inanimate object like a piece of silver, you would turn the whole house upside down to find it. And when you had found these lost things, you would rejoice.

Likewise, when God loses a soul in the wilderness of sin, or one gets lost in the cracks of the world, when they are found, there is great joy in heaven. The parable of the prodigal son demonstrates like no other the great joy that should accompany the restoration of a lost individual (Luke 15:11-32).

Jesus was sent into this world (John 10:36) but He said “I am not of this world” (John 8:23). Neither was he ever tainted by the wickedness of the world nor wallowed He in it’s filth, but He could interact with sinners and influence them for good (Heb. 4:13). Take for example the incident at Simon the Pharisee’s house (Luke 7:37). A woman of known ill repute could embrace and kiss His feet yet there is never in the slightest a hint of impropriety on the part of Jesus. Yet Simon saw only the sinner while Jesus saw a lost soul. Simon interpreted her actions as improper, but Jesus saw love oozing from a wounded heart. Simon would not have associated with her by choice and would have castigated her for her sins. Jesus let her know He knew of her many sins but was willing to forgive her.

While Jesus was in the world and interacted with humanity, He never descended to its level. Whatever Paul meant when he said “I became all things to all men” it could not mean anything that contradicted the Lord’s teaching or life. When Jesus attended the supper at Matthew’s house (Mark 2:14,15), the Pharisees again asked, “Why eateth your Master with Publicans and sinners” (Matt. 9:11)? This event was after the Lord called Matthew to follow Him (Matt. 9:19). It is very unlikely that Matthew, after being called by the Lord to be His disciple, would throw a wild, worldly party. It is much more likely that Matthew called all of his old friends to hear Jesus teach them the truth. Jesus was not there to join in any revelry, He was there to teach.

Jesus did not brow beat sinners. It is true He could not seem to bear with the stiff-necked, hard-hearted, arrogant Pharisees. But He never acted as though He was better than those He met (even though He was). He had compassion on the souls that were lost, that hungered and thirsted for righteousness. He did not use people as things but treated them with dignity. He received and ate even with sinners and publicans, but it was in order to bring them to Himself, closer to God. Jesus’ association with the world should be the pattern for our own association with it.

Eric L. Padgett

Loosed From Infirmity

Exactly where He was teaching is not stated, though it was probably in Peraea. Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath day (Luke 13:10). This was a common practice for the Lord (Luke 4:16). Beside this incident, the most notable other record of Jesus teaching in the synagogue was when He announced Himself as fulfilling the Messianic prophecies in Nazareth (Luke 4:15-21). The people were so disturbed by this that they wanted to put Him to death (Luke 4:28,29). The apostle Paul also followed this practice of going to the synagogues and teaching (Acts 17:1-3).

In this particular instance, the Lord spotted a woman who had “a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift herself up” (Luke 13:11). The source of her suffering was not from merely natural causes. The Text tells us this came upon her by a “spirit of infirmity” (Luke 13:11). Jesus says that she had been “bound” by satan (Luke 13:16). The Bible makes a clear distinction between being afflicted by the spiritual realm and being sick from natural causes (cf., e.g., Matt. 4:24; Mark 1:32).

What is telling about this woman’s character is that despite her terrible burden, she was faithful to attend the synagogue on the Sabbath. She had been this way for eighteen years. It must have been physically challenging to go to the synagogue, but she went. She would have had an easy, ready-made excuse and no one would have faulted her, yet she chose to go. On this she is to be commended and perhaps it is just this sincerity that caused Jesus to take note of her.

When Jesus saw this woman, He “called” unto her. The word “call” used here can either mean to address or summons. This woman did not ask Jesus to heal her and there is no indication she had any expectation that such would happen. But Jesus probably called to her to come to Him and when she approached Him He told her that she was loosed from her infirmity (Luke 13:12). Jesus could have healed her from a distance as He did with the Centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5ff) but He was close enough to her to touch her, and to lay His hands on her (Luke 13:13).

