FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 002

Simon the Leper – S1 – Jerusalem

Jerusalem is about two miles from Bethany. Simon and his son were on the Jericho road riding on a wagon. The ancient road went from the Jordan River valley city of Jericho up the Judean Highlands over the Mount of Olives to the southern gates of Jerusalem. As Simon rode through the gates, he looked up at the towering ramparts of the old city of David sitting on a prominant narrow ridge overlooking the Tyropoeon Valley to the west, the Hinnom Valley to the south, and the Kidron Valley on the east. In those walls is his destination. He owns an old government building that he uses as both storage and trading.

“Hello Imraam,” Simon hailed a crippled man being carried on a palette by two men across a crowded cobbled stone street. “I thought you would be at the north side of the city at this time?”

As the wagon slowed down by him, Imraam answered nonchalantly over his shoulder, “I was there, my old friend, but I was summoned to my relatives.”

“What for, Imraam?”

“What else, Simon? They are wondering why I have not gone to the bossoms of my fathers.” He chuckled loudly. “But as you could see,” he raised himself up on his palete showing a wide grin. “I may not be able to walk but I may live longer than them.” They both laughed out loud.

Well, I going back home and tomorrow… back to my spot at the pool of Bethesda. Maybe, that will be the day that the angel will stir the waters and I’ll be lucky.”

“Well, Imraam… I wish you luck.” Simon coaxed the mules to turn right. Imraam and his servants was soon disappeared amongst the heavy traffic of people and animals.

“Poor Imraam,” Simon shook his head as he chuckled himself.

“Father? Do you ever think that an angel of Lord would stir the water as the legend states? And do you think, Imraam can ever get into the water first ahead of the others?”

“He has been going to that pool for about thirty years now since he became crippled. Can you believe it? I really hope he does.”

They weaved their wagon up a noisy busy street. To their left rose the jam packed square houses of the lower city of Jerusalem. According to a trader friend of his, over three hundred thousand people live in squalor there based on the last census by the current Roman governor. To their right was the shored up canal creek the water of which ran down from the temple mount and was lined with chattering women doing their laundry. The creek then collected at the pool of Siloam before draining out under the city walls.

“Father, look!” Lazarus was pointing at a flapping banner hanging on the side of a long tall structure across the canal creek. “The chariot races are coming back in a week from now.”

“I know, son. I do have eyes.”

“I know father how you hate the sport. But surely, those of our people who race in the arena, do they not bolster the pride of our people?”

“Pride, you say. Be careful, my son, remember what the prophets says, ‘Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.’ (Proverbs 16:18 NLT) And trust me, I have seen many racers fall, both of our people and foreigners.”

Simon coaxed the mule to turn right. They went over a wide bridge that crossed over the canal and started up a gentle incline with the arena to their right. And as his habit, Simon looked to his left and his eyes followed up a grand staircase the went up about 40 feet then it dramatically turned right as it bridged over empty space and went up another 30 feet to the Temple Mount. This architectural feat have never failed to impress him. The mount itself took up most of the view of the sky. They rode unto the landing of a vast plaza with the massive southern walls of the Temple Mount rising over 90 feet tall looking down upon them. They rode by a busy market place then stopped by one of the stall which he own. After Simon spoke with a the stall merchant who worked for him, he and his son drove their wagon into the old City of David.

In the days of King David to the Judean exile to Babylon, the city was both his residence and government buildings. Most of the palaces were torn down by the invading Babylonians. Only a few government buildings were still standing. Then, when the exiles returned, the old city was rebuilt but remnants of David’s line did not rebuild the palaces. By the time the Romans came, the City of David was mostly made up of the residences of the rising middle class.

They rode through the old city’s porticos, then Simon stopped the wagon infront of one of the surviving 3-story government building which he had taken over. A servant came out to tie the mule to a hitching pole. Both Simon and Lazarus alighted off the wagon and entered the building.

“Master?” said a stout man slowly getting up from behind a wide desk. “We were not expecting you for a couple of days.”

“I know, I know Joral,” Simon said. “Lazarus and I are here in the city to see my cousin at the Temple. Since we were in the neighborhood, I thought I’d check on the rennovations upstairs.”

Joral trailed behind them as they crossed the lower floor where laborers were busy unpacking bundles of processed wheat husks. Some of them carried several bundle to an adjoing room where a millstone can be see moving in circle.

“How many bags of flour produced today?” Simon asked Joral as they ascended a grand staircase.

“Only about 9 bags. One of our asses became ill. We had to wait for a replacement.”

“You see, my son,” Simon said to Lazarus. “This business requires constant overseeing. If Joral was not here, there could have been a longer delay in fulfilling the order. This is why you must pay more attention and remember that the clothing you wear and everything else comes from this business.”

“Yes father,” he said with a slight hint of exaspiration.

Simon was smiling inside when they reached the second floor. The went down a hallway a little to where they can hear hammering. Jorel pushed open ornately carved double doors to reveal a vast room.

“As you can see, Master. They took down the walls of 3 large rooms to form this large room. I believe this room can hold over a hundred people.”

