Is there anything new under the sun? Has human nature changed? Have raw, human emotions and lusts transformed over time?
Both environmental and biological influences have always been present regarding health and well-being. And with those influences the need to discriminate between skilled practitioners and charlatans.
Recently, while writing a journal entry regarding Jesus the miracle healer, I was led into a study about bona fide healers versus charlatans. At a time when COVID-19 is a worldwide pandemic, there is a glut of “medical” advice that has gone viral in the social media. Most of the inaccurate articles and videos that I’ve seen—posted by self-appointed, egoistic charlatans—are circulating in private and direct messaging, semi-undercover. These irresponsible types hope to be the first to say, “I told you so,” even at the expense of the truth. Though this blog post is long, PLEASE read to the end!
Conversely, in the Gospels, Jesus, the bona fide healer’s fame rose against his will, forcing him to isolated places where he continued to heal the sick. Awestruck crowds thronged him at lakes and foothills, while he was also sought by regional leaders who believed him to be a charlatan, and worse, an agitator of a coup. Albeit they weren’t without need for concern. When masses are disgruntled revolutions can happen.
Jesus was believed to be a renegade against the established political and religious orders. Although he was careful to urge those whom he healed to follow the Levitical laws for acceptance back into mainstream society, his commands were often unheeded. Instead of adhering to the religious and political laws in place, his joyous and frenzied followers resisted sound counsel and quarantine orders, running amuck, proclaiming the miraculous events they’d experienced. They also named Jesus as the one who performed the miracles, also absolving them from their sins. To this, his enemies’ eyebrows raised, as fear entered their hearts.
Said enemies began their hot pursuits of the one believed to be not only after the political throne, but the one believed to be after the high priesthood. Ergo, while his followers lauded him, these other groups sought to kill him, mocking him as an agent of Satan and an inciter of riots. To still others, he was merely a fraud, a charlatan gone mad with pride and self-aggrandizement.
Mark 3:21b recounts, “People were saying, ‘He’s gone mad!’” This madman claimed to be the son of God. Surely, he’d gone too far. The title “son of God” was attributed to a king or one close to God (additionally, it was a phrase used to describe angels). Therefore, exactly who was this madman who used Satan’s magic to deceive the masses to follow him—this follower of Beelzebul the prince of demons?
After hearing eyewitnesses’ testaments of his miracles, it wasn’t long before Jesus Christ, the Messiah, had become public enemy number one.
Contemporary Christians understand that our Lord of the past, the present, and the future has been, is, and will forever be both the son of God, Israel’s king, and the Son of God, the Savior of the world—King of kings and Lord of lords. His name is Jesus. Every knee will bow before him in the fullness of time. His kingdom come!
The confusion surrounding Jesus’ ministry was that he was, in fact, a healer, but by means unknown to humankind. Moreover, he claimed to be sent from God to save the lost. While enslaved Israel sought a Messiah to topple the Roman empire—to reestablish and rule their land—the existing governmental and religious orders sought to terminate Jesus’ ministry, but with differing agendas. The priests and elders had tired of Jesus’ healing people from physical, spiritual, and mental diseases, but not coming forth as their long awaited Messiah—their answer to freedom. They sought a national leader, not a spiritual leader whom they perceived was vying to usurp their rule.
The governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, was fully backed by the Emperor, Tiberius, to make the decision that swiftly lead to Jesus being flogged. He was later beaten, mocked, tried, and crucified. This was in behalf of the same ones who’d accused him. It was also in behalf of you and me today. How dare this man claim to be a king, this self-proclaimed “son of God!” Little did they know that Jesus was referring to himself as the one and only Son of God, having nothing to do with political rule, competition, or the exclusion of any.
The war between good and evil had come to a climax. Jesus’ previous victory over the devil, in the wilderness, was being countered. This would set him up for death by crucifixion—the ultimate false checkmate of all time! This King’s threat of capture was not proved by the tomb because it was not unto a final death but unto eternal life, for all who believed on him.
All these things had been prophesied by the prophets whom the religious leaders adhered to as their truth. Yet, while these prophecies unfolded right under their noses, none proved a genuine relationship of trust and reassurance in what they proclaimed from their lips.
“The people in Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Jesus as the one the prophets had spoken about. Instead, they condemned him, and in doing this they fulfilled the prophets’ words that are read every Sabbath” (Acts 13:27, NLT).
Indeed, the priests and elders were baffled, demonstrating that their hearts were far from God. Even the governor’s wife warned him that he should have nothing to do with trying Jesus, based on a disturbing dream she’d had. To this, Pontius Pilate washed his hands of the affair, claiming no guilt of Jesus’ blood being on his hands.