The miracle was immediate and complete (Luke 13:13). As Jesus laid His hands on her, she was made straight. For eighteen long years she had been “bowed together” and was unable to lift up herself (Luke 13:11). Luke used the medical term to describe her condition. She must have needed assistance from others in her daily life or was unable to do many things others could do. But when Jesus healed her, she stood up straight. Another indication of the character of this woman was that when she was healed she glorified God (Luke 13:13).

This woman’s attitude was very different from that of the ruler of the synagogue, the archisunagogos. The ruler of the synagogue did not even try to deny the miracle. This woman was known to them all. Her condition was equally known. This he could not deny. He was left to offer the very inept and vacuous criticism that she was healed on the wrong day! Imagine that. She had been there for eighteen years and had never been healed but Jesus comes along and when He first sees her He offers her a means of recovery. Instead of rejoicing that this woman was healed the Pharisee had nothing but indignation.

Furthermore, in response to this notable miracle, this Pharisee directs his remarks to the crowd and not to Jesus. Of course, he could not stand against Jesus and so turns to those over which he believes he had control, but the Lord will soon bring his pitiful objection to nought. The Pharisee said you ought to come on one of the other days and be healed, as if he would not have objected to the healing then, as well.

In answering this pharisee, Jesus calls him a hypocrite. Not many preachers take this approach today, do they? Jesus did. Jesus points out this pharisees hypocrisy when he would help a dumb animal but would not assist a person on the Sabbath day . This woman was not only a human being, but a daughter of Abraham, a Jewess, and a woman who had been afflicted by the devil. Jesus said this woman “ought” to have been healed. There was a rightness to it and a necessity.

The Lord so powerfully dismissed this objection of the Pharisee, and so gloriously healed this deserving woman, that the people also rejoiced at all the glorious things done by Jesus that day (Luke 13:17). Not only was the Pharisee silenced, but he and those that stood with him, were ashamed. Today we need to put to silence and make ashamed those who would stop the good work of the Lord.

Eric L. Padgett

HE WROTE ON THE GROUND

That the Jewish leadership wanted Jesus dead, was apparently not a secret to anyone who wanted to know (John 5:18; 7:1,25). It is not surprising then that when Jesus went up to the feast of tabernacles, He went, as it were, in secret (John 7:10). Yet Jesus began teaching in the temple openly and boldly, so much so that some in Jerusalem were saying “Is this not He, Whom they seek to kill? But, lo he speaketh boldly and they say nothing to Him” (John 7:25,26). Even Jesus, Himself, openly confronted the Jews with the pointed question “Why go ye about to kill Me?” (John 7:19).

Nevertheless, however much they wanted to kill Him, no one would make the move, some because they were afraid and others because they were impressed with His teaching (John 7:44,46,47). When the officers of the temple would not bring Jesus in to the council, the Pharisees accused them of being deceived (John 7:47). Nicodemus offered a mild defense of Jesus, arguing that at the very least Jesus should be given a hearing (John 7:50,51). Finally, when they found themselves at an impasse, the council broke up in disarray, and every man went to his own house (John 7:53).

After spending the night on the mount of olives, the next morning Jesus returned to the temple and began teaching openly again (John 8:1,2). As Jesus sat down and taught all the people that had come to hear Him, that faction of the scribes and Pharisees who sought Jesus’ life approached Him with a woman whom they sat in the midst of the crowd, right in front of Jesus (John 8:3). “Master,” they said, “this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act” (John 8:4). Their intentions were not honorable for they sought an occasion where Jesus would make a mistake and entrap Himself and they could have something tangible wherewith they could accuse Him (John 8:6).

Some have supposed that the woman’s situation was like that of forced infidelty found in Deut. 22:23,24. In any case, the law required the death of both offending parties (Lev. 20:10). However, is it not curious that the male offender is strangely absent? Is it not curious that just after they had failed in trying to take Him, that they found just the right woman with which to attempt to test Him? Perhaps the guilty man was in the very crowd surrounding Jesus, or, dare we say, even among the scribes or Pharisees?

