Cast Out Thieves to Heal the Blind and Lame, Part II

   I. When Prayer Gets Lost in the Shuffle


In Jesus’ day, thieves ruled in God’s house.

Prayer got lost in the shuffle like a mouse.


“It is written, ‘My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves,” Jesus said as he overthrew the merchandisers’ tables (Matthew 21:12-13).


Did they see it coming, I wonder? Or were they too busy selling stuff to notice their blunder? Had “business as usual” blinded their eyes to the needs of the physically blind?  Perhaps the reason they lacked sympathy for the lame in body was due to the holes in their lame souls. They had no true walk with God, and it showed in the way they treated others.


The crowd, confused and scattered, couldn’t find their way.

They sacrificed large sums of money to hear men say,

“It’s not enough. You must do more to please the Lord,”

But it was more than any of them could afford.


The blind and lame, they longed for peace,

Joy in their hearts, a sweet release

But found no place inside their “church,”

Which had left them in the lurch.


The crowd was wandering like sheep with no shepherd, and the blind and lame had to fend for themselves. Why is that?


     II. Religious or Righteous?


Well, do you remember the story in I Samuel chapter 13 where King Saul prepared to wage war against the Philistines? God’s prophet Samuel had arranged to meet with Saul prior to the battle so he could offer the sacrifice, causing God’s favor to shine down on them. He ordered Saul to wait until he arrived before proceeding, but Samuel was running late and Saul grew impatient.


There seemed to be some fear involved, for when Saul saw his army scattering, he took matters into his own hands and offered the burnt offering himself. Like Cain, he went against the grain of what God told him to do and attempted through the fruit of his own efforts to bring a pleasing sacrifice to God.


It’s like the leader whose words imply, “Please us,”

Instead of, “Trust fully in Jesus.”


Saul’s actions were religious but not righteous, for he didn’t seem to understand the meaning behind the sacrifice.

Prayer got lost in the shuffle.


Religious men who lack a true relationship with God see no problem substituting their own procedures for God’s perfect will. As a result, their “flocks” scatter. The “sheep,” abused, become confused and nobody gets healed.


   III. Taking Time to Appreciate God’s Perfect Sacrifice

But those who rest in God’s perfect sacrifice for them will throw away their crutches and “rise with wings like eagles.” They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (see Isaiah 40:31) And those who allow the risen Christ to anoint their eyes with His salve will receive new vision to move forward.


Unfortunately, our busy lives allow little time for this. To tune out distractions can be hard. If you don’t set them aside in order to pray, however, you’re sure to lose the battle.


Before Jesus ascended (to heaven),

Because His word was ended,

He told his followers to wait –

But not on fate,


They weren’t to fear being late, but in obedience wait to be filled with the promised Holy Spirit.


It’s all about determining to believe God’s Word and meditating on God’s goodness shown through His only begotten Son, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.


Sometimes you must escape the noise before you can appreciate His sacrifice on your behalf and understand the power of Isaiah 53:5, which states:


“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”


“My house shall be called a house of prayer,” Jesus said. We are that house when we surrender our lives to Him.



Cast out Thieves to Heal the Blind and Lame

“And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.” Matthew 21:14

How many of us have glossed over this scripture when we read about Jesus casting the merchandisers and money-changers from the temple? Before he healed the blind and lame, he had to cast out the thieves.

“The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy,” Jesus stated in John 10:10. But, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

In Jesus’ day, thieves ruled in God’s house, the temple. That’s because they had allowed the biggest thief of to influence them – the thief that steals, kills and destroys. That thief is the devil.

Sometimes before Jesus could heal people, he had to cast out the devil behind the disease.

The passage in Luke 13:11-16 gives an account of a woman who had a spirit of infirmity. She walked hunched over, which meant she was looking down and couldn’t see straight. In a sense, it was like being blind. It also kept her from walking straight, so in a way she was lame too.

But when Jesus spoke the word and laid his hands on her, she straightened up. No stumbling block kept her from seeing the path that lay before her and walking in it. She had come into the synagogue (the equivalent of church for a Christian) and received not only healing, but deliverance too. Once Jesus cast the thief out, what was blind and lame in her got healed.

It wasn’t just a spiritual healing, it was physical too! But to heal her, Jesus had to cast out the spirit that kept her bound.

Peter told the Cornelius crowd in Acts 10:38 that Jesus went about doing good and healing everyone the devil had oppressed,

He first cast out the thieves, then healed the blind and lame.

What, if anything, immobilizes you and/or blinds you to whatever opportunities are knocking on your door? Do you need some sort of healing, whether spiritual or emotional?

The thief may try to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus gives abundant life to all who will believe.











Lost in the Deep Woods of Religiosity

Amid a thick wood stood a big tent. Inside was a stage with many chairs, upon which sat a number of prim and proper looking people. A man in a stiff black suit and tie marched up to a microphone, followed by a lady in a fluffy pink dress and pointy red heels.

The man stood like a board as he spoke into the microphone. “Hello, I’m Doug.”

“And I’m Daisy,” said the woman with a plastic-looking smile. “Welcome, perfect pew sitters, to our ‘Chills that Thrill Dance Studio.’ We have come here to your church to teach you how to trick the evil forces in your lives with moves that no one understands, not even us. Now, let’s all stand straight as boards as we hum an introductory hymn. MMM… MMM… MMM.” She stood straight and tall, as if leading everybody in the pledge of allegiance. Shivers ran up and down their spines as they copied her. Then she raised her hand and whistled to get everyone’s attention. Ten seconds of silence followed as the congregation closed their eyes for a moment of silent well wishing.

Doug held up a stiff book with a black cover. “Now, folks, it’s time to get to business. This here is the instruction manual, see? Everybody bow your heads and close your eyes in reverence as I open it. Okay, you can open them now. Isn’t it amazing? I just opened the book to the very first page, which says that the proper way to start the dance service is to leap from your seats and yell ‘Hurray! It’s as you say!’ So, come on. Let’s all stand up and do it together.”

Everyone leapt up and shouted the words in perfect harmony, like good little Christian robots.

Before they finished jumping, Daisy told them to sit down. “The second line says ‘Stand and stretch,’ so that’s what you must do. Follow our instructions to the letter.’”

Most people in the audience didn’t understand what such predictable moves had to do with outwitting evil forces, but they did the stretches obediently as they were told.

Doug and Daisy demonstrated how to do each move, even as they barked orders. “Bend down and touch your toes! Bop your neighbor on the nose. Twist to your left, turn to your right. Now, lock elbows with all your might.”

It was like an old-fashioned square dance foisted on school children to make them suffer.

“Now make sure you memorize all these moves perfectly,” said Daisy, with a click of her red heels. “Because there will be a long, exhaustive quiz at the end.”

“It’s all in the footnotes on the bottom of this page,” said Doug, holding up the book for all to see. “The footnotes teach your feet the proper notes to hit. Now, everybody clap ten times and do a handstand.”

Nobody could see the notes, so they did their best to copy Doug. Not many people could do the handstands, but they tried their best, resulting in many a sprained wrist and bad back. As the instructions droned on, the moves became increasingly complex. The dancers were told to do things like:

“Turn to your partner and bray,” “Turn to your partner and neigh,” and “Turn to your partner and sprinkle him with Old Bay.”

Daisy really got into that last one. Her heels squeaked like rusty hinges as she shouted, “Come on, pew sitters! Shake your hands over each other’s heads as if you just can’t get enough Old Bay on them. Show us dance instructors that you respect our rules. You will be forced to do them until you get it right!”

It took the outdoor church goers an hour to do the motions. Then a bunch of hoops were brought out. Everyone had to line up and jump through the hoops like tigers. In the end, they were exhausted. But hey, they’d done their duty. They came to church, they listened carefully, they did all the moves they were told to do, and now they were ready to forget them all and go about their business, inspired for the week but completely unchanged.

“Now that’s what I call a doggone down-to-earth religious workout,” Doug told Daisy. “I can’t wait to do it all again next week. Can you?”