A
Doctrinal
And
Devotional
Commentary
On the
Gospel of Mark

Part 1

 

Written by Rénald Leroux Jr.
Info Page

 

A Doctrinal and Devotional Commentary of the Gospel of Mark

© Copyright 2018 by Rénald Leroux Jr.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author except as provided by the Canadian copyright laws.

"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."

Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bibliography

 

Adam Clark Commentary (On Line)

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible (On Line)

Arno Gaebelein’s Annotated Bible (On Line)

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible(On Line)

Complete Word Study N-T by Spiros Zodhiates Editor (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible (On Line)

Expository Dictionary of N-T Words by W.E. Vine (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

Expository notes of Dr. Thomas Constable (On Line)

Interlinear Hebrew/Greek English Bible by Jay Green (Associated Pub. and authors, Lafayette, Indiana, U.S.A.)

John Gill’s exposition of the whole Bible (On Line)

Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible (On Line)

Strong’s exhaustive concordance of the Bible (Abingdon Pub., Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible (On Line)

Word Studies in the N-T by Marvin R. Vincent (Eerdmans Pub., Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.)

Word Study Concordance (Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, U.S.A.)

Word study New Testament (Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, U.S.A.)

 
Introduction to the Gospel of Mark

 

1. Author

Strictly speaking this gospel is anonymous. There are no reference within the text that reveals who the author is.

Outside sources state that it was John-Mark (the cousin of Barnabas, Col. 4:10) who was the author. This is a short list of men who thought John-Mark was the author:

  • Polycarp (c. 110-150)

  • Hermas (c. 115-140)

  • Papias (A.D. 140)

  • Ireaneus (c. 130-202)

  • Justin Martyr (c. 150-155)

 

2. Date

Again this is difficult to pin-point exactly but most believe that Mark was written anywhere between A.D. 64-69.

 

3. Place of origin and destination

The text does not give us a direct answer. The Church Fathers believed that the gospel of Mark was written in Rome for Gentile Christians.

 

4. The purpose of Mark

To encourage Christians who were suffering because of their faith by showing that Christ also suffered in many ways.

 

5. Theme of Mark

To manifest that Christ was the ‘Suffering Servant’.

 

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The Gospel of Mark
01 – Preparing the way
1:1-8

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way;
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.’”

4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. 7 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. 8 I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

(NASB)

 

1. The beginning (1:1-3)

 

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way;
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.’”

 

This is the beginning of what we call the Gospel of Mark but actually it is not his gospel. It is the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mark is simply the human author. We all know that it is the Holy Spirit that gave the inspiration to Mark (2 Peter 1:19-21).

 

This book contains the ‘gospel of Jesus Christ’. The name ‘Jesus’ means: savior or deliverer. His name tells us why he has come to earth and what the mission was that his Father had given him – to save sinners from their just judgment (Mat. 18:11).Jesus is also called ‘Christ’ which means: anointed. It is the Greek version of the Hebrew word for Messiah. He is God’s anointed and as such he will perfectly fulfill the three roles that anointed people were given: priest, king and prophet. The Old Testament prophets declared that there would only be one Messiah (Christ) the one who would pay the penalty for the sins of mankind (see Isaiah 53).

 

The term gospel gives the idea of ‘Good News’ that is given to all who have ears to listen. This is what the American Tract Society Dictionary writes: ‘The writings which contain the recital of our Savior's life, miracles, death, resurrection, and doctrine, are called GOSPELS, because they include the best news that could be published to mankind. We have four canonical gospels-- those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These have not only been generally received, but they were received very early as the standards of evangelical history, as the depositories of the doctrines and actions of Jesus.

 

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

 

There is a bold statement given in verse one: Mark writes that Jesus is ‘The Son of God’. By stating that Jesus is ‘the Son of God’ Mark is telling his readers that he:

  • Is divine

  • Has authority over all

  • Is worthy of worship

  • Is the creator and sustainer of all things

 

Jesus was not simply a man filled with wisdom, an articulate preacher, or a spirit-filled rabbi – he was Emmanuel – God with us. For those who had ears to listen (like with Simeon and Anna) this was ‘Good News’ for the long-awaited Messiah had finally arrived. For those who still had a veil over their eyes (2 Cor. 3:13-16) this was ‘Bad News’ for they saw him as just another heretic trying to make a name for himself.

 

In verse two Mark introduces John the Baptist.

 

2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way;

 

Mark is citing Malachi 3:1 which is a prophetic promise of the coming of the Lord himself.

 

Malachi 3:1

"Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," Says the LORD of hosts.

(NKJV)

 

This Jesus that John the Baptist would introduce would be ‘the messenger of the covenant’ – the long awaited Messiah.

 

As for John himself, this is what Mark writes:

 

Isaiah 40:3

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.

(NKJV)

 

This is taken directly from Isaiah 40:3. Since John is the ‘voice crying in the wilderness’, then the one he is crying out about (Jesus-Christ) has to be ‘our God’! From the very beginning Mark makes it very clear that Jesus of Nazareth is God who has come to save his people.

 

2. The baptism (1:4,5)

 

4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 

 

In verse four we are told another reason why John had come. He had come to preach ‘a baptism of repentance’. The message of John was simple – you need to repent (which means to turn away or have a change of mind).His audience absolutely needed to understand that before the Lord they were all sinners (Rom. 3:23) and that all of their acts had absolutely no redemptive value before him (Isaiah 64:6).

 

This includes all people who were ever born and will ever be born. In other words you and I also need to repent of our sins and have a drastic change of mind concerning our self-righteousness. Repentance was needed ‘for the remission of sins’ (v.4).It is undeniable that repentance unto God through the saving work of the Messiah is the ONLY way to secure our salvation (John 14:6).Luke wrote it this way:

 

Luke 24:46,47

(46)Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,

(47)"and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

(NKJV)

 

The preaching of John the Baptist had quite an effect:

 

5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 

 

It seems that people understood the message and their hearts were touched. They confessed their sins (showing repentance) and they were baptized to manifest the seriousness of their decision. Have we understood the gospel message? Has our heart been pricked by a sense of needing to get right with God? Have we confessed to the Lord that we are sinners, unable to be the people he wants us to be? If so, have we passed through the water of baptism and following our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

 

3. The messenger (1:6)

 

6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. 

 

John was not the typical messenger. You could point him out in the middle of a crowd. His clothing was not typical. He was not clothed in a fine robe made with the best materials. He wasn’t even clothed with any type of woven material! He wore camel’s hair – coarse, tough and harsh. He only had a leather belt to keep his leather camel’s skin attached to his body. His food was also not typical for he ate locusts. Usually one would eat locusts if they were in the middle of a severe drought and there was nothing else to eat. On the other hand honey was tasteful and appreciated.

 

4. The message (v.7,8)

 

 7 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. 8 I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

 

The first message of John was a warning to repent and to be baptized for the repentance of sins (v.4) but he also had something else to say and it concerned the Messiah. In verse seven John says ‘who is mightier than I’. He is telling his listeners that the one he precedes was not his equal but rather much superior to himself. Remember that people thought that John the Baptist was a prophet (Mat. 10:41, 21:26) so by saying that the One coming was ‘mightier than I’ placed Jesus of Nazareth on a higher scale than a prophet of God! We see John’s humility before the Lord Jesus Christ. We all should have the same attitude towards him, understanding that he is the mighty one.

 

John also speaks of his unworthiness ‘I am not fit’ (v.7). He sees himself not worthy enough even to stoop down and undo his sandals! Slaves would have this to do unto their masters ‘stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals’ but John is calling himself not to be worthy of even that! I wonder if we keep this same humility in our hearts and mind. Do we understand that we are just a handful of dust?

 

This section ends with verse eight:

 

 8 I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

 

These are prophetic words concerning the Messiah. Yes John would baptize with water (v.4). But the Messiah would bring another, totally different type of baptism - one of the Holy Spirit. John’s baptism is of this world but the baptism of Christ would be from the heavens. This will happen on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit will be given to all believers in the upper room (Acts 2). A human baptism does not affect the inner-man, does not bring a renewal of the soul. But a baptism that is from ‘on high’ changes the very core of the person. His spirit is born again and his mind is renewed and is now capable to understand and have spiritual insight.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. This is the gospel of Jesus who is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God who has come to deliver us from the coming judgment.

  2. John the Baptist was the precursor of Jesus and preached that repentance was needed for the forgiveness of our sins.

  3. John also preached that he was unworthy to be connected with the Messiah and that The Messiah would come with a baptism from above.

 

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The Gospel of Mark
02 – The baptism and temptation of Jesus
1:9-13

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

12 Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 13 And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.

(NASB)

 

1. His baptism (1:9)

 

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 

 

This section begins with ‘In those days’ and gives us the setting for this segment. This is Jesus’ first public appearance, it is the opening of his ministry as: prophet, priest and king. He does not have any disciples yet, he hasn’t preached nor done any miracles. This IS the very beginning – the time had arrived (Gal. 4:4).

 

Please notice that it is the lesser that is baptizing the greater. It manifests the character of John who did not want to baptize Jesus (Mat. 3:13-15) but was submissive to Jesus’ will to do so. It manifests the character of Jesus who allowed himself (the creator) to be baptized by John (his creature). In both cases John and Jesus were submissive towards the will of God – the Father and both manifested a great amount of humility. This trait of character should be found in every true Disciple of Christ. Paul reminds us of this:

 

Rom. 12:16

Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

(NKJV)

 

John did his baptizing ‘in the Jordan’. The Jordan River is the most important river in Israel. It flows from North to South from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. Although there are 65 miles in a straight line between these two bodies of water, the Jordan River, because of its twists and turns is about 200 miles long.

This river also divides Israel into two distinct geographic sections called the ‘east side of the river and the west side of the river’. This river is mentioned about 180 times in the O-T and 15 times in the N-T.The first time is with Abraham and Lot, when Lot looked at the plain of the Jordan which was like a ‘garden of the Lord’ (Gen. 13:10). Still today the Jordan River separates Israel in two. Things are either on the Eastern bank or the Western Bank. The last time the Jordan River is mentioned is in John 10:40 where Jesus escapes the Pharisees and finds safety ‘beyond the Jordan’.

 

John 10:40

And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed.

(NKJV)

 

You might ask why Jesus was baptized – since he was perfect & pure. This is what Dr. Thomas Constable wrote in his commentary on Mark:

 

Jesus underwent John’s baptism to identify with man and man’s sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). He did not do so because He needed to repent. He did not. He also submitted to baptism because by doing so He identified with the particular group of people that John was baptizing, namely, the Israelites. Jesus associated His baptism with His death (Mark 10:38Luke 12:50). Consequently it is probably proper to conclude that He viewed His baptism as a public acceptance of His role as Israel’s Suffering Servant, Messiah. Jesus was about 30 years old then (Luke 3:23).

 

2. The witness of the Holy Spirit (1:10)

 

10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;

 

Here we see that the baptism of Jesus was by immersion (coming up out of the water), not by sprinkling or any other means. People who came to John and repented of their sins walked into the Jordan River and then John would immerse them in these waters. Christians should follow the example given by Christ and do likewise.

 

This is the first thing that Jesus sees coming out of the waters:

 

(10)…He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;

 

 

Not only did Jesus see the dove come down on Him but John also did (John 1:32-34). Now ‘He saw the heavens opening’ literally means: to tear apart. I would guess that the sky must have been filled with clouds and suddenly they all seemed to move apart as though there was a tear in the sky. Have you ever seen this on a rainy day when suddenly clouds move apart and a ray of sun shine beams down to earth? Now why would the Holy Spirit choose the form of a dove to rest upon Jesus? There are different ways of seeing this and I believe this one has its worth. When God made a covenant with Abram (Gen. 15) he told Abram to sacrifice five animals and the turtledove was one of them. The Spirit coming down as a dove could manifest that Jesus would be the ultimate sacrifice. Let’s not forget that the dove (or turtledove or pigeon) was a sin offering (Lev. 12:6). This could re-inforce the picture of Christ who would be offered for the sins of others.

 

Could there be a link between what is written in Gen. 1:2:

 

Genesis 1:2

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

(NKJV)

 

The Spirit is hovering over the face of the waters at creation and now he is hovering over the Lord who is in the water! What we do know is that the Holy Spirit is manifesting that He (Jesus) is the chosen one – the Messiah.

 

3. The witness of God the Father. (1:11)

 

11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

 

Not only was the Holy Spirit present and active at Jesus’ baptism but the Father also manifested Himself. The Father spoke (a voice came out of the heavens), I wonder what it sounded like? Sometimes the voice of God is soft as with Elijah:

 

1 Kings 19:12,13

(12)and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

(13)So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

(NKJV)

 

Sometimes his voice or presence is terrifying as with Moses:

 

Exodus 20:18,19

(18)Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off.

(19)Then they said to Moses, "You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die."

(NKJV)

 

The Father also bore witness concerning Jesus, he said: ‘You are my beloved Son’.Here we see the relationship between both of them – they are Father and Son. When the Father described his Son as being ‘beloved’ we see the reason why he is ‘beloved’. The Father says: ‘In you I am well-pleased’. The word ‘well-pleased’ (EUDOKEO) means: to think well of, to approve. This is actually the seal of approval from the Father to the Son. He is fully approving the Son at the beginning of his ministry. This must have had such an impact on the people who witnessed the hearing of the voice of God! Has the voice of God had an impact in your life? If so does it still have an impact after all these years?

 

4. Jesus’ preparation for his ministry (1:12,13)

 

12 Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 13 And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.

 

Please turn to Matthew 4:1-11 for a fuller explanation of his three temptations. Notice that it is the Holy Spirit who drives Jesus into the wilderness.

 

Matthew 4:1

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

(NKJV)

 

Some believe and teach that it is never God who places you in difficult situations. The Holy Scriptures tell a different story. God uses difficult situations for the testing of your faith and to refine you (1 Peter 1:6-9; James 1:12-15).

 

Jesus’ first temptation was:

 

Matthew 4:3

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."

NKJV)

 

This was a temptation to satisfy his flesh at all costs (he was hungry). I can imagine that Jesus was very hungry because he fasted for 40 days. The devil is patient and strikes at Jesus when he is feeble. He did not face him when he was filled with vigour and vitality. We also need to be very careful when we are physically weak for we can become an easy prey!

 

Now his first response was:

 

Matthew 4:4

But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"

(NKJV)

 

The devil wanted Jesus to ‘over-step’ his Father’s will by making his own food but Jesus said NO! He would rather wait and depend on his Father to provide for his needs – even at the cost of suffering while waiting. Please notice that he uses his Father’s words to defend himself (Deut. 8:3). The devil is not afraid of our own words but shivers at the Lord’s. Let this be a good lesson for us. Does it not also happen to us also to over-step the Father’s will and to do things or to have things when we want instead of waiting for his supply??

 

His second temptation was the following:

 

Matthew 4:5,6

(5)Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,

(6)and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"

(NKJV)

 

This deals with ‘tempting God’.

 

Surely if you are the Son of God you can do what you want (throw yourself down) and He will come to your rescue. And this time the devil even speaks the words of God to Jesus or are they? He says:

 

'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"

 

But Psalm 91:11,12 actually says:

 

Psalms 91:11,12

(11)For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.

(12)In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

(NKJV)

 

The devil voluntarily OMITS one important phrase: ‘To keep you in all your ways’. We see that the devil twists and tries to turn the word of God in his favor. He was actually turning the entire meaning of these two verses. The whole idea of the angels coming to his aid was to keep him in the right path and the devil is using this to keep Jesus from being ‘in all your ways’ which was the Fathers naturally! We need to be very careful for this is still a favorite tactic of our enemy. How many false teachers & preachers use a verse here and there to come to the conclusion that they want? They pervert the word of God to ensnare you. Some of us may even twist God’s word and live a life in sin. We willfully shut our eyes to certain verses and only hold on to the ones we want.This was Paul’s answer to this temptation:

 

Romans 6:1,2

(1)What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?

(2)Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

(NKJV)

 

Jesus’ second response was:

 

Matthew 4:7

Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'"

(NKJV)

 

So Jesus refused to tempt God by an evil conduct and we should respond like him. Notice that the Lord, once more, uses the word of God to protect himself (Deut. 6:16). We can not imagine the importance of memorizing the Scripture for they will protect us and guide us far from all that is sinful.

 

But the devil does not stop there even after two failures he comes back again with just as much cunning. His third temptation deals with: money, glory and power.

 

Matthew 4:8,9

(8)Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.

(9)And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."

(NKJV)

 

See what the devil is able to do, in verse 5 the devil takes Jesus from the desert to Jerusalem, and then to the highest place of that city. In verse 8 he transports him to a high mountain, and then shows him all the kingdoms of the world. He is powerful and no wonder that the Lord God does not want his children to have any sort of dealing with not only the devil but also any fallen angels. The devil offers all the different types of riches found on earth. Are we not also tempted with glory, power and riches?

  • More money

  • More possessions

  • More influence

  • More prestige

  • More, better, bigger, faster

 

We (our flesh) are tempted to have it all and to have it right now! But there was a catch to all this – a price to pay:

 

“(v.9)…All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."

 

The price is becoming a worshipper of Satan, his slave and reaping hell as our reward. This was Jesus’ third and final response:

 

Matthew 4:10

Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"

(NKJV)

 

Only God is worthy of worship and no one else. This time Jesus uses a quote from Deut. 6:13,14. There is something that I want you to notice. It is only AFTER the temptation and the Son’s victory that the Father provides for the needs of His Son.

 

Mark 1:13

And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.

 

Instead of letting the devil fool him into believing that he is able to provide what is best, Jesus knew that this was just an illusion – a lie. He resisted the devil (James 4:7) and the victory was at hand. He resisted what was offered to him and humbly received what the Father wanted him to have.

 

CONCLUSION:

In relationship with our temptations:

  1. The Holy Spirit sometimes ushers us into a situation where we need to take a stand and walk right.

  2. Never think that because you pass through temptations that you are not loved by God. Actually it is written that the father said that Jesus was his ‘beloved Son’ (v.11)

  3. There is always a solution in our temptations and we find it in the written Word, like Jesus did and when the temptation passes - the Father is there to refresh you.

 

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The Gospel of Mark
03 – The calling of the first disciples
1:14-20

 

14 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

16 As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 19 Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.

(NASB)

 

1. The imprisonment of John (1:14)

 

14 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,

 

One must wonder why good people (like John the Baptist) are often distained by the people of the world. Jesus said it this way:

 

John 15:18

"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

(NKJV)

 

There is a spiritual battle going on between what is right and what is wrong, between light and darkness. Those who are of the darkness will automatically battle those who are of the truth. Often these people do not even know that they are of darkness for the Prince of this world has blinded their eyes.

 

2 Corinthians 4:4

whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

(NKJV)

 

Now, ‘after John had been taken into custody’ because he told the truth concerning King Herod’s marital situation:

 

Mark 6:18

For John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."

(NKJV)

 

What was Jesus preaching? Perhaps that people needed to be nicer to each other, to help each other out when there is a need or maybe it was that they should go to the synagogue more often and memorize the Torah or that they need to observe every single law that was found in the Holy Scriptures (there were 613 of them!). If you think that is right then you are wrong!

 

(v.14)…preaching the gospel of God, 

 

What is ‘the gospel of God’ that Jesus is preaching? As we have said earlier the idea behind the word ‘gospel’ is some sort of ‘good news’. This is good news that cheers the heart and fortifies the soul and encourages people to rejoice. As we will see the ‘gospel’ is a person rather than an event of some sort. The ‘gospel’ of the Father is His only begotten Son given as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of the repentant believer.

 

2. The proclamation (1:15)

 

15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

 

In the Scriptures we see different annotations concerning the ‘Kingdom’.

  • The kingdom of God (Mat. 6:33)

  • The kingdom of Christ (Mat. 13:41)

  • The kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph. 5:5)

  • The kingdom of David (Mark 11:10)

  • The kingdom (Mat. 8:12)

  • The kingdom of heaven (Mat. 3:2)

 

All of these point to the Messianic authority and rule of Christ here on earth and the blessings that flow from that rule unto believers.

 

The proclamation of Christ had four aspects. The first had an aspect of time (the time is fulfilled…) this speaks concerning the ‘time-line’ of the Father. The prophets of old had told over and over again of the coming Messiah.

  • His pre-existence (Micah 5:2)

  • He would be from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10)

  • He would be the heir of the throne of David (Isaiah 9:6,7)

  • He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)

  • He would have a messenger sent before him (Malachi 4:5,6)

  • He would be called out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1)

  • The slaughter of children (Jer. 31:15)

  • He would ride on a colt into Jerusalem (Zachariah 11:12)

  • He would be killed for the sake of others (Dan. 9:26)

 

It is said that there are over 350 prophecies concerning the Messiah and now the time-line of the Father had been fulfilled and the Messiah would come to his own. This is what Peter said concerning ‘the time is fulfilled’:

 

Acts 3:18,19

(18)"But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.

(19)"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

(NKJV)

 

The second was an aspect of rule (Kingdom of God…)

 

Every kingdom has a ruler - one who would have authority over all his subjects, uphold law and order and provide for and also protect his kingdom and its inhabitants against assailants. This authority was to be given to Christ by his Father after his resurrection.

 

Matthew 28:18

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

(NKJV)

 

As we can see the ‘kingdom of God is at hand’ and not yet been established here on earth. The enemy has been defeated but he has not yet been brought to justice. He is doing all he can to try to undo ‘the kingdom of God’ but his fate has been determined. He will be sentenced and locked away.

 

Rev. 20:10

The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

(NKJV)

 

Having dealt with his enemies the Lord will introduce a new world where his reign, his kingdom will prevail (Rev. 21 & 22).

 

The third was an aspect of attitude (repent…)

 

In the kingdom of God all must repent before the Lord in order to enter, for all are sinners, enemies and blasphemers (Rom. 3:23). All must bend their knee and proclaim that Christ is the Lord, all need to repent to have a total change of heart concerning who God is and who they are. One can only enter the kingdom if he has a repenting attitude filled with thankfulness for the grace that they were offered to be freely forgiven of their debt through Christ Jesus.

 

Philippians 2:9-11

(9)Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,

(10)that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

(11)and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(NKJV)

 

One day all will have to proclaim who Jesus truly is, God – the Son. Even the enemies of the Lord – the fallen angels and the unrepentant sinners will have to openly confess that Christ is King.

 

The fourth aspect is one of acceptance (believe…)

 

In the kingdom of God only true believers will be invited to share their life with the Lord. These are the ones who deeply believe not out of their intellect but out of their hearts. Only those who resemble the five wise virgins who were ready and waiting for the return of the groom (Mat. 25:1-13) will be invited to share in the wedding. The foolish virgins were not prepared for his arrival while the wise virgins were waiting hopefully for his return. Only the five wise virgins came in with the groom to the wedding banquet. The door was shut and the foolish virgins (unbelievers) were left outside and could not come in.

Notice that the foolish virgins were astounded that they could not get in – they even cried out to the groom:

 

Matthew 25:12,13

(12)"But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'

(13)"Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

(NKJV)

 

They were not ready and the groom did not recognize them as being part of the wedding guests. How many men and women will face Christ and be told that they are not his? How many believe that by following church rules or doctrines the best they can will grant them God’s favor? Countless will be turned away and be led into eternal darkness because they did not repent unto God for the salvation of their soul. Thinking that they are ‘good enough’ and are self-righteous. Unto which group do you belong? What have you done with Jesus?

 

3. The calling of Simon and Andrew (1:16-18)

 

16 As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 

 

A few thoughts about Jesus’ calling. First of all it could happen anywhere. Here (v.16) we find that Jesus called Simon and Andrew while they were by the sea. This is a great encouragement, one can receive his celestial calling wherever he might be. There is no ‘special’ place that you need to be to hear God’s call – amen! The saving grace of God can be received anywhere.

 

Second it could happen any time. What we see is that the two brothers were casting their nets (v.16). They were busy with the family business. They were not at the synagogue, or participating at a religious feast. They were not in any ‘spiritual setting’, searching for God or repenting of anything. It happened when they were working. God met them – they didn’t meet God. It was God who called them and not the opposite. Again this is very encouraging for the ‘timing’ of God has nothing to do with our own ‘timing’.

 

The third is that the calling of God does not discriminate in favor of the noble, wise and rich of this world. We see that Simon and Andrew were fishermen (v.17). They were plain simple hardworking people.

Take time to read concerning all the twelve apostles and you will see that they are from diverse backgrounds. This is what Paul had to say concerning the calling of the Corinthians:

 

1 Corinthians 1:26-29

(26)For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.

(27)But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;

(28)and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,

(29)that no flesh should glory in His presence.

(NKJV)

 

Here we see that some of the Corinthians were wise, mighty and noble but for the greater part they were foolish, shameful and weak. Yes, some are called being as rich and wise as Solomon and others with absolutely nothing, like the criminal who hung alongside Jesus.

 

Fourth, we see the simplicity of the calling of God. The calling of Jesus to follow him is very simple, just two words – ‘follow me’ (v.17)No special prerequisites, social status, education or profession. One doesn’t need to have a degree in theology. Notice that one does not even have to have a perfect spiritual background. The calling is simple – follow me. It is by following Jesus that the person becomes a true disciple.

 

Five, we see that the calling is transforming. Simon and Andrew were fishermen (v.17) but Jesus was about to change all of that. He had other plans for them. They were to leave their occupation which was their trade and become something totally different, no longer gathering fishes in their nets but gathering souls in the Lord’s harvest. Jesus wants to transform all of us from sinners to saints, from living in darkness to living in the light, from awaiting the wrath of God to having his inheritance.

 

Christ never saves someone to leave the person as he is. There is always transformation that is involved (2 Thes. 2:13 & 1 P.1:2). This is what Paul wrote concerning our sanctification (becoming more Christ-like):

 

1Th 4:3,4

(3)For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;

(4)that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,

(NKJV)

 

Finally the calling of God demands an answer.

 

18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 

 

We see in verse eighteen that both brothers leave their nets. After hearing the Lord’s call they had to respond and they did. They abandoned their nets immediately and without knowing anything concerning their future they simply followed Christ. When we hear the word of God and our conscience is pierced we ALWAYS respond one way or another. Either we say: ‘yes Lord’ or ‘no’. Some believe that by not answering to the call one way or another they are ‘safe’. While actually the truth is that we do answer ‘no’ by not saying ‘yes’. Have you answered the call of God upon your life, left everything and followed Christ?

 

4. The calling of James and John (1:19,20)

 

19 Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.

 

There are similarities between both callings:

  • Two sets of brothers

  • Both pairs of brothers were fishermen

  • Both were actively working

  • Both were in their boats

 

There is also a big difference between both callings. In these verses we see that James and John had to make a decision before their father. With Simon and Peter they had no family member with them. We need to remember how ‘close-knit’ Middle Eastern families were and still are today. The family or the family clan was everything to the individual. Their world was totally different than ours for the family brought:

  • A sense of identification

  • Care when one was sick

  • Protection against other clans

  • Emotional, psychological and social betterment

 

In other words the family was everything and everyone worked for the benefit of each member. Here we see that James and John had to openly choose Jesus and leave their father and the family business! To do this was unthinkable and brought shame not only upon themselves but also upon the family. Far too many Disciples of Christ have not yet learned that to be a follower of Christ there is a price to pay – even within our family circle. Remember what Jesus said:

 

Luke 14:26,27

(26)"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

(27)"And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

(NKJV)

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. If you really follow Jesus Christ you will be persecuted one way or another because it will bother people.

  2. Like John the Baptist we also must be ‘proclaimers’ to our generation.

  3. Have you heard the calling of Jesus on your life and answered it?

  4. Are you following Jesus in your daily walk?

 

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The gospel of Mark
04 - Jesus drives out an evil spirit
1:21-28

 

21 They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22 They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,24 saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus in the synagogue (1:21,22)

 

21 They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22 They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

 

CAPERNAUM:

Capernaum was a chief city of Galilee in the time of Christ. It lay on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, about five miles (8 km) from the Jordan and on the frequented route from Damascus to the Mediterranean. Capernaum, more than any other place, seems to have been the residence of Christ, during the three years of his ministry. The brothers Andrew and Peter dwelt there. It is also where Matthew had his booth for people to pay their tax. Christ often taught in the synagogue, and did mighty works there.

 

SABBATH:

The Sabbath was a holy day of rest for the Jewish people. Normally on that day all commercial and civil activities came to a halt.

 

Ex 20:8

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

(NKJV)

 

The Sabbath was given by God to his people when they entered the desert (Ex. 16:26). It was to be a day when people would stop everything (work & activities). This would leave this day open for spiritual activities and rest for their minds and bodies and not only theirs but also those of their servants and animals.

 

Ex 20:11

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

(NKJV)

 

SYNAGOGUE:

The synagogue was the meeting place where the Jews would congregate on the Sabbath day. They would sing, pray, listen to the reading of the Word and the explanation of it. A synagogue could be established only if ten men of a certain age gathered together to learn the Torah. For a person to establish a synagogue (build one) it was a sign of great piety and an almost certain ‘ticket’ to go to heaven. This may be why in larger cities there were so many of them. It is believed that in Jerusalem in the days of Jesus there were between 460 to 480 synagogues. A synagogue was divided in two sections. On the western part there would be a chest (or ark) where the Book of the Law and the Book of the Prophets were placed. This section was called ‘the temple’. The other section was where people gathered and sat facing ‘the temple’. The ‘Elders’ sat between the people and ‘the temple’, this section was reserved for prominent ‘holy men’. It was also in this section that public reading of the Word of God was done. The women sat behind in a gallery of their own separated from the men by a latticework.

 

Notice the importance of the Sabbath and coming to the synagogue in the life of Christ. The gathering of believers should also be important to us. We should not hesitate to be present and participate in our local church. Also notice that Jesus did His part when he came to the synagogue – ‘and began to teach’. Should we not also do our part when we congregate together?

 

22 They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

 

Notice that people were amazed (EKPLESSO) meaning: to be struck with amazement.

 

Also notice that they were struck by his teaching and not by:

  • The glitter

  • How he looked

  • The props he cleverly used

  • The jokes he made

  • The way he made them feel good

  • The promise of prosperity

 

They were struck by his TEACHINGS. Jesus took time to speak and explain spiritual truths. There was something totally different about Jesus, something that no other Scribe or Pharisee had. His words were different, his sentences made more sense – they touched the hearts of his audience. Jesus had ‘authority’(EXOUSIA)and the power that authority gives. He was like an old general who had seen a great number of wars and had never lost any of them. He speaks to his troops with authority and everyone listens and believes in what he is affirming. Jesus was not like the Scribes who seemed like repeating parrots!

 

 

2. The declaration of the evil spirit (1:23,24)

 

23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,24 saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”

 

Notice in verse 23 that in the synagogue there was a man with an unclean spirit. Unclean spirits did and still do inhabit some people. Here are some biblical examples.

  • Mark 5:2 (the man who lived in the cemetery)

  • Mark 7:25 (the young daughter of a woman)

  • Mark 9:25 (the mute and dumb spirit in the man)

 

An unclean spirit is a fallen angel that rebelled along with Satan. Notice that it is not because a person is in a synagogue that he or she is safe. There is not a single place on earth that brings safety against these spirits. Here we see that a man was in a synagogue AND had an evil spirit in him. In fact safety is not found in something but in someone – the Lord. A common question often arises: ‘can a born-again Christian ever be possessed by an evil spirit’ – NO NEVER!

 

1John 5:18

We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.

(NKJV)

 

Here we see that the wicked one ‘does not touch him’. People are tempted or encouraged to sin. But the children of God are not ‘touched’ by Satan. Do you remember the story of Job and how Satan needed the Lord’s permission to ‘touch’ his health (Job 2)?

 

1John 4:4

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

(NKJV)

 

Here we see that the victory is given to the ‘little children’ of God not because of their own strength or wisdom but because the Living God is within them. Another example that the demons can not possess a true believer is in the following verses.

 

John 10:28,29

(28)"And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

(29)"My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.

(NKJV)

 

Here we have a double assurance that the believer is safe and sound. The first is because of the Son: no one can ‘snatch them out of my hand’. The second is because of the Father: ‘No one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand’. Now notice the conversation between the unclean spirit and Jesus.

 

23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,24 saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”

 

There are three amazing statements that reveal the hearts of these fallen angels. The first is: ‘what business do we have with each other’. Here we see that they were afraid, scared and terrified of Jesus. We can understand that he is not their friend. They know very well that there is no ‘business’ between them. The unclean spirit knew that there was no accord between Christ and Belial. This reminds me of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

 

2 Corinthians 6:14,15

(14)Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

(15)And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

(NKJV)

 

The second is:‘Did you come to destroy us?’ The word destroy is (APPOLYMI) in Greek which means: to put out of the way entirely, abolish or put an end, to ruin. The unclean spirit knew that the power of Jesus was very real. They already had felt the wrath of God when they were cast down from heaven (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). They also knew that one day they all would be cast down into the lake of fire along with the unbelievers. This is what Jesus said:

 

Matthew 25:41

"Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

(NKJV)

 

It is evident that they knew of the coming judgment and that there was no escape from it.

 

The third is:‘I know who you are’. From this we see that they have superior knowledge compared to mankind. They instantly know who Jesus is. Countless numbers of people today still do not know who Jesus is. But there is no doubt in the minds of all the fallen angels who Christ truly is. They recognize that Jesus is ‘the Holy One of God

 

3. The rebuke of Jesus (1:25,26)

 

25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 

26 Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him.

 

Notice that Jesus:

  • Did not try to be nice with the unclean spirit.

  • Did not try to ‘deal’ with it.

  • Did not try to reason with it.

 

He ‘rebuked’ (EPITIMAO) meaning: to reprove, to severely censure them. We see that Christ did not take lightly what the unclean spirit was doing to the man in the synagogue. For those who believe that Jesus is a wimp or a carpet that all can step on because ‘he is love’ his encounters with evil spirits prove quite differently. He is Master, he is Lord and he expresses total authority.

 

In plain English Jesus told the evil spirit to ‘shut up and get out of him’ –‘be quiet, and come out of him!’ The unclean spirit had no choice before his creator because his name is above all names (Eph. 1:20,21). By using his authority the evil spirit had to go and leave the man alone - ‘he came out of him’ (v.26).This demonstration of Jesus’ power should encourage us. No one, no circumstance not even the evil spirits can withstand the authority of Christ and we are part of his body.

