When Religion Refuses to Be Healed & Forgiven

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first twenty-one verses of the twelfth chapter of this New Testament book. “At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; how he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:1-8).

 

            “And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? That they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore is it lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other” (Matthew 12:9-13).

 

            “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; and charged them that they should not make him known: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust” (Matthew 12:14-21).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the beginning of the opposition and resistance of the Pharisees toward Jesus. If you take the time to read each of the four gospel narratives you will be brought face to face with different accounts of resistance and opposition the Lord Jesus faced during those three and a half years He engaged in public ministry in the midst of the earth. Upon reading the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the beginning of the resistance and opposition of the scribes being manifested in the opening verses of the ninth chapter. It is here in the ninth chapter where we find Jesus being present within a house and four men bringing unto Him a man who was sick with the palsy. What makes the narrative so incredibly unique is when you consider that this man was brought into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ having been sick with the palsy and yet when Jesus saw the faith of the men who had brought him into His presence He immediately saw and recognized their faith. What’s more is that not only did He see their faith but Scripture also records how as a result of seeing and beholding their faith Jesus would speak unto the man directly and declare unto him that his sins were forgiven him. Oh it is truly something worth thinking about when reading the words found in the ninth chapter of this gospel narrative for within it you will find the beginning of the resistance of the religious community toward and against Jesus. In fact, I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the ninth chapter of this New Testament gospel—and not only the words which are found in this passage but also those like it in the other gospels. Consider if you will the following accounts of Jesus in the house and this man sick with the palsy being brought unto Him there within the house:

 

            “And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? And that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men” (Matthew 9:1-8).

 

            “And again he entered into Capernaum, after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion” (Mark 2:1-12).

 

            “And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he arose up before them, and took upon that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day” (Luke 5:17-26).

 

            I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to recognize the words and language found within this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the narrative of this man who was not only sick with the palsy but was also brought unto the place where Jesus was. Both Mark and Luke record something additional which the apostle Matthew doesn’t—namely, that there in the house where the Lord Jesus was there was no room for to enter into the house because of the press. Both John Mark and the beloved physician Luke write and record how the Lord Jesus was indeed in the house together with His disciples and all those who were present in the midst of the house. Both of these New Testament authors write and record concerning this particular occasion how there was absolutely no room in the house where Jesus was because of the press and the great crowd of people. These men desired to bring this man who was sick with the palsy unto the Lord Jesus and I have to say that I wonder what initially went through their hearts and minds when they arrived at the house and saw there was no way of entering into the house. Pause for a moment and consider what it could have been for these four men to have carried this man sick with the palsy however far and however long they had only to find there wasn’t any room to enter into the house to bring him before Jesus. Imagine them coming to the house with this man who was sick with the palsy and finding themselves being coming face to face with the tremendous reality of quite possibly being unable to see the Lord Jesus.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding these four men who not only purposed and resolved to bring this man unto Jesus but had also undoubtedly carried him upon his mat to the house where it was noised Jesus was present. I continue to find myself wondering what it would have been like as they came unto the house and seeing absolutely no way of entering into the house—and not only entering into the house but also of presenting their friend unto Jesus. I would imagine they were initially discouraged by such a sight before their eyes, however, they would be entirely and altogether undeterred and unmoved by being unable to bring this man into the house where Jesus was. Consider the fact that not only had they carried this man however far and however long unto the place where Jesus was but now they were willing to take this a step further to present this man unto the Lord Jesus. These men would carry this man even further as they would bring him to the roof of the house where Jesus was after coming up with a plan and the means to present their friend before and unto the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that not only did these men carry this man up to the roof of the house but they would also remove the tile and roofing of the house that an opening might be made before the Lord Jesus.

