BlueBar

Bruises Are For Healing

BlueBar

   If Burdens are for sharing, then surely bruises are for healing. As we progress in this series of messages, it is important to say that only the Lord Jesus can heal a person who is wounded and bruised. What are bruises? They are not mere physical problems, but deep wounds and inner hurts (some of which are of an unknown cause or origin). Many bruises are carried throughout life, even from childhood - by believers, because they do not know that the atonement of the cross of Christ made provision for our emotional wounds and scars. Jesus died not only for the forgiveness of our sins, but the healing of our souls! Isaiah 53:4-5 "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 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." 1 Peter 2:24 "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."  Jesus made provision for every kind of healing; not only of the physical body, but of the soul and spirit. It would not make sense that God would heal our bodies, but not restore us to emotional soundness, by healing our memories, and deep emotional hurts. All who have so suffered wounds to the spirit and soul, especially by those who are supposed to love them, know that this kind of pain is far worse than physical pain.

   In the body of Christ, we must deal with the agony of heart and mind, the sorrows of past rejection and abuse, the despair and sense of hopelessness, and lack of purpose for life. There is no room for those who would exploit the hurting for their own personal or financial gain. May the Lord deliver the body of Christ from those who trample upon the inner lives of those who are hurting like “bulls in a china shop.” If not treated with care, love and understanding the wounded person can be even more deeply hurt; adding pain upon pain. The one who is emotionally hurt is fragile needs to be treated with tender loving care, and needs someone to help put the pieces of their life back together. They must know that we do not judge them, and that the Lord does not reject them because they are hurting, but loves them and wants to heal them. We are here to provide a spiritual atmosphere of security and peace, while leading them to the Cross and the one who understands their every pain and can heal them. 1 Thessalonians 2:7 "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:"

   Another good definition of a bruise is: an inner hurt, injury, or wounded spirit. Such bruises can cause our personalities to become inhibited or blocked, resulting in emotional scars that are often so deep that the wounded person cannot immediately or easily articulate their pain, and so they repress it. “The impairment of our past can bridle our present and detour our future.”  The following scriptures help give insight into those who are bruised: Psalms 34:18 "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." Proverbs 15:13 "A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken." Proverbs 17:22 "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Proverbs 18:14 "The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?"

 Christ alone is our healer. He was bruised for us, that we might be healed and made whole. Isaiah 61:1-3 "The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified." Jesus quoted Isaiah, in Luke 4:18-19 then said in (V.21): “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” They rejected him and ran him out of their city with indent to kill him but he escaped them. Luke 4:29-30 "And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.But he passing through the midst of them went his way," How many today in the church, look to the world, as psychiatrists to heal them, yet don’t look to the one who created them and died for them, who alone is qualified and able to truly heal them.

   The causes of inner bruises are many. Some examples are:

1) Abuses: It can be emotional, psychological, physical, sexual, or verbal wounds covering the entirety of the persons life. Abuses can lead to loss of self-esteem, and a feeling of worthlessness, which leads to withdrawal, and other kinds of wounds, but Jesus is the healer. Psalms 147:3 "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds."

2) Rejections: Especially rejection by ones parents. A baby within the womb and shortly after birth is like a budding flower. If the bud is injured by a hostile force it will not open and bloom. We have seen this with our flowers damaged by insects or rodents. It is the parental affections and bonding that release the opening of the budding personality of the baby. Infant mortality is very high among rejected babies. They know that they are unloved and unwanted and seem not to have a will to survive, but instead a will to die. Parental bonding is imperative to good emotional development of the baby. A child not accepted by his parents has no “acceptance factor” and cannot accept himself.

   When one is rejected by their spouse, who is unfaithful, irresponsible or abusive to them, it is devastating to the one so injured. To have committed your life to one to become life partners  with the vow, “until death do us part” only to have your partner discard you for a selfish whim, does utter violence to the self-esteem of the one betrayed. They usually don’t even care if they live, I didn’t. How wonderful to know that the Lord doesn’t reject us, but receives us with open arms when we come to Him, no matter what our past. Deuteronomy 33:27.

