Fri, Sep 28th - 12:33PM
STUDY IN MARK
"From there He stood up, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into a home, and would have no one know about it: but He could not hide. For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard about Him, and came and fell at His feet: This woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by birth; and she begged Him that He would cast the demon from out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not good to take the children's bread, and to cast it to the dogs. And she answered Him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs. And He said in response, For this saying go your way; the demon is gone out of your daughter. And when the woman arrived at her home, she found the demon had left, and her daughter was laying upon her bed (7:24-30)."
I covered this incident in my study of the Book of Matthew. This is a Greek woman who resided in the Tyre/Sidon neighborhood. She heard that Jesus had come to her area and so she walked to where He was "hiding." Her young daughter was possessed by a demon and she was desperately wanting Him to help her daughter. This woman is an outstanding example of faith in someone who lived outside of Israel. Jesus answered her petition to Him, even though it appeared that He would not do so at first. Did Jesus come to this area specifically because He knew that He would meet this woman in her dark hour of need? I think so. God does not do "accidental" things. What we also see in this woman is enduring persistence and fervency. She did not give up and go away. That is how a believer must approach God today. Be patient, be fervent, be persistent, and do not stop asking for what you lack, or for what some one else lacks. We have so many examples from within the Old Testament of godly people praying to God for days, and weeks, and years for the exact same thing until God answered them. But, once we have asked God to supply our need, we must then become like Samuel as a child and listen to hear God's voice answer us. Our answer must then be, "Here is your servant Lord, I am listening."
"And again, leaving the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, He came to the sea of Galilee through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis (7:31)."
Jesus leaves Tyre and Sidon, for Galilee, via Decapolis. Decapolis in translation is "ten cities." It was a district composed of ten cities, most of which were to the east of the Jordan River, near the Sea of Galilee. These cities were: Scythopolis, Gerasa, Dion, Hippos, Gadara, Canatha, Pella, Raphana, Philadelphia, and Damascus. Jesus' ministry touched many lives in this region, as we shall see.
"And they brought to Him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseeched Him to put His hand upon him. So He took him aside from the crowds of people, put His fingers into the man's ears, spit, and touched the man's tongue; And looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to the man, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And immediately the man's ears were opened, and the nerves of his tongue were loosed, and he spoke coherently. And Jesus charged them that they should not tell anyone: but the more that He charged them, even more did they spread the news about what He had done; And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, He has done all things well: He makes both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak (7:32-37)."
Everything Jesus did were aids to having faith. This poor man before Christ had his hearing restored first, so that he could hear the Word of God. And then Christ restored the man's speech so that the man could tell others of God's Word. This miracle in Decapolis, in conjunction with healing that woman's daughter, created a great impetus in the growth of Jesus' ministry.
It is unimaginable what amounts of pressure were being felt by Jesus as He traveled about Israel. The burdens of the crowds, the tensions of the times, the length of the days, the physical fatigue of His human body, are all things that we can relate to in the human sense. But we can't begin to understand what God's feelings were deep inside Himself as He walked through His creation witnessing the suffering, unbelief, and unrest all around Him. The people living in Decapolis said "He has done all things well," and He continues today to do all things well! It will do us all well to remember that faith comes through hearing, and hearing comes through the Word of God.
I now move on to chapter eight of Mark, a chapter in which the themes are of the leaven being explained, a blind man healed, four thousand being fed, and finding out the answer to the question of "Who do you think Jesus Christ is?" But this is all for another day, beloved! Be merciful, be gracious, and live in peace with everyone if at all possible!
Thu, Sep 27th - 1:00PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And when He had called all the people to Him, He said to them, Listen to Me every one of you, and understand; There is nothing from outside of a person, that by entering them can defile them: but the things which come from out of a them, those are what defile the person (7:14-15)."
Jesus differentiated the external from the internal. People like to show off to others how "good" they can be, while black things continue to exist in their heart. They are easily offended, they tip over into anger and rage very easily, they are snobs, they do not love others more than themselves. They will curse others out if provoked, and they look out for number one at all times. Here in these two verses Jesus is speaking in reference to exception being taken to eating food with unwashed hands. This has nothing to do with hygiene as I pointed out before. It has everything to do with ritual and ceremony, two things that focus primarily upon the external expressions rather than dealing with heart issues internally. I do not defile myself by eating my fried chicken with dirty hands. But I surely do defile myself every time I cuss and swear at people or when I lose my temper and lash out at the person who provoked me. Religion is not supposed to be like cosmetics; something that you use to improve how you look on the outside. Religion is supposed to change a person from the inside out, a total transformation. It is not something that you eat or avoid eating.
"If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And when He was entered into the house from the crowd, His disciples asked Him about the parable. And He said to them, Are you so lacking in understanding also? Don't you perceive, that whatsoever thing from outside of a person enters into them, it can't defile them; Because it does not enter their heart, but goes into their stomach, and goes out through their bowels, purging all meats? And He said, That which comes out of the person, that is what defiles them. For from within, out of the heart of people, come evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All of these evil things come from within a person, and defile them (7:16-23)."
Jesus left the crowd outside of the house and went inside. His disciples didn't comprehend what He had been talking about outside and question Him further inside of the house. Jesus turns upon them and wants to know if they seriously lack the understanding of what He had just explained outside. They do. So Jesus patiently explains it once more to them, and to us. Kosher foods are not of a necessity anymore. Ceremonial actions are not required any more, especially manmade ceremonial actions that had replaced God's statutes.
Jesus listed out what defiling things do come from within a person. All of these despicable acts come from a person's heart. It is there that these things are conceived of, nurtured, and then released against unsuspecting people. What is especially dangerous here is the fact that none of us are capable of knowing what is secretly hidden deep down inside someone else's heart. The pillar of society can one day wake up and murder his entire family while they sleep in their beds; proceed to work and there murder their boss and many of their coworkers. Or, a college student may come to school one morning and proceed to gun down dozens of their fellow students for perceived offenses perpetrated against them. Or someone wakes up one morning and takes rat poison from under the kitchen sink, mixes it in their children's breakfast foods, and nonchalantly kills them all. No one knows what lurks in the heart of a person, no one. Except God.