 

            The more I think about and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding these men and the tremendous faith they exhibited and exercised. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this when considering this narrative for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding this man who was sick with the palsy. Stop for a moment and consider how these men not only exercised their faith by being willing to bring this man unto the Lord Jesus but also by carrying this man however long and however far unto the house where Jesus was present. What’s more is that when you consider the words found in each of these passages you will find that when they discovered they could not enter into the house because of the press and therefore would be unable to bring their friend unto Jesus they determined not to be overtaken and overcome. It would be at this particular juncture these men determined and purposed within themselves to carry this man to the roof of the house that they might find a way to get him into the presence of the Lord Jesus. Once there upon the roof these men would remove the tile and the roofing that an opening might be made for to let down this man before and in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Not only had these men carried this man unto the house, not only had these men carried this man to the roof of the house but now these men had let this man down through an opening in the roof of the house before and in the presence of Jesus.

 

            If there is one thing I can’t help but think about when considering the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s the narrative surrounding the faith of these men. Their faith would not be exercised through any words spoken unto Jesus for Scripture and the gospel authors seem to provide no indication that they had spoken a single word unto the Lord Jesus. Nowhere in any of these accounts will you find any narrative where these men actually spoke something unto the Lord Jesus there in the midst of the house. What’s more is that even when these men saw that there was no way of entering into the house through the front door they purposed and determined that there was and would always be another way. WHEN YOU CAN’T COME THROUGH THE DOOR YOU MUST NOT GIVE UP AND MAKE A WAY THROUGH THE ROOF! THERE IS ALWAYS ANOTHER WAY! Oh it is absolutely incredible to think about and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with the absolutely awesome and incredible truth surrounding these men who would not be swayed, discouraged or defeated because they were unable to get their friend through the front door of the house. Despite the fact they could not get their friend through the front door of the house they would purpose and determine to make and find a way for their friend to see Jesus. Oh stop and consider for a moment the tremendous truth surrounding these men for their faith was such that they would not be deterred nor defeated by being unable to enter in through the front door of this house. Oh it was indeed true they could not bring this man through the front door of the house, however, we must needs recognize and understand that these men would make, create and find a way to get their friend into the presence of Jesus.

 

            The words which are found in this passage of Scripture must needs be carefully considered for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely incredible and tremendous truth surrounding the faith of these men and their being unwilling to be deterred and swayed by being unable to enter into the house through the front door. It would have been very easy for these men to lose heart and to grow discouraged when they realized there was no room in the house and that there was no way to enter into the house by and through the front door. It would have been very easy for these men to realize and understand the dilemma and predicament they found themselves in and purposed and resolved within themselves there was no way to get this man into the presence of the Lord Jesus. Stop for a moment and consider the fact that these men could have chosen to allow discouragement and perhaps even frustration to set into their hearts upon coming unto the house where it was noised that Jesus was. What’s more is that Luke writes and records that not only was Jesus present in the house but the power of the Lord was present to heal. Stop and think about the fact that these men could have very easily come to the house and discovered there being absolutely no way to enter into the midst of it through the front door. It would have been very easy for these men to see the impossibility of being able to enter in through the front door and made the decision they would try another day. These men could have seen the packed house and the inability to enter in through the front door and as a direct result of what they had seen they would turn back and return the way they came.

 

            We know the angel Gabriel would declare unto Mary that with God all things are possible and there is nothing impossible with Him, however, I would dare say that there is something supernatural and miraculous about faith. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of what is found within this passage of Scripture for what we find here demonstrates the tremendous truth surrounding these men whose faith would see what others might view as impossibility and discover possibility. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that not only does faith believe in the impossible being made possible by and through the divine power of the living God but faith also lays hold of hope within one’s heart and soul and creates its own possibility. Others might have seen the packed house and the inability to enter in through the front door and as a direct result of this they might have turned back the way they came. These men would see the packed house and would see the inability to enter in through the front door and would make their own way and create their own possibility. Oh pause for a moment and consider the truth surrounding this narrative and account and how these men could have seen the impossibility of entering into the house through the front door and chosen not to even bother. What we must needs realize and recognize is that the faith which was present within their hearts and souls gave them the determination and the resolve to not be turned back nor denied. These men would not be denied access to the Lord Jesus and they would not let their friend who was sick with the palsy be denied access to the Lord Jesus.