 

4. The people’s reaction (1:27,28)

 

27 They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.

 

Don’t forget that this event takes place in a synagogue! People are amazed and astonished (v.27) – they can’t believe their own eyes! People are asking questions and debating (v.27). What is this? What new doctrine is this? They had NEVER SEEN someone do something like this before! Jesus ‘commands even the unclean spirits’ to get out and they do! Does the person and power of Christ still amaze you?

 

28 Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.

 

People were so impressed by his power and authority that they spoke about him throughout all of the region. Are we still as amazed as when we were born-again? Do our lips still proclaim who Jesus is not only in our home town but wherever we are?

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. If Jesus thought it was important to congregate together so should we.

  2. If Jesus did his part in the synagogue, we should also do our part in our church.

  3. Unclean spirits are terribly afraid of the Holy One and his judgment. Amen that we can be forgiven of our sins!

  4. Jesus has power over all created beings. Amen that He is my protector!

  5. We should also do as the people in the synagogue – speak about Jesus and tell others what he has done for us.

 

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The gospel of Mark
05 – The healing of many
1:29-34

 

29 And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. 31 And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

32 When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city had gathered at the door. 34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

(NASB)

 

1. A visit to Simon and Andrew’s home (1:29)

 

29 And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 

 

We first of all see that Jesus and his disciples did not stay at the synagogue after the service was finished – why? It may be one of the following reasons.

  • People were amazed and astonished at the miracle and it may have been best for him to leave so not to create a greater ‘happening’.

  • He might not have wanted to center the attention on himself.

  • There was a greater need to help out the man that had evil spirits in him than to congratulate Jesus.

  • He might also have known that someone else needed his healing power and that he needed to leave right away.

 

We also see that they entered the house of Simon and Andrew.

  • We see that both brothers lived in Capernaum

  • It was normal for family members to live in the same house even when they were adults – it is still done today in many different cultures.

  • James & John were also invited

 

Please notice how ‘close knit’ the disciples were. There was truly a new brotherhood created and all who became disciples were included. There was a sense of real closeness, a closeness of the heart and all of this was centered on the person of Jesus.

 

2. Simon’s mother-in-law (1:30,31)

 

30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. 31 And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

 

Some of the interesting facts who we read concerning Simonis that he had a wife and also a mother-in-law that were living at the time. There is a strong Roman Catholic tradition that teaches that Simon-Peter had never been married. Today, on the other hand, some Catholic theologians are accepting this fact. It is difficult to refuse the evidence since even Paul wrote that Peter had a wife!

 

1 Corinthians 9:5

Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

(NKJV)

 

For some reason Peter’s wife and his mother-in-law are not named. What we do know (from v.30) is that this poor woman was very sick.

  • She had a fever

  • This fever made her sick

  • She was so sick that she was bed-ridden

 

(30)…and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. 

 

When Jesus and his disciples arrive at the house we see the caring heart of the believers concerning her. I wonder who the ‘they’ are. Are ‘they’ the disciples who came back from the synagogue and seeing this poor woman instantly spoke to Jesus about her? Or are ‘they’ the people who were at the house taking care of her and seeing Jesus arrive spoke about her condition to him? Either way as soon as ‘they’ knew of her illness they spoke to Jesus about it. This is a wonderful picture of how we also should be concerned with our brethren. Look at what these people did:

  • Their concern for her was real

  • Their hearts interceded in her favor with Jesus

 

In verse 31 we see Jesus’s reaction.

 

31 And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

 

Please notice that Jesus performs miracles in different places and here it was in a private home. He’s not like a magician who prepares his ‘tricks’ beforehand! Jesus doesn’t need a special setting, special prayers, special ‘laying of the hands’ or anything else for that matter. He does miracles on any day, anywhere and at any time.

 

He performed miracles:

  • In a cemetery with the possessed man (Mat. 8:28)

  • On a lake when he calmed the waters (Mark 4:39)

  • In a marriage with the water turned into wine (John 2:9)

  • In a synagogue as we have seen last week (Mark 1:23)

  • In a bedroom with the 12 year old girl (Mark 5:42)

  • Out in the open with the resurrection of Lazarus(John 11:1)

  • In a house with Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:31)

 

There are no tricks or gimmicks with Christ, he is God incarnate and has power over all things. He is the giver of life and also its sustainer. He is the Lord who created all things. Notice how Jesus approached Simon’s mother-in-law. Some people teach that a person always has to participatewith Christ to ‘get his miracle’. This example proves that they are wrong. Jesus did not speak to the woman, he didn’t ask her name, what her illness was, if she wanted to get better or anything else. Others say that you need ‘real faith to get your miracle’. They teach that it’s your lack of faith that stops you from being healed. Jesus did not ask if her faith was strong or if she had any faith at all. He did not even mention her spiritual life. Others teach that you need ‘to give’ or to ‘plant a seed’ to get your miracle. Jesus did not ask anything of her either before or afterwards. He was not interested in what she could ‘give’ to ‘get’ a miracle. So, don’t allow yourself to be led astray!

 

The healing of this woman was out of pure grace and pure grace alone. There were absolutely no strings attached. He did not ask her to ‘follow me’, or to provide any type of service, or wash his feet or tunic. He did not admonish her because of her illness either. There was no ‘you better watch out next time’ or ‘you should have known better’.

Actually ALL that Jesus does unto others is ALWAYS out of GRACE! There is no ‘make a check in my name – please’ or ‘you need to ‘smarten up’ or ‘This is the last time I do something for you’. Grace, mercy, compassion are what overflows from our Savior’s heart.

 

31 And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand

 

She needed to be touched by Jesus to be set free from her disease. We also need to be touched to be freed from the disease of sin. I can see a parallel between Simon’s mother-in-law being touched by Christ and healed and our own spiritual healing. We both need Christ to intervene for us in our favor. If Jesus intervened in a house for her – he intervened on the cross for us! Jesus took my place, he was my substitute and he paid the cost of my iniquities.

 

Gal. 3:13

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"),

(NKJV)

 

Once Jesus touched her he then ‘raised her up’. Isn’t that also a beautiful image of what Christ does with us? Once we are cured of our sin-disease Jesus does not leave us in the bog of sin but lifts us up and bring us out of darkness unto the light. This is what the apostle Paul wrote about this unbelievable truth.

 

Colossians 1:12-14

(12)giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

(13)He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

(14)in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

(NKJV)

 

Jesus has raised us up from:

  • The bog of sin we were trapped in

  • The grip of death that held us

  • The devil’s chains that bound us

  • The world’s desires that blinded us

 

He raised us and:

  • Died in our stead

  • Washed us from sin’s stains

  • Gave us eternal life

  • Made us his beloved bride

  • Prepared a mansion for us to live in

  • One day he will introduce us to his Father.

 

(31)…and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

 

Here we see that the authority and power of Christ is not only over evil spirits like we have already seen but also over sickness! The fever simply ‘left her’. NOTHING can resist the master’s will – nothing! But is it the Master’s desire that all be in good health – like some teach today? The obvious answer is NO – all we need to do is to look at the life of Christ!

  • Did he cure every single person who was sick?

  • Did he heal every leper, blind or deaf person in Israel?

  • Did he resurrect all that died in his day?

 

The obvious answer is – no! Sometimes it is written that all who were brought to him were healed (as we will see).Other times he chose one out of the crowd (like the man at the pool of the sheep’s gate in Jerusalem). Sometimes God does not want to heal and it is FOR HIS CHILD’S BENEFIT. This may be difficult for us to understand but it is true – we see this with Paul!

 

2 Corinthians 12:7-9

(7)And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.

(8)Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.

(9)And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

(NKJV)

 

God is not a healing machine – he has a plan and sometimes it concurs with being sick. The question is not ‘Will God heal me’ but rather ‘Will I accept God’s will for my life”?Now look at what this dear woman does after being healed:

 

(31)… ‘and she waited on them’

 

She serves the Lord and not only the Lord but all who were with Him. May I ask you why has the Lord healed you from your sins? Is it not also for you to serve Him and also to serve the brethren like this woman did! If you have been born-again, you are called to do the same – to serve. Don’t be like the 10 lepers who were healed and only one was grateful enough to come back to Jesus and to thank him!

 

Luke 17:15-19

(15)And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,

(16)and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.

(17)So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?

(18)"Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?"

(19) And He said to him, "Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well."

(NKJV)

 

Peter’s mother-in-law served Christ and the others and so should we – is that what you are presently doing?

 

3. The town gathers around Simon’s house (1:32-34)

 

32 When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city had gathered at the door. 34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

 

We can see that Jesus is having quite a busy day. In the morning he’s at the synagogue where he teaches as no other has ever taught. Everyone is amazed and he casts out an evil spirit from a man which brings even more amazement. In the afternoon he heals Peter’s mother-in-law from her high fever. And now it is evening and his work is not finished yet. This can also happen to us. We have a busy day and are glad to be home and rest. Then something happens or someone needs our help. What do we do? The best answer is we do what Christ would do.

 

In our last study (Mark 1:21-28) we saw that the people spoke about him as soon as they left the synagogue.

 

His fame spread so fast that – that very evening:

 

32 When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city had gathered at the door. 

 

We can not imagine the attraction that Jesus possessed, it seems that all were drawn to him. They sought him for different reasons. Some brought to him those who were ill (v.32). They knew that he could heal any type of sickness. Others brought those who were demon-possessed (v.32). They knew that he had authority over them. We also see that all the people of the city gathered at Peter’s door (v.33). In a way it must have been frightening for his disciples to live such events. This reminds me that when we follow Jesus it can lead us into so many different types of events from people wanting to crown Jesus as he descended into Jerusalem (Luke 18:28-44) to being stoned to death like Stephen was. (Acts 7:54-60).

 

34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

 

After such a long day, Jesus was still available for those who came to him. I wonder where he kept the energy needed to pass through a day like we have seen. We also should be available to help and care for others and we also need all the energy needed to do so. The only way to be able to do this is to remain humble before the Lord, place others before ourselves and ask the Lord for His strength.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Just as Jesus entered Simon & Andrew’s home he can enter your heart and make his home there.

  2. If your soul has been healed by Jesus, the time has come to serve the Lord, like Peter’s mother-in-law did and stop being ungrateful.

  3. When there is something you can do to help another, even though night-time has come – don’t refrain from helping like Jesus did with the crowd that night.

  4. Jesus has authority over demons.

 

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The gospel of Mark
06 – Prayer, pursuit & preaching
1:35-39

 

35 In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. 36 Simon and his companions searched for Him; 37 they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” 38 He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” 39 And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus leaves to pray. (1:35)

 

35 In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.

 

Prayer is so vast &profound that we can only skim the subject this morning! Simply said: Jesus prayed and so should we. Our lack of praying manifests our independent spirit from the Almighty.

 

Here are some thoughts concerning praying:

  • We can be bold in praying like Abraham was when he inquired about God destroying Sodom (Gen. 18:23-32)

  • We should pray daily and as often as we are reminded to do so (1 Thes. 5:17)

  • We should remember that God hates the prayers of the hypocrites (Mat. 6:5)

  • We should not make any hasty prayers (Eccle. 5:2)

  • We are called to pray publicly (Luke 18:10) and privately (Mat. 6:6).

  • We should have a respectful posture when we pray (Gen. 24:26)

  • We should be submissive to the will of the Father when we pray (Mat. 26:39)

  • We should use prayer to confess our sins (Judges 10:10)

  • We are commanded to pray (Phil. 4:6)

  • We should persist in prayer (Ps. 28:1)

  • Prayers of the wicked are not heard (Pr. 1:24-28)

  • Prayers are based on God’s mercy (Ps. 69:13), God’s providence (Ps. 4:1) and God’s promises (Ex. 32:13).

 

(v.35)…In the early morning, while it was still dark

 

In our text we see when Jesus prayed which was very early in the morning - having risen a long while before daylight. Does this mean that Jesus ALWAYS prayed early in the morning – of course not! Jesus prayed any time:

  • Very early in the morning (Mark 1:35)

  • During the day (Luke 9:29)

  • Late in the evening (Mat. 26:39)

 

There is no actual set time or reason given in the Bible for us to pray. In exile Daniel prayed three times a day facing Jerusalem. Moses often prayed when there was an emergency. David also prayed when there were moments of national or personal crisis. Elijah prayed when he was discouraged. Hannah prayed to have a child. Under the threat of war King Hezekiah prayed for protection.

 

What we see in our text is that Jesus personally set time apart to speak to his Father. This was His time and this is not a doctrine that tells us that we have to do the same. We can if we want to but it is not required of us to do so. Ideally, praying just after we get up seems to be a better time and this is why:

  • We place God right away in our thoughts

  • We place our day before Him

  • We ask for His guidance, wisdom & protection

  • We manifest that He is our source of life and that we count on Him.

  • We declare our dependence to Him

 

On the other hand, as we have seen, we have examples of people praying: anywhere, anytime and for any reason in the Bible. The big question is this: ‘how is your prayer life?’

 

(35)…Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. 

 

As for myself, I know that my best ‘praying time’ is often when I am also away from others and speak to God alone.

  • I love to pray when I’m in my car, it’s like I’m in my own ‘bubble’

  • I pray when I’m on my motorcycle as I look at the beauty of God’s Creation

  • I also pray when I walk by the river on our land (we live in the country) and thank the Lord for what He has allowed us to have.

  • I really love to pray on the beach by the ocean when we are on vacation, with the sound of the waves crashing on the shore and the birds that cry out looking for their breakfast. I call this my ‘prayer walk’!

  • In church, when I am alone, I often pray walking around the central aisle.

 

We all need to find that special place (or places), alone, with no distractions where we can open our hearts in prayer. Where is your solitary place? If you don’t have one you need to find one! One last remark: Jesus was determined to take time in prayer: He rose long before daylight (v.35).Normally prayer doesn’t come easy unless we are in a crisis. Jesus got up before all the others to pray – he was determined. Prayer is truly a spiritual battlefield. Like Jesus, we also need to be very determined to approach our loving celestial Father. Jesus rose early before all the hustle and bustle that day brings. Whether early in the morning, many times during the day or late at night, one way or another, Disciples of Christ are called to pray and intercede for others.

 

2. The search for Jesus (1:36,37)

 

36 Simon and his companions searched for Him; 37 they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”

 

It seems that the disciples were bothered by the fact that when they woke up, Jesus was not there with them! So they decided to pack-up and find him. I wonder how many of us are really disturbed by the absence of Christ in our lives. How many can spend hours or even days without truly thinking about Jesus? We go about our business, we do our daily chores, we go to work or school, we have our circle of friends, we have hobbies or personal interests, and time passes by. Sometimes Jesus is not really part of our life and it doesn’t seem to bother us. Do you remember this story about Jesus and his disciples?

 

John 6:66-69

(66)From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

(67)Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"

(68)But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

(69)"Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

(NKJV)

 

Peter did not want to leave Christ, he desired Christ in his life for he was the Son of the Living God. He was determined, even if all others went away, to remain as close as possible to Jesus. It did not matter whether it was family or friends, work or the pressures of life – Peter would not forget the worth of Christ in his life. So how is your search for Jesus? Are you actively seeking to find traces of Jesus here and there?

Are you seeking to please and honor Him? Are you walking behind Him or are you asking Jesus to follow you in your steps! Is Jesus like the treasure that a man finds in the field and sells all he has to buy the plot of land.

 

Matthew 13:44

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

(NKJV)

 

Or is Jesus like the great pearl that a merchant finds and also sells everything that he has to acquire it.

 

Matthew 13:45,46

(45)"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,

(46)"who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

(NKJV)

 

In both of these parables people gave all to obtain what their hearts truly desire. I guess that’s the key to it all – Jesus being the treasure of our life. Remember what Jesus said:

 

Mat. 6:21

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

(NKJV)

 

When we truly love, cherish and desire someone we instinctively want to be with him and that’s what happened with the disciples.

 

37 they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”

 

The disciples searched until they found Him. His absence preoccupied their minds for they wanted to be with Him. Again is this the foremost of your preoccupations – to find Jesus and to be with him? Is there anything refraining you from achieving this goal? We are taught, in the word of God, how to search so that we can find:

 

Jeremiah 29:13

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

(NKJV)

 

God will be found IF we search with all our hearts. But before we search and find the Lord I believe that we first need to search elsewhere – and that’s in our hearts!

 

Lamentations 3:40,41

(40)Let us search out and examine our ways, And turn back to the LORD;

(41)Let us lift our hearts and hands To God in heaven.

(NKJV)

 

We need to search and explore our own heart and see what lies in it then turn to the Lord and he will be found. Finding the Lord is different with each individual, there is no one path to walk on. Do you remember the prophet Elijah and how after he had his great victory against the false prophets on Mount Carmel he ‘ran for his life’ because Queen Jezebel wanted to kill him. He set off on a long expedition that began when he wanted to die – he had had enough (1 Kings 19). An angel from the Lord encouraged him and fed him and Elijah set off on a journey that would last forty days. He landed up on Mount Horeb ‘the mountain of God’. It was there that he met the Almighty. First there was a great strong wind that tore into the mountains. Then an earthquake suddenly shook the ground. Finally fire came to be, but in all these cases God was not to be found. All of a sudden a ‘still small voice’ was heard and it was the Lord’s. It was quite the life experience Elijah lived and the road to finding God was long and frightening. On the other hand if we take Saul (Paul) finding God was totally different. He actually was not looking for God (Acts 9). It was God who found out Saul and transformed his life. Saul was a Jewish terrorist (Acts 9:1,2) who lived and breathed to kill all followers of Jesus the Nazarene. The Lord unilaterally presented himself, spoke to him and blinded him until someone (Ananias) would come to his aid. Paul ‘saw the light’, repented and became the greatest missionary ever. In our search for God we all need to search our hearts and understand our need for redemption.

 

3. The task of Jesus (1:38,39)

 

 38 He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” 39 And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.

 

Notice that Jesus did not comment on Peter’s exclamation that everyone was looking for him. He did not have to explain nor want to explain why he did things. There will be times that the Lord does things in OUR life that he will not explain to us either.

If often happens that disciples are ‘stuck’ on why this or that happened to them. To be honest, it’s none of our business. He is the LORD and we are but servants. Remember when Peter was not satisfied when Jesus told him what type of death he would suffer he turned around and asked ‘what about John’.

 

John 21:20-22

(20)Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?"

(21)Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, "But Lord, what about this man?"

(22)Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."

(NKJV)

 

Jesus politely told Peter ‘It’s none of your business’. If we could understand this lesson, life would be so much easier. The one who follows is not the one who leads! As Disciples of Christ there are many mysteries that will not be revealed to us. These are mysteries which belong to God. There are other mysteries that we find in the New Testament.

  • Jesus speaks of the mystery of the kingdom of God (Mat. 4:11)

  • Paul speaks of the mystery of Israel becoming blind to spiritual truth (Rom. 11:25)

  • The mystery of the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 2:7)

  • The mystery of the raising of the dead (1 Cor. 15:50)

  • The mystery of the will of God (Eph. 1:9)

  • The mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:4)

  • The mystery of the church (Eph. 5:32)

 

The Bible gives examples of other mysteries – God does not reveal what he does not want to reveal! It is as simple as that. In our present case it was none of the disciples ‘business’ why Jesus had gone out without them. He is the Shepherd and we are the sheep – not the opposite. This was Jesus’ response to Peter’s statement:

 

38 He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”

 

In other words: ‘let’s go – I’ve got work to do, I’ve got to preach’ Something very important is being said here, that we all need to understand and accept - ‘for that is what I came for’(v.38)The purpose of the ministry of Christ was not:

  • To establish churches

  • To feed the poor & hungry

  • To clothe the deprived

  • To find jobs for the unemployed

  • To have strong and healthy marriages for all his disciples

  • To give good health to everyone

  • To change stones into gold so all could be rich

  • To make people feel happy

 

The purpose of the ministry of Christ was to ‘preach the Gospel’ from town to town. The spreading of the ‘Good News’ was the most important thing that had to be done before he sacrificed himself on the cross. Take away the preaching of the kingdom of God and all the rest of his activities and miracles have little but humanitarian value. If Jesus would have gone to the cross and died for our iniquities without us hearing the ‘Good News’ – no one would have been saved! The will of the Father was the spreading of the news that time had come, the Messiah had arrived and all should turn to him for the forgiveness of their sins. Jesus said the following:

 

John 4:34

Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

(NKJV)

 

John 6:38

"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

(NKJV)

 

And we see that this is exactly what he does:

 

39 And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.

 

Jesus preached everywhere and manifested who he was – that was his purpose in life. Do you know the purpose of your life? And if you do, are you living it?

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. We all need a time of solitary prayer, we need to MAKE time for solitary prayer.

  2. Do we notice the absence of Christ? Are we truly searching for Christ in our life like the disciples did?

  3. Should we not also be preoccupied with fulfilling the mandate that the Lord has given to all His children which is to be His ambassadors by proclaiming the Good News?

 

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The gospel of Mark
07 – A man with leprosy
1:40-45

 

40 And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 43 And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, 44 and He said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 45 But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.

(NASB)

 

1. The plea of the man (1:40)

 

40 And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 

 

LEPER – The Hebrew word for this sickness means to be ‘smitten’ because people believed this sickness was directly given by God as a punishment and sometimes it was like with Myriam (Num. 12). If you had leprosy you could not live within a walled city but only in the open country. When people walked near them they had to cry out ‘unclean – unclean’ to warn them of their condition and to keep away. A leper could not speak to anyone and a healthy person could not return any verbal salutation. Often their clothing and even their homes were destroyed by fire. The lepers were social outcasts, unable to work, unloved and treated harshly! They were also not allowed to participate in any religious activity. This meant that they were not only cut off from family and society but also from the Lord God. No wonder leprosy is a biblical imagery of being tainted with sin!

 

For this leper to come near Jesus he really needed a lot of courage. He was not allowed to come near people, to walk in a crowd, to speak or socialize. Normally this man should have never come close to Jesus. His life could have been ‘on the line’ for people could have taken stones and thrown them at him. How brave and determined this man was. I can also see that this leper saw in Christ something that compelled him to come close. Jesus’ personality drew the leper to himself. What did he see in Christ that he didn’t see in other rabbis or teachers of the Law?’ Was he drawn to him because of the kindness, compassion, empathy and love that he saw he had on the other sick people?

No one knows but for whatever profound reason this man wanted to talk with Jesus. In the same way we can also need a lot of courage to come to Christ when we understand how infected we are by sin. How could such a person as I ever be accepted by Christ? If this is your case please remember these words from the apostle Paul.

 

1Tim. 1:15

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

(NKJV)

 

The man who wrote these words was a cold blooded killer, murdering as many of the followers of Christ as he could. He had absolutely no remorse in what he did (remember the stoning of Stephen Acts. 7:54-60) and this was his own testimony:

 

Acts 22:3-5

(3)"I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.

(4)"I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women,

(5)"as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.

(NKJV)

 

If Paul found salvation in Christ, being the man that he was, if Jesus received him and brought forgiveness to this merciless killer – will he not do the same to ALL who come to him? Now this leper did three things:

 

First ‘he came to Jesus’. As we have said he was attracted to Jesus and was ready to take the chance that he would be well received. In a way it was ‘all or nothing’. He could no longer remain as a leper and Christ was his only answer. Must we not also deeply understand that we have this death-sickness in us called sin and also comprehend that only Jesus can cleanse us from this spiritual death living in us?

 

Second ‘beseeching Him’. Here we see the inner attitude of the leper– he was a broken man. The word ‘beseeching’ in Greek (PARAKALEO) means: invite, invoke, implore. He literally cried out to Jesus, he called upon his name, he implored Jesus to stop and rest his eyes upon him.

 

Third ‘Falling on His knees’. Here we see his outward attitude. He humbled himself before Christ. He was manifesting how great Christ was and how worthless he was. Christ was the Master and he was just nobody before Him. He was not shy to do this before the crowd of people. There was absolutely no pride in this man. I wonder if we don’t receive from Christ because of our pride or our thoughts of self-righteousness! We see that the leper had one desire:

 

"If You are willing, You can make me clean." (v.40)

 

He wanted so badly to be ‘clean’, normal & healthy – wouldn’t you? Being brought back to health would change absolutely everything in his life; from returning home to being accepted in society, from celebrating the holidays to bringing an offering to the Lord for the forgiveness of sins. The leper did not know if Jesus was willing to help him(If you are willing) but he knew that Jesus had the power to come to his aid (You can make me clean). I believe this may be one of the greatest difficulties in our Christian life. We all know that Christ can do all things for he is the creator (John 1:1-3). What we do not know is if Jesus wants to do this specific thing in our life. This we can never be certain of. Jesus gave us the perfect model of someone who asks but does not know the outcome of his prayer.

 

Luke 22:42

saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."

(NKJV)

 

2. The miracle (1:41,42)

 

41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 

 

What can move a man to come to the aid of another? A rich man may give for charity receipts that he will use when income tax time comes. A proud man helps in order to show everybody how sensitive he is to the cause of the sick. A humanitarian acts because it is his duty to help his fellow man. A normal person helps because his conscience bothers him when he does not help out. There are many reasons why people help others out. We don’t really know what they are but God does and He searches the hearts of everyone. King David once asked the Lord God to search his heart. He was certain that his ways were true. Could we invite God to do the same? Would he also find our hearts and intentions to be pure?

 

Psalms 139:23,24

(23)Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;

(24)And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

(NKJV)

 

What moved Jesus? It was his compassion (SPLAGECHNIZOMAI) meaning: to have the bowels yearn, feel sympathy, to pity. When the eyes of Jesus fell upon this man he was moved with compassion for him. No force on earth can move or oblige Jesus to act in such a way. Only his character (holy character) ushered him to do so. This was not about ‘looking good’ or a ‘publicity stunt’ to get big crowds to come and listen to him. This was simply his heart reaching out and wanting to do something for the leper. I can not but help to think about us in relation with ‘people whom others disdain’. Are we like Christ towards them? Are we also moved with compassion to help them? Do we stop when they call us? Do we listen to their plea of misery? Are we touched by their desolation? Do we stretch our hands to help them? Do we care at all? Now Jesus will do the unthinkable.

 

41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 

 

Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him’. Jesus broke every single social rule in the book. No one would ever touch a leper being afraid to become lepers themselves! Can you imagine how it must have felt for this man to be touched by a ‘normal’ person? Even more so when this person was known to be a ‘man of God’ and a ‘miracle worker’! When was the last time that you touched an ‘untouchable’?

 

And said to him’. This is the second thing that Christ did – he spoke to the person. Many times we do not say things to people thinking that ‘they know what I mean’. Unfortunately most of the time people don’t know what is truly in our hearts. Jesus does what we all should be doing – speaking to each other. This leper had been deeply offended so many time with people just turning away from him, not speaking or looking at him. He felt as though he was a non-person, a thing, a sub-human. But Christ stretched out his hand and he spoke to him. Jesus did not only speak to the man, he also spoke to his leprosy.

 

42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 

 

Notice that the leprosy left him ‘immediately’, there is no such thing as a ‘progressive healing’ in the bible. In some religious circles it is taught that Jesus also heals (does miracles) but progressively, meaning that overtime you will get better and that this is also to be considered a miracle. There is not one single miracle done by Christ (or any other person) in the Bible who takes days or weeks or months to be fully accomplished. Every single person that met Jesus for a miracle received it.

Notice this even with the story of the cleansing of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19) whom Jesus sent away to the priests. They received their miracle not progressively but they were cured all of a sudden as they walked! It is written:

 

Luke 17:15

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,

(NKJV)

 

So don’t be fooled, miracles are instantaneous. This miracle manifests the power of Jesus over sickness. Since leprosy is a symbol of sin does this miracle also manifest the power of Christ over sin? That He is able to clean us from this spiritual disease?

If we come to Jesus, implore him and humble ourselves before him – he will also cleanse us from our spiritual leprosy? Of course it does, remember when Jesus healed the paralytic man (Mat. 9) before he healed the person Jesus told him;

 

Matthew 9:2

Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you."

(NKJV)

 

This man’s life would TOTALLY change because Jesus touched him. So it is with us. When we are reborn through repentance our entire life changes.

 

3. The warning (1:43,44)

 

 43 And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, 44 and He said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 

 

Why would Jesus tell this man to go straight and see a priest? Didn’t he have better places to go? How about seeing his family and friends and showing them the grace that he had received? Maybe there was something more important to do – something that deals with having fellowship with the God of Israel.

 

Leviticus 14:1-3

(1)Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

(2)"This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest.

(3)"And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall examine him; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper,

(NKJV)

 

You see it was only a priest who could pronounce him ‘clean’ and no one else. Once he was pronounced ‘clean’ – he could be re-established not only in society but he would be re-established with God. He was welcomed ‘back in the family’ and could now participate fully in all spiritual activities. This spiritual re-establishment was more important than any social event! Have you been ‘re-established’ with God? Have you become part of his family? Are you a son or daughter of the Most-High (2 Cor. 6:18)? This is the most important thing in your life, it comes before all things. Jesus tells the man ‘See that you say nothing to anyone’ (v.44). Don’t stop here and there not even to say ‘Hey, look at me. I’m cleansed, Jesus did a miracle for me’. There was something more important than talking with people and that was to be declared ‘clean’.

 

4. The disobedience & consequences (1:45)

 

45 But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.

 

You would think that after being cleansed by Jesus this man would follow his instructions – ‘don’t talk, just go to the priest’ BUT he didn’t. For some reason he could not stop telling others what Christ had done for him. Are there times that it is not proper to spread the ‘Good News’, to tell others how God did a miracle in your life? The answer is YES! When your emotions push you to do things when Christ says ‘not now’ even if it’s to evangelize – then it’s not O.K. to do so. Do you also find yourself having been ‘cleansed’ from your sins and yet NOT DOING what Christ wants you to do – even if it seems good in your eyes?

 

By not doing what Jesus told him to do this man actually hindered Jesus’ ministry.

 

(45)…Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city

 

Think about it, don’t you think that when you also don’t do what you are supposed to do, you also hinder Jesus’ ministry? Jesus said:

 

Matthew 12:30

"He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

(NKJV)

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. If you are not ‘cleansed from your sins’: come to Christ and humble yourself before him.

  2. There are many warnings given to us in the Scriptures – let us heed them.

  3. Disobedience always has consequences on Jesus’s ministry.

 

back to the menu

 
The gospel of Mark
08 – Jesus and the paralytic
Mark 2:1-12

 

When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them.3 And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. 4 Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. 5 And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” 12 And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

(NASB)

 

1. The gathering (2:1,2)

 

When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them.

 

We first see that Jesus returned to Capernaum. As we have already seen Capernaum is the ‘home base’ for all of his Galilean ministry. Galilee was divided in two sections (Upper and Lower Galilee). The ‘Upper Galilee’ section was inhabited with a mixed population and was called the ‘Galilee of the Gentiles’ (Mat. 4:15). This was where most of the commerce and highways passed through. The people who lived in Galilee were not refined like those who lived in Jerusalem for they were less educated and were known to be insolent. The busiest part was the Northeastern section around the Sea of Galilee especially where Capernaum stood. This city was the hub of culture and wealth.

Notice that ‘He was at home’ – whose home was it? We have seen in Mark 1:29 that it was Simon and Andrew’s house.

Jesus was certainly not like a wandering dog or a drifter having no home to rest in and having no particular agenda in life. His purpose was to go from village to village proclaiming the ‘Good News’ of the coming kingdom of God and repentance. While in Galilee Jesus always came back to ‘home-base’ So Jesus arrives and what happens? Does he have an opportunity to rest? Can he take a little ‘time off’ without being asked something?

 

2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them.

 

Not a chance. People from all over came to see him and not only from Capernaum. Listen to what Luke writes in his gospel concerning this:

 

Luke 5:17

Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

NKJV

 

So many people gathered that not only the house could no longer receive them but outside and all around. The house was packed full of people. There must have been hundreds of people surrounding the house. Imagine the renown that Jesus had for people to come from Jerusalem and further down in Judea to come and listen to him. Today the distance from Jerusalem to Capernaum is 126 klm. It took a many days to go that distance on the back of a mule! Look who came to see and hear him – there were ‘regular’ people but also scribes (v.6). Then there were Pharisees and teachers of the Law (Luke 5:17). Intelligent people, religious people – people with authority; they all came to listen to him for it is written that ‘He was speaking the word to them’. Notice that Jesus did not change his message considering what ‘type of crowd’ lay before him. The message is the same for everybody for there is only one message. Paul wrote it this way:

 

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

(NKJV)

 

2. The bringing (2:3,4)

 

3 And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. 4 Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. 

 

In v. 3 we see four men bringing a person to Jesus, notice that in v.5 this person is a man because Jesus called the person ‘son’. There is a lot to be told concerning the character of these four good men. We see the compassion and pity they have for him. We see their determination and daring. We can also understand that they believed that Christ could do something for their friend. These are the type of friends that we all desire to have. I wonder if it’s the type of friend that we are unto others. Are we caring, compassionate, ready to do what it takes to help out and bring people to Christ?

 

4 Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. 

 

In v. 4 we see that there is a first obstacle – ‘the crowd’. People will always be an obstacle when we desire to introduce someone to Christ. There is a lot of pressure out there from family and friends not to listen when the gospel is given and there is a good reason for that. People who are not regenerated by the new birth are still blinded and have a spiritual veil before their eyes (2 Cor. 3:13-16). Because they are still in spiritual darkness they actually reject the light which shines upon mankind (John 1:12,13). The context in verse 4 deals with a real crowd of people and because the crowd was so dense the four men could not get to Jesus. But I certainly see a spiritual truth about people stopping individuals from having access to Christ. What I find marvelous is that the four men didn’t let this first obstacle stop them.

 

Then there was the second obstacle ‘the roof’. This is quite remarkable! Imagine being willing to destroy someone’s property so that your friend can come to Christ hoping that he will be healed! It is written that they simple ‘removed the roof’. They actually didn’t care about the implications of destroying part of the roof – they would take care of that later. What counted most was their friend. They had ONE objective and that was to bring their friend to Jesus. Once the roof was open enough to slide the friend through they slowly let him come down until he reached the floor of the house. Now that is taking someone to heart. I wonder if we have the same determination to bring someone to Christ.