So Jesus hammers home this point about taking care that you are "clean" on the inside, in your heart. Don't worry about what you eat somehow defiling you. Your prejudices, your bigotry, your intolerances, your arrogance, and your wickedness from within you are what corrupt you. All of these things are sinful and unrighteous. Go buy a newspaper, watch the news shows, or go online to the news sites and here is what you will discover came out of people over the past 24 hours:
Adulteries and fornications: unlawful sex relationships
Thefts of all kinds
Covetousness: greediness for the material things of others
Wickedness: all actions that intend to hurt other people
Lasciviousness: sensuality run amok
Evil eye: envy
Blasphemy: slander against God or man
Pride: elevating oneself higher than one deserves
Foolishness: actions done without any respect to others, without any thought
That is what comes out of people each and every day on this planet of ours. Most of them often lead to the death of others. None of them remain harmless. It is for this very reason that Jesus Christ said. "You must be born again!"
That is all for today. May God's Word be a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your way through life!
Wed, Sep 26th - 10:46AM
STUDY IN MARK
"But in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other similar things you do. And He said to them, Full well you reject the commandment of God, so that you may keep your own tradition (7:7-9)."
Any group of professing Christians who put humanly created traditions ahead of God's commandments is vainly worshiping God. It is all talk and absolutely no walk. Catholicism, for all of its admirable qualities, falls into this realm with its Sacred Traditions and other teachings which deviate from what is clearly stated within the Bible. It is something which the Catholic Church ought to correct. Mormonism is another group that falls into this realm of vain worship based upon manmade tradition/s. Jehovah Witnesses also fall into this realm. Can there be genuine believers in Christ within these different groups? Most assuredly, yes! But the overall groups themselves are working vainly to enforce manmade traditions that Christ, here in Mark, clearly warns us is not to be done.
"For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother; and, Who ever curses father or mother, let him die the death: But you say, If a man will say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever you might be profitted by me; he shall be free. And you then do not require him to do anything more for his father or his mother; Making the Word of God of no effect through your tradition, which you have delivered: and many similar things do you do (7:10-13)."
Some traditions may actually be established for very good reasons. But traditions can't be substituted for the Word of God. Those spoken about in verses 10-13 were not "good" traditions. Christ gave them an example of what they were doing. Moses had told them how God wanted them to treat their parents. But they created these new traditions permitting them to escape the responsibility to their parents. If a man did not want to help his father and mother when they became old and needy, he would dedicate his possessions to the priest in the temple and it was to be considered a "gift." At the man's death his entire estate would then belong to the temple and while the man lived he was free of his responsibility to his parents care. They could both die for all that he cared, but spiritually he would believe that he was clean. How heartless and cruel and self-serving!
Jesus Christ said that this tradition was contradictory of God's Word, which was to honor one's father and mother, not to abandon them. Christians today must be very careful to whom they donate money to at the expense of not meeting their obligations to family according to God's Word.
So, believers must remain alert to the intrusion of manmade traditions into the body of Christ. Some traditions prove to be okay, as long as they are not elevated above God's Word. Other traditions prove to be things which have absolutely no place within the body, and must be rejected out of hand. What I find across the internet today is the acceptance of traditions that lead to shouting matches, arguments, fights, and outright hatred. This would appear to arise from the fact that fewer and fewer people are actually reading the Word of God and simply listen to what others comment about the Word of God. They no longer are knowledgeable of the fact that there are things in the Christian walk that are not doctrinal and need no arguing over since they reside in the realm of items that each person must settle in their hearts. For example, should I eat pork or not? That is a personal decision I must settle in my heart. If I am in doubt as to eating pork or not is alright, then I should not eat it at all. Should I be a vegetarian? If I can't decide 100% in my heart that it is the only way for me, then I shouldn't become one. Even if I personally decide to do these things, I can't enforce them upon anyone else as a matter of church doctrine. It is stated as such in the New Testament, I urge you to go and find it on your own. If I choose to observe the Sabbath Day because I have determined in my heart that that is right and proper, then I can do so. But I can't go around telling others that if they do not do the same that they are going to hell. All of these things must remain consistent with all of God's Word, I can't pluck something from out of Hosea or Habbakuk and make it a new doctrine that everyone must obey or else they burn in the lake of fire forever and ever. So you can observe Saturday and I can observe Sunday and someone else could observe every day of the week as the day to worship God, and we are all still going to heaven! I personally believe that we are told in the New Testament that we are to strive at worshiping Christ daily and not just on Sunday or Saturday. In my heart I truly believe that it is proper to worship Christ on the first day of the week since that was the day of the week when He rose in newness of life and had secured salvation for me. But I can, and do, worship Him on any other day as well. Thus, if the government ever chooses to prohibit Sunday worship, I will simply smile and say "Okay!" If the government ever chooses to prohibit public gatherings at church buildings I will simply smile and say "Okay!" I have no problem meeting in private homes to worship God and study His Word since that is how they did it during the first century church.
That is all for today, beloved! It looks to be a wonderful day, full of sunshine and crystal clear skies! What a blessing! Grace and peace be with you all!
Tue, Sep 25th - 12:50PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with unwashed hands, they found fault with them. For the Pharisees, and all of the Jews, did not eat food if they did not wash their hands first, holding to the tradition of the elders. And when they came from the market, if they did not wash, they did not eat. And many other things they did observe, such as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables (7:2-4)."
We can see here that some sort of confrontation is going to take place for two divergent perspectives are clashing with one another. One group of men is composed of Jesus' followers while the other group is composed of His enemies. It is always this way. Those who trust in Christ versus those who reject Christ. Which group will you end up in? This question is not about if you are a member of a church or have been through some ceremony; it is simply about your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Where do you stand when it comes to believing in Christ?