3) Traumas: Traumas can be caused by many things; accidents, shock, or sudden loss (by abandonment or death). Birth is considered to be the greatest trauma of life. The baby is thrown from it’s place of warmth and safety within it’s mother, into a cold, hard, noisy place with bright lights. What a harsh shock, especially if there are no strong, warm loving hands to hold and support it. Psalms 27:10 "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up."

4) Unresolved conflicts and open-ended relationships: Our minds are such that they require what is called finalization. There needs to be an end or closure, a final word or good-bye in our relationships. Without it, we seem to have a hard time trying to enter into new productive relationships and going on with our lives.

   When a loved one dies, there must be a closure to the relationship. The relationship cannot remain “pending” or you will be emotionally unhealthy. A pending relationship will cause one to begin dwelling on fantasies, and open the door to continued sorrow. We need to deal with the loose ends of our lives, and remove this area of vulnerability from the attack of the enemy. It can also be from a divorce, or separation from another by long distance. We have to let go of those people. Their must be a fare-well, a good-bye, to be able to go on with our lives without skeletons in an emotional closet within our soul.

   We have to give them to the Lord. I remember reading the story of a lady who had an argument with her husband before his leaving for work. The parted with anger and unpleasant words. He died in an auto accident and they never spoke to each other again. She was doubly devastated, because she couldn’t “make it right” with her husband who was dead; and the enemy used it to torment her. Only Jesus can forgive and take the hurt of such emotional scars and put the pieces of such broken lives back together.

5) Unforgiveness: It is imperative that we forgive those who have wronged us. Old wounds, never healed, will bring a “root of bitterness” in the soul. Hebrews 12:15 "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;" Deuteronomy 29:18 "Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;"

   Christians should know more about forgiveness than non-believers, because they know God’s forgiveness. The one who knows to forgive and does not, will often repress and deny their unforgiveness; burying the cause deep within to their own hurt. Every person is hurt by others to the point where they have need of forgiving the one who has hurt them. Most every one has at one time said to themselves something like “If so and so would only come and ask me to forgive them, I would gladly do so. How can I forgive them if they do not ask for my forgiveness?” Some go so far as to literally day-dream a touching scene of the guilty one coming to them, humble and broken, begging forgiveness with many tears, and their subsequently forgiving them. After all, who in such a case a case would with hold forgiveness? But what if that person who offended and hurt you never comes and ask you for forgiveness? What if they never knew or realized how they had offended us? What if, as the ladies husband mentioned before, they are dead? Must we carry our bruises with us to the grave, or has not the Lord made provision for us that we can forgive others as well as receive forgiveness from them?

   Our forgiving others of a wrong act, deed, or word against us is not dependent upon their asking us for forgiveness. Why would God cause us to be at the mercy of another, not being able to forgive them and get the load off our backs, until they asked forgiveness? Look at the heart of Jesus, and hear Him upon the cross, uttering the words: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24). Jesus set the example for us by initiating forgiveness against those who put Him on the cross. We must also initiate forgiveness against those who have wronged us. We must before the Lord, by and in faith, speak our decision to forgive the one who has hurt us. Forgiveness must be spoken aloud, for the soul and spirit to hear and get the message. David spoke to his soul in Psalms 103:1-2 "Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:"

   The act of forgiving another brings great release of the soul. Not only will it lead to the healing of bruises, but will bring us out from under the heavy burden of blame, accusation, reprisal, and other such feelings. The one who has offended us is now released and is no longer captive to us. The Lord will not deal with the heart of the one who has offended us, until we stop being their judge, jury and one who pronounces sentence upon them. By forgiving them, we let them “off the hook” so that God can and will deal with them.

