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Some Deeds of Jesus: Part 1

             

 Gospel of John,  Chap 3: v. 1,2:   "Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs You do unless God is with Him."

             

A Word About John the Baptist

(He is not the author of the Gospel of John)

              John the Baptist was a man who baptized people with water after they repented of their sins, at a time when the nation of Israel was going through a time of great spiritual thirst.  He was doing this in the days when Jesus's ministry began, at around 26 AD.  His mother and Jesus's mother Mary were related.

               Though a man, he was a special instrument of God sent to prepare the people for the coming of Jesus.  He lived simply in the desert, and dressed in a leather belt and a camel hair garment, and he ate honey and locusts (whether grass hoppers or the seed pods of the locust tree I do not know as both were 'legal' food for the Jewish people) and he baptized at the Jordan River. 

              Just how many he baptized can be guessed at by the scriptures, which say that 'all the country of Judea' and 'all of Jerusalem' was going out to him to repent and be baptized.  This population base was possibly in the range of a million or more.  In Josephus's accounts of the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in AD 70 such population sizes are mentioned.  John was a very major evangelist.  Jesus would later say that of those born of woman none had arisen who was greater than John the Baptist, but that even the least one in the kingdom of heaven was greater than John.  John the Baptist became enormously popular and respected throughout Israel, especially among the common people. 

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              Jesus asked John the Baptist to baptise Him.  John, knowing who He was, said it was Jesus who should baptize him, but Jesus insisted.  John did baptize Jesus, and coming up out of the water, the Holy Spirit was seen to fall like a dove upon Jesus.  A voice from the heavens then spoke forth:  "You are My beloved Son.  In You I am well pleased."  John the Baptist pointed Jesus out as the 'Son of God' and another time as 'the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world' to some of his disciples.  John's testimony, respected as he was, meant much to men in helping them believe that Jesus was who He said He was.  But Jesus didn't need men's testimony - He had God's testimony.

See Mark 1:9-11.

             

              If you believe in Jesus but don't believe in all the "formalities", please consider that Jesus considered baptism to be a necessity even for himself, though He was the Son of God made into a man.  And no mention is made of an infant baptism being an acceptable substitute anywhere in the scriptures, so I suspect that it is only an invention of man.  If you are not baptized, and believe in Jesus as the Son of God and accept him as your Lord, then by all means get baptized. 

              Speaking for myself, I was baptized as an infant, but I later in life, as an adult, got baptized in water to make certain in my mind that I had publicly and knowingly gotten baptized in Jesus's name and publically claimed him as the Son of God and my Lord.  I had questions and I didn't want to leave the matter to chance.  That felt very 'right' when I did it.  To choose between pleasing Jesus or a religeous leader on Earth is an easy choice.  In heaven you have but one Judge, and that is who you should obey and please, now, while you can.

              How important is baptism to salvation?  Jesus told Nicodemus (a ruler of the Jews) "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God."  Nicodemus asks how a man can be born again since he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born.  Jesus answers  "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." John 3:5.  Interpret it how the Holy Spirit leads you, but that is one thing Jesus says.

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              Jesus gathered James, John, Simon Peter and Andrew from their fishing boats to follow him as disciples.  They went to the town of Capernaum and on Sabbath (Saturday) Jesus entered the synogogue and began to teach.  A man in their synagogue had an unclean spirit (a demon) inside of him and the man began to cry out at Jesus.  He said "What business do we have with each other Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are - the Holy One of God!"

              Jesus told the spirit "Be quiet and come out of him!"

              With the man convulsing the unclean spirit cried out loudly and came out of the man.  see Mark 1:21- 28

              The crowd seeing this was amazed, and recognized His power.  And even before this they had recognized the power of His preaching.

              In the four gospels are many examples of Jesus ridding people of unclean spirits which have taken up residence within them.  Such spirits exist today no less than then, as there is no record of any mass banishment of them from the Earth then or since then.  And today the Holy Spirit sent from Jesus is our protection present with us.  Jesus frequently commanded unclean spirits to leave people, and in no case did they disobey Him.  His power is greater than any unclean spirit, and they make no attempt to dispute this in any case in scripture where Jesus commands them to leave.