This group of Pharisees and scribes weren't come out from Jerusalem on a fact-finding mission. They weren't seeking to understand much of anything about Jesus. They came to entrap Christ in intelligent debate. They felt that they were the enlightened ones, the intellectually elite ones of their day. Naturally, it wasn't hard for these men to find some fault with Christ, simply because Christ ignored their traditions.
Why were these men so upset over people eating food without first washing their hands? Was it because of personal hygiene concerns? Or personal etiquette? Not at all, they were upset because Christ was not forcing His disciples to observe the manmade traditions that came from interpreting the Old Testament. We are reading here about ceremonial cleansing and not sanitary cleansing. This custom/tradition was peculiar to Israel alone.
In the Book of Leviticus there can be found much about cleansing. It was important then because God was teaching the Israelites that a sinner had to be cleansed before he could enjoy fellowship with a holy God. But by this point in time the Pharisees had created a great tradition that supposedly was an interpretation of the Mosaic Law. Some even argued that Moses himself had given them this tradition when he had given them the Law. These traditions became accepted as being what the Law meant, and once that door had been opened, the tradition simply kept getting altered until it no longer accurately represented the intent of the Mosaic Law. That is what has happened here in America with the separation of church and state clause, current interpretation no longer accurately reflects the original intent.
We are told in this passage that the Pharisees ceremonially washed the cups, pots, brazen vessels, and the tables before using them. It was an external act, burdensome to perform, and had no connection to fellowshipping with God. The word used in this passage is the one used for "baptism." They baptized all of these items repeatedly. They no longer understood the purpose for cleansing these items: which is that a person must be made clean/right with God before a relationship could be established between that person and God. We still find the exact same kind of thing taking place today. We find ourselves embroiled in debates over points of religion, when the bottom line is belief in the Person of Christ Jesus. People wish to argue about who is obeying the Ten Commandments and who is not. Who is observing the Sabbath Day and who is not. Those are unimportant things until you choose to believe in Jesus Christ. You can observe all the things your heart may desire, but without belief in Christ you remain unsaved and locked out of heaven.
"Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, Why don't Your disciples act according to the tradition of the elders, but instead they eat bread with unwashed hands? And He answered them, Well has Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me (7:5-6)."
Jesus did not speak kindly to them, did He? He cut right to the heart of the matter. "I hear you flapping your jaws here, but I do not see any actions matching up with what you all are saying." They sure could talk the talk, but they did not want to walk the walk.
A lot of people today want to think that they are Christians. But they only talk the talk. And sometimes they don't even accurately do that! They love doing the rituals and ceremonial things in church services. But they never pray to God, they never thank God, they never ask God to intervene in things to benefit others. They will only accept people who are like them into their congregations. They do not like poor people, or rich people, or homeless people, or disabled people, or disfigured people. They have no wish to become comfortable letting in all types of people to join in their worship services. They also think that it is okay to become violent against others who do not agree with their concept of God. They may also think that it is unnecessary to respect all life, or to be good stewards of the natural resources they find all around themsrlves. They simply do not accurately reflect what Jesus Christ taught in the New Testament. They have created their own "traditions" by which they feel comfortable living. And so some may have accepted Jesus, but have failed to allow Him to govern all aspects of their lives. Others have failed to even consider the need to accept Jesus Christ, thinking that as long as they faithfully attend church and tithe that they are good with God.
Our heart must become involved if our belief in Christ is to be genuine. We must embrace Romans 10:9-10 in order to avoid the trap of traditions and embark upon the journey of a direct and personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I shall pick up with verse seven and continue on through verse fifteen. Until then, may the grace and peace of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior be with you!
Mon, Sep 24th - 12:59PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew up to the shore. And when they were disembarked from the ship, immediately the people knew Him. And ran through that whole region and began to carry in beds those who were too sick to walk, and brought them to where they heard He was. And wherever He entered, into villages, or cities, or countryside, they laid sick in the streets, and begged Him that they might touch just the border of His garment: and as many as touched Him were made whole (3:53-56)."
Exactly how many sick people did Jesus heal? This implies that it was a very significant number. As many as came and touched His garments were healed, were made whole once again. He didn't even have to speak. So much for all of the publicized "faith healers" that we periodically read about in the news. If it were true, then they would be healing thousands and thousands of people, just like Jesus did. But they don't, do they? Makes me wonder why.
For the Catholic Church to claim that the bishops and the Pope are the successors to the original twelve Apostles they have placed themselves upon very thin ice. The Apostles were given the certain gifts by Christ. They could banish demons from people, they could forgive sins, and they could heal people. One other point must be remembered here as well. In Acts 1:19-26 we witness Peter leading a meeting of church leaders that was convened to determine who ought to become the tweleth Apostle since the demise of Judas Iscariot. How did they go about figuring out who it should be? They submitted a list consisting of two names/candidates, prayed upon it, and then voted. Tell me, does that sound remotely like how the first twelve men were chosen to be Apostles? Not to me it doesn't. Since each of these twelve men had been personally called out by Jesus Christ, poor Matthias did not really become an Apostle here. If we recall, Saul of Tarsus had a very personal encounter with Christ Jesus on the road to Damascus, and was born again. Saul became Paul and also became an Apostle of Christ. We see than in the very first verse of the Book of Romans.
I would propose then, that bishops are not Apostles, they are simply bishops. The Pope is not the successor of Peter for he has never had an encounter with Jesus to make him an Apostle, he was elected by the apostolic college in Rome. The Catholic Church, like all of the rest of us believers, must remain very careful how we choose to do business in church. If it becomes like what goes on out in the world, then we are in need of checking our behavior against what Jesus has previously commanded of us. Enough said.
That concludes chapter six of Mark, and so let's now begin with chapter seven. The theme overall will be one where the Pharisees are denounced by Jesus, miracles are performed upon the deaf and dumb people in Decapolis, and the Syrophoenician's demon-possessed daughter.
We continue to see the genereal theme here of Jesus being God's Servant who is carrying out God's will on earth. Jesus is remaining to be a man of action; going out doing the things that would appeal to the Roman of that day and to any person who is interested in getting a job done. Our Savior can save, and He is the only One who can save.
