Day 65: Boldly Speaking God’s Word

Jeremiah 13:12-14

“Therefore you shall speak to them this word: ‘Yahweh, the God of Israel says, “Every container should be filled with wine.” ’ They will tell you, ‘Do we not certainly know that every container should be filled with wine?’ Then tell them, ‘Yahweh says, “Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness. I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together,” says Yahweh: “I will not pity, spare, or have compassion, that I should not destroy them.” ’ ”

Here again, we witness God’s simple yet powerful teaching techniques. Here, He has His prophet tell the people to fill up all of their containers with wine. It appears that in a mocking way, the people respond by saying that they already knew that. I am told, that what Jeremiah said was actually a well known saying. Everybody knew it all ready. It was like saying: “Everything will fulfill it’s purpose.” It may have come to mean something like: “What you plan for, will happen.” Boy, does that sound familiar today. The problem is that the Bible doesn’t teach that exactly.

Then, Jeremiah shocks them again with God’s message. He tells them that just as they fill up all their jars with wine, God is going to make them all drunk with His wrath! What God actually teaches us is that we reap what we sow. If we sow to our selfishness, we reap God’s wrath. If we sow to God, we reap righteousness and peace. It’s pretty obvious that Jeremiah wasn’t getting any more popular with the people. Not only did he ruin their prosperity ideas, he told them that every single one of them including their physical and spiritual leaders were going to suffer by the hand of God.

God calls us all to boldly speak God’s word. Now we may not be preachers like Jeremiah, but we “boldly speak” by how we live too. The choices we make and the answers we have for those who question us, speak out to them as well. I find that they often don’t like it very much. One major difference we have today is that there are those who will hear our message and accept Jesus as their Savior too, but Jeremiah wasn’t getting a good response from His people.

Day 39: Clash of Worldviews

John 5:10-14 : So the Jews said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat.” He answered them, “He who made me well, the same said to me, ‘Take up your mat, and walk.'” Then they asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your mat, and walk’?” But he who was healed didn’t know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a crowd being in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”

Here’s another interesting exchange. The Jewish leadership caught the man who was healed walking around carrying his mat. Instead of asking how he was able to walk around, all they could see was that he was breaking their rules. It is amazing how blinding self-righteousness is. A miracle can happen and it can be ignored entirely. Later, in this book, we will see the Jewish leadership not only ignore a huge miracle, but attempt to destroy all the evidence. I have a hard time understanding this behavior. It is a reminder to me that some are so wicked in leadership that they will stop at nothing to maintain power.

Jesus found the man again and warned him not to sin anymore. This may be a case in which the man was sick because of sin in his life. Here way can see that Jesus was willing to heals sinners. He told this man to stop sinning so that nothing worse happens to him. You might be asking, “What could be worse?” Well, there is death, but there is also eternal punishment. Jesus maintained his focus on the eternal. If this man were to continue in his sin, he very well could end up on his way to Hell. Merely being sick would be fun compared to that. How good it is for us to follow Jesus’ example and see things from an eternal perspective.

I also want to mention that, at the time of Jesus’ ministry, the Jews were responsible under God to keep the Law of Moses as described in the Old Testament. Sacrifices were also required as a payment for sins. Things changed after Jesus’ death as we shall read more about later. This man was responsible under the Law, to be righteous, or face the penalties. Jesus knew the law well enough that He held this man responsible for his sins and also knew that it was not unlawful to heal or carry mats on the Sabbath.

Day 38: Truth to Power

John 5:1-9 : After these things, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the sheep gate, there is a pool, which is called in Hebrew, “Bethesda,” having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, or paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel went down at certain times into the pool, and stirred up the water. Whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was made whole of whatever disease he had. A certain man was there, who had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been sick for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked. Now it was the Sabbath on that day.

In Jerusalem at that time, there was a pool of water that had healing powers when an angel agitated the waters. This sounds strange to me today because I have never seen anything like it before. I am very aware of miraculous healings in my lifetime, however. Here we have a man who, evidently, had tried and tried for many years to be healed, but, being unable to walk, could not get down to the pool in time.

It is even stranger that Jesus asked this man if he wanted to be made well when He knew that the man had been sick for a long time. We know that Jesus knew the answer. This is another time when Jesus wanted someone to express their need to Him. Prayer is like this. God already knows what we want before we ask Him, but He expects us to ask.

It is interesting to me that the man didn’t really answer the question. It’s almost as if he assumed that Jesus was saying, “Why don’t you ever go down and get healed in that water?” But, that isn’t what Jesus asked. Jesus was asking if He wanted someone else to heal him. He was clearly focused on what he had to do to get to the water. Sometimes, we get distracted by the work we think we must do to get to God. God’s grace is all about God’s work in getting to us. The new rules that Jesus was bringing with Him were that if a person wants to do God’s work, they must simply believe Him. No walking to a pool was first necessary. Trusting in Him was the first thing necessary.

So Jesus tells him to stand up, pick up his mat, and walk. I wonder what would have happened if the man would have been following the stories of Jesus, was ready when He came and had just said “Yes” to His question. You see, it was illegal according to the Jewish leadership to pick up a mat on the Sabbath. Jesus told him to break this rule. As we see next time, the man gets caught.

Jesus did this Sabbath breaking act right under the noses of the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem. Clearly, Jesus was, again, taking bold action in opposition of the leadership. Jesus was always having to fight for people who were hurting and He was quite willing to do so. He was not afraid to stand up to “power” because He was the real power.