Be encouraged that even amid corruption and confusion, God speaks to those who have an ear to hear. Moreover, through those emboldened to be mouthpieces of his will.
Two enemies benefited by working together with the common goal of destroying whom they perceived to be a threat against their power and authority. From the Christians vantage point, this is laughable! Of note, their fear was not of the Son of God, nor of the Father GOD, but their fear was of the masses. Loss of power, wealth, and recognition was their fear.
Fast forward to today. It is springtime, both baptized Catholics and Protestant Christians have commenced the observation of Lent season—only to have it disrupted by this worldwide pandemic. Lent is the time for commemorating Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness, referenced earlier, where the devil tempted him (Luke 4:1-2). It was not long afterward that Jesus’ earthly ministry would end with him being crucified. This merely based on the charge fastened over his head: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS” (Matthew 27:37).
In America, 10 days from today, Christians will celebrate Resurrection Sunday—generally observed as Easter. In just over a week from today, the 40-day Lent season will end with Passover on April 9th, followed by Good Friday on the 10th, and all while our nation is in crisis. This year, the culminating Easter celebrations of Jesus’ victory over death will be different.
At a time when churches would accommodate their largest crowds of the year, church doors will remain closed to no more than 10 people at a time—essential staff. Patrons will be banned from traditional holiday dining out. Those accustomed to it will have to suit up in fancy attire to dine at home under quarantine. Nope, there will be no fashion parades this year.
The annual White House egg roll will probably not be observed, in accordance with quarantine regulations. There will be no Easter Bunnies in our malls for kiddos to sit on their laps to take pictures. There will be no arguing in our public schools about whether Christian children should be allowed to observe the religious tradition. Church sermons will either stream into homes from online, or they will remain in the mouths of priests and pastors.
Where many have crucified Jesus in their hearts and actions, many others will sorely miss the opportunity to publicly observe the four highest days in Christian practice. Yet just 6 months ago church doors were open for Halloween—or “Hallelujah Night”—or some other name that demonstrates complicity regarding the holiday with pagan roots in the Samhain festival.
It seems there’s been a switch. Perhaps even a changing of the guard is upon us. Perhaps a time specific judgment is upon our churches, its leaders, our nation, and its leaders? Is this a time for grace, for correction, for those who’ve not observed God’s laws—due to fear of man? Due to greed? Due to wholly corrupted hearts?
Easter Sunday 2020, people will be free to demonstrate their personal observances of Jesus’ resurrection at home with their families. But on the other hand the fact that it will be a public observance restricted by quarantine measures will not escape the consciences of those who have an ear to hear the Spirit.
Last year, my husband and I enjoyed a delicious dinner at a five-star Italian restaurant, now closed. This year we have yet to discuss what we’ll prepare at home and how we will observe the four days of Passover, Good Friday, the Seven Last Sayings of Jesus Christ, and Resurrection Sunday. But I can tell you this, we will honor our risen Lord by commemorating his passion.
We are in a fight to end this COVID-19 pandemic. We, as a nation, have a common enemy. Whereas 911 resulted in the losses of 2,996 lives, COVID-19, as of 4 days ago, has surpassed 911, with the losses of 6,098 lives in the U.S. As of now, 54,463 global deaths have been reported and over 1,034,098 positive cases have been tallied. Every other associated travesty is being noted as well—including soaring unemployment claims. Neither wealth, nor race, nor age, nor religious or political affiliation exempts one from this plague.
Last week, as I read the recount of Jesus’ rise to infamy in Israel, “Jesus and the Prince of Demons,” I heard the words “the enemy within.” During 911, the terrorist enemy was seen as a common enemy to Americans, causing America to unite. That enemy was on the outside, confined to another nation. During this current pandemic, however, the enemy is within.
Whereas people of the United States should be drawing together in unity, our national leader has been accused by the media of inciting hate crimes against the Chinese, regarding the first cases of coronavirus being reported there.
Radical racist groups have posted vigilante acts against specific racial and religious groups, claiming to be intentionally spreading COVID-19—this similar to terrorists who commit suicide bombings, not regarding their own lives. It seems the majority of the populace is suspicious and afraid, while others see this pandemic as an opportunity to promote diabolical agendas. And I could go on…
Whereas churches were thronged during 911, similar to the crowds that thronged Jesus, the church doors are now closed. Where there were formerly nonbelievers coming to Christ, people are now awaiting a stimulus check to save them. Where much of the church was confident of certain immunities, the awakened church is now weeping desperately for this pandemic to end.