We must remain aware of the fact that the Gospels occured right after the intertestamental period which was from the close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament. It was a period of time during which all sorts of events happened in the history of nation Israel. They had gone into captivity and returned to Jerusalem. New groups and political parties developed, ones that had not previously existed. There now were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes, and the Herodians.
The scribes apparantly began on a good note since Ezra was one of these people. They were the professional expounders of the Law of Moses. But, as we all are aware, good beginnings often do not end well, do they? By the time Jesus came along the scribes had become "hair-slitters" and concerned themselves more with the letter of the Law rather than the spirit of the Law. They had become legalistic.
That seems to remain a problem with modern society in America. The laws of America have been interpreted in this legalistic manner and the philosophical interpretation made that was never originally intended. It seemingly has arisen from out of certain law schools in the eastern sections of the country. The result? Our legal system and our political system are in one huge mess. Splitting hairs over everything that comes before the court and before the Congress equates into nothing getting done to help people who are in desperate need of help, and the focus remains to be upon technicalities and ideology. That is what faced Jesus in His day.
The Pharisees also began well. They arose to defend the Jewish way of life against all foreign influences. But they became strict legalists, believing in the Old Testament, and were nationalists politically. They desired to bring in the coming of the kingdom of heaven here on earth through their own efforts and not of God's.
The Sadducees were composed of the wealthy and socially-conscious people. They did not have any spiritual depth to themselves. They desired to rid themselves of tradition. They rejected the supernatural and were against the Pharisees who accepted the supernatural and accepted the Old Testament. The Sadducees were more closely related to the Greek Epicureans.
The Herodians were a party who arose as political opportunists. Their sole focus: keep the Herods ensconced upon the throne in Jerusalem. Their spiritual leanings could go any way needed at any particular time.
Then the Pharisees and certain of the scribes came together to Him, all of whom came from Jerusalem (7:1)."
Notice that these individuals traveled out from Jerusalem just to find Jesus and confront Him. He had made such an impression everywhere that these men couldn't wait until He might enter Jerusalem again before asking Him their questions. They felt compelled to go out and speak with Him wherever He might be. They found Him ministering in Galilee, He and His disciples. Next time we will discover how picky they actually were about things. Until lthen, grace and peace be yours!
Fri, Sep 21st - 11:57AM
STUDY IN MARK
"And immediately He constrained His disciples to get onto the ship, and to go to the other side to Bethsaida, while He sent the people away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to a mountain to pray. And when evening was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and He remained alone on land. And He saw them struggling in rowing; for the wind was against them: and about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed them by. But when they saw Him walking upon the sea, they figured it had to be a spirit, and they cried out: For they all saw Him, and were troubled. And immediately He talked with them, and said to them, Be of good cheer: it is I; do not be afraid. And He went up to them and into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sorely amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they did not consider the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened (6:45-52)."
As soon as the feeding of the five thousand men was finished Jesus forced the disciples to board the ship and get to the other side of the sea, by Bethsaida. Jesus remained behind to disperse the crowds of people and to then go off by Himself to pray. Why such a sudden move by Jesus at this time? We see here "immediately" and "constrained" being used. Constrained is not a word that we use very much these days. It means to be restricted, compelled to avoid or to perform some action. This term could be used to describe what Jesus did to the sea and the wind, but it is used here to tell us that He compelled His disciples to get on board that ship and sail across to the other side of the sea by Bethsaida. Look at John 6:15 and you may discover why Jesus sent everyone away from Him right then and there.
We do find here that Jesus was not unaware of their dilemna out upon the sea that night. He saw their plight, their struggles against the wind which was blowing against them. He saw that they were in trouble. I don't know about you, but that gladdens my heart! It means that Jesus sees how much I may be struggling and He will come along side of me, He wil not remain afar off somewhere. I may be in a tight spot, I may be sitting all alone in a corner of deepest darkness, I may even be facing temptations and problems to large to bear all by myself. But Jesus sees me as I struggle and He will come to me in my time of need. Jesus knows your problems as well, beloved! No need to shoot off a flare. No need to build a bonfire. He already knows. Jesus came to these disciples of His and they all were amazed beyond expression.
But do not pass over the fact that they did not remember the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Hardened hearts still existed among the disciples even though they had been witnessing miracle after miracle by Jesus. What about today? Are there people who ask for miracles, and when they are supplied do they remain unbelieving and amazed at what is going on? Hardened hearts can't accept what the eyes and ears perceive going on all around. They should not have been amazed at seeing Jesus walking on the surface of the sea. Or the fact that the waves and wind ceased their action against the direction of the ship. Nothing is impossible for God to accomplish. God created all of this universe that we live in, didn't He? So why be caught off guard by the unusual when the manifested God of Creation is right here with you? I believe that it was due to how they had been raised and taught by their parents and the rabbinical leadership of the Temple. Sacred tradition had become as authoritative as God's Word, if not more so in many cases. They had lost their understanding of who God really is. We labor under the exact same issue today. People think of God in terms that are severly limited by their thinking in finite concepts. We need to expand our horizons, get out into a new paradigm, stretch our conceptualization to include what God's Word says God has done, is doing, and will do.
Grace and peace be yours on this last day of summer/winter! Enjoy the wonders of the natural world, drink in the majesty of the Creative God!
Wed, Sep 19th - 11:19AM
STUDY IN MARK
"And the apostles gathered themselves together with Jesus, and told Him all of the things that they had done and had taught. And He said to them, Come apart into a desert place, and rest for a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure time so as to even eat (6:30-31)."
The impression given is that these men were extremely busy at this point in time. There was very little "down time" and no time to spare for amusements. Jesus and His apostles retreated to a desert place in order to gain rest and peace from all of their work and the people. Jesus expected them to give an accounting of all that they had done since He had sent them out. Should it be any different for us today? Do we expect to give an account for all that we have done and taught?
"And they went privately by ship to a desert place. And the people saw them leaving, and many knew Him, and ran on foot from out of all of the cities, and they went out, and gathered together where He was. And Jesus, when He came out, saw very many people, and was moved with compassion towards them, because they were as sheep without a shepherd: and He began to teach them many things (6:32-34)."