   Here is a suggestion concerning forgiveness of those you have something against. Make a list of names and offenses of those you have not forgiven. Determine that you will, by an act of your will, forgive them. You have made a decision and you will not turn back from it, but will see it through. Your emotions are not a correct gauge, so keep them under control and out of the picture.

   As you pray before the Lord, speak the name and offense to the Lord, and by faith, extend forgiveness to them, on the basis of God’s forgiveness to you. Ephesians 4:32 "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Colossians 3:12-13 "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."  There can never be revival in the heart of one who does not forgive, nor in a church full of those who do not forgive. God can only bless the one who walks in forgiveness.

   There will probably be two names that you need to add to your list of those you need to forgive; your own name and God’s. You must forgive yourself. Many because of regret or remorse find it hard to forgive themselves, even though they know that God forgives them. But if God has forgiven you, which He has if you have truly repented, then who are you to remain angry with yourself? We must admit that often our perceptions of God are inaccurate. We question why God allows certain things to happen in our lives. Satan says, “If God loved you, He wouldn’t have let that happen to you.” We know that God has the power to stop or prevent what we would consider bad things from happening to us, yet He does not do so at times. As a result, our perception of Him and His ways may be faulty, but know that the Lord has never erred toward you, nor neglected nor abandoned you. Isaiah 49:15 "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." Isaiah 54:10 "For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee." Deuteronomy 4:31 "(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them." In light of these scriptures, it is to our benefit to honestly confess to the Lord that we have questioned His ways by thinking and speaking wrongly against Him. Job 42:3 "Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not." Isaiah 45:9 "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?"

   After you have gone through your list, including yourself and God, extending forgiveness and asking God’s forgiveness, then you can throw away your list and walk away free and at peace with God and yourself, without guilt or blame; having settled your accounts which were open concerning them. Where their is a person that you have been at odds against, who is alive that you can deal with, then you may need to go to that person and ask forgiveness from them also.

   We must forgive! Matthew 6:12, 14-15 "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."  Matthew 18:32-35 "Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."  Mark 11:25 "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."

   The one who refuses to forgive others will have a distorted concept of his own forgiveness by God! To be handed over to the torturers is to be in an awful state of turmoil, condemnation and doubt, which will haunt the unforgiving. Mercy and unforgiveness cannot co-exist. Hosea 6:6 "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." Jesus quoted the O.T. and applied it to a rebuke of the Pharisees who had no mercy and would rather stone one to death than offer compassion and restoration. Matthew 12:7 "But if ye had known what thismeaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless."

   No amount of good works can compensate for an unforgiving spirit. James 2:13 "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment." Matthew 23:23 "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier mattersof the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."  Micah 6:5 "O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD."

   As we have suggested the use of a list to aid in forgiving others, consider the same method in dealing with finalizations which need to be settled; all open-ended relationships, conflicts, saying good-bye to those who we have been separated from by death or divorce or distance. Follow the same process. Make your list, speak the name of the person in prayer, and settle the issue before God, finalize it. In some cases it would be not only good, but wise to dispose of mementos and any documentation which has tied you to that person in your past.

   Now that we have identified many causes of Bruises, and steps to take in gaining release from them, let us again turn to Scripture for further insight into God’s pattern for healing. Matthew 6:12-15  "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."  Luke 10:30-37. This man who was robbed, stripped naked, beaten, abandoned, and rejected was surely bruised emotionally. Those who were merely religious passed by on the other side of the road, though they were in the area by chance with no particular plans. They just didn’t want to get involved. The Samaritan, despised by Jews, was on a journey, but he felt compassion for the Jewish man, and bandaged his wounds, pouring in the oil and wine, each symbols for the H.S.; the wine for disinfecting and the oil for soothing. He not only provided for this man’s care at cost and inconvenience to himself, but also committed himself to the man’s care until he was fully restored. Who could dare say they could not do the same for others, as the Samaritan did? We may have been accustomed to passing by on the other side, but Jesus is saying to us, “Go and do thou likewise.”