In my state, Florida, a staggering 2,000 new cases were reported overnight, up to 7,000—from 5,000 the day before. Positive cases now total 9,500, with 163 dead. In the southwest region of Florida alone, as of 3 days ago, there were 6,741 positive cases of Corona, and 77 deaths, 4 of whom succumbed in a county hospital just 5 miles from my home.
Parks, beaches, theaters, schools, businesses, restaurants, and all “non-essential” activities are shut down. The restaurants that remain open are permitted to provide take-out only.
Pregnant women are frightened for their babies’ well-beings. People with compromised immune systems are masked and terrified. Americans have been advised to submit to quarantine measures that have been extended another 30 days in the state of Florida. Fines and arrests have been made against those who’ve been caught in closed, non-essential places. Vaccines are touted to be ready by September 2020, with talk of a microchip being injected with the vaccine, right alongside the tallying of the 2020 census.
Yes, we have an enemy within, but are we united? Better, are we ready for the extreme challenges that these present days will reveal? We are living in a time where much seems surreal. For most of my life I’ve been warned of the “last and evil days” that would come. Both genres of religion and science have myriad books and movies referencing the apocalyptic end of the world. Is this that time, many think?
I say, only God knows. Church leaders and elected officials have been silent about 5G towers, while the bill passed quietly 11 days ago. This despite projected symptoms touted to smack of the same type and magnitude of COVID-19 symptoms. Does this exemplify unity or proactivity? Does this bill passed by our government seem to make sense? Do they even seem to care?
Jesus said, ““How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3:24-25, ESV).
So who must we look to? We must all look to Jesus. In this season and all seasons. Amid these troublesome conditions and all conditions. In him, there is no fear, complicity, avarice, or hidden agenda. There is no deviation from the Father’s laws. A stable and consistent leader is he. In him only can we safely trust.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV).
This I know for sure; it is the time to resurrect the risen Lord in our hearts and minds and actions, and not as a dressed up holiday event where ham and deviled eggs are consumed. For many, including Christians of all persuasions, it is a time to repent. It is the time to self-examine, to contemplate how you will honor the King of kings and Lord of lords, while under quarantine and beyond. Why not make this year’s upcoming holiday about Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and not solely about an Easter bunny, jellybeans, colored eggs, chocolate, hunts, and baskets?
Not out of fear of God, but out of reverence for God. We who believe fear no evil as we look to God for direction. His kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
As Joseph said to his enemies, “You tried to harm me, but God made it turn out for the best, so that he could save all these people, as he is now doing” (Genesis 50:20). He who has an ear, let him hear.
The good news amid this pandemic is that parents have reconnected with their children in ways not expected. Families have been in touch with each other, who were estranged before this pandemic.
Under our current presidency, stimulus packages have been approved to assist individuals and corporations to avert financial catastrophes.
Despite the inconveniences, transitions, changes, and challenges, our schools, universities, theaters, civic centers, sports arenas, coliseums, restaurants, churches and other places having been closed has caused a complete cease to random, devastating shootings. Whereas no persons are in those places, there can be no bodies to count.
And finally, although it is difficult to find accurate numbers on those who’ve recovered from the coronavirus, there are random, inspiring stories of those who have, such as this one: https://video.foxnews.com/v/6146513013001#sp=show-clips.
Caveat: When the head of a venomous snake is severed from its body, it continues to have the ability to kill for up to hours afterwards. This warning is to say that when this crisis passes, strongly consider not going back to life as usual.
“Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. No sooner do they hear the Word than Satan snatches away what has been planted in them” (Mark 4:15b-c, MSG).
Remember to make the body of Christ a priority in your life, discovering your purpose for being. Let us continue to seek the face of God for a united nation under God. Let us not be tempted again with the cares of life and lusts of the flesh. Let us do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. Let us lay aside hatred, greed, and self-ambition, to be who we were created to be.
There are many charlatans come to fore, claiming falsehoods about this pandemic. There are actors streaming live videos, sounding sincere as all get out. There are also many false prophets and teachers among us. The mark of the truth? Their primary focus and assertion should be that “Jesus is Lord!” If this is not their discussion, then they are out of touch and out of time. Stay woke. I would not steer you wrong. Thank you for reading to the end. Peace and Blessings!
In His service, MJ
World Crisis was first published on Living Affirmed: https://mjeanettesmith.com/2020/04/03/world-crisis/
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