                If you feel that some spirit of evil seems to be in you or near you, pray to Jesus earnestly for protection and to be ridded of it, because no spirit has power against Him.  He is the Captain the dark angels fear in the spiritual war.  A baptized follower of Jesus can be tempted by unclean spirits or opposed by unclean spirits, but I think never posessed by unclean spirits against their will.  Only Judas comes to mind, and he was recognized as a devil by Jesus after a certain point, having been entered by Satan himself, as noted in Luke 22:3, prior to making a deal with the chief priests and officers to betray Jesus to them.  And Judas was appointed this grim task somehow in God's plan, that what followed might be the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of man. 

              The seal of the Holy Spirit is a mark that demons can see and must respect, I believe.  Certainly the disciples and Apostles of Jesus, after His death, could banish spirits out of posessed persons.  And certainly evil spirits opposed their evangelizing efforts in many cities.  And Apostles and disciples were killed, with these spirits no doubt having a role in spurring on those who killed them.  But I don't know of any Apostles or disciples beside Judas who were ever posessed by demons.  I believe that while you remain on Jesus's path, you have that protection always.      

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              Jesus went to the home of his disciple Simon Peter with Andrew, James, and John, and Simon Peter's mother-in-law was laying sick with a fever.  The disciples quickly told Jesus about her condition, and He went to her.  He raised her up by the hand, and immediately the fever left her and she waited upon them.  see Mark 29 - 31

              Healing is a broad word, with many people being healers of one type or another.  But with Jesus, it is immediate, it is sometimes done at a great distance, it is sometimes done passively as when someone only touches Him or His garments.  God's power is plainly at work in the healings of Jesus.  But the healing was as a sign.  It got peoples attention so that He could address what mattered and what He had come for - the salvation of their souls.

              And concerning strange modern day doctrines of Jesus having married and had children with Mary Magdalene, this curing of a Mother-in-Law casts serious doubts upon it all.  Could Jesus have ever had a Mother-in-Law and still healed one?  Ha Ha.  Just a little joke.  But seriously I believe Peter's wife had to sacrifice much as her husband gave his life to Jesus, and she could see by this healing and any others she was able to witness that Jesus was who Peter said He was, which must have helped her bear the burden it caused in her life to have a husband so often gone.

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              Later the day that Jesus healed Peter's Mother-in-Law word got around Capernaum of what He could do, and that night after the sun set the people began to bring the ill and demon posessed to the house where Jesus was staying.  The whole town gathered at the door.  And Jesus healed many that had diseases or who were demon posessed.  But Jesus forebade the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.        see Mark 1: 31 - 34. 

              Here is the first case recorded in the Gospels about Jesus performing mass healings.  And the first recorded case of Jesus being 'mobbed' by people desiring miracles, though it may have been a pretty mild case on this night, since it appears His abilities were just coming to be known.

              We also see that Jesus is not wanting the demons to declare his identity in front of the crowds.  I have wondered about this, but I now believe that He was given a certain date in time at which He was to make His identity publically manifest to all - the date of Jesus's 'triumphal entry' into Jerusalem - and to keep the prophetic appointment he gaurded his full identity at this point.

              I have listened to speakers that claim you can calculate a prophetic statement in the book of Daniel chapter 9 which predicts to the very day which day Messiah the Prince would appear in Jerusalem, and that it was on that very day that Jesus made His 'triumphal entry' to the acclaim of many believers.  But that day was still in the future, at this point in the account, while Jesus stayed at the home of Simon Peter.  So He made the demons just leave quietly.

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              Jesus then went throughout Galilee's synogogues, preaching and casting out demons.  see Mark 1:39.  

              For all who then lived (or now live) with a demon posessed person, the power of this Jesus, who took their loved one from a state of piteous insanity to normal mindedness, must have been powerfully evident. What a difference in all of those lives - the families and the posessed person's.

The message would have been clear:  This One even the Demons fear and obey.

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              A leper came up to Jesus begging Him on his knees, saying "If You are willing, You can make me clean!!"

              Jesus was moved with compassion, and stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing.  Be clean."

              Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was clean.