   There are many struggling with bruises that need someone to pour in the oil and wine. They need someone to listen to them, and not only hear their account of bruises, but pray for and with them at intervals through the telling, specifically for each issue in need of healing. The Lord does not erase our memories; but He takes away the hurt and the pain - he removes the sting, and the trauma from the traumatic. The issues so settled need never be issues again. “Faith works in retrospect.” It is never to late to be healed of our bruises.“Present prayer heals prior pain.” Because God is eternal and He lives in eternity, it is no more difficult for Him to deal with yesterday than today or tomorrow. Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."

   “Inner healing” is a very needed and real thing, but the term itself is of somewhat disrepute because of the misuse of it by those who claim to be expert ministers in this area and are not. A good example of this is a book called “Inner Healing through Healing of Memories.” Their method of healing is through visualizing Jesus in the situation that caused the problem, and asking Him to relive the situation with you and rewrite it in your mind. The authors husband gave his example with fear in his life. This is his record of healing. First the story.  “Since 1962 I have been afraid of heights. I can identify the exact day on which this fear entered my life. We were on a trip to New York and ... had taken our two young sons with us ... we visited the Empire State Building ... as we got to the top of the building our six year old son ran out of the elevator and started climbing the fence at the top of the building ... I had not been watching him as closely as I should have and turned around to see him about three feet up the fence and still climbing. Uncontrollable fear and panic gripped me as I realized he might reach the top and be blown over the fence. I rushed to him, pulled him down, and spanked him soundly for scaring me this way ... from that date any time I was in a high place my knees would become shaky, and my head would become light as if I would faint. This acrophobia stayed with me for the next ten years.”

   Then he reveals how that at a prayer retreat he was told to introduce Jesus into the situation in the past to heal the fear or other emotion that entered because of that incident. He continues: “Her instructions were to relax and visualize the situation exactly as it happened, then to turn the situation over to Jesus and watch as He handled it for you. I leaned back in the chair and visualized the incident at the top of the Empire State Building. However, this time as I turned to see my son climbing the fence, I turned to Jesus who was standing beside me and said, “Jesus, will you take care of my son for me?” In my mind I watched as Jesus went quietly over and lifted my son from the fence. There was no spanking, no fear. Then Jesus took his hand and they walked around the top of the Empire State Building looking at the city and the sky. All fear left me and it was very peaceful.” He then tells how he has used this method for other incidents and finds that when he introduced Jesus into the incident, that the previously horrible memories were changed into beautiful memories. He concludes his testimony of what Jesus can do in our past situations with this statement: “Jesus can change the ending if we will allow Him to.”

   Yes, Jesus can change the outcome in our lives, but He does not change the original incident, or our memory of it. He does not relive the past with us, nor does He change the story, nor is this kind of thing in the Bible. There is no example of such methods of healing in the Bible. Beloved, this is simply not the Jesus we know, nor the Gospel we have received. This is not the Biblical pattern for healing, nor is it of God. We are not taught visualizing in the Scriptures, but it is taught extensively in the New Age movement. This author is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, claiming to be a Southern Baptist.