“Moses,” they said trying to give themselves some semblance of authority, “in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou?” (John 8:5). Maybe they so disgusted Jesus that He ignored them. Maybe He was drawing them further into the moral dilemma into which He was going to place them. But for whatever reason, Jesus seems to ignore them and stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger (John 8:6). They must have thought that they had caught Jesus for they “continued asking Him” the same question (John 8:7).

But Jesus turned the tables on them. He calmly rose from His place and mades a simple statement: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). Then He stooped down again and began writing on the ground again (John 8:8). What Jesus wrote on the ground has been the cause of a lot of speculation. It has captivated the imaginations of many people for a long time. It could be that just as the finger of God wrote the tables of stone, the finger of God was now writing on the tables of stone in the temple (cf. Ex. 31:18). We simply cannot know. We need to learn that the secret things belong to the Lord (Deut. 29:29).

With this statement, Jesus pricked the conscience of every man there (John 8:9). The oldest first began to drop their stones and then the younger (John 8:9). As they dropped the stone they held, they each went out until only Jesus and the woman were left there (John 8:9). “Woman,” Jesus said, “where are those thine accusers? hath no man condenmed thee?” “No man, Lord” she replied. Jesus said, Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

The scribes and Pharisees not only broke the law of Moses by not examining this man and woman legally, they were partial in that they let the man go free (if he was not in on this attempt to snare the Lord) and their intentions were dishonorable from the beginning. Jesus knew their hearts. Jesus also knew the heart of this woman. We do not know her background but she was apparently of a far different character than the hypocritical Jewish leaders. Jesus did not condone this woman’s actions or pass over them lightly. He called it sin. He called upon her to sin no more. However, since there could no longer be found thetwo witnesses against her the law required, the Lord forgave her and encouraged her to change her life.

Eric L. Padgett

NOTE:
In the area of Textual Criticism, John 8:1-12 is one of the most controversial passages found in all the Bible. So controversial has this passage been that certain professors of the Christian faith, even in ancient times, have excised it from the biblical text. Many of those same ancient authorities, however, which omit the reading note where the passage in John should have been, and is now, with special diacritical marks indicating that they knew of the reading.

Some have suggested that the passage is an ancient oral tradition that found its way into the Text, though not scripture. However, it is hard to understand how or why this section was added to the text, and particularly in this place, being so controversial as it is. It makes more sense that it was excised from the text by someone who was uncomfortable reading about how Jesus treated this woman caught in the very act of adultery.

This passage is found in the Latin Vulgate in 383 A.D. Jerome based this translation on Greek manuscripts which were already available and considered ancient. Didymus the blind mentions this pasaage by 395 A.D. He lived in Alexandria. The Didascalia Apostolorum mentions the account. It was written around 230 A.D. in Syria, some have suggested it was written near Antioch. Ambrose of Milan mentions this passage no less than nine times, according to Dean Burgon, and places it in the gospel account of John.

There are other proofs that this passage is part of God’s word that cannot be gone into here. A search of the internet will provide plenty of arguments on both sides of the issue, if you are interested.

The Face Of Jesus

Down through the ages, skilled artists have attempted to capture the face of Jesus either on canvass or in sculpture. Some have depicted Him in great agony; others with great compassion. Lately, “scientists” have attempted to depict the face of Jesus through forensic reconstruction of first century Semite skulls. Ever since 1898, when Secondo Pia made a negative image of the Shroud of Turin, many people have held it to show the face of the Saviour. But if we really want to see the true face of Jesus, we must go to the Bible. For example…

In Luke 9:51-53, we see the face of Jesus as the face of duty. The Bible tells us that Jesus stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). At that time, our Lord’s death was only a mere six months away in that very city. Furthermore, Jesus knew exactly what was going to befall Him there for He warned His disciples in order to prepare them (Matt. 16:21-23, 20:18, 26:2). The Lord, even with this knowledge, went willingly to the city and to the cross (John 10:18). He could have called twelve legions of angels to deliver Himself, but He did not (Matt. 26:53). Though Jesus despised the shame of the cross, He still endured it for the joy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:1,2). How do we face our duty, however unpleasant it may be, as Christians?