Jesus tried to secretly steal away so that He and the apostles could get some rest together. But prying eyes spotted them boarding the ship and sailing out from shore. There were people who quickly figured out where they must be headed, and the word spread among the people of the cities round about the area, and hoards of people walked to the desert place where they had retreated to. Crowds of people walked all the way around the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee, did so rather quickly for they greeted Jesus when He disembarked from the ship.
Jesus chose to begin teaching them for He understood that they were like sheep without a shepherd. The shepherd lead the sheep flock everywhere. Without the shepherd the sheep were lost and without any true sense of direction or purpose. Without the shepherd, the flock of sheep would become extinct. Jesus Christ is our Shepherd, He leads us out to green pastures so we may nourish ourselves safely, and then He leads us to still waters to quench our thirst. He protects us from harm, and brings us back safely to the sheepfold each and every day. That is the picture God has painted for us so that we may gain some understanding of what God wants to do for us each day of our lives.
"And when the day was now well past, His disciples came to Him, and they said, This is a desert place, and now the day is well passed: Send all of them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and into the villages to buy themselves bread: for they have nothing with them to eat. Jesus answered and said to them, You give them something to eat. And they said to Him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them it to eat? Jesus said to them, How many loaves do you have? go and see. And when they knew the answer, they said, Five, and two fishes. And Jesus commanded them to make all of the people to sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, He looked up to heaven and blessed the food, and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set out before them; and the two fishes He divided among them all. And all of the people did eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments of bread and the fishes. And the that did eat were around five thousand men (6:35-44)."
Jesus gave them an impossible task. They had to learn, and so do we, that God always asks the impossible of believers. Why? Because He intends to do the work in order to increase our faith in Him. There was not enough available food to feed five thousand people out in this desert place. Where else could food come from to feed so many except from God? The Lord will provide provisions for those who earnestly seek Him early. Jesus performed the miracle of not simply feeding so many people, but in providing food enough that everyone was full. And still there was more left over than what they had begun with! Praise God for that! I wonder how many of those present had never been so full after a meal as on that occasion? God is good, all of the time. Amen!
We need to also notice that Jesus didn't need to do any hocus pocus, wqving of His hands, or utilize His robe as a shield in order to multiply the food. He simply looked up to heaven and blessed the food. Done deal, end of story. That is the power of Almighty God at work! Did He really need to even do that much effort to create enough food for five thousand men? Probably not. He did it this way to demonstrate to those present how they would need to proceed with their prayers and requests of Him. We ought to thank God at each meal for what He has provided for us to eat. We ought to ask that He bless it and use it to nourish our bodies until the next meal.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I will look at Jesus walking on the sea. It is an important event for all of us today, not just for those who witnessed it so long ago. Until then, may the grace and peace of our Merciful and Gracious God clothe you who read this post.
Tue, Sep 18th - 12:50PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And king Herod heard of Him; (for His name was spread all over:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do show themselves from out of him. Others said, That it is Elijah. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.
But when Herod heard of these things, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. For Herod himself had sent forth and seized John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. For John had said to Herod, It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife (6:14-18)."
It would appear that Herod was quite superstituous, even though he was king. But out in the streets there was much debate as to exactly who Jesus really was. Isn't this still true today, beloved? People debate about who Jesus was/is. He is a man. He is a prophet. He is a liar. He is deluded. He is King of the Jews. He is the Messiah. He was just a simple carpenter's son. He is an angel like Michael and Gabriel. He is Satan's brother. It just goes on and on and on. As always, different people have different opinions as to who Jesus is. They also have differing explanations of Christ's Person, presence, and power. All of this creates an atmosphere of confusion, and back in this particular day, Herod was getting scared. John the Baptist has come back from the dead to get me!
John's beheading had taken place prior to this time and was primarily due to the fact that John had not backed down from properly identifying sinful behavior taking place in Herod's life. Herodias became enraged at John's audacity to accuse them of being sinful and desired John's head on a platter. Eventually she got her wish.
"Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper for his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; and when the daughter of Herodias came in and dancd, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said to her, Ask of me whatsoever you wish, and I will give ti to you. And he swore to her, Whatsoever you shall ask of me, I will give it to you, up to the half of my kingdom. And she went out, and said to her mother, What shall I ask for? And her mother said, The head of John the Baptist (6:19-24)."
We must ask ourselves how much influence Herodias had upon Herod's spirituality at this point in his life. He knew that John was a just and holy man of God. He was scared of him for John spoke the Word of God truly. But Herodias hated John for pointing out her adulterous relationship with Herod, her brother-in-law.
Now Herodias waited until Herod threw a big party that included most, if not all, of his friends. Then, knowing how lecherous a man Herod was, she sent her own daughter out to dance enticingly in front of all of those men. Herod swallowed the bait, the hook, the line, and the sinker! He spoke without stopping to think things through, and opened the door for his wife to step through and gain her revenge against John. The daughter does not seem to have been in the "know" ahead of time, before she went out to dance in front of them all. She goes and asks her mother what she ought to ask for. I doubt that she anticipated hearing what came from her mother.
"And the girl came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, I wish that you give me soon in a charger the head of John the Baptist. And the king was exceedingly sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her request (6:25-26)."
Here we have a mother who uses her own daughter to trap her husband into granting her desire to kill a man who she felt had offended her deeply. What is the daughter to do here? She might have told her mother no. But she did not do this, instead she hurried back out to the king and relayed the request. Think Herod had an epiphany at hearing his stepdaughter's wish? Think that he felt like shooting himself to put himself out of his misery? In his mind, he could not deny her her request. He felt that he was a man of his word, he had sworn an oath and now he must keep it. He also felt that he could not bear the embarassment of going back on his word in front of all of those people who were gathered at his birthday party. He ought to have swallowed his pride and sense of honor, denied his daughter's request, and ended the party immediately. He should have then gone and had a very long overdue discussion with his wife. He could have then explained to his daughter why he would not behead John the Baptist for her mother. He could have acted more like a king. But he didn't. All of this happened prior to his hearing all about Jesus Christ performing miracles all over the countryside. Natually Herod jumped to the conclusion that God had sent John back to wreak vengeance upon him.