 

3. The forgiveness (2:5)

 

 5 And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 

 

It seems that there is something wrong that is going on. The paralytic is lowered to Jesus’ feet. I guess it was very simple to guess what they wanted Jesus to do – cure him – anyone could figure that out! But is that what Jesus does – absolutely not! Please notice that each miracle is different and they all teach various things concerning the messiah. Notice that it is ‘their faith’ (all five of them) that activated the work of Christ. These men strongly believed that Jesus was able to provide a miracle and bring a cure. Faith is so important, it is the key that opens many spiritual doors and without it we are locked outside!

 

Heb. 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

(NKJV)

 

They had faith in Jesus and he honored their faith. How big of a faith must I need for Christ to work in me or to save me?

 

Mat. 17:20

So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

(NKJV)

 

A small but TRUE faith (like a mustard seed) opens the doors to unbelievable things.

This man came to be physically healed but Jesus had a better plan for him!

 

(v.5)…said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 

 

Here we are taught that spiritual healing is MUCH MORE important than physical healing. Back then (like today) far too many came to Christ for the wrong reasons, mostly for physical healing. But Christ had first of all come to bring spiritual healing by dying on the cross to save our souls. Notice that he calls him ‘Son’. What a tender word for this paralysed man to hear. This manifests the loving and caring heart of the Messiah.

 

“Son, your sins are forgiven.” 

 

Now this is a phrase that the paralytic never thought he would hear! He wondered if Jesus would say ‘Get up and walk’ but what he heard was never expected. Jesus said something that no man had ever dared to say because it was reserved for God only.

 

4. The uproar (2:6-7)

 

6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” 

 

Were the scribes wrong? Was there another person or way to be forgiven of our sins except by the God of Israel? These Jewish scholars thought Jesus was blaspheming for no one can forgive sins but God himself! Let’s not be too harsh on these men and think this over. Can a man forgive sins and the obvious answer is no!

 

2 Chron. 7:14

"if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

(NKJV)

 

Jer. 31:34

"No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

(NKJV)

 

They were right, only God can forgive sins because when we sin we offend God. Remember when David slept with Beth-Sheba and was confronted by the prophet Nathan. When David realized that Nathan was speaking about him this is what he said:

 

2 Sam. 12:13

So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.”

(NKJV)

 

David knew that all his sins concerning his dealings with Beth-Sheba (adultery, lying, planning evil, ordering a murder against a valiant, blameless husband) were sins against the Lord. If sins are directly against the Lord then only the Lord can forgive them and this is what we see. The scribes, when they heard Jesus say: ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’, thought he was a blasphemer and if Jesus was a blasphemer the Law of Moses says that he must be ‘put to death’.

 

Lev. 24:16

'And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the LORD, he shall be put to death.

(NKJV)

 

The only way that Jesus would not have blasphemed is if he was Immanuel – God with us. So is he a blasphemer or truly God?

 

5. Questions & answer (2:8-11)

 

8 Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.”

 

In verse eight we see that Jesus is truly God because he knows what is going on in the minds of the scribes - ‘Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?’ As I said, he knows all things. He is omniscient! This should have struck the minds of the scribes and should have brought them to their knees – but it didn’t. How many times does the Lord do things in our own life and yet we resist to give him all the glory. Jesus stuns them with answering the question BEFORE they ask!

 

 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? 

 

He challenges them to a theological debate! Which is easier to say (to do in reality) ‘arise and walk’ or ‘your sins are forgiven’? Here Jesus says that the proof that ‘I have power on EARTH to forgive sins’ is to tell that man to get up and walk out of here.

 

10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.”

 

Notice that the power to forgive sins is ‘on earth’. There is no: second chance, no reincarnation and no purgatory. Sins can only be forgiven while we are alive here on earth. There is not a single example of someone who dies ,without having received forgiveness here on earth, who later is forgiven in the after-life. Once you die the opportunity to be forgiven is GONE forever!

 

Heb. 9:27

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment

(NKJV)

 

Is the wrath of God still upon your shoulders? Has Jesus forgiven your sins? If not, now is the time to humble yourself and repent asking Christ to wash you of your sins.

 

11 “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” 12 And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

 

In verse eleven we see that whatever Jesus says – happens! For he is God incarnate. No sickness can withstand his command, resist his will or repel his resolve. This man had no choice but to arise, take his makeshift bed in his hands and go back home for Jesus had given him perfect health! Just as dead Lazarus walked out of the grave alive once more, by the command of Christ, this man just rose in front of all who were there! Can you picture the reaction of the crowd and the scribes!

 

12 And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

 

This man instantly rose and picked-up his pallet and walked away. Before it was the pallet that held the man and now the man became master of the pallet! Can you imagine the smile on the face of that man and his four friends! How thankful he must have been unto his friends for bringing him to Christ. I believe it is the same thing when we ‘bring’ someone to Christ. Still today I thank my friend who brought me to a Christian Camp for a winter week-end because that is where I had a divine appointment with God. We see that everyone was amazed and they glorified God. When we are healed (either physically or spiritually) the glory and honor always goes to the Lord and no one else. What they had witnessed was an actual proof that Jesus had the authority to forgive sins here on earth.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Are you still truly interested in Jesus and want to gather together to be near him?

  2. Are you bringing people to Jesus, telling the ‘Good News’ to those around you? Do you even care about all of those who are spiritually paralysed?

  3. Has Jesus seen your faith in him and have you been cured of your sins?

  4. Are you still questioning, wondering if Jesus is truly God incarnate? If so, ask Jesus to reveal himself to you by the Holy Spirit.

  5. Are you still amazed at the miracle that God has done in YOUR life by forgiving your sins and delivering you from the judgment to come?

 

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The gospel of Mark
09 – Jesus and Levi
2:13-17

13 And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.

14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.

15 And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. 16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus takes a walk (2:13)

 

13 And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.

 

There are three things that are mentioned in our first verse: Jesus came, people came and Jesus taught. It seems that this is by far the greater part of his ministry. Many things are said concerning his healing ministry, his passion, death and resurrection but time wise this is a small part of this three and a half years of ministry. In other words if Jesus took so much care to teach should we not take time to learn from him?

Jesus and his disciples are in Capernaum which is a village by the Sea of Galilee. It would be a normal thing to be walking on its shores. There could be many reasons why Jesus would have decided to specifically walk there:

  • It’s a busy place with all the fishermen around

  • There’s lots of people to mingle with

  • It’s a commercial area with the merchants and passer-by’s

 

What I first of all see is that to fulfill his calling he mostly needed to be where people are – so he went to the shore. Jesus is far from being a secluded person living in a grotto and speaking once a year to those who venture to find him. I believe that all true believers have also been commissioned by the Lord to spread the Good News – all of us without any exception.

 

2Cor. 5:18,19

(18)Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

(19) that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

(NKJV)

 

Jesus had received the ministry of reconciliation (Eph. 2:16) and so have we (2 Cor. 5:18,19). If Jesus needed to be with people – so do we! So, are you out there with people? Some believe that we should live secluded lives, away from the ‘sinners of this world’. As we will see, this is not the attitude Christ had and it should not be ours either. How can I be a minister of reconciliation?

  • If I mostly keep to myself

  • If I don’t really like to be with people

  • If I live for myself and not for others

  • If my priority is my household or my business and not God’s kingdom

 

How can I be committed to the word of reconciliation?

  • If my mouth is sealed

  • If my heart does not yearn to proclaim the gospel

  • If my eyes are shut to the final destiny of those around me

  • If I simply don’t care about those around me

 

Jesus went where people are – and so should we! He was a minister of reconciliation. What about us? Brothers and sisters, we have a calling and by not answering it, are we not sinning? Not only that, but we are actually working AGAINST God by rebelling against his command to be his witnesses around the globe. It is our sacred duty to stand up and become heralds for the Lord. So a multitude came to him and it is written that ‘He was teaching them’(v.13).This is the fifth time since he began his ministry that it is written that he taught or preached to the people. This seemed to be a ‘top-priority’ for the Lord. Not only is evangelizing important but also teaching others about the Lord God. We need to teach our children and grand-children and those that the Lord places in our lives. There are many ways that we are called to be ‘teachers of Jesus’, here are a few of them:

  • Teach by example, by our care and our patience.

  • Teach by the way we act in difficult situations.

  • Teach by our generosity, kindness and hope.

  • Teach by our thanksgiving, pure life and spirituality.

  • Teach by our words.

 

Teaching has two facets: one is verbal and the second is by our actions. And you know what the old proverb says: ‘Actions speaks louder than words’.So how’s your preaching and teaching? Do you talk and act like Christ would?

 

2. Jesus calls Levi (2:14)

 

14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.

 

Notice how Jesus simply and very naturally approaches a person who he has never seen before – he simply speaks to him. It’s not that difficult when you think of it – simply speak to people. I ’ve approached a lot of different people in my lifetime:

  • From neighbors to co-workers

  • From mothers to murderers

  • From bikers to ministers

  • From strangers to family

 

I don’t think that I can count on one hand the times (in 40 years) that I have been insulted or mocked when it was on a one to one basis – so don’t be afraid to ‘speak to others’. That doesn’t mean that people always agreed with me (most of the time they didn’t). There was only once when a man threatened to kill me if I ever spoke to him or his household again about Christ, but that was very exceptional. Now Jesus saw a man called Levi and he was the son of Alphaeus. Levi was his Jewish name but he also used another name because of his business (tax collector) and that was Matthew. Levi was a tax collector (or a Publican as the Jews would say).Jews hated and disdained any fellow Jew who worked for the Roman government especially a tax collector. This is what the American Tract Society Dictionary writes about Publicans.

 

There were many publicans in Judea in the time of our Savior; Zaccheus, probably, was one of the principal receivers, since he is called "chief among the publicans," Lu 19:2; but Matthew was only an inferior publican, Lu 5:27. The Jews reproached Jesus with being a "friend of publicans and sinners, and eating with them," Lu 7:34; but he, knowing the self-righteousness, unbelief and hypocrisy of his accusers, replied, "The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you," Mt 21:31. Compare also the beautiful demeanor of the penitent publican in the temple, and the self-justifying spirit of the Pharisee, Lu 18:10-14.

 

Since we are on the shores of the Sea of Galilee there was a tax office there! Fishermen had to pay a tax (to the Roman Government) on the fish they caught before they could sell it. As you might imagine this Levi who Jesus approached - was greatly disliked by the crowd. It is said that the Publicans were stopped from entering the synagogues or Temple of God. They could not even participate in open prayers or give testimony in a court of law. But the eyes and heart of Jesus saw Levi differently and he approached him. How do our eyes see people? Do we stop at the outer shell their clothing, hair style, speech, color, race, language, education, physical capacities and so forth? Or do we look further, deeper in a person to see the person ‘inside’ the outer shell – a person who needs salvation. Do we approach only the ones who are like us, look like us and think like us? You know the ones in the same Church Denomination or who have the same ‘social standing’ and so forth. Jesus approached everybody and so should we.

 

He said two words to him: ‘Follow me’ (v.14) and he did! ‘And he got up and followed Him’. Levi got up and left everything behind. Imagine he left his ‘job’ and became ‘unemployed’. It didn’t matter what the Roman Government would think and the consequences of abandoning his ties with them – he just left. I wonder if there was a Mrs. Levy and what she was thinking of her husband leaving his job to follow this preacher. What a great model Levi is for all of us. When Jesus calls us to follow him we should simply be ready to do it. Far too many people hesitate and vacillate instead of just following him. Is that how we follow Jesus – ready to leave all behind. Ready to walk into the unknown. Ready to trust and obey?

 

3. The dinner scandal (2:15,16)

 

15 And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. 16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” 

 

I want you to notice the three attitudes that are manifest in these two verses: Matthew’s attitude was of rejoicing and generosity. He invited Jesus and his disciples and his tax collector friends and all types of sinners. That was the crowd that he knew: tax collectors and sinners. He was out of a job with no more revenue so what does he do – he spends money on a great feast! Matthew (or Levi if you prefer) was so happy that Jesus would consider calling him to follow him that he celebrated. May I ask if we are in a celebrating mood? Are we still dumbfounded and astonished that Jesus would invite us to follow him? Do you still celebrate and rejoice with others at the grace that you have received in Christ Jesus? How long has it been since you have shared a meal with Christians in your home? How long has it been since you had a meal with non-believing friends, paid the bill and explained why you are so happy with life? We need to be like Matthew – rejoicing and sharing!

 

The second attitude is that of Jesus – he willingly sat with publicans and sinners? Not only that, he was teaching his disciples that it was O.K. to be with these people.

Remember what he had said:

 

Luke 14:12-14

(12)Then He also said to him who invited Him, "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.

(13)"But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.

(14)"And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

(NKJV)

 

Jesus was so different from all the other teachers and scribes and Pharisees. He was with people and it was manifest that he cared for them. He took time with them and did not disdain them. All (except for the self-righteous) were attracted to him. He allowed himself to be approached, even the little children had access to him (Luke 18:16). Let’s not forget those who were ill and demon-possessed – all could come to him. May we be like Christ, approachable and caring for all.

 

Finally there is the attitude of the self-righteous.

 

16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” 

 

They simply disdained, despised and held in contempt those who were not like them.

 

They were prejudiced, hypocrites and bigots. They built a wall around themselves to make certain that ‘those people’ would not enter their lives. How grateful I am that Christ did not build a wall around himself but rather built a bridge so that I could come closer to him. So what are you building in relationship with others a wall or a bridge?

 

 

4. Jesus’ response (2:17)

 

17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

Notice that Jesus is attentive to what these religious elite were doing and saying. Has it occurred to you that God is very interested in what you say and do? What Jesus was saying is that he came for sinners, he came for those who are sick. Jesus especially came to bring the sick and the sinners to repentance. I’ve not come for those who are spiritually well, he says, but for those who need healing. Should we not also have the same attitude – seek after those who need to be healed spiritually instead of always hanging around with those who are well?

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Take a walk and be with people.

  2. Talk to people who don’t know about the Good News.

  3. Be joyful and celebrate your calling with others.

  4. Pay special attention to those who do not know the Lord, be the light of the world unto them.

 

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The gospel of Mark
10 – Jesus and fasting
2:18-22

 

18 John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came and said to Him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast, can they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.

21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. 22 No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”

(NASB)

 

1. Why don’t they do what we do? (2:18)

 

18 John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came and said to Him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”

 

The subject of this story is FASTING. But I want you to notice that our present story comes right after the great feast that Matthew gave in honor of Jesus. Jesus ate with his disciples & Matthew’s friends which were mostly sinners. This was a big banquet and since it was well-known that tax collectors filled their pockets with money this banquet must have been filled with extravagance. After this happens (the great feast) some come to Jesus and seem unhappy with the fact that he didn’t fast as they did. I can not but wonder if they were also frustrated because they had not participated or were not allowed to participate in the gathering. Isn’t it true that most people don’t like it when other people don’t do things the way that THEY DO! We see this all the time whatever your social standing, education, nationality or religion – even in Christian churches! You should dress like me, listen to the same music as I do, sing the same hymns, celebrate the way I always have celebrated and so forth. Things haven’t changed much – have they? My way is always the BEST WAY! And since my way is the best – I’m ‘holier’ than you are.

 

Here two groups of people (John’s disciples and the Pharisees’) fast but a third does not! That makes two against one, so guess which one is right? The two of course! The majority is always right - well maybe not! Never believe because more people do or act in a certain way that it is automatically right!

Always remember that there is but a small portion of people that have truly come to believe that Christ is Lord and Savior and God says that they (and not the majority of people) are right (John 3:36; 4:14; 5:24; 6:40,47; 14:6).

 

The disciples of John were used to fast because their spiritual leader (John the Baptist) was a person that had a very strict dietary outlook. Remember that he came out of the desert eating locusts and honey (Mark 1:6) – that was real fasting.

 

Mark 1:6

Now John was clothed with camel's hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

(NKJV)

 

The disciples of the Pharisees also fasted because of the teachings of their leaders. The Pharisees fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12) so did their disciples.

 

Luke 18:11,12

(11)"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.

(12)'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'

(NKJV)

 

It seems that fasting was ordered only ONCE by the Lord God and we find this in Lev. 16:29.

 

Leviticus 16:29

"This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you.

(NKJV)

 

We often see people fast as a reaction to a particular situation that they are living but fasting like it became was not instituted by God. It became a ‘must do to be spiritual’ by the time Christ had his ministry. Let’s not forget that ‘fasting’ was a ‘spiritual process’ that was also found in neighboring countries. These pagans would fast to obtain protection, wealth, children and so many other things. Again this was not a spiritual practice ordered by the Lord. This is simply because the Lord had made a covenant with his people promising protection & well-being. So they did not need to fast to receive these things – all was given by the grace of God and grace can not be bought.

 

Rom. 11:6

And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.

(NKJV)

 

I can imagine these disciples who often fasted (thinking that this was a wonderful spiritual exercise) looking at the disciples of Jesus and thinking ‘They sure are worldly – look how they live’! They probably wondered the following: Why don’t they do things the way we do things? Why doesn’t Jesus rebuke them? And why doesn’t he fast himself – he’s supposed to be a prophet of God!

 

2. The answer (2:19,20)

 

19 And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast, can they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.

 

Jesus will answer their question very candidly by telling a short story. This story is about a bridegroom - a familiar picture if there ever was one. The bridegroom is the man who will marry a woman. One needs to remember that in the Old Testament God considered Israel to be his spouse (Isaiah 54:5; Jer. 31:32) and in the New Testament the church is also considered Christ’s bride (2 Cor. 11:2). In a very real and spiritual way both were the bridegrooms. This is the key to understand what Jesus is speaking about. Jesus asks if the friends of the bridegroom (his disciples) can fast when the bridegroom (he) is with them. Have you ever gone to a party to celebrate a coming wedding? When people gather either with the future bride or the future husband. Is this an occasion for fasting? Do they abstain from eating and drinking? Do they mourn and lament? Of course not. They are rejoicing with their friend who will be getting married.

 

So it was with the Disciples of Christ. They are not called to mourn and fast but rather to rejoice because they are with him. Being a disciple of Christ should fill our hearts with gratitude and we should celebrate the grace of God manifested in His Son. We are even told that once the bride (the true believers) will be with her husband (Christ) in heaven there will be a great celebration (Mat. 8:11; Rev. 19:7-9). Once more the curse will be taken away and for all eternity those that have been washed by the blood of the Lamb will be with God. In verse twenty we see that there will come a time when fasting will be appropriate.

 

20 But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.

 

In his story Jesus says that one day his disciples will fast – and it will be the day that the bridegroom will be taken away from his friends. But when will the bridegroom (Jesus) be taken away? Obviously this day came when Jesus died on the cross. It was then that he was taken away from his disciples. On that day all things changed, all their hopes seemed to have vanished. Their Master had been put to death. And what did the disciples do? They were terrified and locked themselves in.

 

John 20:19

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."

(NKJV)

 

My question is the following: ‘For how long was the bridegroom taken away from his friends?’Since Jesus was raised from the dead three days later, he was away for only that period of time. When he manifested himself to his disciples they greatly rejoiced that he was truly the Messiah! The ‘time period’ for fasting was over – Christ had victory over sin and death. Since he said that he will be with us until the end of time (Mat. 28:20) there is no longer a place for fasting. There is not a single commandment from Jesus ordering his Disciples to fast. We DO SEE fasting (Acts 13:2,3; 14:23; 1 Cor.7:5) but it is never COMMANDED. It is always done on the basis of a personal decision before God. There are times where one might fast and seek the will of God but this is always on a personal basis between the person and God. What we see here is that Jesus is breaking away from the popular beliefs concerning fasting in spiritual matters – to manifest self-righteousness or to ‘get something’ from God. Beloved we must always come back to the teaching of the Holy Scriptures and let that alone be our solid foundation for Christian living. Fasting is not a ‘magical’ or ‘spiritual’ thing to do that will open the doors to our Heavenly Father. How often we forget what is written concerning our needs.

 

Matthew 6:6-8

(6)"But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

(7)"And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

(8)"Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

(NKJV)

 

God knows our needs even before we ask Him. And God knows how to give good things to his children (Luke 11:11-13). All he asks of them is not to be hypocrites when they knock at his door. Now I am not saying that a Christian should not fast, he certainly can if he wants to. Jesus spoke about this practice:

 

Matthew 6:16-18

(16)"Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

(17)"But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,

(18)"so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

(NKJV)

 

3. The warning (2:21,22)

 

21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. 22 No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”

 

In verses twenty one and twenty two Jesus will explain his reasoning. Again he will teach by using a common illustration. The first has to do with clothing and patching them. With time all clothing wear and tear and what do people do when this happens? They place a ‘patch’ to cover the tear. Let’s not forget that in Jesus’ days people were very poor and did not have the luxury of having clothing like we do. I remember when I was a teenager back in the sixties. We had lots of patches on our jeans – it was fashionable in those days. People could buy different patches and we would sow them on even if there was no real need for them. No holes or tears on the jeans we just wanted patches! The problem was the following: if the jeans were fragile because of the wear of the cloth and when I would sow a patch to cover a certain area it looked great. But when I would wash my patched-up jeans the patches would shrink and tear the jeans even more! I should have first washed the patches by themselves and then sowed them on my pants so that when I would sow them there would be no tear.

 

The second examples is that of wine and wineskins.

 

22 No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”

 

Again Jesus uses a very common object to bring a spiritual lesson. New wine was placed in new wineskins for one reason – expansion! The new wine would ferment and cause an expansion because of the gases created. The wineskins would stretch as the gases increases the volume of the content. The problem was the following: If new wine was poured into old wineskins it would tear the wineskins apart and one would not only lose the wineskins but also the wine that had been poured into them. You see the wineskins could not stretch a second time to accommodate the expansion of the wine. Because of this they would tear at the seams and the new wine would be lost.

 

So what is Jesus saying here concerning fasting and other spiritual teachings that he was bringing forth? It’s very simple when you think of it. The old and the new do not mix together and they don’t work together. Fasting the old way (to get from God or to manifest how spiritual we are) will get you nowhere. Actually it will – you will go down in God’s favor because of your hypocrisy. Placing new wine (new teachings of Christ) into old wineskins (the old ways of doing things) will just destroy the whole thing. That is why the new wine is to be poured into new wineskins. You not only need to do this in a ‘new way’ (new mind) but you also personally need to be a new wineskin (born anew) for all of this to work out. Don’t forget that trying to get the two to work together will only bring disaster (the tearing of the cloth and the loss of the wine).

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. It is not because many do or act in a certain way that it is spiritually right or accepted by God. It is also not necessarily wrong when people worship the Lord in a way that you are not familiar with – the Bible is our foundation not US.

  2. Fasting is never ordered by Jesus for he is with us. Fasting is a very personal spiritual activity that we do that is strictly between us and the Lord. It is never to be done to show how spiritual we are (it is quite the opposite) or to get things from God.

  3. Don’t try to fit old ways of doing things with true discipleship. Be certain that what you do is from Christ and not tradition or your own desires.

 

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The gospel of Mark
11 – Jesus and the Sabbath
Mark 2:23-28

 

23 And it happened that He was passing through the grain fields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; 26 how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

(NASB)

 

1. One Sabbath day (2:23)

 

23 And it happened that He was passing through the grain fields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain

 

Once more Jesus is going to be attacked on a theological matter – this time it has to do with the Sabbath. The word Sabbath means REST in Hebrew. The idea of resting was taken from Gen. 2:2,3 where it is written that God ‘rested’ on the seventh day.

 

Genesis 2:2,3

(2)And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

(3)Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

(NKJV)

 

The idea is that God ‘stopped’ his work of creating on that day. God then set this day apart as a special day. Notice that it is the only day that God blessed and sanctified. If you wonder where we got a week of ‘seven’ days – now you know! This seven day week was given to Adam and Eve therefore it was meant for ALL of mankind and not only for the Jewish people.

 

We see with Noah (Gen. 8:1-22) that the world before the flood used a seven day week. We also see in Ex. 16:22-30 that people were to gather a double amount of manna on the sixth day so that on the seventh they did not work but rested. Yet, the fourth commandment ‘Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy’ (Ex. 20:8) as well as all the Ten Commandments had not yet been given! This proves that having the seventh day set apart was known and applied BEFORE it was legally institutionalised by God through Moses in the Ten Commandments.

 

As I said the Sabbath day was ‘sanctified’ – set apart for the Lord. It was a day of gathering together to celebrate God’s holiness, mercy and grace. People would sing songs of praise and give thanksgiving unto God. Personal and public prayers were said. It was also a special day where goodness, charity and alms would be manifested more openly towards people around you. Keeping the Sabbath holy was a very serious thing for the Lord and he gave this command to Moses:

 

Ex 31:14

'You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.

(NKJV)

 

As you will see, the Pharisees declared themselves the ‘watch dogs’ of the Sabbath and they had set their sight on Jesus. What was terribly wrong was that with time the very meaning of the ‘Sabbath rest’ had been changed by these religious ‘watch dogs’. By the time Jesus lived the true meaning of the Sabbath rest had been modified so much that it no longer contained its original ‘spirit’. Here is a list of things people could not do on a Sabbath:

  • Light a fire

  • Work

  • You can only walk as far as the synagogue

  • Sowing, plowing, reaping

  • Grinding, baking, weaving

  • Tying, untying, sowing two stitches

  • Salting meat, writing two letters, extinguishing a fire

  • Etc…

 

The Pharisees were constantly watching and spying on people to ‘catch’ them breaking any Sabbath Law which they had invented! One Sabbath day this is what happened:

 

23 And it happened that He was passing through the grain fields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain.

 

Jesus and his disciples were walking through a field of grain and as they were walking the disciples plucked some grains in their hands. Now this was a common thing to do to (pluck and rub hands, blow away the shaft and eat the grain). By doing this were they not stealing from the farmers who worked diligently to have a reasonable harvest? Not really, for God had instituted that the corners of your fields were to be left unharvested for the poor or passer-by’s (Lev. 19:10; 23:22).The problem was that the Pharisees considered the ‘plucking’ as work which was to them a grave sin. They didn’t see the disciples need for nourishment only the fact that they used energy to make a quick snack. This sin of ever looking at others to see if they do everything by the book, by your understanding of the book, still ranks upon the highest rated sin of our modern Christianity. How easily we forget what Jesus said:

 

Matthew 7:3-5

(3)"And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?

(4)"Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?

(5)"Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

(NKJV)

 

Let us not be like these Pharisees who were constantly checking on others to see if they were at fault.

 

2. The accusation (2:24)

 

24 The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 

 

They thought they had a perfect accusation against his disciples (plucking) and they weren’t going to miss this opportunity to lay blame. By doing this, they automatically brought a blame on Jesus because he was their Rabbi, their spiritual leader. I wonder what the difference is between lifting your food to your mouth at home and lifting grain to your mouth on the field. Notice that they hid behind ‘what is not lawful’. You need to remember that when the Sabbath was instituted there were no Pharisees, scribes or any religious leaders except for Moses and Aaron. Synagogues did not even exist! All of these ‘prescriptions’ were their own doings and not from the Lord God.

 

3. The example Jesus gave (2:25,26)

 

25 And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; 26 how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” 

 

The story Jesus is referring to is found in 1 Sam. 21:1-6. What is consecrated bread? This is what the American Tract Society Dictionary writes:

 

SHOWBREAD, Heb. Bread of presence, was bread offered every Sabbath-day to God on the golden table which stood in the holy place, Ex 25:30; twelve cakes of unleavened bread, offered with salt and frankincense, Le 2:13; 24:5-9. The show-bread could be lawfully eaten by none but the priests; nevertheless, David having received some of these loaves from the high-priest Abimelech, ate of them without scruple in his necessity, 1Sa 21:1-6; and our Savior quotes his example to justify the disciples, who had bruised ears of corn, and were eating them on the Sabbath-day. Mt 12:1-4.

 

Jesus begins by saying: ‘Have you never read’ even in the days of Jesus reading the Holy Scriptures was exceedingly important. Jesus expected the religious people to read and study the Word of God. Does he not also expect us to read and study our celestial Father’s book? So are we reading & studying? It is wonderful that Jesus refers to stories found in the Old Testament. By doing so he establishes without a doubt that they are true and have spiritual significance. The story goes like this: David and his men were hungry and the showbread was the only food available so what do they do – suffer hunger or eat what was offered to God to keep alive? Remember that this bread was only to be eaten by the priests. So were David and his men sinning by eating what was reserved to the priests? This is a case of Law against Grace.

 

We can easily apply this to ourselves. How do we interact with people - Law or Grace?

  • Can’t help you today it’s Sunday come back tomorrow.

  • Can’t lend you any money it’s for my offering.

  • Can’t give you a ride to the hospital I’ve got a prayer meeting.

 

The Pharisees were very legalistic and Jesus often ‘brushed’ against them concerning their lack of grace unto others, especially concerning the Sabbath Day. In Luke 13 when Jesus cured a woman who had been inflicted by Satan for 18 years this is what he said to the Pharisees:

 

Luke 13:14-16

(14)But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, "There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day."

(15)The Lord then answered him and said, "Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?

(16)"So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound--think of it--for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?"

(NKJV)

 

So you can help your animal on a Sabbath but not a woman that is in need! This is pure legalism.

 

Luke 14:3-5

(3)And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"

(4)But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go.

(5)Then He answered them, saying, "Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?"

(NKJV)

 

So you can help your donkey or your ox but not a sick man! The Pharisees and teachers of the Law had it all wrong. How many religious leaders are so stern that they forget the most important.

 

Matthew 23:23

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

(NKJV)

 

Justice, mercy and faith that is what they had neglected and Jesus will remind them of their faults.

 

4. Jesus’ conclusion (2:27,28)

 

27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

 

Now two things of great importance are said by Jesus. The first deals with our relationship with the Sabbath day of rest.

 

27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 

 

Jesus reminds the Pharisees that the design of the Sabbath was to liberate God’s people from a never ceasing life of constant work. It was a day that they were free to worship the Lord and rest. But the Pharisees had turned the Sabbath day into a day where the load was even heavier than the other days. Jesus brings the Sabbath back to its original Godly intent – rest, enjoy life and fellowship with God and others. Actually the Sabbath was a gift of God to stop and enjoy life.

 

The second point is even greater in importance.

 

28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

 

When you are ‘Lord’ it means that you have authority or ownership over something. Who is the Lord of the Sabbath if not God himself and only God! He created the Sabbath on the seventh day of his creating process. He can also do as he pleases with his Sabbath day since it belongs to him. All the Jews understood that God was the Lord of the Sabbath and no one else. Here Jesus states that HE ‘the Son of Man’ is the Lord of the Sabbath – so what is he telling the people? He is telling them that he is GOD and he can do whatever he wants on a Sabbath day. He is openly declaring that he is Jehovah! Again many people say that Jesus never said that he was the Lord God – well they are wrong. This is a perfect example of Christ declaring his deity.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Let us not be like the Pharisees who declared themselves the ‘watchdogs of God’. Don’t we have enough with looking after our own walk before the Lord?

  2. The Sabbath day is a day of rest. A day where I should enjoy my relationship with God and nothing should interfere with this.

  3. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath for he is God the Son. So let’s keep our Sabbath special.

 

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The gospel of Mark
12 – Jesus and doing good
3:1-6

 

He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. 2 They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3 He said to the man with the withered hand, Get up and come forward!” 4 And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

(NASB)

 

1. The scene (3:1)

 

He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. 

 

Today we have another account where we see Jesus taking part in a religious service in a synagogue. I have a few thoughts about this. My first thought is that this is not the first time that we see Jesus in a synagogue(this is the 4th mention of a synagogue so far). What I see is that Jesus perseveres. He already has had ‘frictions’ with the spiritual leaders but he persists. He know the importance of being together to worship God. Unfortunately far too many people leave their church when there is friction with the leadership. We should remain in the church and try to settle the issue and make peace. Leaving without at least trying is a failure on our part. Remember what Jesus said:

 

Matthew 5:23,24

"Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,

"leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

(NKJV)

 

A second point is that even though the Pharisees (who are his enemies) are present this does not stop him from being there. Many times people who have problems with people find a fast solution – just don’t talk to them. Here we find people who don’t like Jesus and Jesus still talks with them.

Even though they have an enemy in Jesus he doesn’t look at them as his enemies. He is there to be the light unto them, to teach them and to be a witness that he is the Messiah. He is practicing what he had taught on the ‘Sermon of the Mount’.

 

Matthew 5:43-45

(43)"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'

(44)"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

(45)"that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

(NKJV)

 

Third I see that a handicapped man is welcome in the synagogue and that is a wonderful thing. If people with disabilities are not accepted in our assemblies what are we saying about God? Fourth this handicapped man will have a life-changing experience because of Christ. He did not know but it came to him unexpectedly. This man could have been irritated at God because of his physical state. He could have rejected the God of Israel and been angry at him. But he was not, he was in the synagogue. How many people are angry at God because of this or that and they abandon their congregation and turn away from the Lord. They blame him for their misery. You see if this man had not been in the synagogue, if he would have rejected God he would not have had his miracle. How many people do not receive from the Lord because they are mad at him? Are you one of them? Think about it.

 

 

2. The atmosphere (3:2)

 

2 They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 

 

We can see that the atmosphere in the synagogue was not as it should have been - instead of:

  • Praising & singing

  • Fellowshipping & encouraging

  • Rejoicing & thanksgiving

 

we have people destroying the atmosphere by ‘watching’ Jesus. The aim of these people was not to be in the synagogue for the Lord’s sake but to spy on Jesus of Nazareth. Does it happen to us even today? We gather together and instead of having our minds fixed on the Lord God we are acutely interested in something else.

This should never be. Now the word ‘watching’ (PARATEREO) means: to note insidiously, observe, inspect. The Pharisees were not just looking at Jesus – they were checking and taking note of what he was doing. How would you like it if you would come to church and others would be inspecting you? By experience I know that this happens more often than you think. People just love to put people ‘down’. How our heavenly Father must sometimes be broken hearted at our miserable behavior. I am certain that the ‘ordinary’ people in the synagogue knew and could see the Pharisees at work ‘watching’ Jesus and the atmosphere must have been tense. Now there was a reason why the Pharisees took note of Jesus’ actions:

 

(v.2)… if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 

 

There’s always a reason why we watch people – theirs was to see if he would do a good deed on a Sabbath day. The word ‘accuse’ (KATEGOREO) meaning: to be a plaintiff, to charge with some offense, to accuse. They were really seeking to find anything so that they could accuse him of sinning. We need to remember that if the Pharisees could accuse him and get him sentenced that would bring an END to his ministry – people would no longer follow him. Here are a few thoughts concerning these Pharisees:

  • They didn’t really care for the man in question, quite the opposite, they were using him as a bait to trap Jesus.