“Excellent, Jorel. This large room should bring in some extra revenue. When will they finish the rennovations?”

“In 3 months or so, Master.”

“Good… just in time for the summer festivals. Very well, we must go. It will be a long climb to the top of the Temple Mount.”

 


 

Hello readers,

Again, I would like to invite your comments with constructive inputs which I’ll look forward to put into good use as I direct my creative thoughts.

I hope you enjoy what I hope will be the product of my Spirit sanctified imagination.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

 

Jesus 101 – That you may know God

If there is a goal in my life, it is that I help people get to know God the same way I got to know Him. For the next several weeks, I am going to be both teacher and storyteller. We will delve in the Bible stories of Jesus. We’re going to start with the concept of how to know God through Jesus.

But why Jesus? In John 14, one of His disciples more or less asked him, ‘Lord, show us the Father?’ If you don’t mind, I’m going to paraphrase what Jesus said. “You’ve been with me this whole time, yet you still don’t know me. Well, stick with me kid and watch me closely!” In essence, getting to know Jesus is getting to know God… and getting to know Him intimately.

In John 17:3, Jesus made this statement within His long prayer, “And this is the way to have eternal life–to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” The words seem clear enough. The key to eternal life is to know God. Allow me to clarify that ‘to know of God’ is just not enough. It is too superficial. What Jesus meant was to go deeper. I am reminded of the time when a rich man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 NLT) Jesus’ response to him was somewhat more different than the revelation of John 17:3. He first cited that he should obey the last 6 parts of the Ten Commandments. “You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:18,19 NLT)

When the rich man boastfully told him that he did obey them all. Then, Jesus dropped the bomb (so to speak) on him. Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:21,22 NLT)

Believe it or not, Jesus’ final response to the rich man actually coincides with what he instructed to his disciples. Why was his approach different? Jesus knew the rich man’s heart and gave his answer on how the rich man asked it. You see, the rich man’s error was both fundamental and spiritual. The fundamental truth is this: Eternal Life can never be earned or bought because of our sin problem. Jesus gave him a spiritual solution but the rich man did not go for it.

His disciples asked, “Then who in the world can be saved?” I wonder if their question ‘miffed’ Jesus a little. For in this same chapter of Matthew 19, just before the rich man, there were a group of children that was brought to Him. And when his disciples tried to shoo them away, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:14 NLT)

Jesus’ declaration of children shouldn’t have been new to their ears because he had also recently told them similar things when they asked him who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. His answer was when he referred to a child and said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3,4 NLT)

I don’t want to annoy parents all over, especially since I have no children of my own (except for being a pseudo-parent to my many nephews and nieces). But with what I have observed of kids when they start to talk and reason all the way to the legal age, it is rare for me to use humility to describe them. Even in Scripture, it says, ‘A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness…’ (Proverbs 22:15 NLT) So, how are being like children a key to getting into the Kingdom of Heaven? And how does this match with John 17:3 on how we should know the only true God and Jesus?

To answer this might need a whole extensive Bible Study and probably many weeks of your time to provide adequate fundamental truths. But for this blog, I have to keep it short. So, here is the nutshell version.

Whenever, I tell good stories to my nephews, nieces and to many kids at Sunday School, I always saw and read the same expression of awe and belief on their faces. So, this is what I believe what Jesus meant that we should become like little children. I found that all children have a great capacity to be awed and to express faith. When I, in my late 30s, started to read about God and Jesus with childlike fascination, I felt like I was reaquainting with a long lost friend (except that I was the one who was lost). So, I encourage you to listen more to biblical stories by humbling yourself; by not being so skeptical even before the telling of the story. I have been walking with the Lord for over 25 years and I can testify that I got to believe in Him because I knew Him and I am still knowing Him today. But don’t take my word for it. Open your Bible to know Him and see for yourself.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

 

NLT – New Living Translation

‘miffed’ – put into an irritable mood

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 3 final)

On the streets of the southern end of Jerusalem next to the pool of Siloam, a young man came out excited, shouting that he can see. Attracted by the commotion, people recognized him as the blind beggar. They were amazed. The power of God was seen in the healing of the young man who was born blind in that day, some 2000 years ago. But it doesn’t stop there. God’s power was seen in another way through the most unlikely representative.

The people asked the young man on how it happened. He told him about how Jesus healed him. Then they took him to the Pharisees because what Jesus did violated a Jewish law. The Pharisees were the fundementalist faction of the leadership of the Jewish people and they met in a judgement center somewhere in the Temple Mount. This is where the young man was brought, to stand before a group of educated old men. They questioned him extensively about Jesus and tried to convince him that Jesus was not from God. Then they threathened and cursed him and finally, they kicked him out (John 9:13-34). Where was the power of God in this encounter?

In Scripture, we find example after example of God choosing the weak to fulfill His will. In this case, here was a young man who was once handicapped and had no formal education stood toe to toe against a group of the best minds in Jerusalem. As they exclaimed that they did not know where Jesus came from, his message to them was simple: “Why, that’s very strange!” he replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”

Do you remember this verse? …God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT) Do you want to know something? God is still doing this today.