In Matthew 17:2, we see in the face of Jesus the face of majesty. The Bible tells us that Jesus was transfigured and that the “fashion of His countenance [was] altered” and His “Face shown as the sun” (Luke 9:29; Matt. 17:2). At the same time, Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke to Jesus of His impending death (Luke 9:30,31). While Peter tried to honor all three, God spoke with resounding clarity that it was His Son alone Who was to be heard (Mark 9:7; Heb. 1:1,2). When Peter later recalled the incident, he said the apostles were “eyewitnesses of His majesty” (II Pet. 1:16-21).

Again, we see in the face of Jesus the face of humanity. In Matt. 26:36-(39)-40, the Bible tells us that as Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemene He fell on His face in solemn, ardent prayer. He prayed to the Father, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” We know of the divinity of Jesus (Matt. 1:23; Phil 2:5ff; Acts 20:28; etc.) but the Bible makes it exceedingly clear that He was also fully human. Paul describes Jesus as praying to God with “strong crying and tears” (Heb. 5:7,8). In these actions, Jesus shows us that He identifies with all our trials and temptations because He, Himself, was human (Heb. 2:14-17, 4:15). “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee” (Psalm 55:22).

We see in Jesus also the face of rejection. The Bible tells us His enemies “spit in His face” (Matt. 26:67). Jesus suffered every kind of indignity imaginable. They spit upon Him, smacked Him in the face, left Him unclothed, beat and mocked Him. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him (Is. 53). He endured the cross, yes, but He despised the shame (Heb. 12:2). Jesus lived what He taught: “Blessed are ye when ye are persecuted” (Matt. 5:10-12). He suffered for us, leaving us an example (I Pet. 2:21-25).

In Jesus countenance we also see the face of pity. The Bible tells us that Jesus turned and looked upon Peter (Luke 22:61). Peter had earlier affirmed that he would die for the Lord only to be told by the Lord that, on the contrary, that very night he would deny Him thrice. Picture in your mind the “trial” of Jesus. Can you imagine that Jesus and Peter are far apart? There is much going on in the hall. It is full of people. Full of noise. It is unlikely that Jesus could audibly hear what Peter might be saying to any man or maid. But when the cock crew, Jesus turns from His accusers and, knowing just where to look, looks back at Peter across the great hall just after he denied the Lord for the third time (Matt. 26:69-75)! “What a holy power is in this silent glance.”

In the face of the Lord we also see the face of transformational Truth. In the New Testament we behold the glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 3:18). While the Jews still had a veil over their eyes, as did Moses when he came down from the mount, and thus have their minds blinded, we have no such veil but with open face behold the glory of the Lord. We are changed into that same image. God shines in our hearts, through His word, to give light in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 4:6).

Three quick final points. We see in Jesus the face of justice. His face is against them that do evil (I Pet. 3:12). It is not that God cannot hear the sinner, but He does not listen with a view to answering their prayers (John 9:31). In the face of Jesus we see the face of judgement. We are told by John that heaven and earth will flee away from the holy face of Jesus Christ as He sits upon the great white throne to judge the world (Rev. 20:11). Finally, we see in Jesus’ face the face of glory. We shall see His face (Rev. 22:4) and when we do we shall be like Him (I John 3:1-3).

Do you want to know what Jesus looks like? Then look into the mirror of God’s word and be changed into the same image as the glory of the Lord and you will have the “light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Cor. 3:18-4:6; James 1:25).

Eric L. Padgett

THE TRANSFIGURATION

Having seen some of the greatest and most astonishing events that human eyes had ever witnessed, it is likely that the apostles would have discussed among themselves the wondrous things which they experienced at Jesus’ side. We, of course, are not privy to the private conversations between the apostles that are not explicitly recorded in the gospel accounts. These private things belong to them and the Lord. Yet, we cannot help but speculate about the kind of lively talk that likely would pass between them after such magnificent events transpired (cf. Mark 9:10). One of these events was the transfiguration.

