This is the topic that I meant to talk about in my previous post, "My Favorite Parts of Luke - Part 1", but as I studied it deeper I came upon some awesome stuff that would have taken too much space in that format. So here we are - for better or for worse - lets jump right in! :P
This is my second-favorite part of Luke so far, and it's in chapter 5, verses 12-14 and in 17:11-19.
So, what was leprosy?
Some people compare it in Jesus' day to cancer in ours - it was horrible and screwed with a lot of lives. And even worse, it was considered highly contagious. Since it was incurable until about the 1940s, the sick were thrown out and alienated - shunned - as is obviously portrayed in the New Testament.
No one would have any thing to do with the "unclean" so they would stay as far away as possible, and never, under any circumstances, touch them (for good reason). But when Jesus comes on the scene, multiple instances mention lepers asking Him for healing, and of course He is always willing, so He heals them! Not only is their physical cleansing enough to radically change their lives, but Jesus also ministers to their emotional healing as well.
But why would they need emotional healing that badly?
I'm sure it must have really hurt the people, being shunned and alienated from anyone and everyone for such a long time. Like Jews, prostitutes and other groups people around this time, they were made to wear distinctive clothing, so everyone would instantly be aware of who and what they were. Lepers were forced to live outside the cities and/or in a separated area, and because of this, it was probably harder to get food, water and shelter. And just to make it worse, the religious people convinced everyone that they were suffering because of their own horrible sins.
But taking time to fill in the blanks with our imaginations, between the facts mentioned, really adds deeper meaning and color to these people's circumstances for us - it makes it come alive.
Here's where Jesus steps in...
Obviously, Jesus is already aware of each leper's broken heart, and begins to heal them in different ways. In the second story I mentioned, the one with the ten, He meets them where they are. They aren't willing to go near Him, probably because of bad experiences, so He lets them stay at their distance and gives them instructions for their healing (which most likely required a lot of faith on their part). As they go and obey Him, the leprosy leaves their bodies and they're healed. It's just awesome to imagine the joy and excitement as they go the rest of the way to the priest to show themselves healed.
But then one of them goes back to Jesus, as we all know, and doesn't stay at a distance this time. Instead, he goes and "throws himself at Jesus' feet and thanks Him" that's pretty cool. Here's why:
How many of us feel distant from the Lord sometimes, and are refusing to get close to Him because of some kind of (maybe subconscious) fear? I've been there, and He meets you where you are in this aspect as well. But eventually, as we begin to be healed, we become more comfortable and start to inch closer and closer to Him. It's an effortless thing that just happens.
It might not happen all at once for us, as it did with the Samaritan leper, but if we keep pursuing that relationship then we will get to that place - and He gives us however long we need, to do it.
In the situation with the one leper, it doesn't mention that he stays at a distance, it just says that when he saw him "he fell with his face to the ground" and begged Him for healing - he didn't do anything to get closer to or to touch Him. But Jesus (love it when the 'but Jesus' part comes!) reaches out His hand and touches the man.
Why is that significant? That's one of the parts I spent a little more time on. :P
The original word that was translated "touch" is the Greek word "háptomai" (hap'-tom-ahee), which is similar to "attaching oneself to". It's also reflexive of the word "haptō" (hap'-to) which means to "properly fasten to" and "set on fire" as in "lighting or kindling a flame". (Which makes sense when considering the feeling of heat in many healing testimonies).
But the first two definitions ("properly fasten to" and "attaching oneself to") really don't seem to portray Jesus barely and reluctantly poking the man's shoulder with his finger to get the healing done. But rather seems to paint the picture of Him pulling the man into a good hug, or at least putting his arm around him - out of overflowing love and compassion, and not out of have-to.
Since he hadn't been around healthy people for a long time, much less touched or loved (as he is now being by Jesus), it probably came as quite a shock to the guy. It showed him the extent of Jesus' love for him - and the lack of fear for his disease. And even though I don't have a reference to match with this speculation, it seems like that would affect him - however much - on an emotional level.
What do you think?
Today, I want to encourage you to stop and meditate on (think or consider) a passage in Luke - anything you want.
If it leads you to do some deeper studying, great! If not, that's fine too! Some parts of the Bible are just as they are written, and sometimes the best things we take away from a quiet time come from sitting quietly for a few minutes, and just talking to God about it. Say, "Lord, what do you want to teach me from this?" and then listen; He's got something for ya.
Thanks for reading, y'all!
Keep calm and quiz on (and out)!
Your fellow quizzer,
Today I'm gonna do a more laid back post, and just touch on my favorite parts of Luke, and why I like them so much! I'm gonna go through my top 3, and then just briefly mention how each of them stood out to me this season. I'll only mention the ones in the first twelve chapters in this post, and then later I'll do the second half of the material so it's more organized :P Here we go!
3. At Mary and Martha's House (Luke 10:38-42)
We should all be at least a little familiar with this story - it's a fairly popular topic in sermons and other messages because of how easy it is to relate to the two main characters, Mary and Martha. There is a great illustration in their choices of how they spend their time; working and serving others, and sitting and listening to Jesus.
When we make our choices as Martha did, to serve when we could be sitting and enjoying the Lord's presence, (which proves what we value) it's really easy to get stressed out and/or overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done, and become "careful and troubled about many things". Notice that Jesus doesn't rebuke Martha, because it is good to have a servant's heart, just as He did! The trouble comes when we don't take time out to purposefully rest and enjoy the love, teaching and ministry of the Holy Spirit. (Also, refer to Luke 5:15-16 for an example of this from Jesus).