            If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that these men were not going to be denied access to Jesus. They hadn’t come this far to find themselves denied access unto the person of the Lord Jesus. Despite the fact they could not enter through the front door of the house because of the press of people they would not only find another way but they would also make another way. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous truth surrounding the faith of these men—not only to not be denied access to the person of Jesus but also to make and find a way to access the Lord Jesus. They knew they would and could not enter in through the front door, however, that would not stop nor would it deter them from getting their friend unto the person of the Lord Jesus. There is something truly unique and powerful about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely incredible truth surrounding their faith and how such faith would make and create its own way to get to Jesus. How absolutely incredible it is to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and consider the fact that these men would exercise their faith—not by and through the words they would speak unto the Lord Jesus but rather by refusing to be denied access to Him and by creating their own way to gain access to the Lord Jesus. It was this faith which would prompt the Lord Jesus to not only declare unto this man that his sins were forgiven him but also command him to arise, to take up his bed, to walk and to go unto his house.

 

            When reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it is absolutely necessary for us to recognize that the present within the house were not only scribes but also Pharisees and doctors of the law which had come out of every town of Galilee, Judaea and Jerusalem. The apostle Matthew writes and records how there were scribes present in the house on this particular occasion, however, in the gospel narrative written by Luke we find it written that there were Pharisees and doctors of the Law who were present in the midst of the house. It is important for us to recognize and understand the tremendous truth surrounding the presence of the doctors of the law, the Pharisees and the scribes who were present in the midst of the house for there in the midst of the house—not only would Jesus heal this man sick with the palsy, but He would also forgive his sins. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible this reality truly is when you take the time to think about it. There is something truly unique and powerful about the words and language that is found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and incredible truth surrounding Jesus seeing the faith of these men and as a direct result of seeing their faith would first declare unto this man that his sins were forgiven him while also speaking unto the man and the ultimate reason his friends brought him unto the house to see Jesus in the first place. What’s more is that I am absolutely and completely convinced Jesus was aware of the sorrow and perhaps even the guilt and shame that was present within the heart and soul of this man and it was as a direct result of this He would declare unto Him that his sins were forgiven him.

 

            As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I am absolutely and completely convinced you must needs recognize the tremendous truth surrounding the presence of religion in the house. Upon reading the words which the beloved physician Luke wrote concerning this narrative you will find that while it was indeed true the power of the Lord was present to heal all those who had gathered before and unto Jesus the house was full of Pharisees and doctors of the Law. What makes this all the more intriguing when you consider the words and language found within this passage is when you consider how Luke began his account of this experience describing Jesus teaching on a certain day. What’s more is that not only was Jesus teaching on a certain day but there were Pharisees and doctors of the Law sitting by which had come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea and Jerusalem. That which I find to be absolutely incredible when reading the words presented in this passage of Scripture is how Luke writes and records how the power of the Lord was present to heal them. We would like to think that such a declaration would be geared toward the common folk who had gathered themselves unto the Lord Jesus in the midst of the house, however, the text here seems to suggest that the power of the Lord was present to heal the Pharisees and the doctors of the Law. Oh would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider that the scribes, the Pharisees, the doctors of the law, the Sadducees, the chief priests, the elders of the people and the religious leaders of that day had just as much access to the Lord Jesus as did the common folk? Would it shock and surprise you to think that the Pharisees, the doctors of the law, the scribes, the Sadducees and the whole religious community could have had the same experience with Jesus as the publicans, the prostitutes, the sinners and all those who came unto the Lord Jesus during those days?

