As always, you can find all our previous posts in this series, going through the Gospels chronologically to find the real Jesus, here.
And as always you'll find the scriptures for today are here. (Note that you can change the human-translation version on this scripture page, as suits you. I have NO theological or other tie to the online-bible site I use for this blog – it just lists many human translations to choose from, including the NASB, KJV, The Message, and the NRSV, which are the ones mentioned by those I chat and email with.)
So far, we've seen from the Bible itself, without having to do any kind of monkey-plays or pompous theological arguments, that, despite how Jesus is interpreted even today by "Good Religious People" and Big-Words Theologians:
- Jesus was always on the side of those who were abused, mistreated, and oppressed – never on the side of those who do the abusing, mistreating, and oppressing.
- Jesus was always on the side of the spiritual rejects and the sinners – and never on the side of those who make sure others know they are spiritual rejects, or the side of the Good Religious People.
- Jesus requires His followers to be so strong they refuse to do violence or hurt back, even if attacked to death – not so weak they worship violence, war, and domination.
- Jesus warned us repeatedly that most of those who claim to be His people will be spiritual liars and cheats, fooling even themselves all the way to hell – and He commands us to realize their error and not get caught up in it ourselves.
- Jesus never presented anything of God as requiring a seminary education or a "pastor" to understand (study, yes, using our brains, yes – but "church" related stuff? No). In fact, the Bible shows us that to truly understand what Jesus means has always required NOT having human theological ideas in the way of God's simple message. Jesus (and others in the Old and New Testament) show us again and again that – despite our belief that more theological ideas and degrees and titles means more understanding of Jesus – more theological ideas and degrees and titles means LESS understanding of the real Jesus.
- And more!
This week, our chronological Bible tells us about Jesus illustrating that death isn't how we usually imagine death at all, and, healing a woman who was sick in more ways that we can even imagine today. What do you learn about Jesus from these stories? Here's what I see:
When people – even people who normally refuse to believe in God – are desperate and hurting, there is always that tendency to turn to God and plead for help. The Bible doesn't tell us if Jairus and his family already believed in Jesus. Yet we can see that, even if he wasn't yet a believer, Jairus was desperate enough to reach out to Jesus – and isn't that how many of us come or come back to Jesus in the first place?
- Have you reached out to God in desperation even in times you didn't believe in Him? What happened? How (or did) it change your relationship with Him?
- The Bible doesn't tell us if Jairus came to Jesus for help because he believed He was a miracle worker, or if he actually understood He was God. If Jairus got through this whole event and only ever understood Jesus as a worker of supernatural things, he would have missed completely that God is on his side even through death. Have you or others you care about understood that Jesus could do supernatural things, but missed that Jesus is also God on your side?
Jairus thought he was going to lose his little girl – and, in fact, before he got Jesus back to her, she did, in fact, die. The people telling Jairus that his daughter was now actually dead told him not to bother Jesus any longer. "Death", they would have told us, "is the end. Miracle healings might happen here and there. But death is never undone."
- What are the things you believe are just the end – never to be undone? Does God have power even other those things? In what circumstances might He change them?
On the news that his daughter was dead, Jesus told Jairus not to be afraid, but to believe, instead. After we've lost someone to death, we might understand the fear of having to live the rest of one's life without this loved one. We might also understand the fear that comes from being reminded of our own mortality. Jesus, though, offered comfort in belief. Like He could have also said, "No need to fear death – the answer to death is standing right here. So just trust that answer to apply, even now!"
- Many of us have heard that the antidote to fear is to believe – but what does that look like in your own life? Does it mean letting go your natural fear of death? Does it mean giving over your worries over money or job? What are all the ways Jesus' comforting command to believe instead of fear might or does impact your own life?
When Jesus told the gathered crowd of mourning that the little girl wasn't dead but asleep, they laughed at Him. And I'd have to say that if some guy I'd never seen before walked into a funeral and told everyone there that the only person in the room not breathing any longer was just asleep and not dead at all, laughter would be the nicest reaction I might have. Yet I can't imagine how my reaction would change if the dead person suddenly woke up and got something to eat!
- The Bible tells us that even Satan and those who work for him can do miracles at times, so it's not always safe to assume that because something miraculous is happening that means it's from God. What specific things can or do you do in your own life to keep from being fooled into following after lying signs and false wonders?
This scripture passage also talks about a woman Jesus healed while on his way to Jairus' daughter. If we don't know enough about the ancient Mosaic Law the Jews lived under, we won't realize that this woman's problems were threefold. Not only was this woman's health terrible (she's been having menstrual bleeding for twelve solid years), and not only had she wiped out her financial resources trying unsuccessfully to get healing from medical doctors, but also according to the religious law she lived under she was "unclean" because of her bleeding. All men and women were made religiously unclean at certain times and under certain circumstances (check out Leviticus 15, for example). If this woman had been having normal periods, she could have gotten "clean" again after a certain passage of time without bleeding. Since she never stopped bleeding, though, she never had that opportunity. That meant she wasn't allowed to touch anyone or anything, or they too would become "unclean" and also have to undergo purification time and rituals to keep from spreading "uncleanness" even further. Imagine living your life sick as a dog, being wiped out financially by doctors, and not being allowed to touch anything (not a person, not even the railings on the city bus) without possibly enraging people so much they might kill you for it. Now imagine living that way for twelve, long years, with no end in sight.
Until this miracle-guy shows up.
- Since the Bible shows us that Good Religious People of all kinds have always followed or ignored parts of the law God gave them however they wished, should we be at all surprised that Good Religious People today also pompously bellow one part of God's law but explain away and hide others? For example, Good Religious People like to quote the Mosaic Law as if it condemns Gay people – but they explain away the parts that condemn their failure to follow the rest of the Mosaic Law (like men and women both needing to do ritual purification after having any kind of voluntary or involuntary "discharges"). What does that tell you about whether you should be getting your information about what God wants from you from Good Religious People?
- For centuries, "Christians" have been telling women they were "unclean" because they have periods, even telling them at some times in history that they wouldn't go to heaven if they died while on their periods! Yet all these centuries, no one ever told a man he couldn't get into heaven if he died while having a "nocturnal emission", or that men weren't fit for ministry because they become unclean by nocturnal emissions. Since so much human B.S. has always coated what most loudly calls itself "The Church", should we be surprised when that same "Church" continues today to trumpet its own highly intellectual and theologically "proven" versions of B.S. regarding God's supposed condemnation of Gay people, God's supposed support of war, God's supposed shoving women into the back of the church, and so on?
- Most Gay Christians can empathize with the woman in this scripture, having been exiled as "unclean" in a different way from their communities and being unable to perform any "purification" that would make them OK in the bigoted eyes of their straight spiritual "fellows". But others can also relate – even if their only "uncleanness" is a refusal to play the shallow Sunday-Dress-Up required to attend most "churches" even today. In what ways can you empathize with the woman in this scripture? But in what ways are you more like those who condemned or looked down on her, refusing to give her the basics of human touch and love because you didn't want to be "unclean" yourself?
One thing that can be said of this woman: she had guts. Unlike many who might undergo even less than she had, and who might have just given up and died, she clung to life. She clung to hope. She kept trying, and trying, and trying, even when trying just seemed to bury her deeper into trouble. This is yet another time when the New Testament Bible broke tradition by showing us strong women in a culture that ignored and even attacked strong woman.
- Whether you are male or female, do you have this woman's guts in the face of trial and pain? Is she a great example to you, when you need to see that it is possible to keep going and keep trying even when all seems to have failed?
This woman not only had guts – she had gall. Maybe that gall, that bold, shameless behavior, was also born of desperation. Doesn't matter. This woman pressed her unclean self not only through a crowd, immediately "polluting" everyone she touched (who then immediately polluted everyone they touched, who then immediately polluted everyone they touched, and so on) – which could have started a riot and gotten her stoned – but she also crept up on Jesus, intending to touch Him in a way He wouldn't notice, even though it would also make HIM ritually unclean. All that in hope of being rid of her sickness and isolating shame.
- Have you had this kind of gall with God? Have you ever pushed your way to Him, and to hell with anyone who gets in your way? If not – why not?
The woman felt herself instantly healed upon touching the edge of Jesus' cloak. Imagine her elation – and then imagine it turning instantly to horror when Jesus turned around and demanded to know who had touched Him. She knew she'd just made Him ritually unclean – even healed, the religious law she lived under still required time to pass and a ritual to be performed before she would no longer be "polluting" others. She must have believed her life at great risk when He and the crowd figured out what she'd done. All she could do was what all people in those days did when confronted by the power of one or more people who could hurt or kill if they only just chose to do so: terrified, she fell on her face and confessed, hoping for mercy in even the tiniest form.
But the violence – rage, fists, rocks – she could expect in her religious culture didn't come. Instead, Jesus congratulated her on her faith in His ability to heal her, and sent her off in peace, free from more suffering.
- The Good Religious People of that day often stoned "unclean" women who touched others. In the centuries of what most loudly calls itself "Christianity", Good Religious People have burned people at the stake and otherwise tortured and murdered them, taught them to feel shame over who they are, and made war in "God's" name against people who weren't like them in one way or another. Not one bit of that is like Jesus anywhere in the Bible. Yet we too often continue being fooled by this false "Christianity". Why?
- Imagine being Gay and with shameless gall pressing through a crowd of "Christian" bigots to get to Jesus, sure that He can heal the hurt false Christians have done to your heart. Imagine fearing Jesus will turn on you like false "Christians" have – only to find He instead congratulates you for your faith and sends you off in His peace. Now read Revelation 3:7-13 and know that that's exactly what you're going to hear from Jesus, in the End.
Today we got to see Jesus' power at work – not just in healing death and sickness, but also in reorienting our religious thinking so that we can see past the religious nonsense we live under and even pass on to our children, thinking we're doing them a good thing.
- What ways do you need to reorient your thinking about Jesus? Is Jesus like the supporter of war, supporter of sexism, supporter of homophobia, supporter of economic oppression, and so on that "The Church" has reinterpreted Him as all these centuries?
- Was Jesus at all prevented from being who He really is by all the Good Religious People and their dumb ideas while He moved around, doing His work? Why should we assume, then, that we can't find the real-Jesus today because "The Church" has done so much Bible-twisting over the centuries?
- What needs to change in your life this week? What can Jesus heal for you today, that you never imagined could be gotten rid of before?
Take care until next week!
In His love,
This article written by Lynne at http://NoJunkJustJesus.blogspot.com/. You can contact Lynne at NoJunkJustJesus@gmail.com.