  • They would rather see the man continue being sick than being healed on a Sabbath day.

  • They had evil thoughts and evil plans towards their fellow man.

  • They were ready to do what it takes to get rid of Jesus.

  • These Pharisees were looking for any reason to accuse Jesus – they were like their father, the devil.

 

Revelation 12:10

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

(NKJV)

 

When we gather together, may we always do our part to enrich the atmosphere and not cause it to become heavy. May our aim of being present be the Lord God and nothing else.

 

3 The witness (3:3)

 

 3 He said to the man with the withered hand, Get up and come forward!” 

 

Here we have the third party of this story – the man with a withered hand. The word ‘withered’ in Greek (XERAINO) means: to desiccate, to shrivel, to dry up, wither away. This man had a physical condition that made his hand become useless. Jesus’ intention was to heal that man but that man will have to do one thing and that is to co-operate with him. I believe that it is the same thing with us. As a child of God the Father wants us to co-operate with him so that he can fulfill his plans for our life. When we rebel against him the Father’s plans come to a halt and we miss out. When Christians stop co-operating with God (listening to him) the new road that they walk on never brings them closer to the Lord. Think of Mark who abandoned Paul and Barnabas in their missionary travels and Paul no longer wants him to be part of their ‘team’ (Acts 15:37-39). It is only years later that Paul recognises how precious Mark had once more become (Acts 2 Tim. 4:11). Think of Demas that forsook his calling for the lure of the things of the world (2 Tim. 4:10). Think of Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20) whom Paul handed over to Satan because they no longer walked with God but rather blasphemed his name. Never forget what Paul wrote:

 

Galatians 6:7,8

(7)Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

(8)For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

(NKJV)

 

Now this man did not know that Christ was going to do the unbelievable for him. He probably had hoped & prayed to get better. It might have been a long time since his heart was set on asking God for his grace to fall upon him. Think of the woman with a flow of blood. She had been sick for twelve years and then one day she met Jesus (Luke 8:43). Remember the woman who could not straighten-up for eighteen years, she was bound by the devil until one day she also met Jesus (Luke 13:11). This was the day this man was going to be cured but if he had not been in the synagogue he would have missed his miracle. And then out of the blue – without any notice – time had come to meet Christ and be healed.

It may be just the same with us. Christ may just be ‘around the corner’ and change our lives. And if he does not change things then we should have the same attitude as the three friends of Daniel who in the face of being thrown in the furnace said these words:

 

Daniel 3:17,18

(17)"If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.

(18)"But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

(NKJV)

 

Jesus asked the man to do something that might have placed him out of his comfort zone. Usually handicapped people DO NOT like to be in the spotlight! And here Jesus is saying to stand in front of everybody!

 

(v.3)…Get up and come forward

 

Have you ever thought that you may also need to get out of your comfort zone to receive what God has for you?

 

4. The question (3:4)

 

4 And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 

 

We can understand that the man complied with Jesus’ command. Once this is done Jesus now turns to those who desire to ensnare him and asks them this question:

 

(4)… “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” 

 

In other words when can a person do good while not breaking the Law? Can a man do good anytime – even on sacred days? The answer is in the question. For each and every one of us, it is ALWAYS good to do ‘good’ and ‘save a life’. We have seen this in Mark 2:23-28. And it is NEVER allowed to ‘do evil’ and ‘kill’. The real question is not ‘Are we allowed to do this or that’ but rather ‘are we allowed to do this or that on a Sabbath day’.

The Pharisees believed that even ‘good deeds’ were not allowed because that was thought of as some type of work.

 

(v.4)… But they kept silent.

 

Why do people, even children, keep silent when they are asked to answer a question? Either because they don’t know the answer or because they do know the answer and are ashamed to answer it! As for the Pharisees they kept silent for both reasons. First because they could not find an answer in the Holy Scriptures that would support their view. This manifests that they were just using their authority as the basis of their thinking. They were spiritual ‘bullies’. Second because they had trapped themselves and were ashamed to admit it. Their spiritual standing might have scared ordinary people but not so with Christ. Remember the parents of the blind man that Jesus had healed and how they were afraid of the religious leaders!

 

John 9:22

His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.

(NKJV)

 

One day these false teachers and blind spiritual guides will no longer be able to keep silent before Christ. There will come a time when they will have to recognize who Christ really is.

 

Romans 14:11

For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God."

(NKJV)

 

5. The answer (3:5)

 

5 After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 

 

Since they did not answer – Jesus did in their place. But before he did there is an exceptional description of our Savior that is before us. He looked around with anger: (ORGE) meaning: violent, abhorrence, anger, indignation. This is the only verse in the Gospels that describe Jesus being filled with ANGER. He does get angry. Many believe that Jesus never manifests any emotions except the ‘good ones’. They forget that the Lord does get offended and his holy anger is sometimes manifested. A quick reading of the Old Testament and you will quickly find that God does get angry at his people. He was also grieved (SULLUPEO) meaning: sorrow on the account of someone – not something. His heart was angry and grieved because of the attitude and lack of love of the Pharisees. They were the first ones who should have manifested pity on this poor man and praised God at the possibility of him being cured. But they were self-righteous.

 

(v.5)…grieved at their hardness of heart

 

Has the heart of Jesus changed? Does he still grieve and can he still become angry because of the hardness of our hearts? Do we understand that our actions or lack of them, can grieve his heart? Yes, Jesus gets angry when our hearts are hardened toward the needs of others.

 

(v.5)…He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 

 

Here we see the second command of Jesus ‘stretch out your hand’. You may also have to do what seems impossible (stretch out your hand) to get your miracle! This man could not physically do what Jesus asked of him – it was impossible. How many times do we say to Jesus ‘I can’t do it’ or ‘I can’t go there’ or ‘I can’t evangelize’? If the man would have said: ‘I can’t do this Jesus’ then he would have remained in the state that he was. We often want to change in life or advance and follow Christ but we don’t, simply because we THINK we can’t do what Jesus asks of us! Jesus never asks us to be strong enough to follow him. He simply asks us to ‘follow him’ (Mat. 4:19; 8:22; 9:9).

 

6. The hardened hearts (3:6)

 

 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

 

Instead of being amazed by this miracle, instead of rejoicing with the healed man, instead of giving glory to God, instead of asking themselves ‘Could this be the Christ’ like spoiled children they turned their backs on Jesus (the Pharisees went out immediately).Then they got even angrier and ‘plotted’ against Christ.

 

(v.6)…began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

 

Notice that in the beginning they ‘looked’ for an opportunity to catch Christ. Now they are ‘plotting’ to create this opportunity. They wanted to destroy Jesus so much that they leagued themselves with the Herodians to do so. The Pharisees were staunched nationalists who hated the Romans – those infidels. But they hated Jesus so much that they leagued themselves with the Herodians, who were political friends with Herod, the Roman leader in Palestine. Pharisees and Herodians were deadly enemies but their hate for Jesus made way for a very sick alliance to get rid of him. Still today some people league themselves to destroy all who belong to Christ.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Be in your place of worship like Christ was.

  2. Do all you can to create a holy & friendly atmosphere around you.

  3. Even if you don’t like the ‘spotlight’ be in it when Jesus asks you to.

  4. Are there times when you keep silent before Christ because you are ashamed?

  5. Don’t harden your heart it will get the Lord angry.

  6. Never league yourself with someone to undermine the Lord.

  7. Do good: anyplace, anytime and anyway but do good in the name of Jesus.

 

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The gospel of Mark
13 – Jesus and the crowd
3:7-12

 

7 Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, 8 and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him. 9 And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him; 10 for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him.11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!” 12 And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was.

(NASB)

 

In this section we are going to look at what we can call a ‘typical day’ in the life of Jesus.

 

1. The crowd (3:7,8)

 

7 Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, 8 and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him. 

 

The word withdrew (ANACHOREO) in Greek means: to retire, turn aside and to withdraw. Jesus decided to leave where he was (in a synagogue 3:1) and go towards the sea. The synagogue is where he had healed a man with a withered hand, confronted the Pharisees and condemned them for their stone-cold hearts. The sea mentioned here is naturally the Sea of Galilee. Did you know that Jesus never did any miracles nor led his disciples towards the Dead Sea? Do you see any symbolism in the fact that Jesus didn’t go to the Dead Sea but only to the Sea of Galilee? This is what the American Tract Society Dictionary writes about this body of water:

 

‘The waters of the Dead Sea are clear and limpid, but exceedingly salt and bitter. Their specific gravity exceeds that of all other waters known, being one-fifth or one-fourth greater than that of pure water. They are found by repeated analyses to contain one-fourth their weight of various salts, chiefly the chlorides of magnesium and sodium. Salt also is deposited by evaporation on the shore, or on garments wet in the sea. In the bed of the sea it is found in crystals and near the shore in incrustation deposited on the bottom.

No fish can live in these acrid waters, and those which are brought down by the Jordan quickly die.’

 

There is nothing but death in the Dead Sea. Since Jesus is life itself and gives life is it not understandable that he would lead his Disciples and have a ministry around the Sea of Galilee (which abounded in life) and not the Dead Sea. It is said that the toxicity of the Dead Sea is so great that birds that try to fly over it (12.8 klm long) can not succeed and simply die in flight! There are no villages directly on the Dead Sea. The nearest village from its shores is the village of Qumran. It was 1.5 klm from the shore and it was inhabited by a religious sect called the Essenes. Today Qumran is known because of the hundreds of scrolls found in a few caves. Many contained sections from the Old Testament.

 

So Jesus retired by the Sea of Galilee and brought his disciples with him. But as always it didn’t take too long for people to catch up to him. It seems that as soon as people found out where Christ was they flocked to be by his side. May I ask when was the last time that you have ‘retired’ somewhere with Jesus? You know, just you and Him. Now Jesus just wanted to have a bit of time alone with his Disciples but he just couldn’t. Isn’t it still the same today when you want to take some ‘quiet time’ with God?

  • You find a quiet place to be with Jesus

  • You read to replenish your soul

  • You pray and praise Him for being in your life

  • You feel that you’re close to your Maker and a peaceful quietness fills your being

  • And then people or things ‘pop-up’ and bring a stop to it all!

 

It’s written that a GREAT multitude came to him (and his disciples) while he was near the Sea of Galilee – but where did this multitude come from?

 

7 Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, 8 and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him. 

 

Some came from Galilee that would be places such as Bethsaida, Chorazin, Capernaum and Tiberius. Others from Judea, to the south, places such as Hebron, Bethlehem, Bethany. Others still from Jerusalem also to the south. People also came from Idumea with is even more south than Judea. Beyond the Jordan would be the Eastern region of the Jordan River with places such as: Garasa, Gadara and Philadelphia. Finally people came from Tyre and Sidon which is North of Galilee on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. So people were coming from the North, East and the South of the Sea of Galilee to come and see Jesus. Notice that no one from the West came to see him – why? Simply because South-West of the Sea of Galilee is Samaria. And we know that Samaritans & Jews don’t like each other. It all started with the Babylonian deportation. When some of the Jews came back (after the 70 years of exile) the Jews who had remained in Samaria had inter-married with people from other nations. The Jews who came back refused fellowship because of this. A feud began and was still aflame in the times of Jesus.                    

 

2. The crowding (3:9,10)

 

 9 And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him; 10 for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him.

 

Today when there is an event that deals with large crowds we call in the experts in what is called ‘crowd control’. They make sure that everything is in place so that no incident or accident occurs – everyone needs to be safe and sound. Let’s just say that ‘crowd control’ wasn’t quite the same in Jesus’ day.

 

 9 And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him; 

 

What was Jesus’ plan for ‘crowd control’? It seems that a small boat would do the ‘trick’ very simple but efficient. If things got out of hand he would go on the water and people would be on land. And everything would be taken care of and people (including Jesus) would be safe. We also see that often when there is a great multitude – things get out of hand. There was a real threat that people would lose their sense of self-control. Do you remember the event in 2015 where 4135 Muslim Pilgrims died in Saudi Arabia? Simply because there was no ‘crowd control’! What a tragedy! I believe that this is what Jesus did not want to happen with the crowd that came to see him. One thing that I see is that Jesus thinks ahead and plans things out and that should be a model for us also. In some Christian circles they don’t really plan things out - they say that they ‘Leave it to the Spirit’. I only have one thing to say: If planning and thinking ahead was good enough for Jesus it is certainly good enough for me! This is what Paul wrote to the Corinthians concerning doing things in order.

 

1 Corinthians 14:33

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

(NKJV)

 

1 Corinthians 14:40

Let all things be done decently and in order.

(NKJV)

 

In verse nine we also see that Jesus was truly human. We can often forget that Jesus was truly a person like you and I are (Gal. 4:4). Because of this He had the same human fears as we all do and one of them was the following:

 

(v.9)…so that they would not crowd Him

 

The word ‘crowd’ (THIBO) means: to crowd, anguish, tribulation, trouble. In other words he was afraid to be crushed to death. I would be too - wouldn’t you? Like I said, Jesus had fears just like you and I have. The reason Jesus was afraid to be crushed is the following:

 

10 for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him.

 

People go wild, they lose all sense of right and wrong and are ready to do ANYTHING – to get what they want! Jesus was healing people and instead of remaining calm and doing things in an orderly fashion like:

  • Getting in line

  • Waiting for their turn

  • Keeping calm

  • Praising the Lord

 

They abandoned a civil way of living and began to have a ‘crowd mentality’. It is written that they began to ‘press around him’ (EPIPEPTO) means to: seize with more or less violence, to press upon! Everything went out of hand, people tried to touch Jesus or to grab hold of him. Have you ever seen what desperate people are able to do either to obtain something or to get out of a situation? Things can become very ugly. Remember the old news when the Beatles came to North America (1963) and how the girls just went wild and tried to ‘grab hold’ of them? They would try to tear a piece of clothing off their back, cut a piece of hair, and grab hold of anything as long as it belonged to a Beatle. That’s the way people are when the ‘crowd rules’, all is chaos. Jesus was afraid that people would just overcome him. So he had a boat ready, just in case.

 

3. The evil spirits (3:11,12)

 

11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!” 12 And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was.

 

In the crowd there were not only men, women and children but also evil unclean spirits were present. For me it is plain to see that these unclean spirits were in some of the people. Notice that the text does not say that Jesus spoke to them or even confronted them BEFORE they spoke out. What is beautiful is that this text manifests the total supremacy of Jesus over these beings. Can you imagine – just because they saw him, just because their eyes fell upon God incarnate they immediately, instantaneously reacted to his presence – ‘they fell down before Him’. They had to prostrate, to humiliate and humble themselves before the Lord of lords and King of kings. They had no choice - they did not and could not put up a fight. All they could do is to authenticate who Jesus really was:

 

(v.11)…You are the Son of God

 

Does it not astound you that the devils could identify Jesus yet the crowd could not! People were witnessing that the light of the world had come to earth. They were hearing the Logos and were witnessing the all-powerful hand of God do wonders before their very eyes. Yet the vast majority did not recognize who he was – the Son of God!

  • Have you recognized who Christ is?

  • Have you declared that he is the Son of God?

  • Do you tell others who he is?

  • Does he reign in your heart and have you ‘bent your knee’ before him?

 

12 And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was.

 

In the plan of His Father the time had not come for Jesus to be openly revealed as the true Messiah. The ‘Good News’ that Jesus is the Son of God must not come from evil spirits but from his disciples. The devils and unclean spirits are not to be ambassadors for Christ but his disciples were to be his heralds, messengers and his representatives.

 

2 Corinthians 5:20

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.

(NKJV)

 

Jesus shut the mouths of these demons but he encourages our mouths to evangelize around us for the Disciples of Christ are the true heirs and heralds of the ‘Good News’.

 

CONCLUSIONS:

  1. Are you like the crowd ready to be with Jesus even if it brings you far from your home?

  2. Are you still a little ‘crazy’ about Jesus but in a good way. Does he excite, stimulate and motivate you?

  3. Since you know Jesus, are you proclaiming him? Are you telling the truth about him to others?

 

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The gospel of Mark
14 – Jesus appoints the twelve apostles
3:13-19

 

13 And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. 14 And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, 15 and to have authority to cast out the demons. 16 And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), 17 and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder”); 18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.

(NASB)

 

At one point in his early ministry Jesus called twelve men to be set apart from all the other disciples – these would be called apostles. The word apostle in Greek means: ‘one sent forth’.

 

These twelve men were to be distinguished from all others. Here are some reasons why:

  1. They were personally hand-picked and in trusted by Christ with the institution and caring of the church that would be born on the day of Pentecost.

  2. The apostles would be personally filled with the Holy Spirit until He would permanently reside in believers on the day of Pentecost. (John 20:22)

  3. They were his very first heralds with the specific mission to proclaim the kingdom of heaven. (Mat. 10:5-15)

  4. They alone received the ‘Keys of the kingdom of Heaven’. (Mat. 16:19; 18:18)

  5. They received the ‘Great Commission’ to evangelize the world. (Mat. 28:18-20)

  6. They were to be witnesses of his resurrection. (Acts 1:22)

  7. They needed to have accompanied Jesus throughout ALL of his ministry from his baptism to his ascension. (Acts 1:21)

 

As you can see there is a difference between a Disciple of Christ (which we can be) and an Apostle of Christ (which no longer exists today).So let’s take a closer look at our text.

 

1. The calling (3:13)

 

13 And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. 

 

Notice that Jesus brought his disciples up a mountain – he wanted the calling to be private. This wasn’t the first time that a mountain became part of Jesus’ life.

  • He was tempted by Satan on a mountain top (Mat. 4:8)

  • He preached the Sermon on the Mount on a mountain (Mat. 5-7)

  • He prayed alone on mountains (Mat. 14:23)

  • He performed miracles on a mountain (Mat. 15:29-31)

  • He was transfigured on a mountain (Mat . 17:1)

  • He even sometimes slept on a mountain (Luke 21:37)

  • He ascended to heaven from a mountain top (Acts 1:9)

 

The mountain here is not named but it is believed to be the same mountain where Jesus gave his ‘Sermon on the Mount’. Notice that Jesus only called ‘those whom he himself wanted’ (v.13).This wasn’t a popularity contest, it wasn’t a raffle event, they did not even ‘sign-up’ to become apostles. It was Jesus’ choice. There may even have been people who would have loved even more to become ‘special followers’ than the twelve chosen – but they were not chosen. This is God’s personal choice, it is what we call sovereign election. It is just like our own election – God personally called us to be with the Son.

 

John 6:37

"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

(NKJV)

 

We also see why he called the twelve:

 

13 And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. 

 

In the Bible Basic English translation the idea is easier to understand.

 

Mark 3:13

And he went up into the mountain, and sent for those whom it was his pleasure to have with him: and they went to him.

(Bible Basic English)

 

It was the pleasure of Jesus to have these men along with him. In other words he was glad and very happy that they were at his side. I believe that Jesus rejoices to have his disciples by his side – even today. The proof of this is that the church is called his ‘bride’. (Rev. 19:6-8; 22:17)Also notice in v. 13 that: ‘they came to Him’. Those he chose came to him and it is the same today. ALL that the Father gives to Jesus will come to him for no one nor any power can stop those who have heard his voice from following him.

 

John 10:16

"And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

(NKJV)

 

John 10:27

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

(NKJV)

 

2. The called ones (3:14-19)

 

Let’s look at WHY they were called to His side.

 

14 And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, 15 and to have authority to cast out the demons. 

 

The first reason is: ‘that they would be with Him’ (v.14).

 

To be with Jesus is the highest reason for their calling – to be with Jesus is the highest reason for our calling.

  • To savour his presence

  • To hear his words

  • To witness his power

  • To understand his thinking

  • To receive his wisdom

  • To observe his love and compassion

  • To walk by his side

  • To discern his will

  • To emulate our Lord

  • To be the salt and light of this world

 

The second reason is: ‘He could send them out to preach’ (v.14).

 

They were to speak to others of what they had witnessed concerning Christ. This also is the mandate of all his disciples. We know this because of verses such as:

 

Acts 1:8

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

(NKJV)

 

The third is to: ‘to have authority to cast out the demons’ (v.15).

 

This would certify their testimony concerning Christ. This miraculous power is no longer needed since the Holy Spirit was given to ALL disciples on the day of Pentecost. Notice that this general power over demons was only given to the twelve apostles and not the disciples in general! So let’s look at these twelve apostles by alphabetical order – who are they? In general very little is mentioned directly in the Bible concerning them. For some, nothing at all is said except for their names. Some of the following information may come from Christian tradition and must not be taken at face value!

 

Andrew

Andrew was the brother of Peter, and a son of Jonas. He lived in Bethsaida and Capernaum and was a fisherman before Jesus called him. Originally he was a disciple of John the Baptist (Mark 1:16-18). Andrew brought his brother, Peter, to Jesus (John 1:40).Tradition says that Andrew was crucified on an ‘X’ shaped cross.

 

Bartholomew or Nathanael

Bartholomew / Nathanael, son of Talmai, lived in Cana of Galilee. Bartholomew's name appears with every list of the disciples (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13). This was not a first name, however; it was his second name. His first name probably was Nathanael, whom Jesus called "An Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile" (John 1:47).However, tradition says that he preached in India, and his death seems to have taken place there. It is said thathe died as a martyr for his Lord. He was flayed alive with knives.

 

James the Elder

James, the Elder, Boanerges, son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of John the Apostle; was a fisherman who lived in Bethsaida, Capernaum and Jerusalem. He preached in Jerusalem and Judea and was beheaded by Herod, AD 44 (Acts 12:1,2).

He was a member of the Inner Circle, so called because they were accorded special privileges. The New Testament tells us very little about James. His name never appears apart from that of his brother, John. They were an inseparable pair (Mark 1:19-20; Matthew 4:21; Luke 5:1-11).He was the first of the twelve to become a martyr (Acts 12:2).

 

James the Lesser or the Younger

James, the Lesser or Younger, son of Alpheus, or Cleophas and Mary, lived in Galilee. He was the brother of the Apostle Jude. According to tradition he wrote the Epistle of James, preached in Palestine and Egypt and was crucified in Egypt. James was one of the little-known disciples. Some scholars believe he was the brother of Matthew, the tax collector. James was a man of strong character and one of the fieriest types out of the twelve. Still another tradition says that he died as a martyr and his body was sawed in pieces.

 

John

John Boanerges, was the son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of James, the Apostle. He was known as the ‘Beloved Disciple’. A fisherman who lived in Bethsaida, Capernaum and Jerusalem, he was a member of the Inner Circle. He wrote the Gospel of John, I John, II John, III John and Revelation. He preached among the churches of Asia Minor. Banished to the isle of Patmos, he was later freed and died a natural death. John was one of the prominent Apostles. He is mentioned in many places in the New Testament. He was a man of action; he was very ambitious; and a man with an explosive temper and an intolerant heart. His second name was Boanerges, which means ‘Son of Thunder’. John mellowed with time. By the latter part of his life, he had forgotten everything, including his ambition and explosive temper, except his Lord's command to love.

 

Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot, the traitor, was the son of Simon who lived in Kerioth of Judah. He betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and afterwards hung himself (Mat. 26:14,16).Judas, the man who became the traitor, is the supreme enigma of the New Testament because it is so hard to see how anyone who was so close to Jesus, who saw so many miracles and heard so much of the Master's teaching could ever betray him into the hands of his enemies.

No one can deny that Judas was a covetous man and at times he used his position as treasurer of the band to steal from the common purse. There is no certain reason as to why Judas betrayed his master; but it is not his betrayal that put Jesus on the cross-it was our sins.

 

Jude or Thaddeus

Jude, Thaddeus son of Cleophas and Mary. He was a brother of James the Younger. He was one of the very little-known Apostles and lived in Galilee. Tradition says he preached in Assyria and Persia and died a martyr in Persia. In the Scriptures Jude had a few surnames. In Mark 3:18 he is called Thaddeus. In Matthew 10:3 he is called Lebbeus. In Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13 he is called Judas the brother of James.

 

Matthew or Levi

Matthew, or Levi, son of Alpheus, lived in Capernaum. He was a publican and tax collector. He wrote the Gospel that bears his name. Tradition says that he died a martyr in Ethiopia. The call of Matthew to the apostolic band is mentioned in Mark 2:14, Matthew 9:9 and Luke 5:27-28. From these passages, we learn that Matthew also was called Levi. It is likely that James the lesser, who was one of the twelve Apostles, was Matthew's brother, also the son of Alpheus. Although we know little about Matthew personally, the outstanding fact about him is that he was a tax collector. Of all the nations in the world, the Jews were the most vigorous haters of tax gatherers. To the devout Jew, God was the only one to whom it was right to pay tribute in taxes. To pay it to anyone else was to infringe on the rights of God. The tax collectors were hated not on religious grounds only but because most of them were notoriously unjust. In the minds of many honest, Jewish men, these tax collectors were regarded as criminals. In New Testament times they were classified with harlots, Gentiles and sinners (Matthew 18:17; Matthew 21:31, 33; Matthew 9;10; Mark 2:15,16; Luke 5:30).

 

Peter

Simon Peter, son of Jonas, was a fisherman who lived in Bethsaida and Capernaum. He did evangelistic and missionary work among the Jews. He was a member of the Inner Circle and authored the two New Testament epistles which bear his name. Tradition says he was crucified, head downward, in Rome. In every apostolic list, the name Peter is mentioned first. However, Peter had other names. At the time of Christ, the common language was Greek and the family language was Hebrew. So his Greek name was Simon (Mark 1:16; John 1:40, 41).

His Hebrew name was Cephas (1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5 and Galatians 2:9). The Greek meaning of Simon is rock. The Arabic meaning of Cephas is also rock. By trade, Peter was a fisherman. He was a married man (1 Corinthians 9:5) and his home was Capernaum. Among the twelve, Peter was the leader. He stands out as a spokesman for all the twelve Apostles. It is he who asked the meaning of the difficult saying in Matthew 15:15. It is he who asked how often he must forgive. It is he who inquired about the reward for all of those who follow Jesus. It is he who first confessed Jesus and declared Him as the Son of the Living God. It is he who was at the Mount of Transfiguration. It is he who saw the daughter of Jairus raised to life. Yet, it is he who denied Christ before a maiden. It is true, Peter had many faults, but he had always the saving grace of the loving heart. No matter how many times he had fallen and failed, he always recovered his courage and integrity. Tradition says that Peter was martyred on a cross. Peter requested that he might be crucified head downward for he was not worthy to die like his Lord had died.

 

Philip

Tradition says that Philip preached in Phrygia and died a martyr at Hierapolis. Philip came from Bethsaida, the town from which Peter and Andrew came (John 1:44). The likelihood is that he, too, was a fisherman. Although the first three Gospels record his name (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13), it is in the Gospel of John that Philip becomes a living personality. The Gospel of John shows Philip as one of the first to whom Jesus addressed the words, "Follow Me." When Philip met Christ, he immediately found Nathanael and told him that "we have found him, of whom Moses … and the prophets, did write." Nathanael was sceptical. But Philip did not argue with him; he simply answered, "Come and see."

 

Simon the Zealot

Simon, the Zealot, one of the little-known followers called the Canaanite or Zealots, lived in Galilee. Tradition says he was crucified. In two places in the King James Version he is called a Canaanite (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18). However in the other two places he is called Simon Zelotes (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13).The New Testament gives us practically nothing on him personally except that it says he was a Zealot. The Zealots were fanatical Jewish Nationalists who had heroic disregard for the suffering involved and the struggle for what they regarded as the purity of their faith. Yet, Simon clearly emerged as a man of faith. He abandoned all his hatred and found faith. He showed it toward Jesus and by the love that he was willing to share with the rest of the disciples and especially Matthew, the Roman tax collector.

 

Thomas Didymus

Thomas Didymus lived in Galilee. Thomas was his Hebrew name and Didymus was his Greek name. At times he was called Judas. Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us nothing about Thomas except his name. However, John defines him more clearly in his Gospel. Thomas appeared in the raising of Lazarus (John 11:2-16) and in the Upper Room (John 14:1-6) where he wanted to know how to know the way where Jesus was going. In John 20:25, we see him saying unless he sees the nail prints in Jesus' hand and the gash of the spear in His side he will not believe. That's why Thomas became known as Doubting Thomas. When Jesus rose, he came back and invited Thomas to put his finger in the nail prints in his hands and in his side. Here, we see Thomas making the greatest confession of faith, "My Lord and my God." Thomas' doubts were transformed into faith.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. May all of this remind us of our calling to follow Jesus!

 

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The gospel of Mark
15 – Jesus and the unpardonable sin
3:20-30

 

20 And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. 21 When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” 22 The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” 23 And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! 27 But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house. 28 “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

(NASB)

 

What is known to be the ‘unpardonable sin’ has brought many woes, grief and distress to a number of believers. Because of their lack of knowledge their minds oppress them with thoughts of insecurity or even the loss of their salvation.

  • Have I gone too far this time?

  • Will God forgive me again?

  • Have I lost my way and there is no turning back?

  • Have I committed the ‘unpardonable’ sin?

 

Jesus speaks about this sin so let’s listen closely and stand upon the rock of his words. This section proves the paramount importance of biblical knowledge. Even if you are a child of God the enemy can torment you simply because you can not oppose him with the word of God. We are told over and over to be diligent, meditate and study the word of God (Ps. 119:2,4,5,6 etc.).

 

1. The setting (3:20)

 

20 And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. 

 

In the gospel of Matthew (12:22-32) we can see another side of this story.

 

Matthew 12:22,23

(22)Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.

(23)And all the multitudes were amazed and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"

(NKJV)

 

The setting is VERY IMPORTANT for us to understand what the ‘unpardonable sin’ actually is. Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man who could not see or hear. By casting out the demon Jesus made the man whole again. Notice that the Bible does not explain ‘Why’ this man had become demon-possessed. This was true not only in this case but for all the other cases also. Many people offer their thoughts on the subject but the Bible does not offer extensive explanations. So please beware when people speak as though they are experts and have all the answers.

 

Because of this unbelievable miracle people were so astounded that some are beginning to think the following: ‘Can this be the Son of David?’Meaning: ‘is Jesus the long awaited Messiah’? The miraculous healing and the word that is being spread that ‘he might be the Messiah’ causes such an uproar that a crowd gathers and surrounds the house that Jesus and his disciples were in.

 

(20)… to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. 

 

The disturbance was so great that they are literally unable to have their meal! People were flooding the house and its outskirts.

 

2. His family (3:21)

 

21 When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.”

 

We have read the reaction of the crowd – they wondered if he was the Messiah. The reaction of ‘his own people’ which means his own family (mother, brothers &sisters) was quite different. Notice first that they wanted to ‘take custody of him’. They wanted to seize him and to get him out of there. This was not the first time that Jesus had done miracles. It never seemed to bother them before. His own mother even once intervened and asked Jesus to do something about the lack of wine at the marriage of Cana (John 2). So what is the difference with the miracle in this story? They wanted to carry him away. In fact they were afraid for his health and safety.

 

(v.21)…for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.”

 

Humanly speaking these were not ‘bad people’ who wanted to destroy his ministry. They actually cared so much about him that they wanted to ‘come to his rescue’. Unfortunately they lacked wisdom and they acted upon their own thoughts and not those of the Lord God. This is a bit like Peter when he refused what Jesus said concerning his coming death. He thought he knew better but Jesus sternly refuted him (Mat. 16:23). May we be very careful not to act too swiftly thinking that ‘we are the ones who know what is right to do or not to do’. As we can see, Jesus’ family actually thought that he was crazy, disturbed and irrational, that he ‘broke’ under the pressure of being so popular. So they rushed to what they thought was his rescue.

 

3. The accusation (3:22)

 

22 The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”

 

So far, the crowd is wondering if he might be the Messiah, his family believes that he is crazy and now the religious leaders step in to give their ‘two cents worth’. This was their take on Jesus: ‘He was possessed by Beelzebub’. The name Beelzebub is derived from the name Baal-Zebub who was an idol of the Ekronites. Baal-Zebub was the ‘lord of the flies’ and protected his followers from the torments of gnats and flies. What these religious leaders were saying is that Jesus (who had just performed the healing of a demon-possessed man) was ACTUALLY POSSESSED by a demon! Not only that - listen to what is then said:

 

(22)…“He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”

 

They are saying that the power that healed the poor man was not from God but from Satan himself who is the ‘ruler of the demons’! The religious leaders believed Jesus was an instrument of the devil and was doing the will of the devil and also glorifying the devil by being his ‘puppet’.

 

This is VERY important to understand. As we will see in Jesus’ explanation THIS IS the ‘unpardonable sin’ - believing that Jesus is from Satan and is empowered by Satan.

 

4. The story (3:23-27)

 

Jesus confronts his accusers by reasoning with them.

 

23 And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! 27 But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.

 

This is the way things ought to be settled in life. Someone opposes you so what do you do? Here we see that Jesus calls his opponents and he begins to speak to them. He will show how illogical, warped and blasphemous their thinking was. If Satan casts himself out then his kingdom is divided and his own house no longer stands and the end has come for him. (v.23-26)

 

He also says how can a man steal from another man UNLESS he first of all binds him.

 

27 But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.

 

In other words, you have to be stronger than the man you are about to steal from if you want to plunder his goods. You simply can not take something by force, from someone, if you are weaker than that person. You see, Satan had bound the poor man and had made him to be blind and deaf. The poor man had become the ‘plunder of Satan’. He was under his control. Now for Jesus to deliver this man from Satan (to steal him back – to rescue him) he had to be stronger than Satan and had to bind the devil to be able to ‘unbind’ the poor man. If Satan is the ruler of the demons (v.22) how then can Jesus (who was supposed to be under his influence) be greater than Satan, bind him and deliver the man? This was totally impossible – Jesus had to be greater to be able to do so.