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and His encounters with the scribes, the Pharisees, the doctors of the Law and the entire religious community. The more I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that Luke writes concerning the power of the Lord that it was present to heal them. It would be very easy to read these words and think about the fact that the power of the Lord was present to heal all the common folk who were present within the house. It would be very easy to read the words which are found in this passage and think about the power of the Lord being present to heal the sick and those who were in need of healing and miracles from the Lord Jesus. What the text seems to suggest, however, is that the power of the Lord was present—and not only present but also available—to heal the Pharisees and doctors of the Law who were present there. Stop for a moment and consider the tremendous truth that is found in this passage of Scripture and how Luke writes concerning the power of the Lord being present to heal—and not only heal but heal the Pharisees and doctors of the Law. Within this passage we find the demonstration and manifestation of that power—not only in the forgiving of this man’s sins but also in the healing of his physical body as Jesus would command him to arise, to take up his bed, to walk, and to return unto his house. What an incredibly awesome and powerful truth is found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of the power of the Lord being able to heal the religious leaders which were present in the midst of this house and yet how none of them would receive any healing from the Lord Jesus.

 

 

            The more I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth that the power of the Lord which was present on this particular day was indeed available to heal the Pharisees and the doctors of the Law, however, there would be absolutely none of them who would receive or experience any such manifestation within their hearts and lives. If there is one thing that makes this passage so incredibly unique and powerful it’s when you consider the fact that the power of the Lord was present to heal all the Pharisees and doctors of the Law who were present on this particular occasion and yet how there would be absolutely none of them who would receive healing from the Lord Jesus. WHEN RELIGION MISSES OUT ON HEALING! WHEN RELIGION COULD BE HEALED AND INSTEAD ACCUSES! WHEN RELIGION WOULD BE HEALED AND INSTEAD CONDEMNS! Oh there is something about the words and language that is found in this passage of Scripture and how the power of the Lord was present to heal those who were present in the house—including the Pharisees, the doctors of the Law and the scribes. I continue to believe that the religious leaders had the same opportunity to experience the Lord Jesus during those days as did the publicans, the sinners, the lame, the lepers, the sick, the blind, the deaf, the dumb, and the like. Each and every religious leader who was present during those days had access to the same Jesus as did everyone else—and not only the same access but also the ability to receive healing and forgiveness for their sins.

 

            I fully realize and recognize that you might be reading these words and thinking about the fact that I am somehow off my marker when declaring the Pharisees, the scribes, the doctors of the Law and the religious community of Jesus’ day had the same access to the Lord Jesus. There might be some who read these words and think that such men and religious leaders actually did not have access to the Lord Jesus and that they were somehow on the outside looking in. The truth of the matter, however, is that this isn’t the case nor is it in any way true. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the power of the Lord was present to heal—and not only present to heal but present to heal the Pharisees and the doctors of the Law which were present on this particular day. There is not a doubt in my mind that the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the doctors of the Law, the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of the people and the like had the same access to the Lord Jesus and could have received healing and forgiveness just like others did during those days. What’s more is that what helps to illustrate this all the more is the narrative and account of Nicodemus written and recorded in the gospel narrative written by the apostle John. It is in the third chapter of this gospel narrative we find Nicodemus who was a member of the Pharisees of that day who would come unto the Lord Jesus by night to hear and listen to the words He would speak. What’s more is that not only was Nicodemus a Pharisees but the apostle John also records how he was a ruler of the Jews and would have been one who had clout and status among the Jews.

 

            What we find in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John, however, is this man Nicodemus who was not only of the Pharisees but also a ruler of the Jews coming unto Jesus by night that he might inquire of Him and ask Him questions. How absolutely incredible it is to read the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John and uncover a ruler of the Jews and member of the Pharisees coming unto Jesus by night. What’s more is that not only did this man who was a Pharisees and ruler of the Jews come unto Jesus by night but in the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke we find a chief publican and tax collector also finding himself in the presence of the Lord Jesus. If there is one thing the narrative of Nicodemus demonstrates and reveals it’s that those who were members of the Pharisees, those who were members of the Sadducees, those who were doctors of the Law, and scribes, and chief priests and the like could have experienced the very same thing the publicans, the harlots, the sinners, and others experienced during those days. Luke writes and records how the power of the Lord was present to heal all those who were present in the house and this would include the Pharisees and doctors of the Law. That which makes this tragic, however, is when you consider the fact that there appears to be no Pharisee nor any doctor of the Law who would be healed by the Lord Jesus. Not only this but when one who wasn’t originally among them would be let down among them in their midst that person would receive healing and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John concerning Nicodemus—this man of the Pharisees and ruler of the Jews—who would deliberately and intentionally come unto Jesus and would ultimately become a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ:

 

            “There was a man of the Pharisees, Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:1-21).