About a week after Peter had confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matt. 16:16-19), Jesus chose Peter, James and John to accompany Him to an high mountain apart by themselves to pray (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28). Which mountain it was, we do not know. Mounts Tabor and Herman have been suggested, but there is simply no way to know for certain. It was probably in the evening, as this was Jesus’ usual time to go into a place alone and pray (cf. Luke 6:12; 21:37; 22:39; Matt. 14:23-24) and the disciples’ eyes were already heavy with sleep. As in the garden of Gethsemene, the apostles were unable to keep themselves awake and fell fast asleep (Luke 9:32).

As Jesus prayed, something magnificent happened. The “fashion of His countenance was altered” (Luke 9:29). His face did shine as the sun and His raiment became as white as the light, shining white as snow, “so as no fuller can white them” (Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:3). This was not a reflected light from the snow on the mountain top, as some have vainly suggested, but this was an inner light shining forth. It was almost as if His humanity was peeled back and His heavenly glory was allowed to manifest itself, for a time, in this world (Luke 9:32). Perhaps it was the very light of His glory which wakened the sleeping apostles, who had apparently fallen asleep while Jesus prayed.

When the apostles fully awakened, they saw not only the Lord’s glory, but they saw something else happen here, too. As Jesus was transfigured before the apostles’ very eyes, two men appeared with Him, conversing with Him (Luke 9:30). Through some means, the apostles knew almost immediately that the two men were Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:36). Moses, the great lawgiver, and Elijah, the great prophet of the Old Testament themselves appeared with Jesus in a glorified form (Luke 9:31). While we are not privy to the exact conversation between the Lord and His two Old Testament saints, we do know the subject matter. They spoke to Jesus of His impending death “which He should accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31).

At the precise moment that Moses and Elijah were leaving the Lord, Peter, because he did not know what else to do, felt compelled to speak out (Mark 9:6). “Master,” Peter blurted out, “it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias” (Mark 9:5). Peter meant well, but as was sometimes the case, he did not think before he spoke (Luke 9:33). The suggestion of three tabernacles implies that all three would be equally revered, equally honored. But the words that they were soon to hear showed the error of such a course.

Before Peter had even finished speaking, a bright cloud quickly overshadowed them and apparently engulfed them (Luke 9:34; Matt. 17:5). From the midst of this cloud came a voice that was equally unmistakable and equally fearsome, saying “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him” (Luke 9:35). When the disciples heard the voice of God, they fell on their face and trembled with great fear (Matt. 17:5). What kind of thoughts must have flashed through their minds! But as they lay prostrate on the ground, a hand touched them. It was the Lord’s (Matt. 17:7). “Arise,” He said, “and be not afraid.” “And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only” (Matt. 17:8).

There really can be no doubt as to the significance of this event. God spoke unmistakably clear that the apostles, and now we ourselves, are to listen to the Lord alone. Moses, represented the law; Elijah, the prophets. But they are now gone while the Lord continues to speak through His word. God has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son (Heb. 1:1,2). The law has been fulfilled by the Lord (Matt. 5:17; Luke 24:44), and hence, He took it out of the way and nailed it to His cross (Col. 2:14).

As Jesus, Peter, James and John descended the holy mount, Jesus charged them that they  should not tell anyone any of the things they had seen until after He was raised from the dead (Mark 9:10). With this they faithfully complied, though they questioned between themselves what it all should mean (Mark 9:10). When Peter later, himself, wrote about these things he observed that he was an eyewitness of His “majesty” and of His “excellent glory” (II Pet. 1:16-18). Therefore, he says, perhaps thinking back to that night to his own experience with Jesus on that mountain, we would do well to take heed, “as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (II Pet. 19,20).

We are to hear Jesus and no other.

Eric L. Padgett

DEVILS, DOGS AND CRUMBS

Jesus did not want to be found. He “entered into an house and would have no man know it” (Mark 7:24). This seems a little out of character for the Lord, who was always among the multitudes teaching and working miracles, which by their very nature were designed to bring attention to Himself. But there were occasions when it was necessary for the Lord to keep a lower profile (e.g., Matt. 14:12,13,23). In this instance, the Pharisees had been offended at His teaching and He had withdrawn, perhaps so as not to provoke a confrontation with them just yet (Matt. 15:12).

