Friday, June 18, 2010

Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts

I finished reading the Message Bible on Wednesday, four months to the day that I began it. I originally started reading it with the beginning of Lent as part of a fast from books to focus on the Bible. I thought that I would read the Bible as much as I read normally and that I would read at least two or three Bibles during the 40 day period. It didn't quite work out that way, but I have no regrets. During Lent my faith grew dramatically as I came to understand the Bible in a way I never have before. The Message is written in modern day language, and it definitely had an impact on my relationship with God. It often made me look at verses I've heard and read countless times in a fresh way.

I noticed something unusual about Jesus' healing a crippled man in Matthew 9. Here's the story: Back in the boat, Jesus and the disciples recrossed the sea to Jesus' hometown. They were hardly out of the boat when some men carried a paraplegic on a stretcher and set him down in front of them. Jesus, impressed by their bold belief, said to the paraplegic, "Cheer up, son. I forgive your sins." Some religion scholars whispered, "Why, that's blasphemy!" Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, "Why this gossipy whispering? Which do you think is simpler: to say, 'I forgive your sins,' or, 'Get up and walk'? Well, just so it's clear that I'm the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . ." At this he turned to the paraplegic and said, "Get up. Take your bed and go home." And the man did it. The crowd was awestruck, amazed and pleased that God had authorized Jesus to work among them this way. 

Do you notice anything strange about how Jesus addressed this man? He first offered him forgiveness of his sins. It was only when the Pharisees questioned him on it that Jesus healed his legs as well. When I first read this, it definitely stuck out to me, but I wanted to finish reading the Gospels to see if Jesus did this with anyone else he healed, and I discovered that this was a one time event.

I believe that there is a message in this healing for all of us, especially those who are in need of physical healing of some sort, that sometimes it's not the physical body that needs healing. Jesus rarely asked people what they needed healing for, he just touched their eyes, spoke a word, or touched them somehow and they were healed, and when he met this man, he immediately forgave the sins. I wonder in that moment how the man reacted. Was he angry that his legs weren't made whole? Was he confused at Jesus' words? Or did he feel like a thousand pound weight had just been lifted from his shoulders as a smile spread across his face? And what would have happened if Jesus had healed his legs first and the man simply walked away. Would the weight of his sin cause him to continue lying on his mat because of pain and depression?

Jesus looked at the crippled man and knew instantly that of the two injuries in his life, the sins far outweighed the legs, and he immediately healed him. Then because he loved the man and wanted to make a point to the Pharisees, he healed the legs as well. The healing of the sins wasn't anything that the crowd could see, and so it could be denied, but a paraplegic standing and walking is irrefutable and raises questions about what else can Jesus do.

I have been praying for healing for my rheumatoid arthritis for nearly six years, and while I have often been given the strength to bear it, I am still suffering from constant pain. However, if given the choice between forgiveness from my sins or healing of my body, I would take the forgiveness without hesitation. Even if my body were completely healed and whole again, my sins would make life a dark and miserable experience. I have learned to trust God that he has a plan for my pain. I know that when he sees me, he knows exactly what I need, far better than I know it myself, because I get too caught up in my wants.

I think we all need to trust that God sees our hearts and knows where healing is most necessary: sin. He offers it freely, all you need to do is ask. If you haven't yet, do it today. Who knows what blessings will follow?

 Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts 3rd Edition is a must have for any serious student of the Bible. This book is a fantastic resource that breaks down the Bible by book with maps, pictures, and history of each. It also offers a breakdown of the message of each book with comparison to other books on occasion. I loved the maps of the journeys of the patriarchs and from Exodus and the harmony of the Gospels. The pictures of places now really help make the stories I've read come to life now that I have a physical location to place them in. All the maps and charts are also downloadable online and can be reproduced as well. This book's data really brings the Bible to life. It's a book, just like the Bible, that I will never truly be finished reading because of all of the information included.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson Books for providing me with a copy of this book for review.