 

            Please don’t miss the incredible importance of what is found within this passage of Scripture for within it we find a Pharisee—and not only a member of the Pharisees but also a ruler of the Jews—coming unto Jesus by night. Perhaps one of the greatest truths found in this passage of Scripture is when you consider that the famous words which have been quoted throughout history—“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should. Not perish, but have everlasting life”—was not spoken unto the crowds nor was it spoken unto the masses. The famous words of John 3:16 were not spoken unto a publican, nor were they spoken unto a harlot, nor were they spoken unto Jesus’ own disciples but rather they were spoken unto one of the Pharisees who was a ruler of the Jews. I am absolutely and completely convinced there is something to be said about these famous words which were spoken unto a member of the religious community and not one of the countless men and women who came unto Jesus among the multitudes and crowds of people. It would be unto this Pharisee and ruler of the Jews these words concerning God loving the world and giving His only begotten Son would be spoken thus indicating and demonstrating the tremendous truth surrounding this Pharisee and ruler of the Jews who was that one who would hear these famous words spoken by the Lord Jesus. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth that the words concerning God sending His only begotten Son into the world so that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but would have eternal life were spoken unto a religious man who would come unto the Lord Jesus by night.

 

            What adds even more weight and significance to this and what helps us to understand the danger that lies in the ninth and twelfth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is that this Nicodemus would ultimately become a believer of the Lord Jesus. Not only would Nicodemus become a believer in the Lord Jesus but he would also become a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus. Of course we might very well say that Nicodemus was not a public and vocal follower of the Lord Jesus nor would he walk with Jesus as did His disciples, the women and the crowds, however, he would indeed be a believer in the Lord Jesus and would be a follower of His. In order to truly understand this religious leader and ruler of the Jews who would become a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus I would like to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the seventh and nineteenth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John. The words which you will find later on in this passage will reveal how this fateful and dramatic night would indeed dramatically alter and transform Nicodemus—this one of the Pharisees and ruler of the Jews—and would enable him to become a believer in the Lord Jesus as well as a follower of His. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John beginning to read with the seventh chapter and then continuing to read in the nineteenth chapter:

 

 

            “Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knowleth not the law are cursed. Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it h ear him and know what he doeth? They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. And every man went unto his own house” (John 7:45-53).

 

            “And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about and hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand” (John 19:38-42).

 

            It is absolutely necessary to recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here is a powerful picture of Nicodemus—this Pharisee and ruler of the Jews—who would himself become a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus. We know that Joseph of Arimathaea was secretly a disciple of the Lord Jesus for fear of the Jews and we must also recognize and understand that Nicodemus was himself a secret disciple of the Lord Jesus for fear of the Jews—and perhaps not only for fear of the Jews but also for fear of the scribes, the Pharisees and the other religious leaders of that day. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for I would dare say that of all the religious leaders which were present during those days Nicodemus appears to be the only one who would come unto the Lord Jesus with a sincere and honest heart. Of course it was indeed true that he would come unto Jesus by night, however, it must be understood that he did in fact come entirely and altogether sincere and with an honest heart before the Lord Jesus. What we find in both the seventh and nineteenth chapters of this New Testament book brings us face to face with a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews who would indeed allow himself to believe on the Lord Jesus and even become a follower and disciple of His. Although Nicodemus perhaps wasn’t as verbal and vocal about his being a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus being a Pharisee we must nonetheless conclude that he was indeed a disciple of His and that his encounter with the Lord Jesus by night had a profound impact on him. There is something truly astonishing and remarkable about Nicodemus and how he was perhaps one of a very few—if not the only one—of the Pharisees who would believe on the Lord Jesus and would be a follower of His.