              Jesus sternly warned him not to tell anyone, but just to go to the priest and offer for his cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.  (see Levit. Chap14)

              But the cleansed man disobeyed Jesus and went about telling everyone, with the result that people came to Jesus from everywhere to be healed, and He could no longer openly enter a city without attracting a great crowd, so He had to spend a lot of time out in unpopulated areas.  But even there they came to him.  see Mark 1: 40 - 45.

              This is an important miracle in Jesus's ministry for many reasons.  First, leprosy was often incurable.  And only the power of God had ever cured it instantly, as in the case of Naaman the Syrian found in 2 Kings Chap 5.  Jesus did not call out to God the Father to cure it.  He cured it with a touch of His hand.  He said "I am willing."  God's name as given to Moses was 'I Am Who I Am'.  (Exodus 3:14)  The words 'I Am' could be frought with overtones to a Hebrew listener.  Consider John 18:6 where the soldiers come to find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus said to them "Whom do you seek?"  They answered,  "Jesus the Nazarene."  "I am He", Jesus answered, and they drew back and fell to the ground.  It is clear from the context that something like a hammer of holiness struck them, some acknowledgement by the very cells of their body that this was the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  The holiness and true majesty of this Jesus, the very Son of God, was allowed to show for this one instant, though the required thing they came to do would still happen.  

              Jesus touched this unclean person, this leper, with His hand.  It would have been clear to all that He did not think He needed to fear leprosy, and that He did not believe that He become ritually unclean from touching a leper, as per the Laws of Moses He would have needed to take steps to cleanse Himself but He did not by record do so.

              He told the man to show himself to the priest  as a testimony and offer the correct sacrifices.  In this one step He accomplished two things: 

              He acknowledged the God given authority of the priesthood of Aaron, who had been given authority to declare a man cleansed of these skin diseases, per Mosaic Law.

  

              Secondly, this sent a message to the priest that there was a man walking their land with power to cure the incurable instantly.  This was a power that they, God's very priests, did not posess.  We could safely imagine that there was a lot of talk and speculation about this Jesus of Nazareth when the priests heard this. 

              Finally, crowd control and being constantly surrounded by fans and the curious had now become a permanent part of Jesus's life.  Today there are movie stars who have no present hope of leading a normal life.  But they can get into a jet.  They can race off in a car.  Jesus was on foot, and there were not 15 or 100 rude intrusive paparazzi.  There were hundreds and at times probably many thousands who followed Jesus and were willing to go to desperate lengths to obtain healing for that hopelessly ill, paralyzed, or posessed loved one or for themselves.

              Even Elvis could go home.  Jesus had no home.  He was on a mission, and He went from place to place.  Our Lord lived hard - he was a tough man. 

              And then there were the ones Jesus actually hoped would come - those who wanted to hear His teachings.  I believe the miracles were all about authenticating the Messiah and His Message, but for many, the miracles were all that mattered.  Like hanging out in the elevator just for the music it missed the point and impeded others - but the healed leper disobeyed, and now things would never be the same.  I suppose the secret could not have been kept long anyway, but what had Jesus done to earn the Leper's betrayal?  It was like this His whole ministry.

                                                                       

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              Returning to Capernaeum, Jesus taught inside a home.  Such a crowd gathered that there was no room  inside or at the door.  Four men came carrying a stretcher with a paralyzed man on it.  They saw they could not get to Jesus due to the crowd.  In desperation, ignoring that this was someone's home, they went on the roof and dug off the roofing materials until there was a big hole.  Then they lowered the paralyzed man by ropes into the house in front of Jesus.

              Seeing how much faith these men had in Him, He said to the paralytic "Your sins are forgiven." 

              Some Scribes (a Jewish religeous position) who had been listening to this reacted as if Jesus had blasphemed, since only God could forgive sins.  Jesus knew their thoughts quite well, and asked them "Why are you reasoning in your hearts this way?  Which is more difficult to say to the paralytic - "Your sins are forgiven." or "Get up, take up your pallet, and walk"?  But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on Earth to forgive sins" - He turned to th paralytic and said "I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet, and go home." 

              And the paralytic got up immediately and picked up his pallet and walked out in front of everyone.  They were all amazed and were glorifying God and saying "We have never seen anything like this!"   See Mark Chap 2: v. 1 - 12

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