Who We Are
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 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus' name had become well known. Some were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him."  Others said, "He is Elijah." And still others claimed, "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago."  But when Herod heard this, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!"  For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, whom he had married.  For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."  So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to,  because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.  Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee.  When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you."  And he promised her with an oath, "Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom."  She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" "The head of John the Baptist," she answered.  At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter."  The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her.  So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison,  and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother.  On hearing of this, John's disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
Like a sudden sword thrust, or the spark that sets a forest ablaze, Herod is surprised by the swiftness of his rash words and their effect (22; compare Prov. 12:18; Jas. 3:5). He had protected John in the past (20), but the wife he should never have taken manipulates his lack of self-control for her own ends (19,21,24). John's tongue, on the other hand, had spoken truth (17,18). Here was a prophet who stood up against a king, fearlessly facing a corrupt ruler, not backing down even when thrown into prison.
You may not wear a camel's hair shirt or a crown, but which man do you more closely resemble in your speech, John or Herod? Does your tongue frequently run away with you, steering you into trouble (Jas. 3:4)? Or do you speak truthfully, no matter what the personal cost? Jesus said, "out of the overflow of his heart [the] mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). In other words, my speech displays what's going on in my heart. Words matter in and of themselves, but they have a further significance: they reveal our heart's attitudes and how closely (or not) we align with the character of Jesus.
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 He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.  Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.  These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff-no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.  Wear sandals but not an extra shirt.  Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.  And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them."  They went out and preached that people should repent.  They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
Leave your wallet, your iPhone and your car keys, and go on tour for a few weeks with one other person to preach the gospel, cast out demons and heal the sick. Don't worry about Travelodge or Holiday Inn, just find people's homes to stay in. In other words, go with only the clothes on your back. How confident would you feel with these instructions? Jesus was teaching the disciples that God was more than enough to rely on to meet their needs. If people failed to receive them and their message, they were rejecting God himself. The ritual Jesus instructs them to perform (11) would have been well understood by Jews of the time: they were making a mistake and they might not get another chance. The disciples took Jesus at his word and the twelve went out and did what they had watched Jesus do (12,13).
So, does Jesus wants us to live without money or resources today? No. In Luke 22:35-37, Jesus tells the disciples to do the opposite: prepare and equip yourself for the task ahead. Why the change? The disciples had proved God's faithfulness and would now always rely on him. But the way ahead presented greater challenges.
 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.  When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?  Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.  Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home."  He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.  He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
People were frequently amazed by him, but Jesus was not amazed by people all that often. How unfortunate that Nazareth gets bottom billing for its lack of faith (6). The people recognized the wisdom with which Jesus taught and that wisdom is a gift from God ("... that has been given him," v 2). They also recognized that he performed genuine miracles. Again, they would have known that this signified God's blessing and approval of Jesus (see John 3:2). So why the disconnect? Why did they go on to focus on Jesus' humble beginnings, finally taking offense at him (3)? It was because of unbelief.
We know from Luke 4:14-28 that Jesus' earlier visit to his home town at the beginning of his public ministry had not gone well. When he made it clear that God was concerned for Gentiles as well as Jews, the people had tried to kill him. So on this second visit, although Jesus' fame had spread more widely by now, the people still rejected him and his claim to be the Messiah--just as his own family had done (see 3:21). No wonder he was amazed (6).
 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher anymore?"  Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, "Don't be afraid; just believe."  He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.  When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly.  He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep."  But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was.  He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means "Little girl, I say to you, get up!").  Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.  He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
It was no small thing for a synagogue ruler, part of the establishment, to humble himself and publicly ask Jesus for help in front of a large crowd (22,23). But Jairus, like the woman we met yesterday, was desperate. This was a father willing to do anything for his little girl, no matter how much he lost face. No wonder Jesus had compassion for him. I wonder how the disciples reacted on hearing the news that the little girl was dead (35)? Did they start to turn around, thinking the journey was over? Just as with sickness, Jesus was not afraid of death, and with some words of reassurance for Jairus he forged ahead (36). How quickly the mourners changed to mockers (39,40). Would you or I have been put off by the ridicule? Yet Jesus again displays total authority, "putting them all out" of the house, before raising the girl from the dead, handing her back into the arms of forever grateful parents.
Where do you put yourself in this picture? Are you skeptical of Jesus' ability and willingness to heal today, or are you reaching out to him, willing to look stupid in front of the crowd, risking praying for the sick?
 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake.  Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet.  He pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live."  So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him.  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.  She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.  When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak,  because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed."  Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.  At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"  "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' "  But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.  Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.  He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
This poor woman was desperate. She had suffered for 12 long years and the people who should have helped relieve her suffering had only added to it (26), impoverishing her in the process. She had lived with the demands of the ceremonial cleanliness laws set out in Leviticus 15, which isolated her from human touch, fellowship and friendship. She wasn't even able to sit down in public without making a bench or chair ceremonially unclean (Lev. 15:26). Yet desperate people do desperate things. She would have known that her pushing through this large crowd would have made anyone who brushed against her ceremonially unclean. So when Jesus challenged the person who had touched his clothes (30), she had every reason to be afraid (33). But Jesus wasn't angry or afraid of becoming unclean; he is greater than any disease or infection.
Yesterday's study saw Jesus free a man from demons that had ensnared him. Today we see a woman set free by Jesus as she took a risk and simply reached out to touch him. Can you see the pattern? Jesus sets people free. And he's still in the people-freeing business today.
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