Showing posts with label #Healer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #Healer. Show all posts

Jesus forgives, then cures, a paraplegic.

by K.W. Leslie, 03 September 2023

Mark 2.1-12, Matthew 9.1-8, Luke 5.17-26.

The story of Jesus curing the paraplegic lowered down through the roof, is one of the more famous stories in the gospels. Partly because the paraplegic’s companions were so eager to get him cured, so believed Jesus could cure him, they committed serious property damage. And partly because Jesus’s first act wasn’t to cure him—it was to forgive him.

That second thing is why bible scholars call this story a controversy pericope, which is a fancy way of saying it’s a story which provokes debate about who Jesus really is. Not among us Christians; we already know he’s God. Jn 1.14 But among Pharisees, Jesus’s fellow Galileans, and his new followers—who didn’t know this yet, and it’s because of these stories they figured it out. Jesus isn’t just a guru, just a prophet, just our king; he’s God-become-human.

But because people couldn’t fathom God becoming human (and a lot of people still can’t!), Jesus steps on a lot of toes. Pagans and heretics still try to explain his divinity away by claiming we Christians misunderstand him, and claim he’s God when he’s only a really enlightened human… or saying we’re all kinda God and Jesus is just better at it than average; or saying he’s a lesser god but not the God. Closed-minded folks firmly embrace any interpretation of Jesus which doesn’t offend them any, and we outrage them by showing them where the bible pokes holes in these wrong ideas. (Welcome to my world.)

Well. This story takes place in Mark and Luke right after Jesus cures a “leper,” and in Matthew after Jesus visits the Dekapolis and kicks 2,000 demons out of some guy. Various gospel synopses like to link this story up with a different paraplegic Jesus cured at a pool. But that happens in Jerusalem; this happens in Jesus’s home base of Capharnaum.

The gospels don’t say whose house it is, and a lot of Christians like to speculate it’s Simon Peter’s—for no good reason. Most likely it’s Jesus’s house. Yes, Jesus’s. People assume he had no house, ’cause he elsewhere says the Son of Man “had no place to lay his head,” Lk 9.58 but that’s because he traveled. When he wasn’t traveling, when he stayed in Capharnaum, he lived somewhere. Likely with family. James and John were Jesus’s first cousins, so likely he lived in their family home.

Who, I’m sure, were initially startled to find their home overrun with Jesus’s followers. Then horrified when a bunch of guys decided to bust through the roof and drop a paraplegic on ’em.

The “leper” whom Jesus cured, then drove away.

by K.W. Leslie, 27 August 2023

Mark 1.40-45, Matthew 8.1-4, Luke 5.12-16.

There’s are two words in the bible usually translated “leprosy.” They’re the Hebrew word צָרָ֑עַת/chara’át and the Greek word λέπρα/lépra. In Leviticus it’s described like yea:

Leviticus 13.1-3 NASB
1 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
2 “When someone has on the skin of his body a swelling, or a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes an infection of leprosy on the skin of his body, athen he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. 3 The priest shall look at the infected area on the skin of the body, and if the hair in the infection has turned white and the infection appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is an infection of leprosy; when the priest has looked at him, he shall pronounce him unclean.”

The chapter goes into further detail about whether it’s a temporary or chronic case of “leprosy,” and whether “lepers” need to be temporarily isolated, or permanently—which includes walking around in torn clothing and shouting, “Unclean!” to anyone who approaches. Also whether clothes have “leprosy,” and what should be done with them; and chapter 14 tells of buildings which have “leprosy,” and whether they should be washed or torn down.

Now yeah, since we’re talking about something clothing and buildings can get, we’re not talking about a particular disease. More like a condition. Anything which makes your skin white and scaly, or red and raw; anything which turns your clothing or walls red or green. In the case of clothing and walls, it sounds like mold; in the case of skin ailments, it could be an infection, or even skin cancer.

