“Your supplication has been favorably heard […].”
Who knows how many years into his old age Zechariah had continued to pray to Jehovah for a child.
Despite having strong faith, even he was surprised when his prayers were finally answered (Luke 1:6, 18)
He could have left his wife Elizabeth for a healthier woman, but they opted to remain loyal to each other and to their God.
That loyalty did not go unnoticed by Jehovah, who blessed them with “joy and great gladness.” (Luke 1:14)
“And the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.”
Jehovah’s spiritual temple arrangement to replace the physical temple of animal sacrifices began upon Jesus’ anointing during his baptism three and a half years before his death. (Heb. 5:5; 10:5)
At that time, the heavenly “Holy of Holies” was set up for Jesus to later enter and present himself before Jehovah’s throne as high priest. (Da. 9:24; Heb. 6:20; 8:2; 9:24)
But Jesus could not enter in the flesh. (1 Cor. 15:50)
Therefore, the literal curtain being torn illustrates how the barrier holding Jesus back from entering the heavenly Holy of Holies was removed upon the death of his fleshy body.
The removal of that barrier also opened the way for others who were later anointed to be able to enter heaven. (Acts 2:33; Heb. 4:14-16)
“Let her alone. Why do you try to make trouble for her? She did a fine deed toward me.”
Mary’s strong appreciation for spiritual things has always impressed me.
Myself coming from a culture that, like ancient Jewish culture, assigns value to a woman based on how industrious she is within the home, and personally not being inclined to cook, I have always easily identified with Mary’s personality.
On the occasion in which Jesus taught at their home, Mary was picked on by her sister, Martha, for sitting at Jesus’ feet instead of helping her serve. (Luke 10:38-40)
Now, five days before his death, Mary takes an extremely costly bottle of genuine nard and pours it on Jesus’ hair and feet.
This time she is criticized by Jesus’ own disciples. (Matt. 26:6-9; John 12:2-5)
According to the Jewish Talmud, women were not supposed to be well-versed in spiritual matters, and we are not aware of any precedents of women closely following a prophet. (Sotah 3:4)
Still, Mary set an excellent example of being spiritually conscientious and maintaining a balanced view of material things, all while not letting others’ negativity discourage her.
“When you stand praying, forgive whatever you have against anyone, so that your Father who is in the heavens may also forgive you your trespasses.”
It can be particularly difficult to forgive others when we consider their sins to be much graver than anything we ourselves have ever done.
Jehovah himself has standards for forgiveness.
For instance, Jehovah expects wrongdoers to repent in order to receive his forgiveness. (Luke 17:3,4; Acts 8:22)
But even if we cannot know the heart condition of someone who has wronged us, forgiving them is key to achieving inner peace. (Eph. 4:31,32)
What’s more, Jesus taught that we should not judge others and that we should pray for our enemies. (Matt. 5:44; 7:1,2)
It helps to remember that the person, like us, was born imperfect. (Ro. 3:23)
The Bible encourages Christians to try to conquer evil with good, and to leave matters that are beyond us in God’s hands. (Ro. 12:17-21)
And we do well to keep a humble view of ourselves, knowing that Jehovah “has not dealt with us according to our sins.” (Ps. 103:10-12)
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if ever a woman after divorcing her husband marries another, she commits adultery.”
Jesus added the exception that a divorce can be legitimate before God if the betrayed spouse files “on the grounds of sexual immorality.” (Matt. 5:32; 19:9)
In Jesus’ day, Jewish culture did not allow women to file for divorce.
If a man cheated on his wife, he was not considered an adulterer.
A woman who cheated on her husband was an adulteress, and the man whom she sinned with would be committing adultery against her husband.
But they did not consider it possible for a man to commit adultery against his wife. (Watchtower July 15, 1995, pp. 18-19, parr. 12-13. “Christian Women Deserve Honor and Respect.”)
With his statement on God’s view of marriage, Jesus pressed his followers to rid themselves of the double standard.
By using the example of a woman who “divorces her husband,” he was dignifying women, giving them that freedom of choice.
Many traditional cultures today still urge female victims of adultery to overlook their husband’s infidelity.
Sometimes their friends and family will excuse the male’s behavior by saying that it is typical in all men, arguing they did not really hurt anyone.
When a social circle does that to a victim, they are isolating her and taking away her will power to do what is right in her heart.
They may go so far as to shame her instead of the culprit, blaming her for his moral fallout.
As true Christians, we must learn to react to others’ suffering the way Christ did: with sensibility and respect, putting their needs before our own expectations.
“[…] He sighed deeply in his spirit […].”
Jesus was a man who clearly expressed his emotions.
This is the only passage where the greek verb “anastenazas,” or exasperation, is used in the Scriptures.
It describes how the Pharisees’ lack of faith made him feel.
But Jesus also sighed when speaking sign language to a deaf man he was about to cure. (“estenazen,” Mark 7:34)
He did not simply go through mechanical motions like an overworked doctor.
His sigh conveyed heartfelt empathy, a quality he reflected from our heavenly Father.
People may respond favorably or critically to God’s message, and they can move us, encourage us or drain us.
And like Jesus, we will need to discern who truly is appreciative of the good news and keep looking for them without becoming disheartened.
“The woman, frightened and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.”
The woman referred to in this passage had suffered an embarrassing ailment for twelve years without finding a medical solution.
She did not wonder if Jesus could help her.
She had faith that she would be healed as soon as she could discreetly touch his clothes. (Mark 5:28)
In doing so, she was breaking Mosaic Law. (Lev. 15:25-27)
When Jesus discovered her, she confronted him with the truth.
In her place, I would have likely ran away as fast as I could.
I admire her boldness.
She not only had faith that Jesus would heal her, but also had faith that he would compassionately understand.
When approaching Jesus’ father, Jehovah, in prayer, I will try to imitate this woman’s faith in divine mercy, expressing myself from the heart. (Heb. 4:16)