"And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded John's head to be brought: and he went and beheaded John in prison, and brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the girl: and the girl gave it to her mother. And when John's disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb (6:27-29)."
Mark now concludes this flashback and brings us back to the present time. John the Baptist's disciples came and retrieved his body and respectfully buried it in a proper tomb. All of this is what was playing through Herod's mind upon finding out what Jesus was doing among the people.
What does any of this have to do with any of us today? The moral of the account is this: Do not think that living with a sinful, contentious woman will end happily. Adultery always requires payment in the form of consequences. Not being a person of high ethics and morality will always lead one into situations where one can be manipulated into doing things never conceived of. Not thinking before speaking leads to very poor choices being forced upon you. Acting while under the influence of drugs leads to disasters. I could go on with others, but I won't. You get the picture. Herod put himself in an untenable position that he could have easily avoided, except that his lusts controlled him. May none of us allow ourselves to end up in such a position in our lives. We must remain alert, vigilant, and watchful, for Satan is relentless in his endeavors to compromise our witnessing power.
Be grateful this day for all that Christ has blessed you with. Be thankful for all that Christ will bless you with in the future. Praise to the Lamb of God! Praise to the Merciful and Gracious God of All! Praise and Honor to Him who sits on the throne! Amen!
Mon, Sep 17th - 12:16PM
STUDY IN MARK
"But Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house he is without any honor in their eyes (6:4)."
In our day this translates into being, "An expert is an ordinary person from another town." Familiarity breeds unbelief in the minds of those who live side by side with an "expert." It seems that it is much easier to believe a person is an "expert" if they come to us from far away. I wonder why that is? Perhaps this is also why God wants us to get up and go find people to minister to. Those closest to us may be very resistant to listen to what we have to say to them about God. We are much more effective ministering away from our hometowns.
"And He could not do any mighty works there, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And He marvelled because of their unbelief. And He went to all of the villages teaching (6:5-6)."
This second visit back to His home town did not result in Jesus leaving right away. He remained in the immediate area and taught in all of the villages. We also see that Jesus was unable to perform any mighty miracles here due to the unbelief of all of the people. If no one believes, if no one has faith, then God can't save them or heal them.
So this is the only limitation placed upon the omnipotence of God: unbelief. Faith is the requirement to releasing the power of God in the salvation of people and in the healing of people. Beloved, unbelief shuts the door to accessing the miraculous power of God's saving grace. Unbelief insulates a person's soul from the reality of their sin and it isolates that person from drawing closer to God.
Jesus Christ marvelled at their unbelief. Even so, He persisted in going around and teaching in all of the villages found in this area. It is something that every servant of Christ needs to keep in mind today. We are not to refuse going to small areas to preach the gospel. Everyone is precious in God's sight, everyone is to get to hear the gospel message. Christ taught us all that we are not to simply focus upon the great metropolitan centers found all around this planet. We have been told to go and make disciples. Small works for God easily turn into tremendous works later on for all things are possible through Jesus Christ. We all need to remain humble and remember that we are Christ's ambassadors, but that we are also His servants.
Any person who feels that there is a vital need to only preach before sizeable crowds of people must keep in mind that Christ taught most of the time to only His twelve disciples and to small households of people. The larger the crowd the more difficult it becomes to interact effectively with everyone in it.
"And He called to Him the twelve, and began to send them out in pairs; and gave them power over unclean spirits (6:7)."
Christ begins to send out His disciples, allowing them to gain experience and confidence. They are to preach the message of repentance. They could heal people at this time and they did have power over unclean spirits, or demons. Six teams of two men apiece, able to cover a much larger area at the same time. Good planning by God!
"And He commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a staff; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: But wear sandals; and do not wear two coats (6:8-9)."
Rather strange commands, eh? Why command this of them? This way they would be able to travel light. This way they would be forced to rely upon Christ. Their journey would not be a long one, only to the surrounding area. These six pairs were only preaching the message of repentance to the house of Israel at this time. They were to accept the hospitality that was offered to them. They were expected to now completely trust the providence of God.
"And He said to them, In whatever place you enter a house, there remain untill you depart that area. And who ever will not receive you, nor listen to you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet for testimony against them. Truly I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city (6:10-11)."
Get the idea that this was to be a solemn and serious journey out for the twelve? This was not to any sort of lark or party trip. Having the Light with us automatically creates responsibility. To reject the grace of God invited His judgment back then, and it remains true to this very day.
"And they went out, and preached that people ought to repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them (6:12-13)."
The twelve disciples went around Israel preaching repentance from sins, anointed people with oil for healing, and cast out demons from possessing people. They were performing miracles. This ministry was being offered only to the Jewish people at this time, and those Gentiles who happened to be living within the boundaries of Israel. Today we are to preach repentance to everyone, to the Jew and to the Gentile.
There is an accounting of this incident in the Gospel of Matthew and was covered more in depth in our study of that gospel. The fame of Christ spread like wildfire throughout Israel, making its way even to the throneroom of Herod. Next time we shall examine Herod's reaction to hearing about Jesus' ministry. Until then, grace and peace be with you all! Let us all enjoy these final days of summer in the northern hemisphere, and of winter in the southern hemisphere! It is a season of change that rapidly approaches us all. Are we all prepared to receive the changes that are coming to pass?
Fri, Sep 14th - 12:54PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And He went out from there, and came into His own country; and His disciples followed Him. And when the sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, From where has this man learned these things? and what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that even such mighty works are performed by His hands? Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not His sisters here with us? And they were offended by Him (6:1-3)."
Unbelievers point out that when this passage is compared with Luke 4's account one can find a contradiction. Why claim that based upon two accounts of what are two different visits to His hometown area? In Luke Jesus is alone whereas here in Mark He is not alone. On both occasions He visited the synagogue and taught there. Both times He was rejected by His hometown crowd.