Nowadays when we say “leprosy” we mean Hansen’s disease, a bacteriological infection which damages nerves and extremities. And it’s curable! Early treatment can prevent any permanent injury, but after six to 12 months of meds and therapy, you’re fine. Don’t need to wear torn clothing; don’t need to shout “Unclean!” For that matter, we’re not entirely sure Hansen’s disease is even what the LORD was talking about in Leviticus: Biblical “leprosy” sounds like skin rashes or skin cancers, and Hansen’s disease doesn’t present as skin lesions till you’ve lost feeling in your extremities—at which point, because you can’t feel pain, you injure yourself more easily.

Regardless of what the bible means by chara’át or leprós, that was the disease to avoid—and the disease ancient Israelis most feared. It made you ritually unclean, which means you couldn’t go to temple or synagogue, ’cause you were self-quarantined. Couldn’t go into town. Nobody but other “lepers” could touch you. And, thanks to Pharisee attitudes of the day, people presumed you were cursed—because why else would God let such a horrible thing happen to you?

People still develop this attitude about chronically unwell people. If you’re regularly suffering from maladies; if you’re deaf, blind, can’t walk, or are mentally ill, Christians regularly develop the attitude of “That’s your fault. ’Cause if you only trusted God enough, he’d cure you.” Which is pure a--holery on their part, ’cause it’s not like they did anything to particularly deserve health and wellness. They’re sinners too. In fact, being able-bodied, they’re quite able to sin way more than someone who’s not.

Anywho, here’s the part of the gospels where someone with “leprosy” first approaches Jesus. Dude cured everyone in Capharnaum, but what about the “lepers” who were quarantining outside Capharnaum and all the other cities? Might Jesus be able to cure them too?

This one “leper” decided to give it a shot.

Ready to take on the whole of the Galilee.

by K.W. Leslie, 20 August 2023

Mark 1.35-39, Matthew 4.23-25, Luke 4.42-44.

Whenever preachers talk about Jesus curing everyone in Capharnaum, they tend to describe it as Jesus spending all day curing people and throwing out demons. But read the text: The people came to him at sundown, Mk 1.32, Mt 8.16, Lk 4.40 so he actually spent all night curing people. Hope he got his Sabbath rest, ’cause he sure needed it.

By the end, preachers tend to describe Jesus as exhausted. And he might’ve been really tired, ’cause he was up all night. But exhausted? That’s only because they don’t know what it’s like to supernaturally cure the sick. Faith-healers will tell you it’s just the opposite. It’s not like a medical doctor, repairing patient after patient with treatment after treatment, taxing your mind and body with thought and work. You aren’t doing the work; the Holy Spirit is. You watch him do his thing; you rejoice once he’s done it. It’s not tiring. It’s invigorating. It’s a rush.

More likely, Jesus was wired after curing person after person after person. Too jazzed to ever get to sleep.

Since translators don’t realize this, they tend to make it sound like Jesus woke up crazy-early in the morning, after maybe two or three hours of sleep. But ἀναστὰς ἐξῆλθεν/anastás exílthen doesn’t mean, as the KJV puts it, “rising up… he went out,” but “the one who is up [already], goes out.” Jesus didn’t wake up and figure it’s prayer time; he was still up, and didn’t wanna sleep. He wanted more.

What kind of mood did you imagine Jesus was in?

Mark 1.35-39 KWL
35 Still awake in the still-dark morning,
Jesus comes out and goes to a solitary place,
and is praying there.
36 Simon Peter and those with him
search for Jesus,
37 and find Jesus and tell him this:
“Everybody looks for you!”
38 Jesus tells them, “We should go elsewhere,
into the other towns there are,
so I can preach there also,
for this is why I’ve come!”
Luke 4.42-44 KWL
42 Once it became day,
Jesus comes out and goes to a solitary place,
and the crowds are looking for him,
and come to him.
They’re holding on to him
lest he leave them.
43 Jesus tells them this:
“In the other cities as well,
I have to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom.
For this is why I’m sent.”
44 And Jesus is preaching
in the Jewish synagogues.

“Capharnaum is cured. Who’s next? Give me more!”

See, one’s mindset makes a huge difference when it comes to interpreting bible. If we bring our own pessimism, skepticism, cynicism, negativity, and exhaustion to the text, we wind up with a negative-sounding Jesus who’s just plain done with these people. And that’s not Jesus. He loves people! He came to save people. Not ditch ’em at the first opportunity.

The idea of an exhausted Jesus, desperately trying to claw back some strength through prayer, is based on our own lack of experience, and bad attitudes. Y’ever notice how many preachers are introverts? To them, people are tiring. Ministry drains them. So they need to get away from people on a regular basis, and renew their strength in prayer… and project themselves upon Jesus, and it’s entirely wrong. He didn’t look at the Galilee and think, “Man, I have so much still to do.” He looked at it in the Holy Spirit’s might, and thought, “I’m gonna conquer the world!”

Jesus cures the crowds.

by K.W. Leslie, 13 August 2023

Mark 1.32-34, Matthew 8.16-17, Luke 4.40-41.

In ancient Israel there was no such thing as healthcare. If you got sick, your only recourse was either for God to miraculously heal you, or folk medicine. Science hadn’t been invented yet!

Following the standards of the day, folk medicine was largely unproven: People did what they believed oughta work, based on guesses (educated or not), hearsay, rumor, or homeopathy—if something makes you ill, why not dose yourself with more and build up resistance? You know, like shooting yourself with smaller-caliber bullets to build up your immunity to larger bullets.

Some of it did actually work—like willow bark, which we nowadays call “aspirin.” Or poppy juice, which we nowadays call “opium.” But y’notice sometimes these cures did more harm than good.

Because the “experts” didn’t know what they were doing. All of them were fumbling around in the dark. Read Hippocrates or Galen sometime: Their philosophical theories are kinda entertaining, but when you realize people were actually trying to cure desperately ill people with their “knowledge”—it gets kinda horrifying.

The King James Version translated the Greek word ιἀτρός/yatrós (plural, ιἀτροί/yatrí) as “physician”—by which they meant “one who gives you physic,” and physic means “medicine.” A physician gave you folk remedies. Or drugs; they’d dope you up till you didn’t care about pain anymore. It’s the best they knew. But don’t get the wrong idea these “physicians” in the bible were in any way doctors of medicine. A far more proper translation of yatrós is “witch doctor”—which is what I tend to use.

Among pagan yatrí, one of the tools in their iffy arsenal was δαιμόνια/demónia. We translate that word as “demons,” but to Greeks a demónion was a lesser god; kinda like a guardian angel. If you were sick, the yatrí would ask their gods Apollo or Æsculapius for help… and if those gods were busy, maybe they could call upon a demónion to help you. Maybe stick one in you, and it could root around in there and fix you right up! Maybe two or three for extra help, or expediency. Maybe more! If one tablet of aspirin is good for you, why not an entire bottle? Why not a legion’s worth of demónia?

So as I said in my article on Jesus’s first exorcism, if you’ve ever wondered why the gospels contain so many exorcisms, and how they’re connected to supernatural healing, this is why. Jesus lived in the Galilee, which wasn’t entirely Jewish: It was full of Syrian Greek villages filled with Syrian Greek pagans. And if a Jewish person was sick, and desperate, they’d try anything—including some pagan yatrós who was rumored to get results. So they’d get demonized. Way bigger problems than ever they bargained for.

As I also said in that article, when Americans get sick, and western medicine doesn’t know how to treat them, we too will get desperate, and dabble in witch doctoring. Call it “eastern medicine,” call it “alternative medicine,” call it “natural healing,” call it whatever; none of these guys went to medical schools, and some of them call upon demónia same as the ancient Greeks. Times change; human nature hasn’t.

Curing Simon Peter’s mother-in-law.

by K.W. Leslie, 06 August 2023

Mark 1.29-31, Matthew 8.14-15, Luke 4.38-39.

The guy we know as St. Simon Peter is actually Simon bar Jonah of Capharnaum. Mt 16.17 Or Simon bar John; Jn 1.42 we don’t know which, ’cause one of the gospel-writers got it wrong, despite all the Christians who claim the bible has no errors. Fine; you tell me whether it’s Jonah or John, and don’t base it on which gospel’s your favorite, like the rest of Christendom has.