   Jesus demonstrated the pattern of healing to us in the way He ministered to Peter. Most of us would surely say that Peter is one of our favorite Biblical characters. We can relate to him because he is so fallible, so human and impulsive, and proud at different times. Let us trace some of his footsteps with the Lord. One of his early experiences with the Lord is recorded in Luke  five. Luke 5:3-7 "And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink."  Jesus had used Peter’s boat for a platform to preach to the people. Then afterward he told Peter “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets” so that he might catch some fish. Peter obviously had reservations about it. He surely was thinking something like “I’m the fisherman, and your the preacher and don’t you think I know my business?”  He said “Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing.” It’s like, what makes you think we are going to catch anything now. They fished during the night when the fish couldn’t see their nets, as in the day because the water was clear. But now Jesus said it’s time to fish. Peter reluctantly said; “Nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” Or okay, because you are telling me to do so, I will do it. Not because I believe there is any possible chance of catching fish now, but because you have told me to do so. He had no faith in it, but he obeyed anyway. The result was; “they enclosed a great multitude of fishes.” In fact, so much so that the net began to break and as they tried to put them in the boats, both of them began to sink from the weight. The result was significant. Luke 5:8 "When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord."  This is the first time we see Peter at Jesus’ feet. He saw himself as a sinful man, unworthy of a place in Jesus’ life, yet became committed to Him from that day. This miracle seemed to have a profound effect upon Peter. Luke 5:9 "For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:"  Jesus then spoke to Peter in v.10: “fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” From that day Peter walked with Jesus. Deep things were happening within Peter’s heart, but Jesus knew Peter’s heart better than Peter did.

   For the next 3 and 1/2 years, Peter walked with Jesus, seeing the miracles, hearing the teachings of the Master. He had the wonderful experiences when Jesus took them apart and taught them privately. Then there was the time when Jesus was transfigured. Mark 9:2-6 "And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid."

 Peter, as usual, was the one speaking, putting his foot in his mouth, because he didn’t know what he was saying. Again and again you see Peter speaking out for the group.  When Jesus asked the question in Matthew 16:15 “... But whom say ye that I am?” Only Peter had received the revelation and the answer. Matthew 16:15-17 "He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." He is unique among the disciples in many ways. Then a few verses later it tells us that Jesus began to tell his disciples that He must soon die. Matthew 16:21-22  "From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee." Peter again speaks up and tries to tell the Lord He could not die, and is rebuked by the Lord. Matthew 16:23-25  "But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Peter thought he was willing to die for the Lord.

   At the Last Supper Jesus girded himself with a towel to wash the disciples feet. Only Peter protested. John 13:4-10 "He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all." There were many things that Peter did not understand until after the Resurrection, but the Lord brought him into the inner circle of those three that that were closest to Him, and even among them Peter was special. After the Lord’s supper, they went to the Mount of Olives. There Jesus speaks something directly to Peter, after which he replies that he is ready to die for the Lord. Luke 22:31-33 "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death." Peter is saying, “Lord, others may fail you, but not I.” And he insists on his loyalty to the Lord. Jesus then replies to Peter something that Peter didn’t believe. (V.34) "And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me." Jesus just put a hole in Peter’s bragging. Let’s see it again: Matthew 26:30-31 "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad."Jesus has just told them that they would all backslide when he died. (V.32) "But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee." They didn’t listen to what He just told them and didn’t respond to it. He was telling them of something He would do after His resurrection, “I’ll meet you in Galilee.” Peter replies: Matthew 26:33 "Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended."Peter then turns to the flesh and is defensive. We have all told God of how we would not fail Him, or would not do something, and then did it anyway. We are all imperfect, like Peter. But Peter is saying, “Lord, I’m different. I’m better and stronger than the rest”I’m sure that Peter meant it, and he did his best to keep it, but couldn’t. What was Peter’s problem? He was still confident in the power and ability of his flesh. He hadn’t been broken yet. Jesus then replies to Peter (V.34) "Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice." Everyone then agrees with Peter. No one wants to be outdone. And I don’t believe that any of them intentionally lied to the Lord. (V.35) "Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples."

    Then they proceeded to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ favorite place to pray. Gethsemane means “oil press.” It’s time for His life to be put in great pressure and squeezed like an olive, to obtain the precious fruit of the Spirit. Matthew 26:36-38 "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me."  Jesus here asks those closest to Him to pray for Him and for themselves; and they go to sleep; leaving Jesus alone as He takes upon Himself the sins of the human race. (v.39-44) "And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words." At such as time as this, they were all sleeping, after being told by the Lord to pray, not once, but three times. Surely this was a sin of omission against the Lord. They had failed Him.

   Though Peter could not make himself stay awake to pray, he made a last impulsive act of self-assertion, as Judas came to betray the Lord. John 18:10-11 "Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" Jesus’ final miracle was to restore his ear. Luke 22:50-51 (And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.”

 This isn’t the first time the Lord had to rescue Peter. He was now beginning to sink beneath the waves of his proud and unbroken heart.

   Then they took Jesus to the courtyard. And where was Peter, the self-proclaimed loyal disciple, as Jesus was arrested, beaten, abused and suffering alone? He was following afar off. Peter gained entrance into the courtyard, and stood warming himself at the fire of the enemy. John 18:15-18 "And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not.And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself." Could a charcoal fire warm the heart of a man that had turned cold toward his master? Sleeping in the garden was but one of the downward steps that Peter took in his backsliding from the Lord. Here at the trial, he was approached three times and asked if he followed Jesus, and he even denied the Lord with swearing. John 18:25-27 "And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him?Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew." Mark 14:54 "And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire." (V.64-68) "Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest:And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew." Matthew 26:74-75 "Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly."

   When the cock crowed, Peter looked and his eyes met those of the Lord, whom he had just denied. Luke 22:60-62 "And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.And Peter went out, and wept bitterly." Three sins of omission in the garden, now three overt sins of denial. Peter was by now deeply bruised at his own hands, by his own doing. If there was ever a man that needed deep healing, surely Peter did. His heart is now broken, and he returns to his old life, full of despair and hopelessness. Even after Jesus had rose from the dead, Peter is still stunned and not responding to the events that have happened. Luke 24:12 "Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass." John 20:10 "Then the disciples went away again unto their own home." Peter has seen the empty grave, and been told that Jesus is alive. Mark 16:6-7 "And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you." “Tell his disciples and Peter.” Especially Peter. What? That He will meet them in Galilee as He said to them before He died, when they weren’t listening. But what was Peter’s condition of heart and frame of mind even now? John 21:1-3 "After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples." Peter is still leading others of the disciples, but the wrong way.

   Now we see a parallel picture to what happened earlier in the Lord’s ministry to Peter. John 21:4-6 "But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes." Peter surely remembered the time years earlier when Jesus told them to launch into the deep water and let their nets down for a catch. Again, another miracle of too many fish as they cast their nets on the right side of their boat. (V.7) "Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea."  John first recognized it to be the Lord that spoke to them, and Peter is caught naked and ashamed once again. Then he had to come before  the Lord Jesus, face to face. (V.8-15) "And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs." As Peter remembers the first similar incident, and is pondering in his mind what is happening, again beside a charcoal fire the Lord made, Jesus speaks directly to Peter, so tenderly, yet with words that probe the depth of Peter’s heart. (v.17) "He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."  Three times the Lord asks Peter the same question. Now, in honesty, and without the bravery and bragging, Peter is broken and forced to respond, Yes, Lord you know I love you; but with a different kind of Love than what Jesus was using and referring too. Peter could not use the same word for love that Jesus used the first two times he asked the question to Peter; agapao, which means a self-less love, God’s divine love. The third time Jesus asked the question, he used the same word that Peter had already answered him with after the first two questions; phileo, to have a fondness for someone, a friend; to have an affection for someone. This word is never used with a command for men to love God. Peter knew that he was utterly incapable of loving the Lord in the self-less way that Jesus first used in questioning him, and he no longer had to make claims of superiority for himself. He was humbled and broken before the Lord.