 

5. The conclusion (3:28-30)

 

28 “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

 

Understanding the context, we now come to Jesus’ affirmation concerning what is called the ‘unpardonable sin’. The first thing that Jesus says is:

 

28 “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter;

 

Friends, rest upon these words of Christ, all sins, whatever sin you do WILL BE forgiven. As a true believer there is not a single sin that you do that will not be forgiven – whatever sin it is. Understand that Christ has died not only for a certain amount of sins but for ALL YOUR SINS.

 

Colossians 1:13

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

(NKJV)

 

Romans 5:1

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

(NKJV)

 

Romans 8:1,2

(1)There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

(2)For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

(NKJV)

 

Amen! I have been delivered from the power of darkness, I have been transferred (by God) into the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col. 1:13)Amen! I have been justified and have total peace with God (Rom. 5:1)Amen! There is no condemnation because I am in Christ and I have been set free from the Law of sin and death. (Rom. 8:1,2)

 

Jesus now continues his conclusion:

 

29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”

 

Here is the mention of the ‘unpardonable sin’ – it is when you sin against the Holy Spirit. There is NO FORGIVENESS for this sin. There is only eternal condemnation – hell if you prefer. Remember the context, it’s so important. The Scribes (who were the religious elite), said that Jesus was FROM the devil and exercised his power by the ‘ruler of the demons’ (v.22).This is the ‘unpardonable sin’ and the ONLY (as Jesus said) ‘unpardonable sin’, when you say that Jesus is a demon, under the authority of Satan and empowered by the Devil himself. When you say that God himself (Emmanuel) is actually from the Devil – there is no forgiveness for you. The proof of what I just said is found in v. 30:

 

30 because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

 

Saying (which means you believe) that Jesus ‘has an unclean spirit’ will bring eternal damnation upon you. God’s way of salvation is only through his beloved Son. If you take God’s affirmation concerning Jesus and say ‘no He is not holy but rather an unclean spirit’; then the wrath of God is upon you forever – simply because you have closed the door to salvation. I believe that as long as you have breath and your heart is beating you have the opportunity to repent. But if you die believing that Christ is not who he is then God’s judgment is upon you (John 3:36)

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. There is only one ‘unpardonable sin’ and if today you are a child of God it is impossible for you to commit it. This is because you have believed that Christ is the Son of God (who came to save you from the penalty of your sins at the cross) and not believed that he is from the devil.

 

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The gospel of Mark
16 – Jesus’ mother and brothers
3:31-35

 

31 Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. 32 A crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.”33 Answering them, He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” 34 Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

(NASB)

 

In our last section concerning the ‘unpardonable sin’ (Mark 3:29-34), we saw that Jesus’ family came to see him. They were concerned about him, worried about what was happening in his life, all the people, all the crowds, all the hysteria because of the healings and so forth. It came to a point that this is what his family said about him:

 

21 When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” 

(NASB)

 

In our section for today we will see what Jesus had to say concerning his family. And believe me his statement should shock many religious establishments. It should also jolt our minds when we come to understand what his view of his family is!

 

1. The arrival (3:31)

 

31 Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. 

 

Jesus’ family which presently turns out to be his mother and his brothers finally arrive where Jesus was. Since he is in Capernaum we can imagine that it is at Peter and Andrew’s house. Notice that His brothers as well as his mother (Mary) arrive and it is written that they stay ‘standing outside’.I wonder why they don’t show up at Peter’s door and ask to see Jesus? Why don’t they simply make their way right to Jesus and speak to him?

 

Now I know that there are a lot of people around but for some reason they just don’t feel at ease to get near him. We need to remember what they were thinking - that he was ‘out of his mind’ (Mark 3:21).

  • They may have been somewhat afraid of him (He’s crazy).

  • They may have been somewhat ashamed of him.

  • They may have been afraid of the crowd seeing them wanting to take away Jesus.

 

We don’t know exactly why they stayed outside but they did. I wonder if we are sometimes like them also. We stay just outside of Jesus’ door. Instead of getting close to him, do we stay on the porch with the door closed? Yet we are personally invited to go directly to Jesus and not be afraid, or ashamed or to feel unworthy of coming to his side.

 

Matthew 11:28-30

(28)"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

(29)"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

(30)"For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

(NKJV)

 

For whatever reason, his family actually preferred to send a messenger to him.

 

(v.31)…they sent word to Him and called Him. 

 

So someone was sent and this person ‘called out’ for Jesus. It could have been something like:

  • Jesus your family is outside and wants to see you.

  • Jesus your mother and brothers want to talk with you.

  • Jesus could you step outside, some important people are there for you.

 

We don’t know what was said but it was to get Jesus’ attention. When you think of it the family may have stayed outside simply because their plan was to take hold of him. Since they couldn’t do that inside the house because it was packed full of people they wanted him outside where this could be done.

 

2. The news (3:32)

 

32 A crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.”

 

This verse shows us that the messenger sent by his family did a good job. He yelled out so much and so loud that everybody in the house could hear that Jesus was wanted outside by his family. I don’t know why (unless Jesus wanted to make a point) but Jesus seems to shut his ears to the messenger and his message.

 

(v.32)…and they said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.”

 

This may have taken a few moments but at one point the crowd seeing the lack of reaction from Jesus – they themselves began to carry the message ‘and they said’. At this point it was no longer only the messenger but the crowd inside the house that was telling Jesus about his family being outside for him.

 

(v.32)…Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.”

 

They might have been thinking:

  • Why don’t you respond?

  • Why don’t you go and see them?

  • Don’t you care that they are there?

 

In other words “What’s wrong with you? Go and see your mother and brothers”.A bit like when parents or grand-parents speak to a child and the child does not listen to them at all – they wonder why and they get frustrated.

 

3. The question (3:33)

 

33 Answering them, He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?”

 

Now instead of doing the normal thing or having the normal reaction and going to see his family - Jesus will ask a question to his audience. Have you noticed that often Jesus does not do what is expected of him by society? This is a great lesson for all of us. Too often we comply to what others do or think instead of standing up and walking on the ‘narrow road’.

 

Jesus asks a very important theological question: “Who are My mother and My brothers?”There’s a difference between being an “outsider’ and an ‘insider’.

A difference between a family member and a ‘close neighbor’.Even a difference between a cousin and being a child of someone. Your aunt is not as close as your mother and your uncle is not as close as your father. Notice that Jesus is talking about relationships – deep and profound relationships – family relationships. For his audience the obvious answer to his question was well known.

 

Matthew 13:55,56

(55)"Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?

(56)"And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?"

(NKJV)

 

Maybe some were asking themselves ‘what’s wrong with him, doesn’t he know who his mother and brothers are?’Maybe he is out of his mind or maybe he does have a demon as the religious leaders were telling us! The people that were present had absolutely no clue to the impact of his question upon the entire human race. Jesus was actually asking:‘How is it possible for people to be part of my family?’ For the living God there are only two families in this entire world and there are only two fathers of all the people on earth. One of them is the devil – he has a family and he is the head of it.

 

John 8:42-44

(42)Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.

(43)"Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.

(44)"You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

(NKJV)

 

The devil was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of lies. The devil has his own family and we see that his children:

  • Do not love Jesus (42)

  • Do not understand Jesus when he speaks (43)

  • Are not even capable of understanding (43)

  • Are of the devil (44)

  • Have the desires of their father the devil (44)

 

We see that their father:

  • Is a murderer from the very beginning (44)

  • Does not stand in the truth (44)

  • Has no truth in himself (44)

  • Speaks lies (44)

  • That these lies are from his heart (44)

  • Is the father of all lies (44)

 

The devil is the spiritual father of all who do not belong to Christ by redemption. Here is one example of a man that does his father the devil’s will:

 

Acts 13:8-11

(8)But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.

(9)Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him

(10)and said, "O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?

(11)"And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time." And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.

(NKJV)

 

Here we see the characteristics of Elymas - who was a son of the devil (v.10)

  • Was full of deceit

  • Was filled with fraud

  • Was the enemy of righteousness

  • He perverted the straight ways of the Lord

 

If God is not your Father than automatically the devil is and billions upon billions of people have no clue concerning this simply because their spiritual father keeps them in a state of spiritual blindness!

 

2 Corinthians 3:14

But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.

(NKJV)

 

2 Corinthians 4:4

whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

(NKJV)

 

1 John 2:11

But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

(NKJV)

 

Then there is the family of the heavenly Father – God himself!

  • In John 2:16 Jesus says that God is his Father.

  • In John 14:21 it is written that he who loves the Son is loved by the Father.

  • In John 20:17 Jesus says that His Father is our Father.

 

One of the most touching verses concerning God being the Father of true believers is the following:

 

1 John 3:1

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

(NKJV)

 

I hope you are beginning to understand the importance of being in the family of Jesus the Messiah. Because if you are not – you are in the wrong family and for all eternity.

 

4. The answer (3:34,35)

 

34 Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

 

Looking at the people in that crowded little house, gathered to listen to his words, he said to them that his mother, and brothers were not the ones who were outside! Only the following was his family:

 

35 For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

 

The real family of Jesus is a spiritual one and not one of the flesh. It is reserved only for he who ‘does the will of God’. But simply stated ‘what is the will of God?’

 

John 14:1

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

(NKJV)

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Believing in God and believing that Jesus is the Messiah will open the door to becoming part of the Family of God. So are you staying outside the house like Mary and her sons were or are you inside at Christ’s feet? This will determine which family you belong to.

 

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The gospel of Mark
17 – The parable of the sower
4:1-20

 

(1)He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land. (2)And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, (3) “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; (4) as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. (5)Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. (6)And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. (7)Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. (8) Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (9) And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (10)As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. (11)And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, (12)so that while “seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.”

(13)And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? (14)The sower sows the word. (15)These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. (16)In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; (17)and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. (18)And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, (19)but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (20)And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

(NASB)

 

1. The setting (4:1,2)

 

(1)He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land. (2)And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching,

 

In the first verse we see the importance of teaching in the ministry of Jesus (to teach again). Although there are many things that are not understood because of our limited understanding – there was actually very little ‘mysticism’ in his instructions. We also notice that his teachings are not for a selected few or a spiritual elite. Jesus openly preaches to anyone who desires to listen. May we also have open ears to receive from Christ.

 

Jesus teaches by the sea – that’s where the people were. This is where a lot of commerce was being done. People were coming and going, buying and selling. This is also where the ‘latest news’ traveled to. So Jesus chose a place where he could reach the greatest amount of people possible. This does not exclude the times that he spoke to one person at a time. Nicodemus, the woman at the well and others had a one-on-one conversation with him. This teaches us that we must take all possibilities at hand to spread the gospel whether with a friend or to family members around the dinner table.

 

There was a problem with dealing with such a large crowd – the potential pressing of the people.

 

(v.1)…And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land.

 

One needs to remember that the reputation of Jesus was forever growing and people gathered around him. Unfortunately when a crowd gets out of hand trouble arises. Some came to hear his sermons, others came to see miracles, while others actually wanted to be touched by him or to touch him so that they may be healed like the woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years (Luke 8:43). This situation could rapidly become chaotic. Crowd control did not exist in those days so Jesus did what was the easiest and best thing to do – he got onto a boat (He got into a boat in the sea and sat down). He separated himself from the crowd and therefore created a ‘safety zone’. He was on the boat and the crowd was on the seashore.

 

(2)And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching,

 

We will see that the Lord Jesus uses a parable to teach the crowd. We need to understand what a parable is and how it works. This is what the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia writes: ‘In the more usual and technical sense of the word, "parable" ordinarily signifies an imaginary story, yet one that in its details could have actually transpired, the purpose of the story being to illustrate and inculcate some higher spiritual truth.’So a parable is a story that points to a spiritual truth. A parable is given to help people understand a main point and not to make it even more obscure.

 

2. The parable (4:3-9)

 

(3) “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; (4) as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. (5)Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. (6)And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. (7)Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. (8) Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (9) And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

Jesus begins by saying: ‘listen to this’. Today we might say: ‘Attention please’. Jesus wanted the crowd to stop what they were doing and to listen to his words. We also need to stop our activities and to really take time to hear what the Lord has for us. We all have busy lives, we all have far too many things to do and we all need to STOP, set aside what we are doing and calmly stay quiet. Jesus will speak about four seeds.

 

(3) “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; (4) as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up.

 

The picture of a sower was very common in Israel, every person could easily imagine what Jesus was speaking about. As I said before, a parable is used to enlighten the mind and not to darken it. May our spiritual explanations also be easily understood! The first seed is thrown in the air and it lands beside the road. Like today there were little roads or paths that went from one field to another. People walked daily on these paths and the ground hardened under their feet, so hard that nothing grew on them. I personally live in the country and the entrance to our house is a path that has been used for decades. Nothing grows, nothing can grow because the ground is almost hard as rock. So some of the seed fell on this ground and since it just lies there the birds come and have a feast eating all the seed they can.

 

(5)Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. (6)And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

 

Here we see the story of the second seed. There is soil and the seed begins to grow and grow rapidly. Unfortunately the soil was not really made for farming. You see the ground was rocky. All farmers will tell you that it is simply impossible to have a crop when the soil is filled with rocks. Farmers are constantly extracting all the rocks that are in their field. There is even special equipment that is made to be used only to remove rocks! Here we see that the depth of the soil was slight because of the rock formation underneath it. Once the sun would appear and heat the soil the plant would instantly die because ‘it had no root’. This meant that the little roots it had were not able to provide any humidity from the soil (because of the rocks) and the plant withered away. The word ‘scorched’ in Greek (KAUMATIZO) means: to burn. It just withered away, dried up and died.

 

(7)Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.

 

The third group of seed unfortunately did not fall on the right type of soil it fell among already existing plants – thorns. We know that when a farmer plants seeds he first of all gets rid of everything that is on the soil. The ground has to be cleansed of rocks, debris and existing vegetation, simply because what is on the field will damage the seeding effort. Here we see that the existing thorns ‘choked’ the life out of the seeds that tried to grow. The word ‘choked’ (SUMPNIGO) in Greek means: to strangle completely. The existing life in the plant was taken away – it died.

 

Now so far the sower is unsuccessful for all of the first three seeds are either eaten away, dried up or left lifeless. This is a somber picture but AMEN that there is a fourth seed and this should encourage us.

 

(8)Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (9) And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

The story of the fourth seed is comforting. Notice that it is the only seed that fell ‘into the good soil’. And this is a very important fact, the fourth seed is the only one that fell into ‘good soil’. This makes all the difference in the parable. Because it fell in the good soil two main things happened. The first is that: ‘they grew up and increased’. This means that they were healthy and the natural course of things went along just fine. Contrary to the first seed the soil was receiving the seed.

Contrary to the second seed this soil was not filled with rocks and had enough depth to allow its roots to firmly set in and nourish the plant. Contrary to the third seed this soil did not have any thorns to choke the life out of it. The second main thing that happened because of the soil is that: ‘they yielded a crop’. This means that this seed was brought to maturity. The full cycle had occurred. In other words the seed became what it was supposed to be- a fully grown crop. Once again this is all because of the ‘good soil’ that the seed had fallen into.

 

Please notice something very important that is written: ‘produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.’ Each seed did not automatically produce the same amount of fruit, as with each true Disciple of Christ. Some are more fruitful than others depending on the spiritual gifting they had received and also their willingness to follow the Lord. This reminds me of the parable of the Talents (Mat. 25:14-30) where the owner gives five talents to one, two to another servant and finally one to the last. He rewarded the one that doubled his two talents just as much as the one who doubled his five talents. But the one who bore the Master no fruit from the talent that he was given was judged and punished. It is obvious that this last servant did not have ‘good soil’ in his heart since he did nothing else but hide the money he had received.

 

(9) And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

Jesus draws a conclusion to his parable by stating that if you have understood this parable apply it. He is also saying that it is not everyone that has ‘ears to hear’. Not everyone is able to understand what is said by Christ.

 

3. I don’t understand (4:10-12)

 

(10)As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. (11)And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, (12)so that “while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.”

 

In verse ten we see that His followers and the twelve (those who would become His disciples) did not really understand or only partly understood what Jesus meant by His parable.

 

(10)As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables.

 

Notice that the followers and the twelve did not tarry with their questions ‘as soon as’. It seems that their hearts were pricked by this parable and they absolutely wanted to understand it. What a wonderful example for all Disciples of Christ not tarrying to open the Bible and asking the Holy Spirit to open their eyes so they can understand what is written. It also manifests that even the twelve who had been with Christ day in and day out still could not grasp his every word. This comforts me because there are still many things that I can not grasp!

 

(11)And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, (12)so that  “while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.”

 

These two verses are difficult for our minds to comprehend and accept. It manifests both the severity of the Lord (unto those who do not have ears to hear) and the grace of the Lord for those who do.

 

Jesus speaks of ‘the mystery of the kingdom of God’. The word ‘mystery’ (MUSTERION) means: to shut the mouth, giving the idea of something that is a secret. The secret mentioned here has to do with the kingdom of God. What is this ‘Kingdom of God’? It seems that this term is an equivalent of: Kingdom of Christ (Mt 6:33; Mr 1:14,15; Lu 4:43), Kingdom of Christ and of God (Mt 13:41; 20:21), Kingdom of David (Eph 5:5), the Kingdom (Mt 8:12; 13:19), and the Kingdom of heaven (Mt 3:2; 4:17; 13:41). All these terms give the idea of the authority of God and his rule here on earth as the Sovereign King.

 

What we find in this parable has to do with ‘how to get in the Kingdom’ as we will see with Jesus’ explanation. So the answer to the mystery of the Kingdom of God is given to those who have a heart to follow Christ (those who have ears to listen). But to those whose ears are not receptive to the message they remain in darkness having no true desire or interest in the Kingdom of God.

 

4. The explanation (4:13-20)

 

(13)And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? (14)The sower sows the word. (15)These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. (16)In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;

(17)and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. (18)And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, (19)but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (20)And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

 

Once the disciples and followers ask questions concerning this parable Jesus makes an important point.

 

(13)And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?

 

The point he is making is the importance of understanding parables. Since this should be an easily understood parable because it was taken from an agricultural imagery seen so often in Israel – why then don’t you get it? Sower, seed, soil, rocks, heat, etc. It should be easily understood. He then goes and says: ‘How will you understand all the parables? ’If you don’t understand a parable everybody should get how are you going to understand other parables that are more spiritual in their significance? So Jesus sets out to explain what the parable means.

 

(14)The sower sows the word.

 

The first thing he describes is what the seed is that the sower is spreading across his field – it is the ‘word’. The ‘word’ mentioned is the word of God. The sower in this case can easily be Jesus himself or anyone of his disciples that spreads the Good News. Let’s imagine that it’s Jesus as he goes to and fro in Israel bringing the Gospel message wherever he is.

 

(15)These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.

 

The following verses are self-explanatory. Jesus speaks of the first seed which falls on the ‘hard soil’ (hard heart, ears that do not hear, spiritually blind). This person does not really care about the Kingdom of God and the seed planted is there but for a very little time. Jesus says that Satan is like a bird that rapidly comes and scoops up the word of God that had been given. Some might say: ‘See how powerful Satan is’.

Actually if the soil had been good the seed would have taken root and grown. Since the heart was closed it was easy for Satan to do his work.

 

(16)In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; (17)and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.

 

Jesus says that when the second seed is received it lands in rocky soil and people receive the word with joy, just like many do in our churches or Christian events. There is a lot going on, music, testimonies, and atmosphere and when they hear the word they receive it. They may answer the altar call, raise their hand, sign on the dotted line and so forth. But Jesus says that ‘they have no firm root in themselves’ and this reception is ‘only temporary’. Real life happens ‘affliction or persecution because of the word’. Since they have no ‘firm root in themselves’ (their reception of the word is superficial) since there was no real second birth – they fall away. I have often seen this in people who one day attend church and are active and a few months later they are never to be seen again.

 

(18)And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, (19)but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

 

The third seed is received by people who are filled with ‘the worries of the world’ and ‘the deceitfulness of riches’ and also ‘the desires for other things’. In other words they are drowning in longings and cravings for the things of this world, the riches of it and all types of passions. They ‘want’ and they ‘worry’. Their eyes are focused on what we call materialism. They live for the NOW and they want it right NOW! All these things ‘enter in and choke the word’. The life- giving word is shut out of the heart of the person and can not bring any fruit in the person’s life.

 

(20)And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

 

I am so glad that the parable does not end with verse nineteen because no one could be saved. So far the seed has been useless in the life of these three different kinds of people. The first person has a heart too hard to receive the word. The second person does not have any roots in himself and the seed dies. The third person is so caught up with the things of this world that the word is choked and does not bear any fruit.

 

The fourth seed lands in ‘good soil’ meaning that the heart of the person is ready to hear the Good News. This is the ONLY seed that falls in ‘good soil’. Also notice that there are no obstacles in the life of this person. It is written that people like this person ‘hear the word and accept it’. This is also the only seed that is accepted by the soil. And finally: ‘and bear fruit’. It is the completion of the life giving cycle.

 

This is the only person that enters the Kingdom of God. He hears the Good News, he has ‘good soil’ (his heart), he ‘’accepts’ the Good News (he repents) and he ‘bears fruit’ his life is transformed and glorifies the Lord God.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. May I ask if you have gladly received the word of God – the Good News unto salvation? Have you accepted it and repented of your sins asking Jesus to be your Savior? Has your life been dramatically transformed and are the fruits of your life evident for all to see? Only this person will enter the Kingdom of God – are you that kind of person?

 

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The gospel of Mark
18 – Three parables
4:21-34

21 And He was saying to them, “A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand? 22 For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”24 And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.25 For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”

 

26 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. 28 The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.29 But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

 

30 And He said, “How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, 32 yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade.”

 

33 With many such parables He was speaking the word to them, so far as they were able to hear it; 34 and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.

(NASB)

 

In this section the Lord will tell his listeners three parables and they are given like ‘a bundle’. Are these three parables going in the same direction? In a way they can, depending on how you look at them. Some might reflect on them long enough to find factors that link them one to another. One might say that the first parable speaks of receiving the seed (light) and being responsible for it. The second can speak about the seed (light) entering a person and growing in an unknown fashion. The third parable could speak about once the seed (light) is grounded in a person it transforms that person into someone totally different. Notice that this ‘bunch’ of parables follow the famous parable of the sower. Could it be that in some way they all have the same theme – ‘The word of God and its effect on a human being?’

 

1. A lamp on a stand (4:21-25)

 

21 And He was saying to them, “A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand? 22 For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”24 And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.25 For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”

 

In this first parable the Lord speaks of a lamp. Now a lamp is made to light a room, just as we ‘flick’ the switch when it is dark in our home. Jesus is speaking about light (let’s not forget that he IS the light - John 8:12; 9:5). The first thing we see is that light is not made to be hidden.

 

21 And He was saying to them, “A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand?

 

In reality the only way to hide light is to place something over it to cover it. Jesus was not hiding from anyone or anything. His “light” radiated wherever he went and it was there for all to see. His disciples were able to see the master’s light day in and day out. As a child of God we should do the same - shine on others the light that is living in us.

 

22 For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. 

 

Here we see that the Lord Jesus had not hidden any part of the light. He does not keep in secret the light that is needed for mankind to receive salvation. Jesus did not give ALL THE LIGHT. It would be absolutely impossible for man to be able to receive all the light – we are not capable of this.

It is one thing to look at a 15 watt bulb but one can not look at the sun it would destroy his eyesight! When we look at the light there is something that happens – we see our sins and that is why people do not like the light in general (John 3:19-21).

 

23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”24 And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.25 For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”

 

In these verses Jesus is giving a warning to all who listen to what he says – this would include you and me. We need to be attentive to what we hear coming from the Lord. Jesus says: ‘Take care to what you listen’. The Greek word for ‘take care’ (BLEPO) means: to behold, to beware, to perceive. In other words ‘watch-out’ what you are hearing – pay close attention. There are two reasons for this.

 

24 And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.

 

The first deals with the way you use what you have heard. Because the measure you use for others will be the same measure that is used for you! The person who hears ‘love one another’, then tells it to others or maybe even teaches it BUT does not practice it will land up being measured more severely by the Lord. That is why James wrote the following:

 

James 3:1

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

(NKJV)

 

The second reason is found in verse twenty five.

 

25 For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”

 

Now a quick look at this verse and it seems to be unfair - giving more to the one who has and less to the one who does not. But in its context it makes perfect sense. If one has a ‘good measure’ (understands well and uses well what he has heard from Christ) he will receive even more from the Lord. But the one who does not have a ‘good measure’ (uses unwisely or foolishly what he has heard from the Lord) he will receive very little. Think of the parable of the three servants who receive the talents from their Master before he goes on a voyage (Mat. 25:14-30), this is the conclusion of this parable:

 

Matthew 25:28,29

(28)'Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.

(29)'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.

(NKJV)

 

The servant, in his Master’s absence, who did more with his money received more to invest while the one who did nothing with his Master’s money has even the little he had taken away from him.

 

2. The growing seed (4:26-29)

 

26 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. 28 The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.29 But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

 

The second parable continues to speak about ‘receiving the seed’ (or the light from the Lord). The image given by Christ is that of a farmer and what he does - casting his seed on the soil. Jesus had just told the parable of the ‘four soils’ but now he will reveal another feature of what goes on, an aspect that the sower (person who shares the gospel) does not understand.

 

27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. 28 The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.29 But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

 

This is what he does not understand – how his seeds grow to become a good crop. He does what he should do and the soil takes care of the rest. Just as the person who shares the gospel leaves the Lord to do the rest. It happens that Christians carry a burden that is not theirs. We are not the ones who bring people to the Lord. We do not open their minds so they can understand. We do not convict them of their sins. It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to do this (John 16:7-11). All of this is done in the spiritual realm and none of us truly understand how the Holy Spirit accomplishes this. What we do know is that one day harvest will come.

 

3. The mustard seed (4:30-32)

 

30 And He said, “How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, 32 yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade.”

 

If the first parable speaks of receiving the seed (light) and the second the seed (light) growing to maturity. The third parable speaks of the difference between the seed and the mature plant. Here Jesus uses another seed – a mustard seed. The illustration that is used is that of a mustard seed which is a very small round seed (1-2 millimetre). This tiny seed is TOTALLY transformed into a HUGE plant (up to two meters tall).

As I said the transformation is unbelievable from a seed just a little bigger than the dot at the end of this sentence, to the height of a tall person. This is what God does to those who receive the seed (light of the Lord), and matures to its fullest! We become something new:

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

(NKJV)

 

A believer has become so different that he can become shade for others. As a simple seed he could not to do this but as a mature plant his shade is welcomed by the birds that flock under its leaves. May all true believers be so transformed that they become a blessing for others.

 

4. The conclusion (4:33,34)

 

33 With many such parables He was speaking the word to them, so far as they were able to hear it; 34 and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.

 

Here we see how Jesus ministered to the crowds. Sometimes it was very plain and easy to understand other times he spoke in parables. He spoke in a way that people could normally understand.

 

33 With many such parables He was speaking the word to them, so far as they were able to hear it;

 

This should teach us a lesson concerning talking, preaching, teaching or evangelizing. We should speak in a way that people can understand the language we use. Unfortunately some use a language (theological words) and people have no clue.

We may think we impress but actually we serve for no good reason. Have you ever been to a doctor and he tells you what you have and you have no clue about what he is saying? He says that you have ‘Otis media with effusion’. So you ask him to tell you in simpler terms. He then tells you that your middle ear is swelling – that you can understand. Jesus could have talked in a way that would have ‘blown’ every body’s mind (He is God) but he spoke with the simple man’s language. What we also see is that his Disciples had a special privilege:

 

 34 and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.

 

Jesus made certain that his Disciple would understand what he was saying. Now I know that sometimes ‘time’ had not come for them to understand certain things but in general Jesus explained parables to his Disciples. What I see is that if you are a Disciple of Christ and if you take time to draw close to Jesus, read and study his word you will be enlightened. Will you understand everything – NO! We are only human but what is important for you to understand Christ will reveal when the time has come.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Have you received the light of the Lord? If so, do you hide it from others? The light that you have should shine for all to see. Don’t forget that the measure you use to measure others will be used for yourself!

  2. Are you maturing in the Lord – a seed grows and so should all of us!

  3. Are you so transformed in such a way that you are not recognizable? Are others coming to you to be in your ‘shade’?

 

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The gospel of Mark
19 – Jesus calms the storm
4:35-41

 

35 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

(NASB)

 

1. Getting on board (4:35,36)

 

35 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.

 

Getting on board a train or an airplane is always quite an experience. I wonder what it was like to ‘get on board’ a fishing boat with Jesus. Notice that it is Jesus who invites his disciples to ‘get on board’ with him. I believe that this invitation still stands today. When Jesus says ‘Follow me’, he’s practically asking us to ‘get on board’ and go where he goes and live a life of following him. Have you noticed at what time Jesus told his disciples to get in the boat ‘when evening came’? It would be unusual to begin a journey in a small boat when it was dark – navigating in daylight is so much easier and pleasant. This tells me that sometimes when we follow Jesus he can bring us out with him when things are not so bright. We all wish we could follow Jesus when things are just perfect but that’s not true in a disciple’s life. We follow when we are called – even when it is night! Still in verse thirty five we see that Jesus had a goal set for his disciples ‘over to the other side’. From one point to another point. From one shore to another shore. He did not mention ‘where’ on the other side. What we do see is that the disciples willingly follow him even if they are not certain of their destination. Are we not to be like them? Following Jesus just because he wants us to be with him. Notice that in verse thirty six they separated themselves from the crowd:

 

36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.

 

In life if we desire to follow Jesus and be ‘in his boat’ we must then separate ourselves from the crowd (2 Cor. 6:17,18) and follow him. The crowd will always keep us at a distance from the Lord for they do not live in spiritual light. So they joined Jesus in the boat that he was in and let him be their captain, giving his directions and following his goals. Notice that there were others that also followed. These were people who were not in the same boat nor did they get an invitation to follow to the other side. You see they wanted to follow Jesus but ‘in their own boat’, doing things their own way, being their own captain. Many are like this, following Jesus from afar but not in ‘his boat’. They might like Jesus as a person (he’s so good), or church (people are so nice) or ministries (they help so much) but they have not repented of their sins and really have nothing to do with him.

 

2. The storm (4:37,38)

 

 37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 

 

Then out of nowhere a ‘fierce gale of wind’ came. The word ‘fierce’ (MEGAS) means: exceedingly great. This wasn’t just a strong wind – it was sudden and very big. Because of the mountain range near the Sea of Galilee winds sweep down and come full blown over the waters. It didn’t take long before things got out of hand. Waves were taller than the small boat, water was flooding the ship and filling it up. In other words they were going down like the Titanic! I can imagine the disciples working frantically to keep the boat afloat, doing all they can, each doing their part but with no avail. All this didn’t seem to bother Jesus at all he was sleeping in the stern – at the back of the boat! How could he sleep when everyone is frantically and desperately trying to keep from sinking? I wonder how the disciples felt when they saw Jesus sleeping like a baby?

 

(v.38)… and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?

 

They actually did one good thing and two bad things, let’s look at them. The good thing that they did was to wake Jesus up. We see that they spoke to him. It was a bit late don’t you think? They spoke to Jesus after working so hard and doing what they thought was best to get this situation fixed. Things haven’t changed much, most of us will try to get things under control and only after we see that it’s not working do we call upon Jesus. I believe they should have called upon Christ right away then they would not have gotten into this situation!

One of the two bad things that they did was to foretell the future: ‘we are perishing’. They thought that they would die, now how did they know that – they didn’t! Like many of us in difficult situations we make up scenarios as though we were God and could see the future. They thought the worst would happen (and they were wrong). We also should stop imagining the future and leave that for God. The second bad thing they did was to say: ‘do you not care’? They actually did not believe that Jesus cared for them and why? Because they thought that certainly if Jesus cared for us we would not be in this precarious situation! Is this the way you think? Do you believe that if Jesus really cared or loved you that you would never have any storms in your life? If you do you need to know that you are wrong. We need to always come back to verses such as Rom. 5:8: ‘But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’.

 

3. The statement (4:39)

 

39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.

 

This is one of the most unbelievable verses in the New Testament! Notice that when Jesus decides to stand and ‘fix’ a situation nothing is out of his reach and power – he does the human impossible! May we also remember that in our own storms it only takes Jesus to stand up to fix things! It is written that he ‘rebuked the wind’. The word rebuke (EPITIMAO) means: to censure or admonish, to forbid. Have you ever seen someone tell the winds to STOP blowing? Of course not, no one can do that – except God himself! Then he told the sea ‘hush, be still’. In Greek hush (SIOPAO) means: to be silent, mute. Figuratively it means: to calm down or to hold your peace. So he told the sea to be quiet, to be still. When you face a great storm on the ocean and finally it quiets down it is said that it take 2-3 days for the ocean to be totally calm (still). Everything instantly came to a halt when Jesus spoke! This miracle of controlling nature is beyond most of all his other miracles and that is why, as we will see, it had such a great impact on his disciples. If Jesus can do such a miracle can he not intervene successfully in our own difficulties?

 

4. The question (4:40)

 

40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

 

Jesus addresses his disciples with two very important questions. The first is: ‘Why are you afraid?’ They were so afraid that they thought they were going to die but where did this feeling come from?

They worked but their hands did not suffice – they were panicking but why? This is because with their human eyes they could not see any other future for them but death! They thought with the flesh instead of thinking and reasoning spiritually. Are we not like them, situations frighten us and all of a sudden we fear for the worst! The answer comes in the form of the second question: ‘Do you still have no faith?’. They had lost all faith in the person who was in the boat with them. In other words their faith was only ‘skin deep’ it was not yet rooted deep down in their hearts. This tragic event simply manifested to them how their faith was shallow and superficial! Sometimes the Disciples of Christ need a reality check. We often think too much of ourselves but ‘under pressure’ manifest how deep our faith really is.

 

5. The reaction (4:41)

 

41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

 

This verse manifests why Jesus took them out on a ‘boat ride’ in the middle of the night. It is also one of the reasons why Jesus places his followers in difficult situations. The disciples could not believe what they had seen which brought them to question between themselves concerning Jesus. Because of this adventure the disciples were able to see another side of Jesus. They saw Jesus being master of the waves and the wind. He showed them his omnipotence. I believe that we may sometimes be placed in ‘dire straits’ only so that Jesus can manifest himself to us in a way that we have never seen. And this brings us to a deeper understand of who our Lord and Savior is.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. When you are facing your storms in life do not hesitate to cry out to Jesus before they become too big. Also never doubt that Jesus care and loves you – you’re in the storm for a good reason. Let him manifest it to you.