Jesus nicknamed him ܟܐܦܐ/Kefá, Aramaic for “rock,” at the beginning of John. Jn 1.42 I don’t know that Kefá was mean to be his proper name, because the New Testament regularly translates it into Greek, Πέτρος/Pétros, instead of transliterating it into Κηφᾶς/Kifás (KJV “Cephas”). Anyway Pétros became Petrus in Latin and Peter in English.

Simon was chosen by Jesus to be in his Twelve, as apostles who’d learn to do as he does, and proclaim his kingdom. Simon’s actually listed first in all the lists of the Twelve, Mk 3.16, Mt 10.2, Lk 6.14, Ac 1.13 and whenever we read of the Twelve doing stuff, we typically read of Simon leading the group. Ac 1.15, 2.14, 5.29 While Christ Jesus is the church’s leader, now and forever, Christians recognize Simon Peter as its first non-divine head; and Roman Catholics insist part of the reason the Bishop of Rome leads their church is because he’s Simon Peter’s successor to that job.

But unlike bishops in the Roman Catholic church today, Simon Peter was married. 1Co 9.5 The whole unmarried celibate leadership requirement they have today, drawn from Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 7.32-35, didn’t become their standard for a few more centuries. Evangelicals ignore it… though from what I’ve seen among certain church leaders who’ve no clue how to juggle ministry and family, maybe more of us oughta consider it. But I digress.

Though Christian art and movies regularly depict ’em as middle-aged white men, Jesus’s students were young brown men—teenagers, since Jewish adulthood was age 13 in that culture. Jews could even marry at that age, same as Jesus’s mom did; all the culture expected of them was they should be able to financially support a spouse, and Simon apparently could do that. (Probably cut down expenses a lot with how many people lived there!)

We don’t know Simon’s wife’s name. She mighta been mentioned in the New Testament, but we’ve no idea because none of the women in it are said to be Simon’s wife. Some Catholics claim his wife died before Jesus started training him, but Simon later implies he left her at home while following Jesus, Lk 18.29 and Paul straight-up states Simon had a believing wife. 1Co 9.5 Ancient Christian historian Eusebius Pamphili wrote Simon’s wife was later martyred the same day as he, Church History 3.30.2 and Clement of Alexandria wrote that Simon told his wife as she was led off to martyrdom, “Remember the Lord,” Stromata 7.11 which obviously means she knew the Lord.

Even met him in person. He cured her mother, after all.

That’s the story I’m analyzing today. In Mark and Luke it happens right after Jesus throws an unclean spirit out of synagogue, and in Matthew it’s right after the Sermon on the Mount—Jesus comes down from the mount, cures a leper, cures a centurion’s slave, then swings by Simon’s and cures his mother-in-law.

The order of events isn’t entirely important… except that in Mark and Luke, because this event takes place right after Jesus teaches in synagogue, it’d mean Jesus cured Simon’s mother-in-law the same day. (Even if it’s the very next morning, it’s still the same Jewish day, which is figured sundown-to-sundown.) Which’d mean Jesus cured her on Sabbath.

Though Christians still debate whether throwing out evil spirits is the same thing as curing the sick (and I would argue it absolutely is), this’d certainly be another instance of Jesus curing people on Sabbath—a practice which, as you’ll later see, profoundly irritated Pharisees because of the way they interpreted the Law. Obviously Jesus interprets it differently. I’ll get to that later. Meanwhile the controversy doesn’t come up yet, because Jesus didn’t cure the mother-in-law in public, so no Pharisees were around to bellyache about it.

An unclean spirit in Jesus’s synagogue.

by K.W. Leslie, 30 July 2023

Mark 1.23-28, Luke 4.31-37.

This happened right after Jesus went to synagogue one Friday night… and didn’t teach like the scribes. We don’t know what he taught. Probably something profound and life-changing. But despite his amazing, world-rocking message, the only words we have from his entire lesson was Φιμώθητι καὶ ἔξελθε ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ/Fimóthiti ke éxelthe ap’ aftú, “Shut up and get out of him.”