 

            The reason why the narrative of Nicodemus is so incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that in the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke we find Pharisees and doctors of the Law being present in the house where the Lord Jesus was. What’s more is the power of the Lord was present to heal all those who were in the house—Pharisees and doctors of the law alike. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when reading the narrative as it was written by Luke we find and discover that the Pharisees and the doctors of the Law could have received healing if they both wanted and pursued it. What we find in this passage of Scripture is Jesus seeing the faith of men who would come up against what might very well have seemed like an impossibility as there was no ability or way for them to get their friend into the house and into the presence of the Lord Jesus. Determined not to be denied and determined to make their own way where there seemed to be no way they would carry this man atop the roof of the house and would then proceed to uncover the tile and roofing of the house. Once they had removed enough roofing and tile they would let their friend—the man who was sick with the palsy—down through the opening that he might be before and in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this for Jesus would observe what took place on this day and would observe something greater—something that was not found in the house where he was. Jesus would look at the great lengths these men would take to present their friend unto the Lord Jesus and as a direct result of this would behold and observe their faith. It would be as a direct result of their faith Jesus would declare unto the man his sins were forgiven—and not only declare unto him his sins were forgiven but would also heal his physical body.

 

            I am absolutely convinced it is necessary to pay attention to the words found in the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by Matthew—as well as that which is found in the gospel narratives of John Mark and Luke—for what we find in these passages are scribes, Pharisees and doctors of the Law being present in the house where Jesus was. Although the power of the Lord was present to heal them it would be this man who wasn’t originally in the house who would receive from the Lord Jesus. I am convinced that each of the Pharisees, scribes and doctors of the Law could have received healing from the Lord Jesus on this particular occasion and yet despite the fact the power of the Lord was present to heal those in the house it wouldn’t be until these men would let this man down through the opening they had made in the roof healing and forgiveness would take place. That which this passage suggests and reveals unto us is that it was the faith which Jesus observed within these men that would not only allow Him to offer forgiveness of this man’s sins but also to heal his physical body. There is something truly astonishing and remarkable about the words found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention—not only to the fact that the power of the Lord was present to heal these Pharisees and doctors of the Law but how none of them would receive anything from the Lord. What’s more is that when Jesus would behold and observe the faith of the men who brought their friend unto Him and offered him forgiveness of his sins the religious leaders present in the house would murmur among themselves declaring Jesus to be guilty of blasphemies. It would be here in a house where the power of the Lord was present to heal the Pharisees, the scribes and the doctors of the Law would not find forgiveness of sins nor healing in their physical bodies and would instead accuse Jesus of blasphemy.

 

            It is with all of this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of this New Testament gospel. It is in the twelfth chapter where we find the resistance and opposition of the scribes and the Pharisees continuing during those days. As you begin reading the twelfth chapter you will find that Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn and how His disciples were hungry. As a direct result of their being hungry they would pluck the ears of the corn and eat. When, however, the Pharisees saw it they would speak directly unto Jesus concerning His disciples and accused them of doing that which was not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. Please don’t miss the incredible importance of what is found within this passage of Scripture for here we find the Pharisees accusing and condemning the disciples of Jesus simply for plucking ears of corn and eating them on the sabbath. The Pharisees observed this and believed the actions of the disciples to be a violation of the rules and regulations concerning the sabbath and as a direct result of this would accuse the disciples before Jesus. How absolutely incredible it is to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we find the Pharisees accusing Jesus’ disciples of violating the laws and decrees concerning the Sabbath. What we find Jesus doing is appealing to them from their own Law and history concerning David when he was hungry and those who were with him and how they entered into the house of God and did eat the shewbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would also go on to describe unto them how on the sabbath days the priests in the Temple profane the sabbath and are blameless. This would immediately be followed by the Lord Jesus declaring unto them how in that place there was one greater than the Temple and if they had known what the saying meant—“I will have mercy and not sacrifice”—they would not have condemned the guiltless. Jesus would then go on to describe and declare unto the Pharisees that the Son of man is Lord over the sabbath day.