2. Jesus Heals the Lepers (Luke 5:12-14 & Luke 17:11-19)
When I originally wrote the first draft for this post, and I came to this second part, I decided to do a little more digging and studying. When I did that, God gave me some awesome stuff! But when I finished writing it (making it as brief as I could) it was way too long for this format.
So what I'm gonna do, since I do want to share that with you guys, is I'm going to put it in it's own post. That'll be up and published shortly, since I already have it mostly written.
1. Jesus Receives the Holy Spirit, gets Tempted, and Returns in Power (Luke 3:21-22 & Luke 4)
These really demonstrate the truth in Acts 1:8 that we quizzed over a few years ago: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NIV)
They show us how much each of us needs the Holy Spirit in our day-to-day christian lives, in addition to ministry and sharing the Gospel with people. When studying the Word, it's a good idea to look at what happens, obviously, but also at what doesn't happen. Notice,
I think that's pretty awesome. In the beginning of Acts 19, it's explained that the initial act of salvation is a separate experience from receiving the Holy Spirit - that's important to realize. You can be saved and go to Heaven without having the Spirit, but when we do receive the Him (also called the Comforter), we're enabled for the first time to live as God always intended. (Check out these links for simple, Biblical information about the Holy Spirit, receiving the Holy Spirit, and a video teaching about the Holy Spirit!)
So yeah, these are my favorite pieces so far! Some others that competed for these slots (LOL) were the angels and shepherds (Luke 2:8-14), Jesus calms the storm (Luke 8:22-25), the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15), and Jesus' teaching on not worrying (Luke 12:22-34).
Thanks for reading!
Keep calm and quiz on (and out)!
Your fellow quizzer,
How are you guys? I hope you all had a great Christmas break! Sorry it's a little late, but here are the printable schedules for the Learn Luke Challenge in January!
Today I'd like to touch on a subject that I think is fairly important to have a right perspective on, in order to have a fulfilling quizzing experience.
There are a lot of different ways that quizzers motivate themselves to do well, but one I think is prominent, is considering (whether consciously or subconsciously) what other quizzers will think, whether they're from their team or from another.
I.e. if the quizzer has done well, and therefore feels pressure to perform as well, or even better, in the future. Or, alternatively, if a quizzer feels as though people expect them to perform well for any other reason (like if they have an older sibling who quizzes well, or if they're on a team of experienced quizzers, or if they're from a competitive district), there are obviously lots of possibilities. Everyone knows this isn't unique to quizzing - it's a driving source for many people in lots of different areas of their lives.
Go ahead and take a moment to think of a time in which you felt peer pressure - either in quizzing or in something else - and recount how that affected you.
It's argued that it's not always negative; that it's a good way to spur each other on to do better. But I think these are two different things, and here's why:
Spurring each other on to do better...
And I think most of us would like to see the latter of these at work, rather than the first.
So how do we take action on this? It's a good idea to start with ourselves, so that leads us to ask the question, how can we eliminate the effect peer pressure has on us? And how can we stop participating in it?
Well we can go about this in a few different ways, but the best one would probably be to purposely begin doing three things: encouraging and complimenting others, encouraging yourself, and caring only about who God says you are, and what He thinks of you.
Once we can start our journey towards seeing ourselves how our Father sees us (and seeing how deeply He's in love with each of us), the two previous things on the list become natural, and can come almost effortlessly.
Why? Because whatever visual, heart-level picture we have of God, is what we will mirror - whether it's an accurate or inaccurate picture. If we see Him as love - that He is love and love is Him - then we will begin to become and project love as well, if we're seeking Him.
This is a very positive perspective on God and life, compared to what a lot of christians project, and I think this perspective on peer pressure is a positive one as well.
But why should we care what God thinks, when people are all around us, and who tangibly (visually and audibly) express it? People always say, "don't worry about what everybody else says" but they rarely add a reason to that. Sometimes, if they're christians, they'll say something like, "because God's eternal and people aren't" but everyone's spirits are eternal, because they either go to Heaven or Hell, so this answer doesn't make much sense - unless they're talking about just life here on earth, in which case it still doesn't really help because earth is the only place we'll be dealing with the problem.
So here's my reason; once we get a revelation from God about how much He loves us, and how He sees us as perfect and pure, forgiven, beautiful, and His children, we'll be overcome by the extent of how much more this means to us. That "feeling" might not last a long time, depending on how deeply rooted we are in our relationship with the Lord (maybe I'll give my whole testimony on this at some point, but I won't go into that right here), so the next step is just getting to know Him, and continuing to deepen that relationship.
People and God - there really is no comparison :P at the end of the day, even if these people mean a lot to us and it can hurt, very badly at times, to feel like you're rejected because of something, you have to ask yourself whose opinion you're valuing (caring about) more. Our Father's? or our friends?
I've been hurt some as a result of not doing or agreeing with everything my peers did or thought, and I've given into the pressure a lot (LOT) more times. Heck, I'm not even a two-year-old christian yet! (Yes, that means that I didn't start caring about or seeking the Lord until the end of my second year in Bible quizzing - so hear me when I say that I don't have this all figured out :P)
And it's because of how that effected me, that it's one of the main reasons I feel a bit strongly on this subject, when it comes to my fellow teens (whom peer pressure usually hits the hardest) and my fellow quizzers.
I'm going to close with a question for you - whose voice are you going to listen to today? Which relationship are you going to invest in, with your choices this week?
Thanks for reading guys, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at the Bethany invitational later this month! Happy quizzing!
Keep calm and quiz on (and out)!
Your fellow quizzer,
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Mallory is a sixth-year Teen Bible Quizzer originally from the Southern region, and now in the Northwest, quizzing over the book of John with her three younger siblings. <3
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