Lousy evil spirit.

Mark 1.23-26 KWL
23 Next, a person with an unclean spirit
was already in their synagogue,
and he screams out,
24 saying, “Who are we to you, Jesus Nazarene?
Do you come to destroy us?
I know who you are. God’s ‘holy one’…”
25 Jesus rebukes it, saying, “Shut up and get out of him.”
26 Convulsing him and shouting with a loud voice,
the unclean spirit gets out of him.
Luke 4.33-35 KWL
33 A person is already in the synagogue
who has a spirit, an unclean demon.
It screams out in a loud voice,
34 “Whoa! Who are we to you, Jesus Nazarene?
Do you come to destroy us?
I know who you are. God’s ‘holy one’…”
35 Jesus rebukes it, saying, “Shut up and get out of him.”
The demon, dropping the man in the middle of the room,
gets out of him, never harming him.

Movies tend to overdramatize this scene. Your average Jesus movie shows Jesus, peacefully offering koans to a group of fawning students and skeptical Pharisees, when suddenly some wild-eyed madman forces his way into synagogue. Clothes disheveled. Hair unkempt. A little foam on his lips. Looking like Charles Manson after crawling through the desert two days without water. Because movie devils are profoundly stupid, this critter’s ready to pounce on our Lord—the one guy with the power to annihilate it with a word.

Any chance it was like that in real life? Nah; you just read the gospels. Get those movie images out of your brain and lookit the text. And bear these historical details in mind.

Sabbath began at sundown Friday night. Synagogue services began immediately afterward. People would enter the building—men up front so they could ask questions, women in the back where they were expected to not ask questions, sometimes separated by a partition but not always. Once everybody was in, the synagogue president would bar the doors to keep latecomers from interrupting. If you were late, you stood outside and listened as best you could, or you turned round and went home.

So if you were a raving lunatic, you couldn’t burst into the service and interrupt Jesus. All you could do is shout a lot, beat the doors, throw stuff through the windows… but you weren’t getting in.

Got that? Good. So how’d this demoniac get into the building? Simple: He entered along with everybody else. You had to be ritually clean to enter synagogue, and this guy looked clean. Had he appeared out of place, or off, he’d’ve been sent away. He wasn’t. He looked normal.

Entered with everybody else. Stood there in the crowd. Sang psalms. Listened to the scriptures and their translation. Listened to Jesus’s lesson… up to the point he got noisy. Nobody suspected he had a demon in him. Y’see, not every demoniac looks like a madman. Not every madman does either.

The first time Jesus cured anyone.

by K.W. Leslie, 23 July 2023

John 4.46-54.

While Jesus and his students were staying in Cana (where they didn’t respect him as a prophet, so he didn’t have to deal with people seeking “Jesus the Prophet” all day), a certain royal showed up. Probably specifically to seek him out: Someone did seek Jesus the Prophet.

John 4.46 KWL
46 Jesus goes again to Cana of Galilee,
where he made the water wine.
A certain royal is there,
whose son in Capharnaum is sick.

John calls him a βασιλικὸς/vasilikós, “a royal.” Not a king, but someone in the royal family; debatably a servant in the royal household, but that’s far less likely. Could be someone who might actually become king himself someday, but if that’s so you’d think John woulda named names.

Both John Wycliffe and the Geneva Bible translated vasilikós as “little king.” But for some reason the King James translated it “nobleman,” and that concept has kinda stuck in translators’ heads ever since. You get “royal official” (Amplified, CSB, NASB, NET, NIV, NRSV), “government official” (ISV, GNB, and NLT), plain ’ol “official” (ESV), and of course “nobleman” (NKJV, MEV).

Regardless, he was a big deal—and word leaked to him Jesus might be the sort of person who could do miracles. And when you’re desperate, you’ll jump all over that sort of rumor. So this royal saddled up, rode 30 kilometers across the province, and called upon some obscure Nazarene rabbi.

John 4.47 KWL
Once this royal heard
Jesus comes from Judea to the Galilee,
he goes to Jesus
and asks whether Jesus might come down
and cure his son,
for he’s about to die.