Intercede

Below is a reworking of a talk delivered at a Monday night Bible study. We were working our way through Luke’s Gospel.

I’ll bet that a lot of us could calculate how many Sundays we have been in church by taking our age and multiplying by a number that is close to 50.  And yet we come to Bible study on Monday nights because we want more. Well I got more and I want to share it with you and I also mean this as a Thank-You to everyone who works to put these Monday nights together.

Cast your mind back to last autumn when we studied Luke chapter 5. We studied the story of the friends who stuck together and brought their buddy to Jesus.

What do we know about these men who stuffed their friend through the roof?

 

  • There were probably 4 of them. Why? Because there are 4 corners on a stretcher. It could have been 2 or 3 or 5 but I think 4.
  • They were probably from far away. Why? Because they got there late. When they tried to go through the door they were met by the elbows of the people who had been there since 6 o’clock (or some culturally similar time) and when they went to the windows the people who had been there since 7 o’clock told them to get lost.
  • They were what we would call today working poor. Why? Because the logical thing to do would be to wait along the road till Jesus came out. But they couldn’t, they didn’t have money for a Holiday Inn and besides that they couldn’t afford to miss another day’s work.
  • I also believe that the lame man had not always been lame. I believe that because the deepest desire of his heart – which Jesus read – was for his sins to be forgiven. This guy had lived long enough to have regrets.

Something we know without reading between the lines is how much these guys loved their lame friend. Now, if you’ve been a Christian for a while, you know that the Greeks have several words for Love. You know: Agape, Storge and all that.  In English there is only one but it seems weird to use the same word to describe how you feel about your buddies as you use to describe how you feel about your sweetheart so even in English we use other words. So I’m going to use one of the other English words that guys use when they talk among them selves. They really ‘okayed’ this guy.  As in “Hey Joe what do you think of Bob” “Bob?’ “Yeah Bob” “He’s Okay”

The story says that Jesus healed the lame man ‘because of their faith. I ask your forgiveness because I’m going to stretch the meanings of words here. Jesus usually heals because of the faith of the supplicant but in this case I believe the word also encompasses faithfulness and faithfulness is an expression of love. We are faithful because we love. 

I believe that Jesus looked up at the faces watching intently through that hole in the roof and he connected with these guys. Here were four intercessors. Here were four guys who ‘okayed’ their friend so much that they were willing to face criminal prosecution for him. I believe Jesus looked at these four and said “Hey. These guys are Okay”.

So Jesus forgave the lame man’s sins because that is what he wanted. He healed the lame man because that is what his friends wanted and they were an okay bunch of guys. Then he used the occasion as a teaching moment for the people there and for us.

 

 

In chapter 7 we looked at another of my favorite Bible stories, the story of the Roman Centurion. I really like the practical nature of the Centurion. Something I noticed this time around is that Luke records this story as a double intercession. The master interceded on behalf of the servant by sending Jewish teachers.

Still in chapter 7 we read about the Widow of Nain. She has no intercessor, unless you count the crying crowd. But Jesus raises her son.

In Luke 8 Jesus crosses the lake where he frees the man possessed by demons. (or men, Matthew has two) Again there is no intercessor – unless you count the demons but that is a sort of negative intercession.  

Not getting such a great welcome on the east side of  the lake Jesus comes  back where he is met by Jairus. He is one character in the Bible that I feel I really understand. I am the father of daughters and know how passionately he would have interceded for his dying daughter. 

On the way to Jairus’ house they are met by a woman with an issue of blood. I feel for this woman because she is timid. I’m timid also. This used to happen to me a lot. I would come back from the store and my wife would say “where’s the ‘something or other’” and I’d say “I couldn’t find it” and she’d say “Did you ask anybody?” She just didn’t understand how hard it was to ask, even when it was the person’s job to help me. It was hard for this woman to ask Jesus to heal her. On top of all that, from what I know of Jairus, they would have been walking fast.

What do we know about this woman?

  • She was probably about Jesus’ age. She had had an issue of blood for 12 years which almost certainly had to do with menstruation.
  • She was poor because she had spent all her money on Doctors
  • She had no intercessor. She had no gang of buddies to carry her to Jesus, no kind master to send emissaries on her behalf nor even a family member like Jairus’ daughter had.
  • She was timid. Her own personality worked against her, unlike the blind man outside Jerico  she could not bring herself to shout “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

 

But one other thing we know about her. She touched Jesus’ robe and was healed

Now it is time for a teaching moment.  The other stories were just lead up to this.

Jesus called this woman daughter.  This is the only place in the New Testament where Jesus calls anyone daughter and all three of the synoptic Gospels record this incident

    • He didn’t call her woman as he did his mother from the cross. I understand that woman was a polite address in that day and is often translated ‘good woman’ in our Bibles.
    • He didn’t call her sister which would have been appropriate given their ages and the fact that in Luke 8 he says that “My mother and my brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
    • He calls her Daughter.

 

I believe that Jesus has chosen this incident for the evangelists to make a point that he let slide before. By calling this woman Daughter Jesus was a making a direct comparison:

Jairus – Jairus’ daughter

Jesus  – Jesus’ daughter  aka the woman who had just been healed

What he was saying to the woman, the people present and to us is this:

Do you see this guy Jairus? Do you see how he is interceding for his daughter? And do you see how much he loves his Daughter? Do you see the pain on his face because I’m taking this time to talk to you?   Well all of you who have No friends, No kind master, No family, No social standing and are too timid to approach me directly. I’m your intercessor – Me – Jesus – the son of God himself. Men may be restrained in their expression of love for other men, and use words like Okay, but here is no such restraint between fathers and daughters. Jairus loves his daughter dearly and as much as Jairus loves his daughter, that is how much I love you.

And then the Holy Spirit revealed something else to me. I don’t know why He took so long. Maybe he had to wait for me to be a father or maybe he had never had such an excellent bible study to work with before  but I have probably been in church on Sunday 25 hundred times and for the first time in my life I thought “this guy Jesus … He’s Okay!”

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