The house into which Jesus secreted Himself was in the coasts or borders of Tyre and Sidon (Matt. 15:21; Mark 7:24). However, Jesus’ fame and reputation had already preceded Him into this land of the Gentiles (Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17). One of those from those same coasts who knew of Jesus was “a certain woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit” (Mark 7:25). This young girl had been grievously vexed with a devil (Matt. 15:22) and this sad situation must have vexed her loving mother sorely, as well.

She had heard of Jesus’ healing of the sick and His casting out of the devils and she believed He could do the same for her daughter (Mark 7:25). Perhaps she had been among the thousands who had went out to see Jesus do these things and to hear Him teach. When she learned that Jesus had retired to her own region, she sought Him out and, in faith and humility, fell at His feet and asked for His mercy (Mark 7:25; Matt. 15:22). Her love for her daughter and her faith in the Lord must have been great, indeed. As a testimony to her faith, the Holy Spirit records Jesus’ commendation of her “great faith” (Matt. 15:28).

This woman was not a Jewess. She was, in fact, descended from the mortal enemies of the Jews, the Canaanites (Matt. 15:22). She is called a Greek and a Syro-phenician woman by nation (Mark 7:26). While her heritage was of pagan origin, she seems to have had some knowledge of the Messianic hope and placed those hopes in Jesus for she calls Him “Thou Son of David” (Matt. 15:22), a Messianic title. Furthermore, she seems to have some knowledge of Hebrew theology for she attributes her daughters malady to a demon. But Jesus’ response to her indicates she was not a proselyte (Matt. 15:26).

When Jesus did not answer her immediately, the apostles wanted to send her away (Matt. 15:23). Jesus’ response to the disciples request to send the woman away was to say that He was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 15:24). This may sound, at first, as though it was intended to grant their request. Though she was not a descendant of Abraham by birth, yet by faith she was (cf. Gal. 3:7). She had the faith of Abraham in the Lord’s ability to grant her request. Thus, though she was rebuffed, she persisted in her quest.

While at first she had apparently called to the Lord from some distance (Matt. 15:22), she now came closer and worshiped Him (Mat. 15:25). Her request was simple: “Lord, help me.” Her request was repeated for she “besought” Him (Mark 7:26 – “besought” is in the imperfect tense, indicating she kept at it). The scriptures teach that we should pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17). Perhaps she had heard Jesus teach the need to continue instant in prayer (e.g., Luke 18:1-18). Maybe it was just her faith and desire to see her daughter healed that kept her asking. But she persisted!

When Jesus responded that it is not “meet to take the children’s bread, and cast it unto the dogs” (Mark 7:27), she answered yet again and said, “Yes, truth, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs which fall from the master’s table” (Matt. 15:27; Mark 7:28). Jesus’ use of the word “dog” here was not as uncomplimentary as at first might be imagined. The word for “dog” here means “little puppy.” Even the little puppies are allowed a few crumbs and scraps that fall from the table, she said.

The Lord was so impressed with her observation, which revealed her faith, that He acknowledged the greatness of her faith and granted her request (Matt. 15:28). From that very hour her daughter was made whole (Matt. 15:28). The woman obviously believed the Lord’s statement for she ceased to request help and returned back home (Mark 7:30). God does not always answer our requests immediately. He allows us room to grow and for our faith to be revealed. This Gentile woman was and is great example of a loving parent, faith in the Lord and persistence in prayer.

Eric L. Padgett

CONQUEST OF THE STORM

The wind was blowing wildly and the violent waves were lapping over the side of the vessel. The little ship was creaking as it was being tossed to and fro on the sea. Maybe the apostles, trying their best to keep from sinking or capsizing, were thinking back, remembering when Jesus was with them in the ship on the sea of Galilee and had calmed the storm with a command. But He was not here now and they would have to try their best to stay afloat themselves.