 

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The gospel of Mark
20 – The demon possessed man
5:1-20

1 They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes.2 When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, 3 and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.5 Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. 6 Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; 7 and shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” 8 For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.11 Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain.12 The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.” 13 Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.

14 Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened. 16 Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine. 17 And they began to implore Him to leave their region. 18 As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him. 19 And He did not let him, but He said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

(NASB)

 

1. The surprise (5:1-5)

 

1 They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes.2 When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, 3 and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.5 Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. 

 

         This is the continuation of our last section where Jesus calmed the sea. He and his disciples have just arrived on ‘the other side’ as Jesus called it. The country of the Gerasenes is located on the South East portion of the Southern end of the Sea of Galilee. It is one of the cities that was part of the Decapolis. Is it not interesting that as soon as Jesus arrives there is a demon-possessed man that comes to meet him! How did he know that he had arrived? How did he know that he was Jesus? Why did he come to see him since they have nothing in common? Some questions are not readily answered in the Scriptures. It seems that this man dwelt in the tombs (v.2,3,5) and also in the region of the mountains. Let’s not believe that demon-possessed people always live apart or in some sinister place. The little Syrophoenician girl lived at home (Mk. 7:24-30), the little epileptic boy lived with his father (Mat. 17:14-21), the mute possessed man lived with other people (Mat. 9:32-34), The mute person also seemed to live among his peers (Luke 11:14,15), There was also a demon-possessed man in a synagogue (Mark 1:21-28).

         What does it mean to have ‘an unclean spirit’? It means that somehow (the Bible does not explain how this occurs) a person is ‘taken over’ by a fallen angel (evil spirit, demon, devil, etc.). These were angels that abandoned their original state and rebelled against God. Jude wrote the following:

 

Jude 1:6

And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.

(NKJV)

 

Peter gives us another insight concerning these evil spirits:

 

2 Peter 2:4

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.

(NKJV)

 

Verses three and four paints for us a portrait of this man and as you will see it is very surprising.

 

3 and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.

 

On three occasions (v.2,3,5) it is written that he dwelt among the tombs. Why is it that in this case he ‘dwelt among the tombs’ and not, as we have seen, lived among other people? It just might be it was because of the depth of this demon-possession. We also see that he had super-human strength. He had been bound by shackles and chains and they could not resist him, he would simply tear them apart. As we will see this poor man had a great number of demons inside of him. This would answer the question ‘where did he get such strength’? It seems that the power of the demons somehow is transmitted to the person who they inhabit. How this is done – again the Bible does not explain it, it just confirms it. People had tried to subdue him, to chain him, to control him but ‘no one was strong enough’.

 

5 Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. 

 

There was no rest for this man: ‘constantly, night and day’. This poor soul was never given any relief or tranquility. There are two other things mentioned that the demons pushed this man to do. The first ‘he was screaming’. We don’t know why he screamed but we can understand that it was not out of pleasure. His poor soul was so tormented that he just screamed his pain as loud as he could. The second is ‘gashing himself with stones’. Here we see that the demons did not care at all for their host. They were physically hurting the person. We can see the character of these evil spirits. That is why we are told never to have any dealing with these spirit beings, to have nothing to do with them (2 Cor. 6:14-16). Do not approach any deeds of darkness even if they seem harmless or done ‘just for fun’. They will ensnare you like Satan did with our first parents!

 

2. The meeting (6-10)

 

6 Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; 7 and shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” 8 For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.

 

         Reading verse six I need to ask myself a question: ‘How did he know he was Jesus?’ Again our text does not explain. Could it be that angels and demons are able to see things that we can not? Since Jesus is the light of the world, does this light ‘shine’ in the spiritual world in a spectrum that our earthly eyes are not capable of capturing? Notice that this demon-possessed man ‘ran up’ to Jesus.

Why was he in a hurry to come face-to-face with him? Are they not totally at the opposite of the spiritual spectrum? They are beings of darkness and Jesus is pure light. Why were they rushing to be by his side? Have you noticed that in all occurrences of the meeting of Jesus with demons that they never ‘run away’! Is it possible that they can’t flee from him! We also see that they ‘bowed down before him’. They acknowledge his supremacy over them. They toyed with the poor man, hurting him and made him scream and live among the tombs. But when it came to Christ – they bowed down before him! Amen that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Lord of lords and the King of kings, the creator and sustainer of all things.

 

6 Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; 7 and shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” 

 

The demon-possessed man says something like: ‘what are you doing here we have nothing to do with each other’? Was the demon surprised to see Jesus in ‘their territory’ – the tombs, where the atmosphere of death, gloom and doom abound? There is an astounding phrase that comes out of this poor man’s mouth ‘Jesus, Son of the Most High God’. The demons in the possessed man knew exactly who Jesus was – the Son of the Most High God. They already had knelt before him now they declare verbally who he was – deity! Is it not astounding that demons declare openly who Jesus truly is and so few of Adam’s children do the same? The apostle James was so right when he wrote in James 2:19 ‘You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!’

 

(v.7)…I implore You by God, do not torment me!” 

 

These unclean spirits were afraid of Jesus and they express their fear: ‘do not torment me’. They know far too well that God – the Son has power over all things, including themselves. They also know that there is a judgment that awaits them. They fear that Jesus might even, right now, do something to them. They fear him because they know him. Are we not to love him because we know him?

 

8 For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.

 

There was no hesitation on the part of Jesus, his command was clear: ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit’. The unclean spirit had no business being in that person for this was not its abode. The will of God is that man be free from the binding of the spirits. Then Jesus does something that is never recorded elsewhere, he asks ‘What is your name?’ This is the only place that such a conversation is ever recorded. We never see this before nor after Pentecost. Apostles, evangelists or Disciples of Christ never speak to fallen angels – and we should also never speak to them.

 

(v.9)… And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.

 

Here we find that many demons can ‘possess’ a person. His name was Legion: ‘for we are many’. A Roman legion in the first century had about 5000 men, you can imagine how many demons were in this poor man. Now what did these impure spirits do? It seems that they ‘began to implore Him’. The word ‘implore’ (PARAKALEO): to beseech, entreat, pray. They literally begged him to respond positively to their request. Notice that Mark writes as though Jesus is speaking only to one demon. His name is Legion ‘for we are many’. Yet these many demons are spoken of as ‘he’: ‘he said to Him’ or ‘he began to implore Him’ – why is this so? It seems that the leader of these demons is the one who speaks for the ‘Legion of impure spirits’. What did they implore Jesus about?

 

10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.

        

What did he mean by: ‘send them out of the country’? It could easily mean not to send them out of the man who was their ‘country’, where they lived. It could also mean not to send them to the abode that some other demons were in until judgment day came for them (2 Peter 2:4).

Just as this poor man could not go anywhere UNLESS the demons allowed him we see that they were just as chained up by Christ because they could not go anywhere unless Christ permitted them! Once again we see the total sovereignty of Christ over evil spirits.

 

3. The pleading of the demons (5:11-13)

 

11 Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain.12 The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.” 13 Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.

 

It may sound strange that there was ‘a large herd of swine feeding’. As you know pigs were unclean animals and could not be eaten. Why then were there pigs in this story? We need to remember that we are in the region of the Decapolis (ten cities). These ten cities were not of Hebrew origin but were settled by people of Greek descent. They were a group of independent cities that enjoyed great freedom under the Roman rule. They were not part of the Jewish territory and that is why pigs were farmed in that region. Now the demons see the herd of pigs and they once again make a plea for themselves: ‘Send us into the swine so that we may enter them’. Notice that there was no plea for mercy or grace to Jesus for they knew that there was none for them. They have been condemned for a long time and they were simply waiting for judgment day to come. What a great mystery: God has granted redemption unto mankind but not unto the fallen angels!

In v.13 Jesus gives them permission and instantly they came out of the man and enter the 2000 thousand pigs. Here we see that unclean spirits are able not only to inhabit certain people but also animals. But something happened:

 

(v.13)… and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.

 

The pigs literally went wild, out of their (pigs) minds! They ran straight over a cliff and plunged into the Sea of Galilee (remember we are still on the shores). There are a few thoughts concerning this. First it seems that animals are not on the same plain as humans. What I mean is that this verse manifests that they are not of the same creational order. There is an order of creation: angels, mankind, animals, plants & finally minerals. It was just too much for these 2000 pigs to be the hosts for the demons yet a single man could host all of them! Is it because man is created in the image of God that this man could do this? A second thought is that Jesus knew that these pigs were going to plunge to their deaths – yet he allowed it. This teaches me (again) that there is a great difference between animals and mankind. We may be made of the same type of living organisms but the line stops there. There is NO spiritual aspect in an animal – they are not in the image of God. The death of 2000 pigs is no match in relationship to the betterment of one single person. May we always care and worry more for our fellow man than for animals. A third thoughts is where did the unclean spirits go? They did not die like the pigs did so where did they go? It is simply not told.

 

4. The pleading of the people (5:14-17)

 

14 Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened. 16 Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine. 17 And they began to implore Him to leave their region. 

 

If the herdsmen ran away it is because they were witnesses to the scene. If they ran away it is because they were frightened. If they ran away it is also because they misunderstood Jesus. So they spread out and told the people who were around. It was actually a BIG thing that had just happened. Imagine losing the entire herd of 2000 pigs and all the money that was involved! After hearing, people came to see for themselves – it was just too unbelievable to be true.

 

15 They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened.

 

I wonder why they (the herdsmen) didn’t come to Jesus in the first place. They (the crowd) only came to see him later. If the herdsmen would have talked to Jesus then they could have brought a different message to the people. Are we not like them also going to see people, friends & family first instead of coming right away to Jesus? They came and they saw the demon-possessed man and he had completely changed. He was ‘sitting down’ instead of running around in the tombs and mountain side. He was ‘clothed’, I can only guess that he wasn’t before. Finally he was ‘in his right mind’ – he was no longer possessed. He was once more a normal person. I would like to say that what happened to the possessed man Christ has also done for all true believers. First the man was seated and so are believers. They are in Christ seated at the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). We also have been clothed but by Christ’s righteousness (Rev. 3:5,18; 6:11). Finally we also have come to be in our right mind because it has been renewed (Rom. 12:1,2). Their reaction to what they had seen is bizarre – ‘they became frightened’. You see when you don’t understand what is happening you normally become frightened. Is it not true in our lives? When we don’t understand why such a thing is happening or why God allows this to happen we generally become frightened!

 

16 Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine. 17 And they began to implore Him to leave their region. 

 

Notice that the crowd DOES NOT speak to Jesus. They just believe what the herdsmen were telling them. Because of this they did not ‘get the full picture’ and remained in their state of fright. This should teach us a good spiritual lesson – speak to Jesus when you are frightened and don’t just get your information or facts from people no matter how spiritual they are! They asked Jesus to leave their region. They told Jesus to get out and to go away. How many people, because they just don’t understand why Jesus came – want to have no dealings with him. May this never be true of any of us!

 

5. The pleading of the cured man (5:18-20)

 

18 As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him. 19 And He did not let him, but He said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

 

As Jesus and his disciples are preparing to go away and approaching the boat, the man made well by Christ has to take a decision. Do I follow the crowd and live a normal life with my family and friends OR do I follow the person who changed my life who delivered me? I don’t believe that it took too long for the man to make the right decision – he wanted to be with Jesus. Are we not also to make the right choice and choose Jesus over everything else! So he asks Jesus if he could ‘accompany Him’. But strangely Jesus said no!

This might have hurt the man who wanted to manifest his love for him. But Jesus had something very personal for him to do. Something that is asked of ALL who have become his disciples.

 

(v.19)… “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” 

 

Since the people had told Jesus to go away they did not receive the ‘Good News’ concerning the kingdom of God. So Jesus instead of abandoning these people sent them someone who they would accept – one of their own. So Jesus gave this man a personal commission that he gives to all (Mat. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). He told the man to go home and tell them about the grace he had received, what the Lord had done for him. May I ask if you been telling others? Have you forgotten what the Lord has done for you? Are you failing to recall the mercies that were showered upon you at the cross?

 

20 And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

 

This unnamed man loved Christ so much that he did what was asked of him – he told all who would listen what Jesus had done for him. The people who knew of him (of what had happened to him) were all surprised. They were surprised because he had changed so much. Are people surprised by your change? Can they see that the hand of God is upon your life?

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Jesus might surprise you with something unbelievable that’s just around the bend.

  2. Demons recognize who Jesus is and are under his complete authority.

  3. Humans must ALWAYS have priority over animals.

  4. Always be ready to be a witness to your own people and those around you.

 

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The gospel of Mark
21 – The raising of the dead girl
5:21-24 and 35-43

 

21 When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore. 22 One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and on seeing Him, fell at His feet 23 and implored Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.” 24 And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him.

35 While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?”36 But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.” 37 And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James.38 They came to the house of the synagogue official; and He saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. 39 And entering in, He said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” 40 They began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was. 41 Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).42 Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. 43 And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.

(NASB)

 

 

1. The pleading of the father (5:21-24)

 

         This story is different because it is ‘cut in two’ sections. As you can see verses 25 to 34 tells another story. In other words someone ‘butted in’ and took Jesus’ attention away from the father and his plea for his little girl. Don’t you get frustrated when people do that?

 

21 When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore. 22 One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and on seeing Him, fell at His feet 23 and implored Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.” 24 And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him.

 

The disciple’s ‘boat ride’ continues and they once more ‘cross over again’. Although it is not stated where they landed it is believed that it is probably Capernaum. As usual we see that a ‘large crowd’ gathered to be with him. It seems that Jesus’ reputation is beyond everything that had ever been seen before. This might be a reason why the religious establishment despised him. They saw in him a ‘rival’ who was taking away their power over the common population, who was constantly gaining fame and admiration? In other words they were jealous of Jesus! We see that ‘he stayed by the seashore’. Jesus did not run away from the crowd. He did not loathe them for taking his time or demanding miracles of healing. This should be a good lesson for the believer. People may crowd us, ask us favors or take our time away from us but our response should be like Christ’s – love and care for them.

 

22 One of the synagogue officials named Jaïrus came up, and on seeing Him, fell at His feet 23 and implored Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.”

 

Synagogues were never instituted by the Lord God! They came to be when the Jewish people went into exile in the Babylonia captivity. Since they no longer had any ‘official’ place of worship they gathered in small groups on the Sabbath day. For a synagogue to be formed there would need to be at least ten men who gathered together. In a service there would be prayers, reading of the Scriptures, interpretations of the prophets and singing. The synagogues were also used as a ‘courthouse’ presided over by three men who would settle judiciary accounts. Jaïrus was a ‘synagogue official’ which meant that he was looked upon as a man of God and one of the spiritual leaders.

 

We see that Jaïrus did three things. He first ‘came up’ to Jesus. By this we can understand that there was no restraint in his spirit to come and meet him. It also means that Jaïrus knew that Jesus was accessible. I wonder if people around us also feel comfortable to come to us and know that we are open to receive them. The second thing he did is that he ‘fell at his feet’. Prostrating ourselves before someone manifests our hearts. We show that we acknowledge that the person is greater than we are and manifest homage and honor by bowing down. So Jaïrus accepted that Jesus was worthy. In his mind he was a man of God – a prophet who had come into his town. The third and final thing Jaïrus did was to speak to Jesus. Here the words ‘implored him’ and ‘earnestly saying’ are used to show his desperate conversation. The word ‘implore’ (PARAKALEO) means: to call near, intreat, pray. By this we can see that Jaïrus really, really wanted Jesus to hear his cause. His attitude was pressing, it was urgent and he manifested it by ‘imploring’ him. The word ‘earnestly’ (POLUS) means: many, abundantly, plenteous. We can understand that Jaïrus did not only ask Jesus once to come to the aid of his daughter but many, many times. It seems that he wasn’t going to let Jesus go without receiving what he had come for.

 

(v.23)… “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.”

 

Here we see the manifestation of Jaïrus’ faith. He explains what was wrong with his daughter ‘at the point of death’. This is no small matter. She absolutely needed a miracle to get her health back. He also knew and believed that Jesus had the power to restore her health: ‘come and lay your hands on her, so that she will get well and live’. We can only guess that Jaïrus had seen the power of Christ through miracles that Jesus has already done in the past or that he had heard from others the wonders that Jesus had done. If this event is actually in Capernaum then Jaïrus might even have seen for himself what Christ could do. He knew that just one touch of his hand was sufficient to heal his daughter. This man is a wonderful example of true faith in Christ.

 

24 And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him.

 

It did not take too long before Jesus, seeing this poor father and hearing his plea, decided to follow this man. What an encouraging phrase ‘He went off with him’. Very simply done, Jesus just follows the man. May we also remember that Jesus simply needs our honest pleading and he will follow us and be with us in our difficulties for did he not say in Mat. 28:20 ‘…I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen! But as he left with Jaïrus there was an obstacle – the crowd. There were a lot of people and all wanted to get their ‘piece’ of Jesus. I guess Jaïrus wasn’t the only one who had pressing problems to be resolved. People will always be in our way when we ask Jesus to intervene in our life. This is mostly because they will be against us following or desiring Christ.

 

2. The sad news (5:35)

 

35 While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?”

 

We begin the second section of this story with very sad news – the death of his daughter! I can only imagine that the crowd that was pressing Jesus and also the healing of the woman took a certain amount of time and since the young daughter was at death’s door she slipped into eternity. How many times have I seen people create a dramatic situation simply by being in the lives of others! I can imagine Jaïrus wanting Jesus to ‘hurry up’ and come to his house.

The people who came to give the sad news the ‘THEY’ thought that it was all finished – after all the child is dead what could you do? Too often we can also look at things with our human eyes forgetting that in the spiritual realm things are different.

 

Mark 10:27

But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."

(NKJV)

 

Since the child has died: ‘why trouble the Teacher anymore’ they told the father. The situation is beyond human understanding and human accomplishment – so forget Christ and stop bothering him! The answer to their question ‘why trouble the Teacher anymore’ is easy to answer because nothing is impossible with God. We are told never to stop asking (Luke 18:3-8). Not only was the crowd in the way of Jaïrus getting his miracle but also those who were close to him. Never underestimate what God can do for your situation.

 

3. Ignoring the facts (5:36)

 

36 But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.”

 

I love the way Jesus straightens-up the situation. He intervenes in the conversation they were having. What do you mean she’s dead and there is nothing to be done! Now Jesus does not scold the messengers – they didn’t know any better and by the way the daughter WAS DEAD! Jesus brings these encouraging words:

 

(v.36)…“Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.”

 

Faith in God dispels fright! We need only to believe that God is capable of changing a situation – if he desires! God can do all things but the Lord does not do something that is against his holy character or his perfect will. Paul asked three times to be rid of ‘a thorn in the flesh’ but God said in 2 Cor. 12:9: ‘"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." God didn’t want to. We also have to understand that there are things that we ask for but God simply says ‘NO’ because he has other plans for us. And if that is the case it simply means that his plans for us are even better than what we desire. Here we see that Jesus ignores the human facts – he’s on an entirely other level!

 

4. The people’s scepticism (5:37-40a)

 

37 And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James.38 They came to the house of the synagogue official; and He saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. 39 And entering in, He said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” 40 They began laughing at Him.

 

We can understand by the text that Jaïrus believed what Jesus told him because this scene opens up at his house. Have you noticed that only Peter, James and John are allowed to follow Jesus and be witnesses to the coming miracle? Have you ever thought why only Peter, James and John? This is not the only instance where these three disciples are chosen to observe while others are not. It happened on three occasions: here with the daughter of Jaïrus, at the Mount of transfiguration (Mat. 17:1) and in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33). The only reason that I can see for ‘why them’ is answered in Gal. 2:9 where Peter, James and John are called the ‘pillars of the church’ by Paul. To become what they were meant to be they needed to be ‘closer’ to Jesus than the others. Shouldn’t that teach us a lesson? To become who we are called to be we also need to be very close to our Savior!

 

When Jesus arrived it is written that there was ‘commotion’ (THORUBOS) meaning: a disturbance, an uproar. This commotion is described as ‘people loudly weeping and wailing’. In Middle-Eastern culture it was customary for the women to cry out loud to manifest the pain of human loss. Sometimes women were even paid to be ‘official wailers’. Grief was not kept inside, it was manifested. Still today in many cultures we can see women wail and beat their breast or their heads as a sign of grieving. So there’s a lot going on in and around the house of Jaïrus. Jesus enters the house and asks a question to those who were there:

 

39 And entering in, He said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” 40 They began laughing at Him.

 

Either Jesus is out of his mind saying something like this or he is God incarnate knowing the truth that people can not see. How could you be mistaken and believe that a dead person is actually just asleep? When was the last time you went to a funeral home to pay your respects and told the grieving people: ‘The person in the coffin is not dead – he’s just asleep’. No wonder it is written that ‘They began laughing at him’. How many people still laugh at Jesus when his name is mentioned in a conversation?

 

5. Jesus takes charge (5:40b-43)

 

But putting them all out, He took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was. 41 Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).42 Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. 43 And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.

 

Jesus put everyone outside! Since they laughed at who he was and what he was saying they had no business with him – so out they went! How many will one day at the judgment of the Great White Throne, weep and wail? How many will regret having laughed at the person of Christ? How many will feel the guilt of having mocked Christ? But it will be too late (Mat. 8:12;13:42,49; 22:13; 24:51; 25:32). If you are alive it is not too late to repent and ask Christ to save you from this coming judgment.

 

Jesus took the little girl’s mother and father and his three disciples (Peter, James & John) and they enter ‘the room where the child was’. By only using his will manifested by a few words: ‘Talitha Kum’ the child was raised from the dead. He actually ordered the child to rise from Hades! Notice that Jesus did not do this in the name of his Father – he did it with his own power for he is LIFE (John 14:6) and he gives life to whom he desires. If the calming of the sea and of the wind was an unbelievable miracle, imagine giving life to a dead person! Have you noticed that by telling his disciples to follow him to the other side Jesus has manifested his sovereignty first over nature (wind & sea), then over demons (Legion) and here over death! Following Jesus will also make you see things that you never thought you could see!

 

42 Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. 43 And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.

 

Even death can not stand up to Christ. It had to abandon the little girl! The grip of death instantly loosened for it was commanded to do so. Jesus said in Rev. 1:18: "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” That is why he could say that he was the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). People were ‘completely astounded’, they couldn’t believe their eyes!

 

I can only imagine the gratitude that the parents had towards Christ! May we have the same type of gratitude for God for he has also brought believers out of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of light (Col. 1:13). Why did he order the parents not to say anything – I really don’t know for this would be known instantly (people were outside the house).

 

CONCLUSION:  

  1. Let us never be afraid to plead our cause to Christ.

  2. Let us never despair when we hear of bad news.

  3. Sometimes we need to ignore what our human eyes see.

  4. Don’t be affected by the sceptics.

  5. Let Jesus take charge.

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The gospel of Mark
22- The sick woman
5:25-34

25 A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse— 27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. 28 For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” 29 Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 30 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” 31 And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” 32 And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”

(NASB)

 

1. The woman (5:25-29)

 

This is the story within the story. As I said in our last section concerning the raising of the young girl, the father was interrupted in his attempt to get Jesus to come to his house. And this is what happened.

 

25 A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse— 27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. 28 For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” 29 Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 

 

In verse twenty five we are told what type of illness the woman was suffering from – a ‘hemorrhage’ (RHUSIS): a flux of blood, issue. For some unknown reason this woman was hemorrhaging. We all know how dangerous this can be if it is intensive. But it is also very dangerous if it continues for a long time even though it is slight. Hemorrhaging is not a malady on its own, it is a symptom of an illness that one has. Now this hemorrhage had been afflicting her for an enormous amount of time – twelve years to be exact. Because she lost blood on a daily basis, this, as you can imagine, brought to her many social inconveniences. But what was even greater and much more important is that this poor woman suffered spiritually. I say this because the Law forbade a woman who had an issue of blood to partake in spiritual matters (Lev. 12:1-8; 15:19-24). Lev. 15:25 would apply perfectly to this poor woman’s case:

 

If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, other than at the time of her customary impurity, or if it runs beyond her usual time of impurity, all the days of her unclean discharge shall be as the days of her customary impurity. She shall be unclean.

(NKJV)

 

As you can see, the distress of this woman went further than her physical discomfort, it actually kept her apart, separated her, from all spiritual activities. She could not approach the Lord God because of her continuous blood loss. In verse twenty six we see that this woman had done all she could to regain her health. First of all we see that she ‘had endured much at the hands of many physicians’. This means that she never gave up (here we see her character). She saw many physicians but NONE could help her. This is an important fact in this story. She was impure before God but there was NOTHING that man could do about it. So for twelve years she goes from one physician to another and her health did not recover but had gotten worse. Imagine her state of mind! She suffered one failed hope after another. The second thing that she had done is: ‘had spent all that she had’. No matter the amount of money she had spent it was for a total loss. In a way many believe that what they do or what they spend will bring them spiritual healing – but it never does! The poor woman not only remained ill but she had lost a great amount of money in the process of getting better. To give you an idea of what ‘type of medicine’ a doctor of her day would have given her for her loss of blood here is a prescription found in the Talmud.

 

Take of the gum of Alexandria the weight of a zuzee (a fraction of a silver coin); of alum the same; of crocus the same. Let them be bruised together, and given in wine to the woman that has an issue of blood. If this does not benefit, take of Persian onions three logs (pints); boil them in wine and give her to drink, and say, ‘Arise from thy flux’.’

 

27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. 28 For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” 29 Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 

 

After hearing about Jesus’, this is a wonderful phrase. It manifests the importance of speaking about Jesus. If she had never heard about Jesus she never would have been cured! If true believers do not speak about Jesus how then can people be cured of their spiritual illness? The words of Paul spoken in Romans 10:15 resound perfectly:

 

And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!

(NKJV)

 

Have you ever wondered why ‘she came up in the crowd behind him’? So many come to Jesus ‘face to face’, bow down, and ask for his help. Why would she come from behind, as if she was invisible and not even speak to Jesus? The answer lies with her physical problem (issue of blood). Since she was impure, she was not allowed to touch someone because that person would also become impure (Lev.15:19). This verse also tells us that she needed to be set apart from the other people. In her mind she would automatically be rejected by Jesus if he knew her state of impurity. So she secretly crept up behind him ‘and touched his cloak’.

 

28 For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” 

 

Her faith was unbelievable! In her mind there was no mistake about it. If she just touched his clothing then all would be fine – she would finally be healed after those long twelve years. I wonder if our faith comes close to this woman’s. Is Jesus truly sufficient for our redemption? Do we need to add a little something to what he has done at the cross? Have we placed our total confidence in his righteousness before the Lord God?

 

29 Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 

 

She was right, she was completely healed. There was no more blood flow – Christ had made her pure and given her health back. Notice the word ‘immediately’ (EUTHEOS) means: directly, at once. There was no waiting period or trial period. She was cured instantaneously. She actually felt right away that she was cured! The benefits of her healing could be seen and felt by her! Her ‘affliction’ (MASTIX) meaning: a whip, scourging (hence plague) had gone. In a sense her body was made new again – perfect health! Isn’t that what Jesus does to all who come to him spiritually for redemption? Does he not heal totally and eternally that person from his sin-sickness (Heb. 10:10-14)?

 

2. The reaction of Jesus (5:30)

 

30 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” 

 

It is the same Greek word that is used for ‘immediately’ (EUTHEOS) in both verses (29 & 30). Just as she was healed immediately – Jesus immediately felt a power ‘proceeding from Him’. The word ‘proceeding’ (EXECHOMAI) means: depart, escape, to get out”. And the word ‘power’ (DUNAMIS) means: a force especially a miraculous force. Out of Christ came a miraculous power that cured this woman’s body. The power of God is immeasurable. It is infinite! By his spoken word he created the entire universe and sustains it! What is unbelievable is that it took no greater will to cure that woman than to create the cosmos!

 

Jesus asks: ‘who touched my garments?’ We all know that he knew who had touched him so why did he ask? As we will see, Jesus wanted to give more than physical healing to this lady full of faith. But to do so he needed to ‘have a talk’ with her. I believe that we sometimes receive less than what Christ wants to give his disciples simply because we satisfy ourselves with little. Or we do not take real time to share our hearts with Christ. Does Jesus want to speak with you? I believe so. Did he not give his life to be able to offer you redemption?

 

3. The reaction of his disciples (5:31,32)

 

31 And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” 32 And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. 

 

Now the disciples did not understand why Jesus was asking ‘who touched me?’ They thought that he was over doing it. Look at the big crowd, it could be anyone who touched you? Lots of people are ‘pressing’ (SUNTHLIBO) meaning: to compress. The crowd was so intense that people were shoulder to shoulder. It could be anybody that touched you. But there was only ONE PERSON who touched Jesus like the sick woman did and the disciples did not know this yet. This teaches me that sometimes even good disciples of Jesus do not know exactly what Christ is doing in relationship with others. So let’s not pretend that we know everything that Jesus does!

 

4. The truth is revealed (5:33)

 

33 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 

 

The first phrase describes how the woman felt – after all didn’t she get her miracle by ‘cheating’ (touching Jesus from behind, not speaking to him and hiding in a crowd)? She first felt ‘fear’ (PHOBEO) meaning: to be frightened, alarmed.

She was probably terrified by what this man of God might say or do to her. She felt that her life was in his hands. She also felt ‘trembling’ (TREMO) meaning: to tremble of fear, being afraid. Her body was shaking because of this great fear she had. You see this woman did not know the person of Jesus. She did not know his love, mercy, care, grace, kindness and so forth – so she was terrified. How many people are afraid to come to Christ simply because they see him differently then he truly is? May we never refrain from coming to Jesus with our burdens! Never forget that we are personally invited to do so.

 

Mat. 11:28

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

(NKJV)

 

She gathered enough strength to manifest herself. She ‘fell down before him and told him the whole truth’. She did not keep anything from Christ. She became an open book. No matter what would happen she just had to confess to Jesus. You see she told him ‘the whole truth’. All who come to Jesus also need to talk to him and tell him the whole truth; not hiding anything, not only telling the good things. Are we ready to do this to receive our ‘spiritual cleansing’?

 

5. The blessing (5:34)

 

34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”

 

Notice that Jesus calls her ‘daughter’ which is a kind calling of someone. How long had it been since she had been called ‘daughter’ in this tender fashion? Could it be at least twelve years? Do not forget that most often people believed that when you were sick it was a curse from God who was punishing you for not being a ‘good’ person. When Jesus called her ‘daughter’ it was wrapped in love and compassion.

He commends her for her faith ‘your faith has made you well’. Once more we see the importance of the role of faith in our relationship with the Lord. It was her faith (and the manifestation of it) that brought her healing.

 

Jesus blesses her ‘go in peace’. How many curses, profanities had she heard men and women address her with. How many harsh words had broken her heart? How many times had she been rejected and verbally insulted during her sickness? But now she hears blessings and was approved by Christ before the entire crowd. This man of God, this prophet had just blessed her. May Christians never forget the blessings they have received by having been blessed by the death of Christ which made them become righteous before the Father!

 

You see, Jesus wanted to talk to her. He wanted to give her his personal blessing and approval before everyone. She could now walk among her peers with her head high and no longer see herself as being as a ‘reject’.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. No matter what state you are in come to Jesus.

  2. Don’t hide from Jesus.

  3. Sometimes people may not understand how Christ is working.

  4. Always be honest with Christ, don’t hide or play games with him.

  5. Jesus wants to bless you

 

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The gospel of Mark
23 – A prophet without honour
6:1-6

Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him. 2 When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” 5 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus and the synagogue (6:1,2)

 

Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him. 2 When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? 

 

This is the end of the journey that the disciples had taken with Jesus in the boat. We have seen that Jesus manifested his deity through the calming of the sea, the authority over demons, the total restoration of a very sick body and finally even over death by the resurrection of the 12 year old girl. But now time has come for Jesus to return home.

 

It is written ‘and came into His hometown’. Where would this be if not Nazareth where he had grown up? It is worthy of mention that the town of Nazareth is not named in the O-T! Nathanael said that it was a city of ill-repute (John 1:46). This can mean two things. Either the people living there (Nazareth is situated in Galilee) were not outwardly living as ‘good Jews’ because there were many Gentiles in the region, or the moral character of the people of Nazareth was not to be followed.

Nazareth was the hometown of both Joseph and Mary and that is where they settled once the fear of losing their child at the hands of evil doers had gone. Finally, it is said that during the life time of Jesus there were probably 15,000 to 20,000 people living there. So Nazareth was not a small town or a village.

 

(v.1)… and His disciples followed Him.

 

This is the one thing that all disciples are called to do – ‘follow Him’. But what does ‘following Jesus’ mean? In a few words it means: receiving his teachings and applying them in our life. In his gospel, John gave a perfect example of what it meant to ‘follow Jesus’.

 

John 6:67-69

(67)Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"

(68)But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

(69)"Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

(NKJV)

 

So the disciples followed Jesus to his hometown of Nazareth. In verse two we see that Jesus does a familiar thing on the Sabbath day – he goes to the synagogue. Once again we see the importance of gathering together (as a group of believers) to sing, pray and be exhorted by the word of God. I hope that you are following the model that Christ has given. If you are not, then you are failing to follow Jesus the way that you should. We also see that Jesus ‘began to teach in the synagogue’. This is something that he does over and over again. In Mark 1:38 Jesus says that teaching was one of the reasons why he had come forth. But this time it was different, it was in his hometown. How would people react to this?

 

(v.2)… and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? 

 

As we can see there were ‘many listeners’. It seems that this synagogue held quite a large number of people. All had come to sing and pray but also to receive from the Word of God. In a traditional synagogue a man could speak and edify those who were listening. While there were certain people who ‘professionally’ would, other men would simply come and speak what the Lord had placed on their hearts. For Jesus to come and teach would be an accepted thing to do. These ‘listeners’ (AKOUO) meaning: to hear, to understand were very attentive to what Jesus was saying. After all was he not the miracle worker, the one who told the sea and wind to be quiet – and it did! Was he not the one who effortlessly cast out demons, the one who cured all those brought to him and the one who even gave life back to a little girl! Of course they were very attentive to his very words and so should all true disciples be. We should be at his very feet and literally be drinking every word that comes from his mouth, like Mary did (Luke 10:38-42).

        

It is written that these listeners were ‘astonished’ (EKPLESSO) meaning: to be amazed. We do not know what the words of Jesus were but we do know the impact that they had on the people’s hearts. If we would end our thoughts here we could think that they were good thoughts, that they were immensely blessed by his words. But is this true? Let’s take a closer look. It seems that these listeners were very impressed NOT BY HIS TEACHINGS but rather whose mouth they came from. Three thoughts were brought up.

  • Where did this man get these things

  • What is this wisdom given to him

  • And such miracles as these performed by his hands

 

They were not spiritual people and they did not receive any spiritual blessing from the Lord Jesus. When we listen to sermons are we more attentive to the person who gives the message or the message itself? They first wondered ‘where did this man get these things’? They could not conceive that Jesus was either a prophet or maybe the Messiah. Their eyes were spiritually shut. They also admitted that Jesus was speaking words of wisdom – 'what is this wisdom given to him’.

Yet they did not retain them! Finally they wondered about where his power came from, ‘such miracles as these performed by his hands’. But these did not attract them to the person of Christ. Christ had manifested over and over again that he was the Messiah BUT they did not have ears to listen or eyes to see. They were astounded but this astonishment did not resound in their hearts – so they were left in the dark. Does your heart burn when you read the gospels? Does the Word of God have a permanent effect on your soul? Or do these emotions and wonders cease after a little while? Are you like the ones who saw and heard but did not understand?

 

2. Some were offended (6:3)

 

3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. 

 

To the people present it seems that the only things that they could think of was what they had known of Jesus – after all he had grown up in their midst. He can’t be a prophet – he’s a carpenter. He’s not a man of God – his mother, brothers and sisters are among us. He’s just the ‘little Jesus’ that we saw grow up with us. He’s not special, he’s just an ordinary guy – like the rest of us.

 

(v.3)… And they took offense at Him. 

 

Who does he think he is coming to our synagogue like that? He teaches as though he studied all of his life. He speaks as though he knows God personally? He acts as though he can do anything? It is written that what Jesus taught and did in the synagogue ‘offended them’. This word ‘offended’ (SKANDALIZO) means: to entrap, to entice to sin, displeasure. Whatever Jesus did, it brought great displeasure to the people in the synagogue. It seems that the words of Jesus offended them. This is very normal because the words of Jesus shine on the darkness within the hearts of man.

 

John 1:4,5

(4)In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

(5)And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

(NKJV)

 

John 1:11

He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

(NKJV)

 

May we also remember that the words that we present when we evangelize will probably offend people! No one likes to hear that they are sinners and that all that they do has absolutely no worth before the Lord as a means of redemption. No one likes to hear that they have to repent of their sins and ask Jesus to wash them by his blood. No one likes to hear that they need to turn around, follow Jesus and leave everything behind. So some people will probably do like these listeners did – reject the Christ that you are proclaiming.

 

3. Prophet without honour (6:4)

 

 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” 

 

We have seen that people had been unjustly ‘offended’ by Christ. But how did Christ react to their offense? This declaration has been understood by countless millions that have become a disciple of Jesus in an unwelcoming environment. Still today, true Christians are being jailed, tortured and murdered on a daily basis. The honor that was due to Christ was withheld. Why was he received and welcomed with open arms in other places in Israel and even abroad yet not in his hometown? Simply because, in their eyes, he was a ‘common man’.

 

There is a great warning for modern believers in this passage. Has Jesus become so common to you that you have lost sight of who he is? Has he become your ‘buddy’ or your ‘BFF’ instead of your Lord and Savior? Have you made him so human that you have forgotten his divinity? Have you lost your godly respect for him? Because he has become your ‘spiritual brother’ are you downgrading him? This sin is at your door but you can overcome it (Gen. 4:7).

 

4. Lack of faith (6:5,6)

 

5 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.

 

This is a sad ending for the section that we are studying. Here we are in the town that Jesus grew up in, with people, who knew him since he was a young child – rejecting him. They did not reject him because of having no evidence of who he was, for his reputation ran across all of Israel. They rejected him because they rejected even the idea that the Messiah could be right in front of their own eyes.

 

He ‘could do no miracle’ except for a few here and there. It is written that he ‘laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them’. Out of the crowd that rejected him there were ‘a few’ who did believe, a few who had faith in him and they were the ones who received their miracle. Amen that there will always be ‘a few’ here and there who truly believe, a few who will come to him, a few who will ask for his work in their lives. But what a tragedy for the majority of the Nazarenes! They get nothing from Christ. Is our world not like the city of Nazareth? The vast majority is rejecting the Lord Jesus and by doing so they receive nothing from him!

 

6 And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.

 

This verse means that Jesus ‘couldn’t believe his eyes’ at what he was seeing. For us it would be like seeing something totally unexpected or out of place. They were supposed to believe, the miracles were there to prove that he was the Messiah. But they said ‘NO’ to him! Their ‘unbelief’ (APISTIA) meaning: faithlessness or disbelief was – unbelievable! Because of this they failed to receive what Christ had intended for them. So he went away, leaving them to themselves – in the dark! He went elsewhere to places where he would be better received.

 

Could it be that, as true believers, we also miss out on countless blessings simply because we lack faith in Christ?

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Once again we see the importance of gathering together for spiritual nourishment. Let’s remember that a disciple ‘follows’ his Master.

  2. As you spread the ‘Good News’ or speak of the Lord many will be offended. So don’t be surprised or discouraged.

  3. You probably will be dishonored in your home and within your circle of friends if you stand up as a Christian.

  4. Lack of faith will separate you from God’s blessings.

 

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The gospel of Mark
24 - The sending of the twelve
6:7-13

 

7 And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; 8 and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt— 9 but to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two tunics.” 10 And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.

(NASB)

 

1. The sending (6:7)

 

7 And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; 

 

After being rejected by his own in Nazareth and able only to do a few miracles because of the people’s lack of faith, Jesus set out to send his apostles on their first official mission.

 

The first thing that Jesus does is: ‘summoned the twelve’. The word ‘summoned’ (PROSKALEOMAI) means: to call to oneself. I like the personal touch that Jesus had. There was no messenger sent to tell the ‘twelve’ that Jesus was sending them off. He wanted them to be with Him. He personally conferred unto them this first-time mission event. Jesus is always personal with his disciples. He is also personal with his modern disciples for remember what he said in Mat. 28:20 ‘… I am with you always even to the end of times’. Once they ‘huddled’ around Jesus he personally set them apart from his other disciples ‘to send them’ (APOSTELLO) meaning: to send out. This is the first time that there is a great distinction between the ‘twelve’ and the other disciples who followed Christ. He sent them on a mission, a mission that would later be conferred to the group of ‘seventy’ and finally to all of his disciples.

        

He sent them off but made certain that they would be encouraged by working alongside another disciple. He sent ‘them out in pairs’, two by two and not alone. Once more we see the care that Christ had for his own. He knew how difficult it would be and how feeble our flesh is (Mat. 26:41). When we are two one can sometimes rest upon the strength of the other, or the encouragement of the other. We can pray together, plan together and travel together. But Christ did not send them off without granting them power and protection.

 

(v.7)…and gave them authority over the unclean spirits;

 

Notice that it is Christ who gave them authority. They did not have it until it was given unto them. No one can have this kind of authority unless it is given by God himself! The word ‘authority’ (EXOUSIA) means: a privilege or capacity. Since angels and unclean spirits are mightier than men (Heb. 2:7-9) these ‘twelve men’ received the privilege and the capacity to overcome these evil spirits. I believe this was done for two reasons. The first was to manifest that their message (Good News) was from God and power over evil spirits would be the proof of this. Second it would be for their own protection against the plotting of the evil one against them.

 

2. The instructions (6:8-11)

 

8 and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt— 9 but to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two tunics.” 10 And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” 

 

Jesus instructed them in what they should do. This certainly is a good lesson for all Christians especially those who desire to be in ‘ministry’. Far too many ministries go off in the name of Jesus and yet do not reflect the heart of Christ. This is not what servants are called to do. They are called to listen to their Master’s wishes and then act upon them. There is no place for ‘doing things my way’ in ministry. So let’s take a look at Jesus’ instructions for their first mission.

 

The BIG headline is ‘take nothing… except’. This is quite a statement! He is sending his disciples off (also read Mat. 10:1-43 and Luke 9:2-6) on a journey that will take them from town to town and Jesus says ‘take nothing… except’. This will test the disciple’s faith. Do you believe enough to go forward and trust me completely for your actual needs? Jesus allows them to take with them ‘a mere staff’. I don’t believe that this has any spiritual significance – not like Moses and his staff and the great works God did through it! The staff was used for two main things. First it was used as an aid while you walked, something that you could lean on and help you keep your balance and so forth and second to fight off animals if ever they came along. So he was thinking of their well-being.

 

On the other hand he said not to bring any bread, any bag and any money. This was mainly to manifest that he was going to provide for all of their needs. He would provide for their food (no bread), for their lodging (no bag) and for their expenses (no money). In verse nine Jesus adds: ‘do not put on two tunics’ – yet another item they were not supposed to bring with them. As though Jesus was saying: ‘Don’t bring anything extra with you, don’t worry about anything – all will go fine you will not be in want’. The only other thing besides ‘a mere staff’ that Jesus tells them to bring is: ‘to wear sandals’. Not everybody wore sandals. It seems that they were going to travel extensively on their mission and Jesus wanted them to have protection for their feet. This reminds me of what Paul wrote in Romans:

 

Rom. 10:15

And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!"

(NKJV)

 

Are we ready to go ahead with what we know that the Lord wants of us? Do we need everything to be perfect before we act? Have we lost the truth that the Lord will provide since it is his mission and we are his messengers? Are we counting more on what we have than on what the Lord will provide for us?

 

10 And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” 

 

We enter a new section of his directives for his disciples. This time he tells them what to do with the people who they will minister to. Jesus tells them that he will provide for their lodging. He tells them ‘Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town’. He doesn’t seem to want his disciples to roam around every night, looking for a place to stay. When you find a place ‘stay there’. Stay there until you have finished with that town. Then he speaks concerning how to react to people in relation with their evangelism. As always there will be two different ‘camps’ of people: the ones who will receive them and the ones who will not receive them. We have seen that for the people who will receive them they are to stay in their homes. But there is another camp, those who will oppose them.

 

11 Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” 

 

What are they to do with the ones who DO NOT RECEIVE THEIR MESSAGE? Are they to force it upon them? Are they to use any verbal language against them? Are they to hunt them down? What are they to do? Jesus tells them simply to: ‘shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them’. True Christianity NEVER uses any type of violence to force people to convert to Christ. This has been a great mistake that has been used throughout the centuries. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for using violence or trickery or anything of the sort.

 

Then what are the disciples to do? ‘shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them’. One simple thing – ‘shake the dust off your feet’ – that’s all! They were not to bring judgment upon them but rather leave all judgment unto the Lord himself. For Jesus will be the one who determines their fate. He also is the only one who knows the secrets of their hearts.

 

Matthew 25:31-33

(31)"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.

(32)"All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.

(33)"And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

(NKJV)

 

The disciples were to bring the message given to them by Christ and the consequences of that is to be left between the Lord and the people themselves. I believe that we have forgotten the role of the Holy Spirit in conversion and we often try to take his divine ministry.

 

John 16:8

"And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

(NKJV)

 

There is a tendency to keep on harassing people with the gospel because they do not react with the acceptance of it. Like a dog with a bone some Christians just ‘don’t let go’ of people. They believe that their mandate is to ‘bring people to Christ’. This is false. The mandate Jesus gave his disciples was to share the Good News with others. The consequence of this is not in their hands. The proof of this is that Jesus tells them ‘for a testimony against them’. He is the judge and the Holy Spirit is the one who produces the new birth in the individual. So don’t get mixed up – you don’t convict people and you certainly don’t judge them.

 

This is wonderful because by understanding that our ministry is to bring the Good News unto others and not to convert them there is an immense weight that is off our shoulders.

 

3. The ministries (6:12,13)

 

12 They went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.

 

We see that the disciples listened to Jesus: ‘They went out’. They went where people were. They didn’t wait to preach on Sabbaths in the synagogue (they could have) but they didn’t. They went where the people were and talked about Christ. This is exactly what ALL disciples are called to do – ‘preach that men should repent’. The message has not changed. It is still the same for us. I fear that in many cases we do not preach the gospel of Christ any longer. We first try to bring people to our meetings (to church) – Christ said to go out and talk out there. We have all sorts of ‘attractions’ given in these evenings instead of simply telling people the good news of Jesus Christ. Church is basically not for unbelievers but for the family of God. We try to win them with stories of ‘health and wealth’, better marriages, a great future, perfect families and so forth. But this is wrong and many are not truly saved because they have not repented of their sins but have ‘come to Christ’ for themselves, for something they want. So go out, preach the gospel and when people are saved bring them to the church meetings.

 

13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.

 

Here we see that the disciples used the ‘tools’ that the Lord Jesus had given them in verse seven. These were miraculous powers over the spiritual enemies. This was the seal of their testimonies, a spiritual proof of some sort unto those who heard the gospel message. In Luke ten, when Jesus sends out the group of seventy for their mission he also gave them power over sicknesses. Does this still exist today? Do all the true Disciples of Christ have power over evil spirits? Are they able to cure any sicknesses? Obviously the answer is NO! Does that mean that there are no real miracles done today? Again the answer is NO!

God still miraculously cures people – mostly through prayer. We must never place God in our little ‘theological box’. Unfortunately there are a great deal of ‘false healers’ out there and one day they will have to give an account to the Lord himself.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. God has sent his disciples unto the world and he does the same with his disciples today.

  2. His instructions are simple: Share the ‘Good News’ and leave the rest to me. Don’t be afraid, I will provide for your needs.

 

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The gospel of Mark
25 – The beheading of John the Baptist
6:14-29

14 And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him.” 15 But others were saying, “He is Elijah.” And others were saying, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he kept saying, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!” 17 For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her.18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death and could not do so; 20 for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him. 21 A strategic day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his lords and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee; 22 and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” 23 And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.”25 Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about this, they came and took away his body and laid it in a tomb.

(NASB)

 

1. Who people thought Jesus was (6:14-16)

 

14 And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him.” 15 But others were saying, “He is Elijah.” And others were saying, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he kept saying, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!”

 

This is the sad story of the ending of the life of John the Baptist. As with many of the Old Testament prophets and saints it did not end well (Heb. 11:35-40). Jesus even spoke of Jerusalem as being tainted with the blood of the prophets that it had killed.

 

Mat. 23:37

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

(NKJV)

 

May we never think that believers in Christ are safe and sound from the hands of their spiritual enemies! Quite the opposite. They are prime targets (1 Peter 5:8). Examples of this ranges from Saul of Tarsus who wished to destroy all the followers of the Nazarene (Acts 8:1-3) to crowds filled with hatred such as we find with the riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:21-41).

 

King Herod is mentioned as hearing about the person of Jesus Christ (v.14). His ministry had made him into a ‘super star’ and his fame preceded him. We have already seen that on many instances large crowds of people gathered to hear him and also brought their sick so they might be cured. We also see that this crowd was divided concerning whom they believed Jesus to be. There were three different thoughts on who he was. Even today things have not changed, the vast majority of people are still trying to figure out who Jesus is.

 

The first group thought he was ‘John the Baptist’ (v.14). We see by this that John had quite an influence on the people. Although he had never done a single miracle or healed the sick or cleansed anyone from an unclean spirit – John had an impact on those surrounding him. This is very encouraging, for many of us never do anything extra-ordinary and believe that our lives have no true meaning! Let us never forget the impact that we can have when we simply are witnesses of Christ. Notice that even though John had never done any miracles it is written ‘that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.’ Still today people have a tendency to ascribe miraculous powers to the dead! Somehow and in some way unknown to us, suddenly the dead: watch over us, protect us and guide us! This is as though they had become some type of deity!

 

The second group thought he was ‘Elijah’ (v.15). This was probably because of the prophecy found in Malachi 4:4,5:

 

Malachi 4:4,5

(4)"Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, With the statutes and judgments.

(5)Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

(NKJV)

 

I find it particular that the people did not recognize John the Baptist as the one who was to come before that ‘great and dreadful day’. Remember Jesus said that John was actually (Mat. 11:13-15) Elijah! People have so much difficulty in recognizing the spiritual signs of their day (Mat. 16:2,3)

 

The third group thought he was ‘like one of the prophets of old’. Were they referring to the prophet Moses who said that another prophet like him would come from their midst (Deut. 18:15) or other prophets who (like Jesus) preached and exhorted people to repent and walk in God’s ways?

In verse sixteen we see who Herod thought Jesus was: “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!” Why would he think that? It’s obvious that his conscience was bothering him – had he not killed John the Baptist, knowing he was innocent, and had his head given on a platter to his step-daughter? How many consciences have eaten away at the souls of men and even driving them to insanity? Dear friend, avoid at all costs, to be mastered by an unclean conscience. Think before you act, for your decisions may cost you a price too difficult to bear. May I also ask who you think Jesus is? For if he is not truly the Messiah, the son of the Living God, then he is of no use for you except to bring condemnation.

 

2. Why John was killed (6:17-25)

 

17 For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her.18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death and could not do so; 20 for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him. 21 A strategic day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his lords and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee; 22 and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” 23 And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.”25 Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”  

 

These verses explain the story concerning the death of John the Baptist. It all begins with John who proclaims God’s truth to Herod”

 

17 For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her.18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 

 

Herod the Tetrarch (this Herod) was a grandson of Herod the Great. Herodias was also a granddaughter of Herod the Great through another wife he had called Bernice. Bernice was the full sister of Herod V, king of Chalkis. Aristobulis (son of Herod the Great) was the name of her father. Herodias had married her uncle Philip, who had no claim to any political power. On one occasion Herod the Tetrarch went to Rome and lived at his brother’s (Philip) home. He fell in love with his wife Herodias and offered her to become his wife. She willingly left her husband and Herod the Tetrarch abandoned his wife. By doing so and marrying, they both committed incest and adultery. Herodias left Philip for Herod because Herod the Tetrarch was considered a ‘king’ in Palestine, had power, great wealth and glory – none of which Philip had. John had been imprisoned because he was openly speaking against and condemning Herod for his sinning against God.

 

19 Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death and could not do so; 20 for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him. 

 

Herodias, who had no scruples (as Herod did) was enflamed by the open declarations of the man of God. She did not accept that God or man would ever bring any condemnation on her – after all was she not the wife of Herod the Tetrarch! So she held a grudge against John. The word ‘grudge’ (ENECHO) means: to hold against, ensnare, therefore to have a quarrel against someone. She hated John and wanted him dead. But Herod ‘was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man’ (v.20). There was something in Herod that was telling him that John was right and that he should be very careful in his dealings with John. It seems that his conscience was bothering him. We see here that even though men act as if God does not exist and they can do what they want – their conscience sometimes bothers them. It is written that Herod ‘kept him safe’ (v.20). Herod had actually imprisoned John and by doing so he was keeping John safe from the wrath of his wife Herodias!

 

Here we see the providence of God. John was imprisoned and was ‘safe’ there. We would not think that being imprisoned would be a good thing but in this case it was. This teaches me that sometimes we believe that great adversities are always from our enemy. But in reality being in prison was God-sent for his safety. May we never be hasty to react to a difficult situation that we may be living. It just might be the best thing happening for us at the present time.

 

(v.20)…And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him. 

 

Herod enjoyed listening to John. What he said concerning the Lord may have sometimes irritated him (especially when the truth pierced him with God’s arrow) but he was somehow attracted by what he heard. How many people listen to the gospel and are intrigued and yet never come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

 

21 A strategic day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his lords and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee; 22 and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” 23 And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.” 

 

Here we see where vanity and the influence of alcohol may bring you. Herod has a great celebration because it is his birthday. He invites all the important people of his court who had military and civic significance. At one point his step-daughter (daughter of Herodias) came and danced for the guests. Dancing was left to the ‘professional’ women who did many things for money. For Herodias’ daughter to do this was very uncommon for she was seen as ‘royalty’ and would never expose herself to the coveting eyes of drunken men! Salome was her name and she was the daughter of Philip and Herodias. She ‘pleased Herod and his dinner guests’, she danced in a way that ‘pleased Herod…’. The word ‘pleased’ (ARESKO) means: emotional excitement. What the men saw stirred up coveting excitement in them. You can imagine what type of lascivious dancing she offered!

 

(v.22)… and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” 23 And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.” 

 

This is where sin prevails and bites like a snake! Herod and his guests are filled with wine and Herod make a deadly mistake by declaring: ‘“Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” 23 And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.”  His lust for his step-daughter enticed him to foolishly promise to fill her greatest wish! We must understand that when Herod said that he would give her up to half of his kingdom it is a figure of speech for he did not have the power to do so. He never really had a kingdom of his own – the land and everything in it belonged to the Roman Empire! What was meant was that he was ready to give her something of great worth – whatever it was.

 

24 And she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.”25 Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 

 

The poor girl did not even know what to ask so she ran to her mother for her advice. I have never seen a child or teen-ager (which Salome must have been by now) run to their mother when asked what they wanted as a gift! The enemy used this moment to get rid of God’s mouth-piece. Herodias’ answer was: ‘The head of John the Baptist’. She could finally satisfy her anger and have revenge for what John had publicly said that had brought humiliation upon her. So Salome went back to Herod and told him she wanted John’s head ‘on a platter’.

 

3. Herod is trapped (6:26-29)

 

26 And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about this, they came and took away his body and laid it in a tomb.

 

Here we see that Herod is ‘very sorry’ (PERILUPOS): intensely sad, exceedingly sorry. This is the same word that is used of Jesus when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane when it is written that he was ‘greatly distressed’ (Mark 14:34). But there was nothing that Herod could do since he had given an ‘oath’. He had to keep his word because it was given before all of his guests. May we always be very careful with the way we use our words for they also will bring destruction in our life!

 

Prov. 10:14

Wise people store up knowledge, But the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

(NKJV)

 

So he sent his soldiers to execute John by beheading him. He then gave the platter to Salome who in turn gave it to her mother. I can imagine Herodias and how she gloated over her final victory against John! Let us remember that although evil might seem to have authority on earth there will come a time when God will have the final word. At the ‘judgment of the great white thrown’ God will bring all actions done during one’s lifetime (even fallen angels) for judgment and hell will be the eternal sentence given (Rev. 20:11-15).

 

29 When his disciples heard about this, they came and took away his body and laid it in a tomb.

 

Here we see that caring for the dead (their body) was a concern for John’s disciples. They did what was appropriate for John. He was given a proper funeral. This should always be done in respect to the beloved people in our lives. It is sometimes impossible to do this because of certain circumstances but the remembering (through a service) of people who died is an honorable thing to do.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Each person has his destiny in the plan of God.

  2. It is not because you are an evil person that evil things happen to you.

 

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The gospel of Mark
26 – Jesus feeds the 5000
6:30-44

30 The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) 32 They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves. 33 The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. 35 When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and it is already quite late; 36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” 38 And He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass. 40 They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. 41 And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish. 44 There were five thousand men who ate the loaves.

(NASB)

 

The beginning of this text seems to be out of context but actually it’s not! It is the explanation of the beheading of John which is inserted within the story of the sending of the twelve disciples which begins in Mark 6:7-13. So this text is the continuation of the sending of the twelve. It is actually the coming back to Jesus that is given.

 

1. Let’s take a rest (6:30,31)

 

30 The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) 

 

There is an important fact that needs to be noticed in verse thirty. It is the first time that the twelve disciples are called apostles. The word apostle (APOSTOLOS) means: one sent forth. Before Jesus sent them on their first official mission they were the disciples. Now that they had officially been sent forth in the name of Jesus (Mark 6:7) they had become apostles. It is the same thing in both Matthew (10:2) and Luke (9:10). As for the gospel of John the twelve are never called apostles. The word does not occur in this gospel. So what did the apostles do when they came back?

 

30 The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught.

 

In all three gospels which have this story we are not told the details of their report was so let us leave it at that.

 

31 And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) 

 

We can see that Jesus was watchful and he noticed that his apostles needed rest. We can only imagine that their mission had taken quite a toll on them. Let’s not forget that this was the first time that they were sent off by Christ, the first time that they were alone and doing ‘ministry’ for the kingdom of God. It is always nerve-racking when we do our first ‘outings’ for Christ! This is true whether it is a Sunday school class, a Bible lesson, evangelizing a friend or anything else for that matter. So Jesus sees their need to rest and he takes the initiative and calls them to come and rest in a secluded place. May we also learn to analyze the needs of others and do what is possible to encourage them. An explanation of this setting is given: a lot of people, a lot of needs and no time for yourself even to take a bite of food.

 

Another important point we see is that although there are people with needs, disciples are called to separate themselves and refresh themselves. When Jesus took his disciples away for a rest what logically happened? The people who were there NO LONGER had any help! Friend if you are in some type of ministry, whatever it may be, there is no shame in leaving all behind (even people in need) to refresh your body, spirit and soul. We are not God and we need to trust that God will do His work even if we are not there!

 

2. The large crowd (6:32-34)

 

32 They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves. 33 The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. 

 

Jesus planned a ‘getaway’ by boat to a secluded place. There they could rest and refresh themselves. But sometimes, plans, even the best of them, can be hindered!

 

33 The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. 

 

Here we see that the people did not accept that the disciples and Jesus would simply take a ‘day off’. People had their own agendas and that was to be with Jesus! So they took off and ran ahead to where they thought they were going. I can only guess that the ‘secluded place’ Jesus was talking about was not very far! We can also see that it was not only the ‘local’ people who formed this crowd but also these: ‘from all the cities’. It may happen that when a time of rest is planned, other people may disturb it and even bring it to a halt!

 

34 When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. 

 

This verse brings out a hidden aspect of Jesus’ heart – he truly is a shepherd! Arriving to where he wanted to rest with his disciples a surprise awaits him – ‘a large crowd’! Instead of being irritated because his plans melted like ice on a summer day a different emotion rose from his heart: ‘he felt compassion’ SPLAGEHNIZOMAI): to feel sympathy, to pity, to be moved. And why was his heart touched so deeply – because they were like sheep without a shepherd’.

 

People need spiritual leadership, someone who teaches and inspires them and Jesus was the greatest of all shepherds. However shepherding is not only in the spiritual realm. Fathers should be the shepherd of their family, mothers of their children, with big brothers or sisters shepherding their siblings. In different ways we can all be shepherds of others if we simply manifest care and protection of them. Jesus knew what they needed and that is why ‘he began to teach them many things’. We see that the spiritual aspect always has priority in Jesus’ relationship with others. Let us never neglect spirituality in our dealing with others.

 

3. The problem (6:35-37)

 

 35 When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and it is already quite late; 36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” 

 

This section is a perfect example of human thinking and how we generally ‘get rid’ of problems. This is quite a large crowd. It is written in verse forty that ‘there were five thousand men who ate the loaves’. Normally there are just as many women as men plus the children who came along with their parents. I would not be surprised if this crowd neared fifteen thousand people! That’s over six times the population of the village that I live in!

 

35 When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and it is already quite late; 

 

Here we see the two fundamental problems. The first comes from the disciples themselves and the second is out of their hands. ‘When it was quite late’. The word POLUS (quite late) means: many, much, plenteous. Here we are speaking about time - it was very late in the day. The disciples should have thought about the emerging problem of the food shortage – but they didn’t! It seems that they were ‘short sighted’ and were not very strong in planning ahead! Friends, problems will occur when you are not vigilant concerning upcoming event or needs. Our life needs planning. The entire universe is orderly and functions systematically because God is a God of order (1 Cor. 14:33) and wants things to be orderly (1 Cor. 11:30; 14:40;15:23, 2 Thes. 3:6,7; Titus 1:5). It just may be that this ‘situation’ would not have occurred if it was thought through. On the other hand one can say that this ‘situation’ occurred by surprise since they thought they were going to a secluded place. Let us take heed and be as prepared as possible in life. The second problem was really ‘out of their hands’ because the place where they were was ‘desolate’ (EREMOS): lonesome, desert, wilderness. There was no village market in proximity, they were out there in the wilderness, and therefore there was no way to buy any food. Some problems are caused by us and some problems have nothing to do with us. What is for sure is that the solution is always there – Jesus!

 

36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

 

Seeing the crowd and knowing that time was late and that there was no food to feed the people who had come, the disciples came up with a great solution – get rid of the people! They wanted Jesus to ‘send them away’. Now this might seem noble (so they can buy food), but by actually telling them to ‘go away’ they will also get rid of their problem! People are sometimes like that – just get rid of people and the problem will go away. The problem was not the people but the lack of food to feed them. Let us not be too quick to ‘get rid of people’ instead of looking for the real reason behind the problem before us.

 

37 But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” 

 

I just love how Jesus switches the problem and places it in its right place. As I said, the problem was not the crowd but rather the unwillingness of the disciples to really deal with the situation. So Jesus says ‘You give them something to eat’. This ‘hot potato’ was once more in the disciples’ corner. I wonder what they were thinking. After all, had they not already explained ‘why’ Jesus ought to send them away? So they came up with another reason why the crowd should be dispersed – money!

 

(37)…And they said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” 

 

Now two hundred denarii, would be what we would consider to be almost a year’s wages! Even today, to be able to feed ten to twelve thousand people it would take a great deal of money! Are they actually saying that it is not worth spending that money for them ‘Shall we go and spend…’ or rather asking Christ for his permission to do this? I don’t really think that they have that kind of money available! So it may be that they are somewhat sarcastic in their answer to Jesus’ order to take the matter into their own hands. If this is true then I should understand that being sarcastic is not very wise when Christ asks us to do something that we believe is impossible for us.

 

4. The solution (6:38-44)

 

38 And He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass. 40 They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. 41 And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish. 44 There were five thousand men who ate the loaves.

 

As we have seen, the disciples brought no real solution to the problem and thought it would be best just to get rid of the crowd. But Jesus had the solution and his solution will manifest that nothing is impossible if you place things in his hands.

 

38 And He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 

 

He asks a question and then gives them a command. He first wants the disciples to know what they actually have that they can work with. We often don’t look at all the possibilities and all of what we have at hand to do God’s work. It’s easy to say: ‘I just can’t do this or I don’t have the means necessary’ without really assessing what we do have. So the next time you are asked to do something, before you say ‘no’ make sure you actually looked to really see if you can or can’t. Notice that Jesus says’ ‘Go look’! He was serious and wanted his disciples to do this right. Now what they found was little: ‘five, and two fish’ but it was going to suffice in his hands. We need to bring what we have and use it for his glory and we may be surprised at what it can become.

 

 39 And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass. 40 They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. 

 

Once again we see that God is a God of order. The bread and the fish will not just be thrown into the crowd and create chaos – the need of discipline is necessary. So Jesus orders that the crowd be separated into groups of fifty and one hundred. This will make it easier for the handing out of the food. How great is that! You are hungry, groups are made and you are sitting on the grass. This makes me think of a huge picnic. It also makes me think of the verse in Psalm 23:2 that says: ‘He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.’

 

41 And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all.

 

Notice that the disciples took what they found and brought it to Jesus and in turn Jesus brings what was given to him and brings it to the Father. Then ‘looking up toward heaven’ Jesus is thanking his Father for supplying what is needed and in this case it is food. We should do the same in relationship with the Father.

 

Philippians 4:6

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

(NKJV)

 

Also notice that Jesus ‘kept giving them to the disciples’. Jesus provided as long as the need was present. In other words he provided for everyone who was there. There was abundant food for everyone. Jesus can never ‘run dry’ in providing for others. So don’t worry! He also has provisions for you or the work you do in his name.

 

42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish. 44 There were five thousand men who ate the loaves.

 

We see that the people ‘were satisfied’. What we spiritually receive from God will always satisfy our inner most being. Jesus once said:

 

John 7:37,38

(37)On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

(38)"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

(NKJV)

 

We also see that there were left-overs, ‘twelve full baskets of broken pieces (bread) and also of fish’. Jesus not only made certain that everybody got his fill but also that they had bread and fish ready for his disciple’s next meal! Finally we are told that there were five thousand men (without counting the women and the children) that took part in this miracle meal!

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. There are times when we need to rest and take a leave from others to be with Jesus. This is true even when people ‘count on you’ like the crowd counted on Jesus and his disciples for some serious needs.

  2. We should also have compassion for people, do what we can and try to shepherd the ones close to us.

  3. Often people are not the problem (although they can be). Look deeper to find a solution. Don’t be too hasty to dismiss problems by dismissing people.

  4. The solution to our problems is found in Jesus, bring him what you have to work with and watch him work.

 

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The gospel of Mark
27 – Jesus walks on water
6:45-56

 

45 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away.46 After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.47 When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. 48 Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. 49 But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” 51 Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, 52 for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.53 When they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. 54 When they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, 55 and ran about that whole country and began to carry here and there on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was.56 Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured.

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus sends his disciples away (6:45,46)

 

45 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away.46 After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.

 

After the crowd had eaten to their fill it was time to move forward. Jesus did not waste time ‘immediately’ (EUTHEOS) meaning: directly or at once. Jesus also ‘made’ (ANAGKAZO): to necessitate, compel, constrain – his disciples to leave. There are occasions when the Lord allows time to favor us as we decide to move forward. But there are also occasions when the Lord precipitates us to move ahead. Here the disciples had no choice, like a mother bird sometimes pushes out its young from the nest so they can learn that they can fly, here Jesus pushes his disciples forward. It may happen that you may feel that the Lord is moving you ahead so fast that it is scary – so it is for little birds before they find out that their wings are made to carry them through the air! Notice that Jesus points to their destination – Bethsaida. He gives them a reference to which they can move forward, a goal, an objective to reach. So it is with all who belong to him. A disciples who walks closely with his Lord will know in his heart what the Lord desires for him to do.

 

After sending the disciples on their journey to Bethsaida Jesus now turns to the crowd and also sends them away. Having been fed they were now capable of returning home. We can notice that there is a separation or a different direction given to his disciples and the crowd of people. So it is in the spiritual realm – a separation is always needed:

 

2 Cor. 6:17

Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you."