   Those three affirmations of love brought great release and healing for Peter. In them Peter seems to have been healed of the three denials in the Garden and in the courtyard. Jesus did not take Peter back through each agonizing step of his failures, but rather reconstructed just enough of the scene so that Peter had to face his prior sins and bring him to a point of decision and re-affirmation of his commitment to serve the Lord, so that he could be healed and restored, and know that he was forgiven. Through a charcoal fire on the shore, the calling out of his voice, the miracle of the fishes, and three questions, Peter was transformed. This is how the Lord healed Peter’s deep emotional bruises, and He did it all without making a public spectacle of Peter or making him ashamed in front of others. Jesus did not in any way belittle Peter or make him feel unloved and unwanted or rejected in any way, but that he would know that the Lord still loved him and would accept him back and again and that He even wanted to use Peter for the Gospel. Is it surprising that Peter was again leading the new church on the Day of Pentecost?

   We must think, what if Jesus had not healed Peter? Would Peter have died of sorrow of heart? Was Jesus not committed to Peter’s healing from the very beginning, even from the first miracle of too many fish and a charcoal fire, which the Lord later repeated? Was that first incident of the fish not a part of God’s plan and design for healing Peter and bringing him to the end of his self-sufficiency and confidence in his flesh. Was it not, in God’s omniscience, part of the plan to heal Peter of the bruises that He knew that Peter would inflict on himself, knowing long before telling Peter that last night before the crucifixion that he would three times deny Him. Did Jesus through this re-creation of the scene bring release from Peter’s pain and healing of his bruises, and the bondage of his own curses? Do you think Peter ever forget this moment with the Lord, and those three questions?

   Later we see Peter in the Acts of the Apostles with another interesting set of events. Acts 10:9-13 "On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat." Here Peter refuses and protests the command to rise and eat of that which he considers unclean. Peter seemed to know whom was speaking to him. (V.14-16) "But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven." Peter could not help but notice that the voice spoke to him three times. Is that strange? Coincident? Or again, staged to get Peter’s attention, like a secret language between the Lord and himself. The commandment was clear, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” But Peter didn’t fully understand the vision. (V.17-20) "Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them." Finally, Peter again being spoken to by the Holy Spirit, obeys and the Gospel is opened up to the Gentiles through Peter, and as a result, we today have the Gospel.

   One of the problems in the church today is that people accept the miracles in the days of the Apostles, but do not expect or believe God will do any miracles for them today. They don’t expect the extraordinary from God. But as Peter did not need months or years to be healed of his emotional bruises, by many sessions of therapy, and remembering and re-examining his failures and hurts of the past, we today can come to Calvary and be healed, in a moment. Those who are incapacitated, unable to function fully in their life because of the bruises inflicted upon them years before because of their own sins, or the sins of others against them, need healing. Jesus alone is the real healer.

   Bruises are for healing! Jesus died to heal the brokenhearted! There is no pain or heartache or emotional scar that He cannot heal. Many times the one the Lord will use to listen to the hurts of others and minister to them are those who have suffered themselves the same kinds of pains and been healed by the Lord. They are better able to relate to the pains that you face, and better able to be sensitive and understanding of what you are going through because of their experiences in life. 2 Corinthians 1:3-6 "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation." It is through sharing your hurt, and having others pray with you and applying the Word of God as the “balm of Gilead” for your wounds that you will find healing.

   In closing, let me offer this last insight regarding the healing of your bruises. Don’t waste your sorrows! After the Lord has healed your bruises, let Him use them for good, and use you to share with others and bring healing to those who suffer like you have. You will be given the opportunity to help and share with others. You have a choice to make. Will you continue to see yourself as the a victim or as victorious? Will you stay bitter, or will you become better? Look at Joseph as an example. Genesis 50:20  "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

   The world tries to heal the scars of those it has wounded through psycho-therapy and psycho-analysis and psychology, but there is a lingering hardness and defensiveness and inability to trust that remains in it’s victims. But he whom the Lord heals will be set free from those bruises of the past, and will become tender, gentle, and sensitive to the hurts of others. He will walk softly, humbly and unassuming before the Lord, and will walk the path where the bruised are to be found. He will then bind up their wounds and pour in the oil and wine, for he has heard the voice of the Master say, “Go and do thou likewise.”

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