Earlier, Jesus had sent the apostles down to the sea to get in a boat and go before Him to Bethsaida (Mark 6:46). They probably went reluctantly for Matthew says Jesus “constrained” or “compelled” them to go (Matt. 14:22). It would have been hard for the apostles to leave Jesus at that time. There was already a movement among at least some of the people to forcibly make Jesus king (John 6:15). Maybe the apostles were caught up in this to some degree, they, themselves, expecting an earthly kingdom (Acts 1:6), or, perhaps, they feared to leave Jesus alone with the aggressive crowd. Either way, Jesus had to compel them to leave while He dismissed the crowd, which, in itself might have proved no small task given their intentions.

After the crowd was sent away, Jesus went up to the mountain alone to pray (Matt. 14:23). Jesus not only taught the importance of prayer He gave us His example on its importance, for He was always praying. This was especially true when He was going to face some great challenge. Having been among the people, He also wanted to spend time with the Father. It is also possible that having been preaching to the multitude, Jesus prayed for the lessons to be effective. Regardless of the reason, we should learn the value of prayer as Jesus gave the example.

Mark seems to indicate that while Jesus was alone on land in prayer in the mountain, He saw the apostles toiling and rowing in the midst of the sea (Mark 6:47,48). It is possible that Jesus could have seen the ship on the sea from the mountain, but during a storm at night it would be difficult to see through the clouds and possibly rain and impossible to see them toiling in the ship (Mark 6:47). This, I think, rather demonstrates Jesus’ miraculous knowledge. It also teaches us that even though we seem lost and treading water sometimes, the Lord knows our needs (Matt. 6:25-33).

Furthermore, Jesus had sent the disciples out earlier that evening (John 6:16,17). They were now in the “midst of the sea” and had been rowing for some time when Jesus was alone in the mountain (Matt. 14:24,25; Mark 6:47). Now if they had been rowing for several hours and were now about 25 or 30 furlongs along their way, or about 3 1/2 miles (John 6:19), they could have been roughly in the center of the widest part of the sea of Galilee where the storm would have been the roughest. It was in the fourth watch of the night (3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.) that Jesus went to them from the mountain (Matt. 14:25). If they had been rowing for several hours and gotten along only 3 miles or so because of the headwind, for Jesus to leave and get there when He did must have involved a miracle of time and space to get Him there that quickly. We thus learn that God is not far from anyone of us when we need Him.

Now Jesus comes to them walking on the water! I will write that again: walking on the water! Seeing the disciples toiling in the ship from the mountain was remarkable. Getting to them as quickly as He did was amazing. But walking on the stormy sea is beyond breath-taking. It is no wonder that the disciples were “afraid” (John 6:19). It is no wonder that these grown men were crying, and screaming or shrieking (anakradzo) in fear (Mark 6:50). It is no wonder that what they thought they saw was a spirit or phantasm (Matt, 14:26; Mark 6:49). It seemed so surreal and yet is was quite real for they all saw Him (Mark 6:50). Jesus had once again demonstrated His power over nature.

As Jesus was walking on this storm-tossed sea, He would have passed by the apostles in the boat (Mark 6:48). Whether He intended to pass them by or whether it just appeared to the apostles that He was passing them by is not clear. But when they cried out in fear Jesus immediately talked with them to allay those fears (Mark 6:50). “Be of good cheer; It is I; be not afraid” (Matt. 14:27; John 6:20). We all face storms in our lives, occasions when we are in need of help. Jesus let the apostles know that though they would face many storms, He would be there for them (Matt. 28:20).

Now when Peter heard the Lord’s voice, he asked “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water” (Matt. 14:28). Peter is to be commended for his effort, for he stepped out of the boat into the waves and began walking on water, too! None of the other apostles tried this. Who among us would have tried it? But Peter, looking at Jesus, first set one foot and then another out of the boat and onto the stormy waves and he walked on water!

It must have been a triumphant moment for him, but it was fleeting. For soon he let his eyes drift from the Lord and onto the boisterous waves and wind began to sink because he was afraid (Matt. 14:30). Just then, as Peter began to drop into the water, Jesus reached forth His hand and caught Peter and saved him (Matt. 14:31). Nevertheless, Jesus had this rebuke: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt.” Why do we doubt when our Lord is the Master of the storms?