(NKJV)

 

While the crowd goes on its way, the disciples are on another path. May I ask if you are on the right path? If you are not a true disciple of Christ and are trying to walk on the ‘narrow road’ then you are on the wrong road for it will only lead you to eternal judgment. What you first need to do is to repent of your sins, ask Christ to save you and be your Lord THEN walk with him. On the other hand if you are a disciple of Christ and are walking on the ‘wide road’ you are also on the wrong path – the path of sin. You also need to repent and begin once more to walk on the right road.

 

46 After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.

 

Jesus takes time, ‘After bidding them farewell’, to do things right. He cares for the crowd until they depart. Our goodness and hospitality should also reach its conclusion only after our guests are gone!

 

Here we discover the reason why he left the disciples on their own and why he sent the crowd away – he wanted to pray. I can only think of a handful of occasions when Jesus prayed alone. Luke 6:12-16 was before choosing the 12 apostles, Luke 9:18-20 was right before Peter’s confession and Luke 22:4 was in the Garden of Gethsemane. We are not told on this occasion why he set out to pray alone. It may be that Jesus simply needed to be alone with his Father.

 

2. Boat problems (6:47-50a)

 

47 When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. 48 Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. 49 But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were terrified.

 

The sea that is referred to is the Sea of Galilee since Bethsaida was on its shores. (By the way we have no information concerning Jesus ever doing ministry on the shores of the Dead Sea). The Sea of Galilee is approximately 21 km long and 13 km wide and since we do not know exactly where this ‘deserted place’ is we can not tell how far from the shore is ‘the middle of the sea’. We can only imagine it is kilometers from shore.

 

Here we are given another proof that Jesus is God. It is said that ‘He was alone on the land’. But at the same time Jesus saw that ‘the boat was in the middle of the sea’ that was kilometers away (John 6:19)! Plus it is written that it was ‘about the fourth watch’. The fourth watch begins at 3 a.m. and ends at 6 a.m. It is also written that he saw ‘them straining at the oars’. How can one see so far and so clearly especially if it is at the dead of night or very near dawn? Yes, Jesus is God.

 

At one point, after he had finished praying his eyes turn upon his disciples – where are they exactly and how is it going for them?

 

48 Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. 

 

This is what he saw:

  • They were straining at the oars

  • The wind was against them

 

Although they had worked so hard and for such a long time they were not reaching the other side. Most of these men were well prepared for traveling on water. Some of them had done so all of their lives. The wind opposed them and with wind comes waves and with waves comes water in the boat and because of this the boat gets heavier and even more difficult to maneuver! In other words they were going ‘nowhere fast’ and their lives were in danger. But what they didn’t know was that Jesus was looking at them and seeing all that was happening. May we remember that in all of our bouts with trouble and the harsh winds that life sometimes strikes us with – Jesus sees and knows. More than that, as we will see, he cares.

 

(v.48)… at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. 

 

Seeing that they were in such difficulty and that they could not do anything on their own Jesus came to their rescue. Once again we can see that he is God for ‘He came to them, walking on the sea’. Unbelievers will come up with the wildest answers to ‘how could Jesus walk on water?’ The best one I have seen is that the Sea of Galilee must have been frozen at the time and Jesus just walked on frozen water! My answer to that is: if the water is frozen how then can a boat travel on it and how can people be ‘straining at the oars? Again the Scriptures are declaring that Jesus is God.

 

What intrigues me is that ‘He intended to pass by them’ – why? The word for ‘pass by’ (PARERCHOMAI) means: to come near, to come aside or to approach. When we understand this we can see what was really happening. Jesus was approaching them: he had not decided to walk towards them just to pass them by and let them perish! So Jesus comes to their rescue. We can always count on him for he is with us for all times (Mat. 28:20).

 

3. Jesus to the rescue (6:50b-52)

 

But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” 51 Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, 52 for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.

 

We know from the other gospels that the apostles were terrified at what they saw (Mat. 14:26; John 6:19). Imagine seeing a figure (in the night) walking on water in the midst of a raging storm. No wonder they thought he was a ghost!

 

(v.50b)… But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” 

 

We see that Jesus didn’t waste any time to calm their fears for it is written: ‘But immediately’. Jesus takes no pleasure in seeing his disciples being frightened or discouraged. Notice what he says: ‘Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid”. Courage (THARSEO) means: to exercise courage, to have courage, be confident. Now this is what the presence of Christ will bring to real believers. Notice that this Greek word gives the idea ‘to exercise courage’. As though courage is there because Jesus is there and our part is to exercise the fact that we CAN DO IT because of the presence of Christ. Please notice that we never see someone pray for courage in the New Testament – it is already there because Christ is with us.

 

51 Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, 52 for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.

 

Notice that as soon as Jesus gets into the boat with them – the storm does not subside, it literally stops all together! Here the Lord is again manifesting his deity! Even nature, in its full fury, is under the command of the Lord Jesus Christ. No wonder Jesus told them to exercise courage! Don’t be afraid! Just use your faith. How true it is that when the storms of life hit us they seem so different when we consider that Christ is all powerful and watches over us. Unfortunately so many Christians desperately ‘keep rowing’ and go nowhere instead of allowing Jesus (by faith) to take over the helm of their life.

 

The disciples were ‘utterly astonished’. These are two Greek words (EXISTEMI and PERISSOS). Together they give the idea of being superabundantly beside ourselves. The disciples just couldn’t believe what their eyes were showing them! Jesus can do unbelievable things in our lives also. Wonders and miracles, implausible circumstances that come together just at the right time and so forth. Millions of Christians can witness that Christ turned their lives around in one way or another.

 

There were two reasons why they were ‘utterly astonished’. The first is ‘for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves’. They had forgotten just how powerful Jesus was. He had just miraculously fed at least 12,000 people! How amazing is our lack of memory! This had not been done ‘in days of old’ but just a few hours before! Are we not also like them? Do we not also easily forget all the great things that the Lord has done for us? This manifests just how important it is to strengthen our courage through remembering. The second is that ‘their heart was hardened’. The word ‘hardened’ (POROS) which is a kind of stone figuratively means: to render stupid or callous, blind. It seems that their hearts had become insensitive or blinded to the truth. I believe that the immense stress of the storm, fear of dying and seeing what they thought was a ghostly figure just overwhelmed their minds – they lost faith. This human tragedy faces every believer. We also can become overwhelmed because of what we are living. Overflowing with fear we can also lose sight of what Jesus can do for us. Beloved may we never come to a place of total dismay where even Christ seems to be unable to save us.

 

4. Jesus’ fame (6:53-56)

 

53 When they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. 54 When they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, 55 and ran about that whole country and began to carry here and there on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was.56 Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured.

 

Notice that the disciples were to land in Bethsaida but that’s not where they landed! We can only imagine that the storm, winds and waves offset their course and they landed ‘at Gennesaret’. It seems that Gennesaret was not a village but a strip of very fertile land on the North-Western shore of the Sea of Galilee. This is where Capernaum stood. There is a distance of 8 km between Capernaum and Bethsaida so they missed their target by a few kilometers.

 

54 When they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, 

 

Like almost all the places Jesus arrived at it seems that it was impossible to keep this a secret. Now remember that Jesus wanted his disciples to go with him to a restful place (6:31) and it never happened! First they land up in a ‘deserted place’ and find themselves with at least 12,000 people. Then they were sent off to Bethsaida and land up in a fierce storm. Finally they arrive at the wrong place and again they will be smothered with people! Sometimes it’s very difficult to find real rest when you follow Jesus!

 

55 and ran about that whole country and began to carry here and there on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was.

 

The news of Jesus being in their midst spreads like wild fire. People came to Jesus with their sick placing them everywhere they thought he would pass by. This was mainly why they came to him. Not for the kingdom of God but to get their sick healed. May we never follow Jesus for any personal gain but for who he is – the Son of God, the promised Messiah!

 

56 Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured.

 

On some occasions, like with the blind man in the temple or the man by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, Jesus cures only one person but here we see totally the opposite. Whether in villages, cities or the countryside – all who Jesus touched were cured! No wonder his fame resounded throughout all of Israel and even beyond. It is the same today for ALL whom Jesus touches will be cured of their sin sickness. Freedom and forgiveness are always given to those who are touched by Christ.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. It may just be that Jesus will send you off and alone with a specific mandate. Never forget that he is always with you.

  2. As your life unfolds there will be many instances where ‘storms’ will arise.

  3. Don’t forget that Christ is watching and will come to your rescue.

  4. When Jesus touches a person he completely heals them – he never misses.

 

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The gospel of Mark
28 – Clean and unclean
7:1-23

The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, 2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) 5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” 6 And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
7 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’

8 Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

9 He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; 11 but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

14 After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16 [If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”]

17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18 And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 

20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

(NASB)

 

1. Unclean (7:1-5)

 

The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, 2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) 5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” 

 

In verse one we see two important groups of religious people which we can find everywhere in the four gospels, they are the Pharisees and the scribes. The Pharisees were a dominant religious sect of the Jews. Their name (Pharisee) meant to be separate. They thought too much of themselves and saw themselves as being separate from the ‘normal’ people because of their religious insight, wisdom and sanctity. The Pharisees placed the ‘Writings of the prophets’ as having authority but also the Jewish traditions of the Elders. As with many modern Christian ‘religions’ the Holy Bible had its place and authority but so does the writings of ‘great minds of the past’ and tradition that has been building up for centuries. The Pharisees were superstitious, formal and self-righteous. They were the leading and ruling party in all the civil and religious affairs in Israel (notwithstanding the laws of the Roman Empire). The Scribes were people who were skilled in the Jewish Law and teachers and interpreters of this Law (Torah). They also were skilled with the traditions of the Elders and interpreting them alongside the Law of Moses.

 

They taught the Jewish people and by doing so had a great influence on them. Some of them were members of the Sanhedrin and like the Pharisees they hated Jesus. In the New Testament they are also sometimes called: doctors of the Law and also lawyers. They also thought too much of themselves and were self-righteous.

 

2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.)

 

In verses two through four we can see the character of the Pharisees and the scribes. They were a type of people that scrutinized, inspected and examined others. It seemed that they thought themselves to be some type of ‘religious police’. Here we find them finding fault with the disciples of Jesus. If they could blame his disciples surely that would also blemish his reputation! Now what did the disciples do that was so terrible? How did they break the Law of Moses? Actually they ate bread without washing their hands. Now verse three tells us that the Pharisees and the scribes always washed their hands. They could not stand people not doing exactly like they thought was right. Does this ring a bell? Are there not many ‘religious people’ that you know that will put down and accuse others because others don’t think precisely like they do?

 

It is also written that when they came back from the market place ‘they cleanse themselves’ before they ate. It seems that being with ordinary people made them so ill at ease that they needed to wash themselves! This manifests disdain of others. What a difference with Jesus who even touched those who were sick!

 

These verses teach us that the Pharisees and the scribes placed ‘the traditions of the Elders’ as having just as much authority as the Holy Scriptures themselves! The Disciples of Jesus were not breaking any Law from Moses but they were not abiding by the traditions of the Elders and that is what they disliked about them.

 

5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” 

 

Being irritated at the disciples the Pharisees and the scribes could no longer hold back! How dare they not do as we were taught by the Elders! Notice that they asked Jesus and did not go directly to the disciples. The reason is simply that the Rabbi was responsible for his disciples’ actions for he was their authority. Their question was straight forward: “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” This was their accusation.

 

2. First reply (7:6,7)

 

6 And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
7 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’

 

In his first reply, Jesus does not answer their question. What he does is show them the reality, the depth of their own hearts. These religious people were saying the Disciples of Christ did not have a pure heart before God because they did not wash their hands before eating. Jesus will reveal their own hearts with a spoken word from the prophet Isaiah.

 

‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
7 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’

 

Jesus is applying these words to those who were accusing his disciples. He tells them straightforward that they were spiritual hypocrites. There were three factors that he applied to them. The first is that they honored the Lord God only ‘with their lips.’ They were smooth talkers but their attachment to God was only with words and not with true intents. In other words they were spiritual liars, deceivers and fabricators of falseness!

The second is that ‘their heart is far away from me’. They really looked as though they loved God. They had the right words, even sometimes did the right thing but their hearts were not in what they did. It was done with self-righteousness and pride. They loved religion, status and the social rewards but not God himself. The third accusation was that ‘in vain do they worship me’. Because of what they did and their attitude, their worship meant absolutely nothing to God because they were hypocrites. They played the ‘religious game’. This reminds me of the first chapter of the book of Isaiah:

 

Isaiah 1:11-16

(11)"To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?" Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats.

(12)"When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample My courts?

(13)Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies-I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.

(14)Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.

(15)When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.

(16)"Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil,

(NKJV)

 

The Lord was irritated with the priests in the days of Isaiah and it was the same in relation to the spiritual leaders in Jesus’ days. God was irritated because these men who were supposed to lead His people were actually ‘teaching as doctrines the precepts of men’. How many are still under God’s wrath, teaching falsehoods as though they were the very words of God?

 

3. Second reply (7:8-13)

 

8 Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

9 He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; 11 but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

 

In his second reply, Jesus now talks about their attachment to their traditions. He openly tells them that they neglect ‘the commandment of God’. When you neglect one thing it is because your attention is on something else because it has a greater value for you. They neglected the commandment of God in favor of ‘the tradition of men’. If his first argument (spiritual hypocrisy and the lack of true love for God) is still a contemporary factor his second argument can also be used today! Tradition has equal or greater value in religion than the Sacred Scriptures. Jesus gives the example of their teachings. People were taught that if a person has money to come to the aid of his parent but does not do this because he says that it is for the Lord – then it is permissible to do so! Now who would receive the money that the person would give to the Temple treasury instead of their parents – the very ones who were teaching these lies! These religious hypocrites were really saying: ‘Don’t help your parents – give it to us’. In fact it is the opposite. God does not need our money and he prefers that we help and respect our old parents rather than putting our savings in the treasury of the Temple. This was his accusation:

 

13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

 

Teachers of the Law were invalidating the Word of God and replacing it with ‘your tradition’. The place of church tradition in most established churches is appalling! They assert that it is godly to do such a thing when it is forbidden in the Bible. It is our responsibility to discern what is from God and what is from man.

 

4. Third reply (7:14-16)

 

14 After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 

 

Notice that the accusers keep quiet. They have nothing to say. They were condemned by their own actions. It was their hearts that were not pure before the Lord not Jesus’ disciples. Now Jesus turn to the crowd to speak to them, he wants them to understand what had just happened.

 

15 there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 

 

There is a spiritual principle which we must all understand – nothing from the outside has an effect on our status before God. NOTHING outside of me can ‘defile’ (KOINOO): to make profane, pollute or unclean. Most religions have ‘cleansing ceremonies’. This was used in relation to the accusation of his disciples because they had not washed their hand so the food that they had eaten had ‘defiled’ them – made them unclean. This was a TRADITION and not a biblical fact. What truly ‘defiled’ a person was the following:

 

(v.15)…but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 

 

It is what comes OUT of a person that makes him unacceptable before the Lord God.

 

5. Final explanations (7:17-23)

 

17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18 And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 

20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

 

In this final section Jesus will extend his explanation. It seems that his disciples did not quite understand the meaning behind Jesus’ account. In one way this encourages me for in certain circumstances I also do not fully comprehend what Jesus teaches! How I sometimes would love to be able to sit and talk with Christ and ask him to reveal to me what he meant.

 

18 And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?”

 

It seems by the tone of his voice that Jesus was expecting his disciples to understand this very simple statement he had given. I wonder if, still today, he wonders why we don’t understand some very basic theology. The writer of Hebrews had this to say concerning the believers that lacked basic understanding:

 

Hebrews 5:11-14

(11)of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

(12)For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

(13)For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.

(14)But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

(NKJV)

 

The disciples seemed not to be able to ‘discern both good and evil’. I have noticed a drastic loss of interest in the study of the Bible and the teaching of systematic theology from the pulpit. Christians that have been in churches for thirty – forty years know next to nothing about God! If Jesus would ask us simple questions concerning the character of his Father would we be able to answer? Do we know what the gospel really is except for the fact that ‘God loves you’? What Jesus says is that:

 

(v.18)…whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?

 

Food does not defile you because it is digested and eliminated naturally by the body. In no way does food have an effect on the ‘heart’ of a person. Jesus goes on to explain what does have an effect on your heart, what does defile you.

 

20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil

thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

It is not what comes in but what ‘proceeds’ (EKPOREUOMAI): to depart, come out of – a person that defiles him! Jesus comes back to the heart of a person. The hearts of the religious accusers were not right with God. But the hearts of ordinary people can also be impure before the Lord.

There lies in the heart of men such things as: evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.

These are the things that separate you from God, not unwashed hands when you eat a meal. The Pharisees and the scribes were adamant concerning the OUTWARD form of religion. Do this, do that, don’t do this and so forth. They neglected the most important thing – the heart! You can outwardly do ALL YOU WANT but if your heart is not right with God it has absolutely no impact on your relationship with God. Actually it pushes you further away from him! Paul wrote:

 

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

(1)Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

(2)And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

(3)And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

(NKJV)

 

Without the true love of God living in me I am absolutely nothing.

 

Isaiah 64:6

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

(NKJV)

 

Without a heart that has been cleansed by the blood of Christ – all that I do ‘are like filthy rags’!

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Don’t be like the Pharisees and the scribes who constantly accused people of being unclean, while neglecting their own lives.

  2. Do not only honor God with your lips and follow church traditions instead of the teachings of the Lord.

  3. Your heart is not defiled by what you eat but by what comes out of it. So keep your heart clean by repenting before God.

 

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The gospel of Mark
29 – Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman
7:24-30

24 Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. 25 But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus arrives (7:24)

 

24 Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. 

 

This is the only gospel story in which Jesus went personally to the region of Tyre. Although he speaks of this region on different occasions this is the only recording we have of him having set foot there. This story is also told in Mat. 15:21-28. To get a broader picture of this unique occasion we will take information from both gospels.

 

The scribes and the Pharisees had attacked Jesus and rejected Him because he did not accept the tradition of the elders as having any bearing on religious life. On the other hand Jesus sternly warns them that only the Holy Scriptures are to be respected. So Jesus leaves the area and moves on to the region of Tyre. This region is outside of Israel, it is at the northern tip of Phoenicia which is north of Galilee. Today it stands 12 km north of the Israel-Lebanon border. Tyre had a rich history and is often named in the Old Testament. It still was a major port of the Mediterranean Sea. No one knows why Jesus decided to go to the region of Tyre, we only have speculation concerning this.

 

We may be able to see part of his plan because it is written that ‘And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it’. It may just be that Jesus just wanted some peace and quiet – to be away from accusations and people that always searched to find fault in him. He entered a house and again we have no clue who the owner was and if he knew Jesus to be ‘a man of God’. Unfortunately his desire to remain unnoticed failed. It is written that ‘He could not escape notice’.

 

2. A woman speaks to Jesus (7:25,26)

 

25 But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.

 

Once more it amazes me to see how rapidly ‘news gets around’ concerning the presence of Jesus. We have to keep in mind that we are outside the borders of Israel. The region of Tyre is normally not a welcome place for the Jews for in the past they had been enemies. There is something about Jesus that transcends all human factors and people simply flock to him. This is a story of a woman who desperately wants Jesus to cure her little daughter and as we will see she will do what it takes.

 

We first see what was the matter with her child ‘whose little daughter had an unclean spirit’. The Bible does not explain how such a thing can happen it only exposes it as being a fact. This child was possessed by an evil spirit. An ‘unclean spirit’ is a fallen angel who awaits its final judgment. The word ‘unclean’ (AKATHARTOS) means: impure, foul, unclean and ‘spirit’ (PNEUMA) meaning: a current of air, breath, by analogy a spirit. So here we are dealing with a spirit that has become impure. These are the ones that, alongside with Lucifer, have rebelled against the Lord God and hate everything that he stands for. We see the character of this unclean spirit – attacking a little child who has absolutely no defense against such a being. May we never think that we can stand against them without God’s help or think that they are our ‘friends’ who can confer unto us all that we desire!

 

We see in verse twenty-six that this mother was not from Jewish descent, she was ‘of Syrophoenician race’. Notice that contrary to most Jewish people Jesus will take time with this woman. All races have one creator, all races have the same first parents (Adam & Eve) and all races are from one blood (Acts 17:26). May we remember this in all of our dealings – people are people.

In the event explained in Matthew we first see the woman speaking to Jesus and begin to plead with him: ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed’ (Mat. 15:22). She is looking for ‘mercy’ (ELEEO) meaning: to have pity on, show mercy on, have compassion. In other words she desires Jesus to look at her situation and caringly do something about it. If she has come to Jesus it is natural to understand that nothing that she had tried in the past had any effect on this unclean spirit. It is also obvious that if she comes to Jesus for help she had heard of his great deeds.

 

She calls him ‘O Lord, Son of David’. For a Syrophoenician person this is a rare and revealing exclamation. As I said there is enmity between these two peoples and for her to profess that Jesus was Lord and Son of David is unbelievable! Somehow she realized that Christ was not just a ‘miracle worker’ but truly someone who was utterly unique – the Jewish Messiah. It is amazing to see that this Syrophoenician woman knew who Christ was and yet the Pharisees and the scribes were blinded to this fact! Also notice that Matthew writes that the girl was ‘severely’ demon-possessed. The word ‘severely’ (KAKOS) meaning: badly, grievously, and miserably. As though this unclean spirit relentlessly persisted in its attack against this poor little girl.

 

In Mat.15:23 we see that: ‘But he answered her not a word’. One might say: ‘how rude of Jesus’ others might think: ‘this is totally contrary to his character’ and they would be right. What we need to understand is that Jesus wants to bring this woman from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ and to do this he must act this way. He does this on a few occasions such as in Mark 6:48 when he was walking on water and ‘would have passed them by’ or with the two walking with him on the way to Emmaus in Luke 24:28 ‘He indicated that he would have gone further’. For her sake Jesus had to act like he did.

 

At this point there are facts that Matthew brings to light (that we do not find in Mark) which are very revealing.

 

Mat. 15:23

And His disciples came and urged Him, saying,

“Send her away, for she cries out after us”

(NKJV)

 

Here we can see the true character of the Disciples. They didn’t care much about her plea. They were insensitive in regards to the little girl. In their minds this woman was just ‘trouble’ and they wanted to get rid of her. It seems that this mother just kept on asking and asking Jesus to do something for her child. She did not take Jesus’ silence as an answer to her cries for help. For the Disciples she was a non-Jew. More than that she was a woman. Still today in the Middle-East there are countries where men do not speak to women that are not in their families. May I ask how often we can reflect these Disciples by just wanting to ‘get rid’ of a problem instead of actually doing something to help out!

 

Again in Matthew we find another occurrence that is not mentioned in Mark.

 

Mat. 15:24

But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

(NKJV)

 

The first time this mother spoke to Christ he did not answer – not even a word. But she persisted and called out to him again. This is an example of what we all should do – never cease to call out to God to come to our aid. Even if he does not seem to hear us (as with Jesus and the woman) we need to persevere. On this second occasion Jesus speaks to her. It must have been very encouraging for the woman to hear his voice. She may even have thought that all would be well.

But when she heard the substance of his words her world once more fell apart! Jesus tells her that she is not of the right race ‘except for the lost sheep of the house of Israel’. She was Syrophoenician and not a Jew and therefore eliminated from all he could do for her. We could call Jesus a racist and it seems that way. But remember that Jesus wants her to go from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ and this is the road that she needs to walk on to get there. Some of us are spiritually more docile. Others like Saul of Tarse (Paul) need a drastic meeting with Christ to become a true Christian.

 

3. Jesus’ answer (7:27)

 

27 And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

 

If we take in the account in Matthew this is actually the second time Jesus speaks to her. The first time he tells her that she is not a Jew and he will have nothing to do with her. This second time he tells her that she’s like a dog! That the children (of Israel) are to be satisfied and not the non-Jews. This absolutely seems cruel for anyone to say! How could our loving Savior ever say such a thing? Once again remember that Jesus is bringing her to a point where she will come to him not only for a cure for her daughter but also as her Lord and Savior.

 

4. She speaks to Jesus (7:28)

 

28 But she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” 

 

Just before this happens it is written in Matthew that ‘Then she came and worshipped Him’ (Mat. 15:25). We need to understand that all of this takes just a few seconds in time. Jesus did not leave her stranded for hours or days in anguish! This is the turning point in this story. Before she had called him ‘O Lord, Son of David’ but now she was broken and ‘worshipped Him’. The two are very different! How many say that Jesus is Lord and yet do not really know him at all. Remember what Christ said:

 

Matthew 7:21-23

(21)"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

(22)"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'

(23)"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'

(NKJV)

 

We see in verse 28 that for the first time the woman humbles herself before the Lord. Yes, I am not a Jew, yes I am like a dog but even the dogs get crumbs that fall from the table. What she was saying is that she understood and accepted that he had come for the Jews and was hoping to get what falls from their table ‘the children’s crumbs’. It is the same for all true believers of today. Paul explains that we (Gentiles) are from a wild olive tree and have been grafted on a cultivated olive tree (Jewish). We also came in after Jesus had come for the Jewish people (Read Romans 11:11-27).

 

5. Jesus’ second answer (7:29)

 

 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 

 

Seeing that his mission had been accomplished and that the mother had come to a true understanding of who he was (for she worshipped him) Jesus grants her desire.

 

Mat. 15:28

Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, great is your

faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed

from that very hour.

(NKJV)

 

This is the first time that the Scriptures speaks of her faith ‘great is your faith’. Was this the reason why Jesus had come to the region of Tyre? Just for this woman? I believe that it could be for Jesus said that a shepherd will leave ninety-nine sheep that are safe and go look for the lost one. If you are a lost sheep, far from its shepherd, Jesus will come just for you, place you on his shoulders and take you with him. He is waiting to hear you cry out to him as this mother did!

 

Luke 15:4,5

(4)"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

(5)"And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

(NKJV)

 

Her daughter was freed from the demon. All is done by his very desire. The daughter is not present and he did not even speak to the demon. He said and it was simply so. The words that created this cosmos spoke and the demon had to leave. Glory be to God that the Son has all authority (Mat. 28:18)! Amen that Jesus is Savior, healer and also protector of his brethren.

 

6. The miracle is granted (7:30)

 

30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.

 

I can imagine the mother-daughter reunion when she arrived home. How her pace must have been rapid to see her daughter, the embrace they had and the tears of joy that trickled from their eyes.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Persevere and do not let events defer you from calling out to Christ.

 

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The gospel of Mark
30 – The deaf and mute man
7:31-37

31 Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. 32 They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him. 33 Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; 34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” 35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. 36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. 37 They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus is on the move (7:31)

 

31 Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. 32 

 

The cities of Tyre and Sidon are in the region called Syro-Phoenicia. Once Jesus healed the little girl from demon possession (7:24-30) it is written that he went south-west to the region of the Sea of Galilee. He passed through that region continued south-west and arrived ‘within the region of Decapolis’. The name ‘Decapolis’ means: ‘ten cities’. Here are the names of these ten cities: Hippos, Abila, Konata, Capitolias, Philadelphia, Garasa, Pella, Scythopolis, Gadara and Philoterio. As I have written before, this region is not part of the nation of Israel and it is inhabited mainly by non-Jews. This would not have been a region where Jewish people would extend their stay. This is not the first time that Jesus goes outside of his homeland.

 

2. A man needs help (7:32)

 

32 They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him.

 

We can see that, as with the lady living in Syro-Phoenicia, people, even though they live outside of Israel, know about Jesus. They have heard of him and may have even witnessed people that have been cured by him. People systematically bring their sick to Jesus in hope that he will cure them. If I may spiritualize this I would say that as believers we also need to bring the spiritually sick to Christ. We know that He is the only answer to their deepest need – the healing of their sick heart! Let’s not forget what Christ said:

 

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

(NKJV)

 

Why did the people ‘and they implored Him to lay His hand on him’? Why did they want Jesus to touch their sick? I can only conclude that for men touching someone is a point of contact necessary (in their minds) for Jesus to bring healing. Is it a ‘bad’ thing to ask Jesus to ‘touch’ someone and bring healing? The answer is ‘no’. Jesus never rebuked anyone for asking him to ‘touch’ a sick person. But I would like to remind you that with the story of the Centurion’ servant who was sick the Centurion did not even want Jesus to come into his house for he knew that just by speaking a word he could cure him from a distance.

 

Luke 7:6-9

(6)Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, "Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof.

(7)"Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.

(8)"For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

(9)When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, "I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!"

(NKJV)

 

In this Centurion (who was a pagan) Jesus said that he had never seen such a great faith – not even in Israel! The point I am making is that in our life we often desire some kind of ‘touch’ from our Maker, some type of ‘sign’. Outstanding faith does not require a sign from the Lord but rather a deep sense of simple belief in his power to intervene in our life.

 

So this man ‘was deaf and spoke with difficulty’. Still today we often see the same symptoms with deaf people who try to speak. We can understand them but their speech is not as clear as with people who can hear.

 

3. The miracle needed (7:33-36)

 

33 Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; 34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” 35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. 36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. 

 

One can wonder why Jesus took the man and brought him apart from the others that were there. We have no textual explanation and we should leave it as it is plainly told. It is never good hermeneutics to ‘fill in the blanks’ with our own thoughts!

For a reason that we do not know Jesus took this man aside to perform his miracle. This is the only miracle where Jesus placed his fingers into a person’s ears to cure them. This is not his normal ‘modes vivendi’. Again we will leave it as it is. We can not fathom the heart of Christ. Jesus also used another particular approach by using his saliva and touching the tongue of the man. The only thing I can say is that if I were the man I would wonder what Jesus is doing! This brings me to realize that in a disciple’s life Jesus can also use methods of doing things that I simply do not understand and I should accept them. If this man would have pushed Jesus away because of his unorthodox approach he never would have been healed!

 

34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” 35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. 

 

To perform this miracle we see that Christ was ‘looking up to heaven’. He directed his sight towards the Father who was the source of all that he did.

 

John 5:30

"I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

(NKJV)

 

May we also do the same, looking towards our heavenly Father in all that we do. We can see that Christ was emotional because he had ‘a deep sigh’ (STENAZO) meaning to murmur, to pray inaudibly. It seems that the Son asked the Father to perform this miracle through him. This is exactly what we all should do – ask the Father to live through us for his glory! His command to his speech and hearing was very short – ‘be opened’! We never see Christ ‘put on a show’ when he does miracles. He certainly was not like the prophets of Baal who spent the greater part of the day ‘performing’ to get Baal’s attention (1 Kings 18)! I often wonder why Christians in general are always looking for ‘OUTSTANDING’ things, signs and wonders – when Christ did things very simply and without making any trumpets resound!

 

35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. 

 

Miracles done by Jesus never fail. One hundred percent of his miracles conclude in perfect accomplishment and restoration – that is a sure sign of a true man of God. The world is presently filled to the brim with pseudo miracle workers. The spiritual realm is polluted with false prophets and teachers. It seems that people in general are totally blind and revere these men and women who ‘perform’ in the name of God. The Lord has standards and anyone who does not have a 100% average on his prophesying and healing is a fraud (Deut. 18:15-22).

 

Here we see that Jesus ‘opened’ his ears and removed ‘the impediment of his tongue’. The word impediment (DESMOS) means: a band, a shackle, fig. a disability. Jesus simply took away what was stopping this man from hearing and speaking well. Amen that our Lord can do all things and come to the aid of all.

 

4. People don’t listen (7:36,37)

 

36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. 37 They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

 

By what we read in verse thirty six we can imagine that the Lord has brought the man back to the crowd (v.33). Here we see that the Lord speaks to ‘them’ (the people of the crowd). He gave them orders ‘not to tell anyone’. Jesus is never looking for publicity or making his ministry into a public side show! He is always humble – like we should be.

 

But the people did not listen to him – they proclaimed his miracles far and wide. I can understand that they were so excited and had a difficult time to conceal what they had witnessed. But doing the opposite of what is ordered is another thing. Yet are we not the same? Do we not also go directly against the will of our Lord and Savior?

 

37 They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

 

The crowd could not believe what they had witnessed. A deaf and mute man was instantly cured and could function as well as all the others! The aim of his miracles was to glorify the Father and also astonish people so that they could realize that he was the Christ – the long awaited Messiah. May I ask if you have understood who Christ really is and if you have made him your Lord and Savior? For those who have been saved for a long time are you still astonished by what Christ has done in your life and in the lives of others?

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Don’t be afraid to be ‘on the move’ to help someone out.

  2. Bring people to Christ – in prayer and in speech.

  3. Christ might have to ‘bring you apart’ so you can get what he wants to give to you.

  4. People are not naturally inclined to hear the ‘Good News’ or the things concerning their salvation. Be ready to be rejected.

 

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The gospel of Mark
31 – Jesus and the four thousand
8:1-13

 

In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and said to them, 2 “I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance.” 4 And His disciples answered Him, “Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?” 5 And He was asking them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” 6 And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people. 7 They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well. 8 And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces. 9 About four thousand were there; and He sent them away. 10 And immediately He entered the boat with His disciples and came to the district of Dalmanutha.

11 The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him. 12 Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 Leaving them, He again embarked and went away to the other side.

(NASB)

 

There are some who believe that this story is actually the re-telling of the feeding of the 5000 as though it was a slightly different version of the same event. But when we analyse both stories we can see that the ‘feeding of the 4000’ is a complete different story than the ‘feeding of the 5000’. There are many differences between both stories that proves that they are not the same. Here are a few of them.

  1. There is no mention of traveling by boat to arrive where they were on the second feeding.

  2. In the second event it is Jesus that first speaks of feeding the crowd.

  3. In the first event it seems that the crowd was with Christ for one day, while on the second event they were with him for three days.

  4. There is no question of spending any money to buy food in the second event.

  5. Jesus does not challenge his disciples to find food for the crowd in the second event.

  6. The disciples ask Jesus to send the crowd away in the first event, not so in the second.

  7. In the first event they have five loaves and two fish. In the second they had seven loaves and a few fish.

  8. In the first event there were twelve baskets of loaves left over and in the second only seven of them.

  9. In the first event there were about five thousand men and in the second about four thousand men.

  10. In the first event his disciples leave on a boat without Christ and in the second they all leave together.

 

 

1. Jesus opens his heart (8:1-3)

 

In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus calle