Read His Words Before Ours!
“All right, Peter. It’s time. Tell me.”
I looked across the low, rough-hewn table at Simon; despite deepening shadows, I clearly read curiosity and exhausted patience in his eyes. The busyness of the day was past and our evening meal was finished. When his wife and children left the room, his jocular manner ceased, replaced with quiet intensity.
The flame of the oil lamp between us flickered as I expelled a deep breath, my gaze wandering to the window. The distant lights of Joppa bathed the evening in a golden glow. Simon’s home was situated outside of town, as his work as a leather tanner branded him “unclean” by polite Jewish society. Ten years ago, I would have declined his invitation of hospitality with thinly-veiled condescension. But now . . . everything has shifted.
Where to begin?
“Really,” I mused, as Simon settled comfortably against the cushions, “this story starts years ago, on a Sabbath.”
It had begun like any other Sabbath gathering in the synagogue near my hometown of Capernaum. Various men from the community offered ritual blessings to God, led the recitation of the Shema, and read pre-selected passages from the Torah and prophets. According to tradition, a reader would now give a short teaching, relevant to one of the readings.
Well, “short” was a relative term, as was “relevant.” Commentary on the holy writings contained little original content, with a tendency toward the rote and monotonous. I craned my neck, trying to catch a clear glimpse of the man rising to speak, my thoughts already on the meal my wife was preparing at home. I hoped today’s lesson would be quick.
Then the Teacher began to speak.
And my spirit came to life within me.
His words resonated with humility, clarity, and authority; when He spoke, the fog of confusion, guesswork and empty theories shrouding God’s words parted. For the first time, I experienced a full, deep, assured understanding of their meaning. Surveying the room, I saw my amazement mirrored in the faces and murmurs of the others.
Who was this Teacher? As He spoke, I somehow felt God was in the room with me, speaking to my very soul.
A short time later, I burst through the doorway of my home, excitedly calling to my wife. She will absolutely not believe this, I thought, tearing through the house as the story poured out of me, growing in volume and fervor.
“And then, Love, you can NOT imagine what happened! You know Amichai, he’s been ravaged by demons for as long as I can remember?
“Well, the Teacher is finishing His talk and Amichai comes raging into the synagogue screaming at Him. The Teacher stands there, completely at peace, and all of us are scuttling backwards from Amichai–you remember what he did to the priests the last time they tried to exorcise that demon–and I’m thinking, ‘WHO IS THIS TEACHER?!’ I’m not kidding, Love, it was like Amichai heard me and he shrieks, ‘I know who you are–the Holy One of God!’ I’m reeling from that when the Teacher rebukes him and tells the demon to leave–He spoke it, no charms, spells or anything, just ‘Be silent and come out of him.’ And Love, it DID! Amichai collapsed and it was GONE! What can this mean? And now He’s coming here. . .”
My words trailed off as I skidded to a stop in the kitchen and my wife threw herself into my arms, sobbing. I was flabbergasted by this complete role reversal: shortly into our marriage, she’d affectionately dubbed my zealous nature “fiery,” while she was (usually) happy to be my rock of tranquility.
I was able to piece together that her mother, the matriarch of our home, who’d been fine when I left the house, was now near death with a sudden, high fever. The same fever had stolen members from many families nearby in recent days, and cold fear gripped my heart.
I heard a commotion at the front of the house, signaling the arrival of my brothers with the Teacher. “Come,” I said, taking my wife’s hand and tugging her along, “the Teacher will know what to do.”
“Well?” Simon leaned forward, weariness forgotten in his anticipation. “What happened to your mother-in-law? And how does this explain today, with Tabitha?”
I met Simon’s eyes, pulling myself back to the present. “Today, with Tabitha, it was like I was back in my mother-in-law’s room on that Sabbath, many years ago.
“Both were devoted to ministry, overflowing in kindness and generosity.
When the Teacher stood over my mother-in-law, only a few family members were present.
And today, I felt Him direct me to pray privately over Tabitha’s body.
“You see,” I explained, “When He healed, it wasn’t a performance. He didn’t need an audience to massage His vanity; He was and is in full assurance of His full authority.”
And?? was clearly written over Simon’s head.
“Simon, all those years ago, He spoke and my mother-in-law was healed. Immediately and completely.
Today, when I prayed over Tabitha, He moved and she was alive again.
Immediately and completely.
That Sabbath, I didn’t know who He was.
Now, I do.
Simon, He is everything.
He is power, spoken and enacted. He is humility and authority.
He is Rescuer and Healer. He is Final Sacrifice and Restorer.
He is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!