Though Mark’s account of this incident was probably given to him by Peter, Mark does not mention the incident of Peter walking on the water. Perhaps Peter was being modest or perhaps he was ashamed of the incident, but only Matthew records it. But when Jesus and Peter went back into the ship, the wind ceased (Matt. 14:32). One final, amazing incident during this miraculous occasion, is that when Jesus boarded the boat, “immediately the ship was at the land whither it went” (John 6:21). What the disciples could not do by working all night Jesus made possible by His presence. Without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

Eric L. Padgett

What Manner Of Man Is This?

The Lord had spent a full and busy day in Capernaum of teaching and healing all the sick that were brought to Him (Matt. 8:5,14,16). It was now evening and the Lord desired to get away from the pressing multitudes and be alone to get some well deserved and much needed rest (Matt. 8:18). He entered into a ship, probably not one the apostles owned (Matt. 8:23), and requested that His apostles take Him to the other side of Lake Gennesaret (Luke 8:22), the Sea of Galilee. His apostles summarily dismissed the multitude and departed quickly without much preparation (Mark 4:36). As they began to sail, Jesus’ exhaustion quickly overcame His body and, as He lay His head upon a pillow, He fell fast asleep in the stern of the ship (Mark 4:38; cf. Psalm 121:4).

Here was the Son of God asleep in the hinder part of the ship on the Sea of Galilee. One might imagine the apostles examining Jesus with their eyes as He slept serenely in the back of the boat, wondering about the nature of this man. But as He slept, a sudden and violent storm arose on the sea of Galilee, as they often do, covering the ship with waves and filling the vessel with water, seemingly jeopardizing their very lives (Matt. 8:24; Luke 8:23).

The situation was dire. The apostles, some of them seasoned, life-long fishermen, were all afraid for their lives. They had done all that they humanly could to save the vessel and their own necks. And in all this turmoil Jesus still lay in the back of the ship, still sleeping. Some of the apostles in their fear turned to in anger to accuse Christ, “Carest Thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38)! Others cried out to the Lord for help. One said “Master, Master we perish” (Luke 8:24). Another cried out “Lord, save us we perish” (Luke 8:24). Jesus never heard the storms but He did hear His apostles cry for help, though they had to come and awake Him from His sleep (Luke 8:24).

When He arose from His rest, He simply rebuked the wind “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39; Matt. 8:26; Luke 8:24). He rebuked the wind and it stopped, demonstrating His power over the forces of nature. Earlier that day, Jesus had demonstrated His power over physical sickness. He healed a Leper (Matt. 8:1-4), the Centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5-13), Peter’s Mother-in-Law (Matt. 8:14-15) and all that were brought to Him (Matt. 8:16-17).

Later He would demonstrate His power over the supernatural realm when He healed the demoniac (Matt. 8:28-34). The Word that brought the world into existence now simply commands it to be still (Col. 1:17; John 1:1-3; etc.). And there was a great calm (Matt. 8:26; Mark 4:39; Luke 8:24).

But now Jesus had a series of questions for His apostles. “Why are ye so fearful? O ye of little faith? How is it that ye have no faith? Where is your faith? (Matt. 8:26: Mark 4:40; Luke 8:25). To paraphrase: Do you not know Who you are with? Do you not yet understand why I am here? How can ye not know that with Me you are safe? We should always know that when we are with the Lord, we are safe. No matter what may come along, if we are faithful and trust in Him, He will take us across to the safety of Heaven’s shore.

Even though the apostles had been with Jesus, even though they had seen His power, they had not yet been fully persuaded. The apostles still wondered amongst themselves, “What manner of Man is this, that even the wind and sea obey Him!” (Matt. 8:27; Mark 4:41; Luke 8:25)? What manner of Man has such power? No mere man! The great prophet Elijah had to pray to God and ask that the rains stop and then start again (James 5:17). The Lord merely commands the rain and the wind Himself. And they obey. He was no mere man!

In our lives we will face storms. These storms will often appear out of nowhere and threaten our hopes and faith. Storms that will sometimes cause us to worry and maybe even question the Lord. But if we are faithful to Him through it all, Jesus will arise and say “Peace, be still!” And there will be great calm.

Eric L. Padgett