What caught my critical eye at once was the man with a shriveled hand in the synagogue in Mark 3. What was he doing there remaining unhealed? There were Pharisees around with the Herodians, so why didn't they pray for healing? Surely, their religious expertise have made them read about miracles and healing in the Old Testament done by God. But why did this man go on suffering from a shriveled hand? Why was there no miracle in the synagogue? [Picture above from Natanael Melchor, Unsplash].
What kind of synagogue was that? The members claimed to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but that man's hand remained shriveled--until Jesus came. Church is like that today. They worship Jesus, the Healer, but their very members remain sick and suffering from ailments. Even their pastors have maintenance medicines. Some even die of diseases or rushed to the ICU for serious medical attention.
They know Jesus only as Savior. Jesus is a lot more than that. He is our Portion. When He is our Shepherd, we shall not want. This means He should be our everything, not just Savior.
So, are they bothered that their faith and church are useless? Not one bit. What they focus on is the observance of their church traditions, like the Pharisees did. Their only concern is see to it that everything is done according to the acceptable practices of their denomination, inline with their doctrines.
The Pharisees watched Jesus closely to see if he'd break their cherished church tradition. But what did Jesus do? He "broke" it in broad daylight. That's Jesus' faith, demolish silly traditions, not perpetuate them. Churches mindlessly preserve their traditions no matter if they run counter to God's Word. Like supernatural healing. Yeah, they believe in "healing," but what they mean is the cure provided by medical science. If you insist on supernatural healing, they'd think you're nuts.
Healing to them is what medicines and hospital treatments do that cost them lots of money--plus prayers, of course. But this was not what Jesus meant by "healing." Everything Jesus did, they replaced with what man can do. Even supernatural revelation from the Holy Spirit they replaced with human "systematic" theology, hermeneutics and philosophy. Church has practically rejected everything Jesus did.
Yup, they want to "kill Jesus" in church today, as the Pharisees did then. Most churches want to kill anything that is genuinely of Jesus and replace them with man's ideas and religious systems. Another example, they replaced Jesus' Spirit and truth worship with their worship programs and rituals. Unless you worship in their church building and follow their programs, it's not worship to them.
In fact, worship today is lots of singing and sermons. Without these, it's not worship.
Jesus challenged the Pharisees about their idea of Sabbath. Was it for saving or killing life? Like church today. It's killed the Life that Jesus offers and replaced it with programs, activities, ministries and more meetings and gimmicks. Without these things, church to them is "dead." If you tell them to just focus on what Jesus and the apostles did--like the LIFE, signs and wonders, miracles, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and true discipleship--they'd dismiss them and insist on their own brand of gospel and discipleship instead.
So Jesus wanted to demolish their idea of what Sabbath was--not by debating them--but by doing a supernatural miracle. Today, they would do it with debates, discussing about what philosophers, great church men and theologians said in the past and pit ideas against each other. Jesus never did that. He simply performed a miracle to prove a point.
4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.Where is this in church today? Nowhere. Instead, they take so much pride in their silly human theologies. Or debating using bible passages. They have "killed" Jesus in church. But mark this word--God is going to restore everything in church before Jesus comes back. The remnant church will accept this, but man's church will reject it. They will stick with their own brand of church.
Then large crowds followed Jesus. They always did, of their own willingness. They were not invited or lured with goodies or benefits or promised anything. Jesus never promoted through ads or marketing. The Good News did all that, spread by word of mouth from genuinely excited people.
8 When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon.And why were people so excited? Because they were seeing something unique, something other groups or organizations didn't have. They saw the genuine power of God. Church today just repeats what NGOs or cause-oriented groups do. Often, they're like the Red Cross or the Rotary Club.
10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.Where is this in church today? Nowhere, because they have rejected Jesus. What you'd see in church ministries are crowds lined up and waiting for their turn to be checked by doctors and given free medicines. This is good, but the church is here to represent God's supernatural Kingdom to people, not what the world already knows and sees. God did not give us the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit with which he raised Jesus from the dead just so we can be like the Red Cross.
Without resembling anything of Jesus, the church today has failed. Yes, there are converts from evangelistic efforts, but the converts are merely introduced to denominations and local churches, not to Jesus himself and his supernatural Kingdom and ministry. Jesus is virtually a stranger to them. When faced with the real Messiah, Christians fail to recognize him and get scared as the disciples thought Jesus was a ghost when they saw his real power and authority as he walked on water. They often think the real Jesus is a cult once they get used to man's church.
No wonder God allowed churches closed this Covid 19 crisis. God doesn't want their worship services and preaching. HE wants believers to look inside themselves and see how far they have gone from Jesus.
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