Meditating on the Commands of Christ (29): “Stand Forth”

If we can do nothing else, we can at least stand up! That’s what Martin Luther had to do back in April 1521 when Emperor Charles V demanded that he recant. Luther was unable to disavow the pile of books on the table in front of him (which he had authored), because Luther sincerely believed they were true, and so it is often reported that he finished his defense with: “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.”

In today’s account, Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on a sabbath day and saw a man with a withered hand. I suppose he could have ignored the man’s weakness to avoid confrontation (since he knew the scribes and Pharisees were just looking for a chance to accuse him of doing something “wrong”), but Jesus’ compassion for the man obviously outweighed any human desire to avoid conflict. Without flinching, the great teacher took time to heal! He told the man to “Rise up and stand forth in the midst.

Even the scribes and Pharisees hadn’t added any regulations denying a man the right to stand up on the sabbath, so Jesus wasn’t asking the man to do anything the religious leaders could condemn, although I’m sure the man with the withered hand would have felt both fear and joy at the prospect of Jesus singling him out. Why was Jesus asking him to stand up in the middle of everybody? Would Jesus heal him? If so, how would Jesus heal him? Would Jesus require anything from the man that would make the religious leaders persecute him or kick him out of the synagogue?

In our lives, no matter what our problems, Jesus is able to heal us. But, he will often ask us to take a stand, the way the man with the withered hand had to make a public “spectacle” of himself, and the way Luther was required to stand up for what he believed to be true about God and the Bible. Do you need healing? Do you want Jesus to heal you? Are you willing to “Rise up and stand forth in the midst” ?

I have a friend who is a Messianic Jew (that means he is Jewish by birth and by religious conviction, but he does believe that Jesus is the Messiah who was prophesied to come as the Savior of the world). Because he was a member of his synagogue from childhood (and before his conversion to Christ), the leaders didn’t kick him out of the synagogue until . . . until the new rabbi (who was a female) had an agenda to support abortion. When my friend took a stand against abortion, he was summarily kicked out of his synagogue.

How tragic that religious leaders sometimes stand against the way of mercy and truth. If you are part of a church where the Bible is not revered as Truth and the God of the Bible is not worshiped as the one and only true God, please be willing to take a stand! You might not get thrown out. (The man with the withered hand did not, although my dear brother in the faith did.) You might not get burned at the stake. (Martin Luther did not, although I’m sure he feared that, because he was so influenced by the work of John Huss, who had been burned at the stake exactly 100 years before Luther posted his 95 theses.) Any time we stand against false doctrine, we are very likely to be persecuted, but that is part of the cost of discipleship: “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Let’s be willing to take a stand!

“The Stand” (Hillsong United)

You stood before creation
Eternity in your hand
You spoke the earth into motion
My soul now to stand

You stood before my failure
And carried the cross for my shame
My sin weighed upon your shoulders
My soul now to stand

So what can I say?
And what can I do?
But offer this heart, Oh God
Completely to you

So I’ll walk upon salvation
Your spirit alive in me
This life to declare your promise
My soul now to stand

So what can I say?
And what can I do?
But offer this heart, Oh God
Completely to you

I’ll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the one who gave it all
I’ll stand
My soul Lord to you surrendered
All I am is yours

Hillsong United singing “The Stand” Live in Miami
Words and Music by Joel Houston © 2005 Hillsong

Texts for this study: “And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth” (Mark 3:1-3).

And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.2 And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth” (Luke 6:1-8).

Rise Up, My Love (200): The First Grace—Humble Submission to God

SS 200:08.21.16Wouldn’t you like to know what kind of a woman receives universal praise, both from God and from other women? Wouldn’t you like to become such a woman?

Song of Solomon 6:9b, “The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.” Here is the same group of women as that discussed in the preceding verse, the pool of all the world’s most beautiful women. Solomon has surveyed them and found that his bride is the most wonderful of all. Even more astonishing is the response of the other women. From the youngest, most innocent daughter of Jerusalem, to the mightiest queen and most desirable lover, the king declares that they praise her also. Have you ever known any group of women to give universal praise to another woman? This is unheard of, and yet, it happened!

What is it that they find so praiseworthy? Notice that what the king praises her for here has nothing to do with outward beauty! Song of Solomon 6:9a, “My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.” Look at the list: she is his dove, his undefiled, and her mother’s only child. Let’s study each description individually in hopes of learning how to delight our Savior and earn the respect and praise of others.

“My dove.” Indwelt by the Holy Spirit, she has become meek, mild, gentle, sensitive, and obedient. Have I ever told you about my son Jonathan’s Java doves? When Jon was a boy, he bought a pair of snow-white doves to train for teaching biblical principles through the use of illusions and “tricks.” The doves were the tamest birds I’ve ever seen, and he trained them to lie perfectly still, hanging upside down from his finger as if they were dead. He could put them inside his coat and they would remain perfectly silent and motionless until he pulled them out. They would even let him gently extend their wings one at a time and they would neither tuck their wings back nor would they fly away. They just sat as still as an ivory statue. They were incredible birds.

Now, I’m not suggesting that our Lord wants us to be as motionless and mindless as trained Java doves can appear to be…but he truly does want us to be as trainable, obedient, and patient. He wants us to be willing to wait silently inside his “breast pocket” until he pulls us out. He wants us to appear dead to self…to be able to live the crucified life! He wants us to be able to let him extend or draw in our wings without the slightest ruffle of our pinfeathers…without our flying away or pulling back into ourselves.

Has a human ever been as obedient as a Java dove?  Sorrowfully, I confess that I certainly have not. Oh, may the Holy Spirit, blest heavenly Dove, so indwell us that we may be praised by others for our gentle submission to the will of God. “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). If we learn this, we will have developed a truly meek and quiet spirit, and this will earn the praise of our Lord…and even those around us.*

(*Obviously, this doesn’t work 100% of the time. Jesus was perfectly submissive to the will of God and yet incurred great wrath and jealousy from many of the religious leaders of his day. Even as Jesus suffered persecution for being obedient to God, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” [2 Timothy 3:12].)

 

Brother Yun: “The Heavenly Man”

Do you have any interest in spell-binding thrillers? The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo wouldn’t be my cup of tea, but I do find that sometimes fact is indeed more fantastic than fiction.One of the most profound books I’ve read lately is the biography of Brother Yun. His story is so incredible that if I’d never been to China working as a Bible courier…if I’d never felt the terror of watching my own son being marched off by the PSB for questioning…if I’d not been to Pastor Lamb’s church and heard his testimony of being imprisoned for 20 years because he preached the gospel…if I’d never felt the joy of leading three girls to Christ on a train…(oh, the stories I could tell)…if I hadn’t personally experienced a little taste of what life was like in China during the 1990’s, Brother Yun’s story would be really hard to believe.

But, having “touched” and “seen” and “handled” for myself, I can believe that Brother Yun’s story is true. If you’re looking for a book to increase your faith and inspire your courage, I recommend taking a vicarious walk through China with this steadfast believer.I don’t think it will ruin this horribly suspenseful story if I tell you that he survived, and yes, he is alive and well today. After many years of preaching, persecution, and imprisonment in China, Brother Yun miraculously escaped from  Zhengzhou Maximum Security Prison (the only escape in it’s history) and took asylum in Germany, where he continues his ministry.

If  you have any interest in thrilling tales, consider reading The Heavenly Man.

“Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

  2 Timothy 3:12