 

            As you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find Jesus entering into a synagogue and beholding a man which had his hand withered. The apostle Matthew wires and records how there in the synagogue there were those who would ask Jesus if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath day. This they would ask Jesus—not because they were willing that this man should and would be healed but that they might accuse Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for while in the opening verses of this chapter we find the Pharisees accusing the disciples of Jesus of violating the sabbath they would now seek to accuse Jesus by asking if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath. The Pharisees did not ask whether or not it was lawful to heal on the sabbath because they wanted and desired this man to be healed but rather that they might find reason to accuse Jesus. How absolutely tragic it is to think about and consider the fact that those who were present in this synagogue—those who were present in this house of religion—would seek to find reason to accuse the Lord Jesus. It’s absolutely incredible how the Lord Jesus would respond to their question by asking what man among them that had one sheep and if the sheep fell into a pit on the sabbath day would not lay hold of it and lift it out. Not only this but Jesus would also go on to describe unto them how they as flesh and blood and sons and daughters of Abraham were of more worth and more value than sheep. That which Jesus sought to describe unto those who were present in the synagogue was not only that they were of more worth and value than sheep but also that it was indeed lawful to do good on the sabbath. It’s actually quite alarming how those present in the synagogue—perhaps scribes, perhaps Pharisees, perhaps doctors of the law and the like—not only could not but deliberately and intentionally chose not to respond to the question the Lord Jesus asked them concerning it being lawful to do good on the sabbath.

            In preparing to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the final verses of this particular section of Scripture. In the opening verses of the twelfth chapter we find the Pharisees accusing Jesus’ disciples of violating the sabbath while in the second set of verses we find all those present in the synagogue where Jesus was choosing to remain silent when He asked them if it was lawful to do good on the sabbath. They asked Jesus if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath and yet Jesus flipped the script on them and asked them if it was lawful to do well and good on the sabbath days. It is absolutely and abundantly clear the scribes and the Pharisees and those present within the synagogue were entirely and altogether consumed with religion, and legalism, and the traditions of men and could not see past their own blindness and hypocrisy. Not only this but if you continue reading within this passage you will find the Pharisees going out and holding a council against Jesus how they might destroy Him. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for after confronting the Pharisees concerning the sabbath as well as those present in the synagogue concerning the sabbath the Pharisees would view the Lord Jesus as a viable threat which needed to be eliminated. There is something truly astonishing and powerful about this when religion itself seeks to destroy Jesus after not only accusing the disciples of Jesus but also seeking to accuse Jesus along lines of healing on the sabbath day. The religious leaders present on this particular day thought they might have reason to accuse Jesus’ disciples of violating the sabbath and those in the synagogue thought they might have reason to accuse Jesus concerning it being lawful to heal on the sabbath.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with religion’s quarrel with and against the Lord Jesus. Religion has always and will continue to be unable to see past their own blindness, their own hypocrisy, their own traditions and the like. That which we find here in this passage of Scripture is not only religion seeking to accuse the disciples of the Lord Jesus based on somehow violating the sabbath but also seeking to find reason to accuse Jesus concerning whether or not it was lawful to heal on the sabbath. We must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of for not only do we find religion seeking to accuse both Jesus and His disciples but we also find religion seeking to destroy Jesus. It wasn’t enough for religion to try and find reason to accuse Jesus and His disciples but now we find it seeking to destroy Jesus to remove Him from the equation. What we must needs recognize is that if religion can’t succeed in accusing the Lord Jesus and if they can’t tame or control Jesus then the only other means for them to do so is to destroy Jesus. What we find within this passage is not only the Pharisees and those in the synagogue resorting to accusation but when they couldn’t tame or control Jesus they sought to destroy Him. It is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and understand this when reading the words found in this passage for although the Pharisees, the scribes, the Sadducees and the other religious leaders had access to the same Jesus as those who were present during those days they chose to reject Him. The scribes and the Pharisees were such who could not control nor tame Jesus and as a direct result sought to destroy Him that they might rid themselves and the land of His influence. This is something which must be recognized and understood for it calls and draws our attention to the dangers of religion within our own heart and spirit—and not only the dangers of religion within our spirit but also how we are treating and responding to the Lord Jesus within our lives.

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