"his country" refers to that area where He grew up as a child. Jesus habitually spent sabbath days in a synagogue, both to worship God and to teach unbelievers about God. His teaching amazed those who heard what He said, and realized that they had known Him when He was growing up amongst them. Everything that Jesus had said and done created a consternation within these people who had known Him for years. These people looked at themselves, at Nazareth, and judged Nazareth by themselves; Nazareth couldn't possibly produce someone like Jesus Christ. Impossible! Basically they had no faith in one of their own, nor faith in themselves. Do we ever act this way today?
For those who claim that Mary and Joseph never had any other children besides Jesus, guess what? They most certainly did. Jesus had four brothers and had sisters also. Jesus was the eldest child in this family. All of His siblings were half brothers and sisters, for their parents were Joseph and Mary while Jesus parents were Mary and Jehovah. All of them were scandalized by what Jesus did and said. They had grown up with Him and thought that they knew Him, but that was their particular snare, or trap. Familiarity can breed blindness. Jesus is One with whom none of us can afford to become too familiar with. People think that they "know" Jesus is love and acceptance. Really? Is that all that Jesus is? If this was true, then why did He deem it necessary to come to earth and sacrifice Himself upon a wooden cross in order to pay for our sins? Why does Jesus deem it necessary to repeatedly warn us about hell and the lake of fire, of eternal torment and anguish, of eternal separation from Jehovah? Because He is only about love and acceptance? I think not, beloved.
That is all for today my friends. Grace and peace be to you!
Thu, Sep 13th - 12:10PM
STUDY IN MARK
"If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all." ~C.S. Lewis
"I tremble for my country when I think that schools may be sending forth into government people who are too proudly "practical" to take ideas seriously." ~George Will, Statecraft As Soulcraft
"Every powerful movement has had its philosophy which has gripped the mind, fired the imagination and captured the devotion of its adherents." ~John Stott, Your Mind Matters
"Ideas have consequences." ~Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences
"There is no longer a Christian mind. It is common place that the mind of modern man has been secularized...But unfortunately the Christian mind has succumbed to the secular drift with a degree of weakness and nervelessness unmatched in Christian history." ~Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind
"While He yet spoke, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain people which said, Your daughter is dead: why do you trouble the Master any more? As soon as Jesus heard the words spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, Do not be afraid, only believe. And He did not allow any man to follow Him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw the tumult, and all them that wept and wailed greatly. And after He went in, He said to them, Why do you make all of this noise, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleeps. And they laughed at Him scornfully. But when he had removed all of them from the house, He took the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with Him, and entered in to where the damsel was lying. And He took the damsel by the hand, and said to her, Talitha cumi; which is being interpreted, Damsel, I say to you, arise (5:35-41)."
Jesus went to this man's home and removed everyone who was inside weeping and carrying on. He simply kicked them all out, as we would say today. He then took the father and mother inside along with the three disciples He had brought with Him. Six people along with the young girl lying dead in the house. Jesus' brief words to the girl are in Aramaic, which she would have understood. Jesus has the power over death, as well as life. He had raised a young man back to life, an older man back to life, and now He raised a young girl back to life. All three were raised back to life the exact same way: by speaking to them. One day in the future Jesus Christ is going to come and call out to every single believer who has died up to that point in time, and they will be raised back to life in order to meet Him in the air. Glorified bodies are to be given to us and scripture says that we will be changed in the blink of an eye. No mouldy, stinky, disintegrated, bodies for us! We shall receive the same type of body that Jesus received upon His resurrection from the tomb. What a day that will be! I look forward to a day where I do not suffer from gout, hypertension, fatigue, aches, and pains. I look forward to the day when my wife does not suffer from chronic pain, headaches, fatigue, and shortness of sleep. These things will all pass away once we receive our glorified bodies from God.
"And immediately the damsel arose, and walked; for she was twelve years of age. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And Jesus charged them strictly that no person should know of it; and commanded that something should be given to her to eat (5:42-43)."
Preteens generally have a rather healthy appetite, so for a young girl to have been bed-ridden for several days and not having eaten anything it was quite practical for Jesus to tell them to feed her something. She needed to give her body nourishment.
So, we have found three great miracles that demonstrate the wondrous message of the Gospel of Mark. Jesus is God's Servant with God's power and authority. He is a Man of action and He hasn't come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for the multitudes of people. To prove His point He performs these three miracles: He casts out demons from the man in Gadara; He heals the woman with an issue of blood; and He raises this twelve year old girl back to life.
This finishes up our study in chapter five of Mark. Next time I shall begin in chapter six, which the second longest chapter in this Gospel. The action will continue to be presented to the reader in machine gun-like fashion. We will find Jesus returning to His own region of Israel, Nazareth.
I hope you have learned as many things as I have during this study! God desired that Mark give to us a fast paced accounting of His public ministry here on earth. God wants us to understand that He is a God of action, not inaction. God wants us to also understand that although He is always active, He is not so active that He will overlook anyone's problems/needs. If I am praying to Him to help me in my hour of need, God isn't so busy that He won't hear me. He will continue to finish up what ever business He is involved in and then provide me with what I need most. I hope that you continue coming back to this study for more nourishment in the Word of God! Grace and peace be yours today!
Wed, Sep 12th - 3:33PM
STUDY IN MARK
"The herdsmen fled, and told everyone in the city and in the surrounding country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to leave their region. And as He was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged Him that he might remain with Him. But Jesus refused, saying to him, Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you. And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and all people marveled at it (5:14-20)."
People couldn't handle having such a miraculous healing happen in their midst. It boggled their minds, it challenged their perspective of how the world really was. It was a truth that they resisted accepting, even though there were plenty of eye witnesses who attested to it having happened exactly this way. To accept meant having to admit they had been wrong in their outlook on life as Jews. It meant having to admit being sinners in the eyes of Jehovah. It meant that they were face to face with Jehovah, and they did not come close to measuring up to Him. So they demanded that Jesus go away from them. And Jesus complied. He did not fight them, nor did He threaten them. Jesus did tell the ex-demoniac to go and proclaim to everyone that he knew of how much God had done for him and of how much mercy God had for him as well. And all of the people that heard this man speak about his experience with Jesus marveled at it all. That is what we are to be doing today, beloved. Telling everyone about how much Jesus has done for us and of how much mercy He has for us.
"And when Jesus was passed over again by ship to the other side of the sea, very many people gathered to Him: and He was close to the sea. And, see, there came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw Him, he fell at His feet, And begged Him greatly, saying, My little daughter lies at the point of death: I pray to You, come and lay Your hands upon her, that she may be healed; and she shall then live. And Jesus went with him; and many people followed Him, and gathered around Him. And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood of twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she owned, and was nothing improved by any of it, but rather she grew worse, when she heard of Jesus, came in the press of people behind Him and touched His garment. Fr she said to herself, If I may touch just His clothes, I shall be made whole (5:21-28)."
Jesus returned over the sea to where He had begun. Jairus approaches Him and begs for His presence at his home in order to heal his daughter who is lying there dying. Jesus is in action. As He walks towards Jairus' home a poor, destitute woman, who is afflicted with a bleeding disorder and has been bled dry by quack doctors of the day, creeps up behind Jesus and touches the hem of His clothes so that she may be healed. She has become desperate and willing to try this. She has heard that He heals people by all sorts of means. She will try this. Have any of us ever become so desperate in our hour of need that we simply reach out to try and touch just the edge of Jesus' robe? We see here that being burdened by immense medical expenses is not unique to our day at all. This woman had spent all that she had to try to get healed.
"And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that whe was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd of people, and said, Who touched My clothes? And His disciples said to Him, You see the huge crowd of people all around You, and you ask us, Who touched Me (5:29-31)?"
The disciples didn't notice the woman. They were busy dealing with the crowd of people all around themselves and Jesus. Isn't it strange that out of all of those many people so close to Jesus that day, that only one approached Him, seeking to touch Him in faith for healing for herself? Too many of us today only touch Jesus as that crowd touched Him: milling all around Him but never reaching out to touch Him in faith from the depths of our heart.
"Jesus looked around to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him the entire truth. And He said to her, Daughter, your faith has made you whole; go in peace, and be healed of your plague (5:32-34)."
Here is Jesus carrying on a conversation with this poor woman, while Jairus stands nearby, agonizing over his daughter's condition. Why won't Jesus just stop talking and hurry up? My daughter will die before He ever gets there! Come on! But Jesus takes His time. He remains compassionate to this poor woman's needs. He meets her needs, and then continues on to the home of Jairus. A servant comes up to Jairus with a message from home. It is whispered to the father, what could it possibly be? That, my friends, is for tomorrow! Grace and peace from Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior be with you all!
Tue, Sep 11th - 1:13PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And they came over to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when He came off of the ship, immediately there came a man from out of the tombs who had an unclean spirit within him(5:1-2)."
We have come to perhaps one of the most important chapters in all of Mark. Three miracles are related to us here that could only be performed by the hand of the Omnipotent God. Demon possession was pointed out several different times within the Gospel of Matthew, and now something is to be said about it.
It would almost seem that this man who had the unclean spirit was anticipating the arrival of Christ Jesus from off of the sea. Perhaps the unclean spirit could sense the approach of the Lamb of God. But for whatever reason, this man wastes no time and approaches Jesus on the shoreline. This man had been living in the tombs of that area. This "man" who came out to meet Jesus was just that, simply a man. He was in desperate shape, but he was still simply a man like you and me.
This happened in the land of Gadara, which was the land given to the tribe of Gad when they chose to remain on the east side of the Jordan rather than cross over into the Promised Land with the others. Physically they remained apart from God's plan for them. What happens when we make such choices?
"Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no person could bind him, not even with chains: because he had often been bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been picked apart by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: nor could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones (5:3-5)."
Here was a man possessed by an unclean spirit, who could not be restrained at all. Continually this man wandered around up in the mountains and the tombs crying and trying to kill himself. Sound like he lived under immense mental and emotional stress? Sound like he felt hopeless to change his condition? This man did not live among other people, he was all alone except for the dead in the tombs in which he lived. The lone thing to be said about the dead is this: the dead do not talk back to you. They do not argue with you, nor do they curse you. But we are told that this man had immense strength. Was it from God, this supernatural strength? Not necessarily, beloved. This man was wild, feral, uncontrollable. He was miserable and inflicted harm upon his own body in response to this misery.
"But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshiped Him, and cried with a loud voice, What have I to do with You, Jesus, You Son of the most high God? I adjure You by God, that You torment me not. For He said to him, Come out of the man, you unclean spirit. And He asked him, What is your name? And he answered, My name is Legion: for we are many (5:6-9)."
The man worshiped Jesus, not the demon who existed inside of him. This man was a tormented individual, capable of realizing what was going on around himself but unable to always exert control over his bodily actions. This man was aware that something else lived within him and was preventing him from being in control of his own body. Frustration must have been extremely high within him.
But the demon not only recognized Jesus, but was also very afraid of Him. "Adjure" is a term often found in courts of justice for it is there that witnesses are commanded to respond under oath or penalty of prison, as in perjury. This man/demon wishes to command Jesus to not torment him by invoking the name of God. Nice try. But Jesus presses on and enquires what his name might be. I think that Jesus was asking the man, but it is the demon who jumps in and answers. Legion, for we are many. This poor man did not have just a single demon, but had many that jumped into his body and controlled it. It was a case of being hijacked. Not being able to escape he had resorted to trying to kill himself by cutting himself with stones. Poor man. Does this sound remotely familiar to any of you out there? Teenagers cutting themselves?
"And he begged Him much that He would not send them away out of the country. Now there was close to the mountains a great herd of pigs feeding. And all the demons begged Him, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And straightaway Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out of the man, and entered into the pigs: and the entire herd ran violently down a steep slope into the sea, (there were about two thousand animals;) and they all choked in the sea (5:10-13)."
A strange request made by the demons? Perhaps not. They preferred the pigs to being sent back into the abyss. