Updated: May 17
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath,…
John 5: 1-9
The Gospels are full of miracles; Christ was sent as Jesus, the Son of Man, to teach, preach and heal. But these miracles are not on the scale of the Old Testament miracles. There are no all-encompassing floods, no destruction of sinful cities, no parting of the Red Sea. Many of the miracles of the Old Testament were often about God’s anger and grief. The time had not yet come for God’s Son to condescend to the broken earth to save the creation.
But that time has now come. Jesus’ miracles are not for all of humanity to witness; they are much smaller, more intimate. Jesus’ miracles are all about pity and compassion and love. Remember, Jesus has been a baby, child, teenager, and young adult now within his broken creation. Think about the things he has witnessed that have caused him heartache. Now his time has come for him to preach the kingdom of God but he will also heal so many with his miraculous power. Immediately after leaving the wilderness with Satan, Jesus begins to touch those poor souls who are suffering. God has given him all authority. The invalid at the pool is only one of many who would receive Jesus' blessing:
So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Jesus gave them this answer: Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. John 5: 16-27
The gospel of John is so packed with meaning. Take a moment to grasp everything Jesus is telling the Jewish leaders. You may need to read the above passage over again to really hear what Jesus is saying. The leaders chastised the healed man because he was carrying his mat on the holy Sabbath. They are so blind, their eyes are so weak that they cannot see the miracle before them. Then they are angry with Jesus because he has healed this invalid man and forgiven him from his sins on the Sabbath. In so doing, They accuse Jesus of breaking the law of the Ten Commandments: Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy...
Jesus tells them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” and "a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God." Here, Jesus is explaining his present actions done in his Father's name and prophesying about his Second Coming. Remember, the concept of time was and is a created thing. God, the Father, Christ, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit exist outside of time. So much of the gospel of John reflects this difficult to understand construct of time.
In the fullness of time, with the birth of the Son of Man, instead of the flood destroying most of the creation, water is turned into wine for a newly married couple. Instead of parting the Red Sea, Jesus walks on the water to reach his disciples in a storm. Instead of 40 years of manna in the desert, Jesus feeds his hungry flock of followers with a simple meal of broken bread and fish.
Jesus refused to perform a miracles for Satan during his 40 days in the wilderness. He will also refuse to perform “signs and wonders” for the Jewish leaders. But he will heal a blind man, a leper, a bleeding woman, a deaf mute, a paralytic, and the ear of a guard in the Garden of Gethsemane. He will raise Lazarus, his dear friend, from the dead. He will rebuke the wind and say to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Jesus’ miracles include healings, resurrections, and control over nature. And maybe most supernatural of all, Jesus is able to exorcise demons.
This is so supernatural, Jesus casting out demons. While the Jewish leaders refuse to recognize him as the promised Messiah, the demons know exactly who this Son of Man is. Listen to the Word of God regarding Jesus’ relationship with Satan’s demons. Remember how after his forty days of temptation in the desert, Jesus is rejected in the synagogue of his home in Nazareth:
Then he went down to Capernaum,... and on the Sabbath he taught the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area. ...
Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.... “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” Luke 4: 31-37, 43
One of my favorite miracles is the exquisite story of a nameless Syrian gentile woman. She comes to Jesus, a mere son of man, and begs him to heal her daughter. This mother is so desperate. Every moment of her existence is spent in terror. Her daughter is possessed by a demon. A mother’s fear for her child’s life is enormous. I have great empathy for this unnamed mother. Like her, I would have done anything to save my child. I wish I could have physically fallen at the feet of Christ as she did and begged the incarnate God for a miracle. I wish I could have had a face to face encounter with the Son of God:
A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. Matthew 15: 22-28
The disciples urged Jesus, “Send her away,”...One very important detail to this story is only implied. We know that this mother and her child are not Jewish. We know that this daughter is possessed by a demon. How does this mother know that Jesus is the Son of David? What does that mean? I think that this mother knew that this mere man is the Son of God because the demon that resides and dwells inside her daughter knows who Jesus is and speaks of whom he is out loud. I think the demon residing in her daughter has voiced its fear of its destruction by Christ because it has had a supernatural relationship with the Trinity outside of time. This demon is a part of the spiritual battle that rages around us.
I hope that you are as amazed and awed as I am by this revelation. This mother knew who Jesus was because her daughter’s demon has spoken of things beyond the physical earth. Can you imagine the mother’s hope as she approached Jesus surrounded by his disciples. Did you hear Jesus’ first response? It is so cruel and such a surprise to us as we read his Word. Why would the Son of Man, our Son of God, reject this desperate mother’s plea?
I don’t believe that Jesus, the creator of this beautiful mother and her daughter, ever intended to deny her this request for healing. I believe his heart was broken at the desire and need presented by this mother. I believe his response was purely intended for his immature disciples and the Jewish listeners who surrounded him. When this mother so eloquently pleaded her case, when she begged for just one scrap from the Lord’s table, when she humbled herself to that of a dog, she succeeded in beginning the fulfillment of Christ’s reason for coming incarnate to his creation. He came to fulfill the law, yes, but to also fulfill God‘s covenant promise to Abraham: ...”and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
The law given to Moses and the prophecy of a Messiah given to the prophets will be answered not only for the beloved nation of Israel. The gospel, the Good News, the Word of the Son of God, the promise to join the Holy Family in eternity, is now open to the entire world. The kingdom of God is promised to be made whole again as the kingdoms of the heavens and the earth are made new. The demon is cast out, and the daughter is redeemed and healed. Jesus, the Son of Man, sees and hears this mother as Christ, the Son of God. She and her daughter have been invited to eat at the Lord's table.
The story of the Syrian gentile woman is placed between the feeding of the 5000, largely a Jewish population and the feeding of the 4000, to a gathering in a gentile area. How many baskets of fish and bread were left over from the feast for the Jewish 5000? Twelve baskets of crumbs from the Lord’s table. Remember, there were twelve tribes of Israel, God’s beloved sheep. Enough left over to feed the dogs. How many baskets were left over from the feeding of the 4000? Seven, the perfect number for completion. Truly the covenant of Abraham is begun here: Your descendants will out number the stars and through your offspring all nations shall be blessed...
What is your favorite miracle story in the Bible? Do you have more than one? What makes them so important to you?
Do you have any present day miracle stories? Do you believe that miracles still exist this far removed from the time of Jesus?
Have you begged God for a miracle? Was your prayer answered?
Hagar and Ismael
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said... He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.” “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
The angel of the Lord also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” ... So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. Genesis 16
This Old Testament miracle of the angel of the Lord is so very intimate and personal. Can you hear God’s grief in this exchange? Did you know that Hagar is the first person, man or woman, who experienced a face-to-face conversation with “the angel of the Lord”? Listen carefully to the importance of the names in the story. “The angel of the Lord” tells her the name of this son she will have; Ishmael which means “God hears.” And, the name Hagar gives to “the Lord who spoke to her” is El Roi which means “the God who sees me.” Many believe that “the angel of the Lord” is in fact Christ. Listen closely to the language here; Hagar is convinced that she has seen the Lord, God himself, not just an angel. A Christophany is an appearance of Christ to an earthly human either before his birth as the man of Jesus or after Jesus’ resurrection.
This is such a face to face encounter here in the desert between the Lord and the poor servant girl Hagar. This is so physical, involving seeing and hearing of these two beings alone in the desert, with a promise of a plan for the future.
Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?
Genesis’ story of the servant, Hagar, and this unnamed Syrian woman are two stories of women who were not part of the chosen nation of Israel. And yet each one of these women possess an extraordinary amount of faith in the midst of her own personal spiritual crisis. Hagar, a mere slave woman, is tragically caught between the marriage of Abraham and Sarah. She is pulled into the marriage bed of this first patriarch through lack of faith. The consequences of this action are still fiercely felt to this day.
Have you been heard by God?
Have you been seen by Him?
Has there been a time in your life when a decision you’ve made has turned out to harm you? Have your decisions harmed anyone else?
Has anyone else’s decision ever hurt you? Were you powerless to help yourself?
The 29:11 Story
Send her away...The unnamed Syrian gentile woman of the New Testament, is a yellow bead that is found in the middle of the disciples’ beads. She represents but one of the many miracles preformed by Jesus, the Son of Man. Perhaps the color yellow reflects Christ's glory as he heals her daughter.
The small yellow bead of Hagar follows that of Abraham and Sarah. Again, yellow, the angel of the Lord's glory as seen be the frightened and vulnerable pregnant slave woman alone in the wilderness. The small dark bead that follows the yellow Hager bead on the 29:11 story is Ishmael. This bead is dark because “the angel of the Lord” has told her that he will be a wild donkey of a man; he will live in hostility towards all his brothers. The story of Hagar and Abraham’s son, Ishmael, parallels that of Abraham and his wife Sarah and their son Isaac. Isaac will become the next patriarch of the twelve tribes, which will become the beloved nation of Israel. His half brother, Ishmael will also become the patriarch of twelve tribes and numerous descendants that will in time become the nation of Islam.
At age 12, My son William was diagnosed with bone cancer in his right knee. For one year, he underwent brutal chemotherapy. We believed he was cancer free. But his right leg was severely deformed from the tumor and the numerous surgeries. Before cancer had made its evil way into William’s body and into our family, when William was 10, he wrote a story for his class assignment. It was about a 12-year-old Native American boy who was sent away into the forest to find his name. In William’s story, this yet unnamed boy found himself at the foot of a mountain that he knew he must climb. On top of the mountain was an evil man. In the story, the boy and the evil man wrestle and the boy’s knee is broken. The boy find’s his way back down the mountain and home to his village. There the elders of the village take care of the boy and name him Bent Knee because he was now a cripple. This short story was published in William’s school’s literary magazine that year.
I hope you do not miss the significant prophecy in this story told by a 10-year-old boy. When William was re-diagnosed, at the age of 15, he told me something very poignant one day on the way home from Children’s Hospital. William said, “Mom, I cannot wait to go to Heaven.” I was stunned and heartbroken. “Do you remember my naming story? There was a last sentence to my story that my teacher thought was unnecessary. It was edited out.” I asked him what that last sentence was. His response, “My story ended with me writing that Bent Knee went back up that mountain and he killed that evil man.”
I believe in prophecy. My family prayed for a miracle for William. We did not get the one that we desperately wanted. I admit that I have difficulty believing in healing miracles in this present age. But I do believe that my son did defeat that evil man, in his case, cancer. I believe that William was created and birthed with important things to accomplish in his short 17 years of life. I believe that I was seen and heard by Christ and the Holy Family as I pleaded for William’s life.
I had a lovely dream shortly after William died. I dreamed that all five of us were gathered in our master bedroom. William was sitting in his favorite chair, stark naked. We were sitting at his feet. He stood up and he was glowing; he was beautiful! It was a gift for me. When William was sick, I memorized Psalm 139. Take a moment to read it in its entirety:
...For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be...
What surprised you today?
What new connections in the Bible did you make today?
What questions do you want to explore further about today's study?
Read the prophecies and promises of the Lord to Abraham in Genesis 12: 1-3, Genesis 15: 1-6, Genesis 17: 1-14, and Genesis 22: 13-18
.Read Genesis 21: 1-20. This is the rest of Hagar and Ismael’s story. God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes …
What are the consequences of the Angel of the Lord’s blessing to the world today?
The Angel of the Lord seems to be of great importance in the Old Testament. Is he just an angel? Where else is he mentioned in the Old Testament. What is Gabriel called in the New Testament? An angel of the Lord. Your thoughts?
What is a demon? Where did they come from? Why did they know who Jesus was? Are they still part of our lives now?
Read Ephesians 6:10-12. What is Paul telling us here?
Read Luke 10: 38-42. Now read John 11-12: 1-11. What do you learn about the personalities of the sisters? How does each of their faiths grow? What miracle did Mary and Martha witness? For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Can you find the shortest verse in the entire bible in their story?
What did you learn about the Jewish leaders regard for their temple and their nation?
Can you find Mary and Martha on the 29:11 Story? What color are the beads that represent them? What other women on the 29:11 Story are pink? Why are they all the same color?
The Syrian gentile woman and Hagar are yellow beads. Who else is depicted as a yellow bead? What do these women have in common?
What other women are part of the 29:11 Story?
What miracle did Sarah and Abraham receive?
Reread Revelation 20-22. What do you learn about the nations in the end times?
Read Exodus 4-12. Moses is chosen by God to bring his beloved people out of bondage into a new land. What does the Lord say about his beloved Israel? Exodus 4:21
Why does the Lord harden Pharaoh’s heart? Exodus 10: 1-2. How many times did Pharaoh harden his own heart before God did?
What are the Israelites to remember from this? Exodus 10: 1-2. Now read Exodus 13: 14-16. What is like a sign on their hands and a symbol on their foreheads?
Read Revelation 13. What does it say about hands and foreheads? Read Revelation 22: 1-6. What do you learn about foreheads?
What signs and wonders does the Lord perform for the Israelites in Egypt? Are these miracles? Are they similar in scope to the miracles that Jesus as Christ performs?
Now read Revelation 8-9, and 15, and 16. Are these miracles? What parallels can you draw between the plagues of Moses and the seven trumpets and the seven bowls of God’s wrath? What did you read about demons? Revelation 16: 12-14.
Jesus told his listeners, Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God... Lastly, read Revelation 20: 11-15. When will this happen?