History is filled with examples. Billy Graham was a shy farming boy at the age of 12. He never thought he would become anything until the age 16 when he became born again. He became the most prominent evangelical Christian figure in modern history. He was the spiritual advisors to several U.S. Presidents and even to the Queen of England. Nick Vujicic is a 33 years old painter, swimmer, skydiver, and motivational speaker. He is an inspiration to so many. He is also a Christian born with no arms and legs. Then, there is Joni Eareckson Tada who is an evangelical Christian that became a quadriplegic from an accident. The Lord used her as an inspired author, radio host, and founder of ‘Joni and Friends’, an organization accelerating Christian ministry in the disability community. I wish I can name them all, but I’ll cite one more, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Pres. Roosevelt was America’s successful leader that led them through World War II. Did you know that he did all this on a wheelchair?

The day I read Jesus’ words about a fellow handicap that he was the way he was so that ‘the power of God could be seen in him (John 9:2 NLT).’ I was esctatic that maybe I would be used by God one day. And I was, hopefully to the glory of His name.

Thank you.

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

NLT – New Living Translation

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 2)

In my last post, the healing of the blind man in the story of John 9 was to support what Jesus said, “…so the power of God could be seen in him.”

The question now is, what was the lesson that the Lord wanted to teach me? Well, here is the clue that sort of popped into my mind which I believe came from the Holy Spirit. (By the way, the Spirit has that tendency to do that to me from time to time.) Anyway, here is the clue.

…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT)

What does the passage of 1 Corinthians 1:27 have to do with the young man born blind in John 9? Let us look at the rest of John 9, just as Jesus was about cure the young man of his blindness. I hope you don’t mind me playing the part of storyteller in this.

After Jesus put mud on the eyes of the young blind man, he started to grope his way toward the Pool of Siloam. The young man was a little confused in the encounter. That morning, his mother helped him to his favorite spot in the marketplace for begging. He was on his way back to his parent’s house, when from out of the blue, a man named Jesus said some words then spread some gooey mud on his eyes. Then he was told to wash his eyes in the pool under southern ramparts of the City of David. You can well imagine what thoughts was going through his mind. Is this a trick or is he the butt of someone’s joke? This young man have probably heard stories of Jesus healing the sick. Maybe, this is the same miracle healer. You can well imagine him quickening his steps to the pool. When he gets there, his hands, shaking just a little, dips into the cool water. He cups the water, splashes his eyes and rinses the mud from his eyes. For a fraction of a millisecond, he hesitates to open his eyes. Then he opens them.

Keep in mind that he had never experienced sight in his entire life. He parts his eyes ever so slowly. At first, he frowns a little because his vision is somewhat blurry. But then his vision clears and the clarilty sharpens. He looks around with wide eyes. Passersby on the busy street stop in their tracks upon hearing a thrilled and excited voice shouting out, “I can see! I can SEE!”

You would think that a grand party would be next at hand. But the story of what happened next will have to be told in my next posting.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

NLT – New Living Translation

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 1)

There is one story of Jesus, that when I first read it, I still remember how it had a profound effect on me.

Jesus was in Jerusalem for one of those annual Jewish festivals, the Feast of Booths or the Festival of Shelters. In this festival, the people of Jerusalem would erect a make-shift tent on the roofs of their house to commemorate the time when Israel wandered the wilderness for 40 years and lived in tents. At the end of the week long celebrity, Jesus was strolling along with his disciples probably not too far from the Pool of Siloam which was located at the southern end of the city. Then he and the disciples noticed a young man who somehow they knew was born blind. One of the disciples asked Jesus, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” (John 9:2 NLT)

This actually brought back some uncomfortable encounters with a couple of people who actually approached me and wanted to pray for me. What is uncomfortable about that? Well, like the disciples, they believed that my disability was caused by some sin of my doing. At that time, I was both hurt and angry and I told them “no”. In hindsight, they were not exactly wrong except that their approach was ineffectively lousy. Folks! Please never approach a handicap and outright say that his condition was because of something they did. Anyway, let’s get back to the story.

Jesus saw the blind young man and said instead, “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” Then Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. Jesus told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” So the man went and washed and came back seeing! (John 9:1-7 NLT)

Something clicked inside me. I felt that God was speaking to me and to emphasize this, another Bible passage popped into my head. At first, what raced through my mind was that God was going to heal me the same way Jesus healed the blind young man. I don’t mind admitting that the thought excited me, at least, for a little while. But it was later that I figured out what was the true lesson for me.

Let’s make this clear. The Scriptures in John 9 gave no indication of any universal promise that God will heal me or anyone else. In fact, the healing of the blind man in the story was to support what Jesus said, “…so the power of God could be seen in him.”

The question now is, what was the lesson that the Lord wanted to teach me? I will continue this in my next posting. Meanwhile, here is a clue.

Do you recall the Bible passage that popped into my head. Well, here it is.

…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT)

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

NLT – New Living Translation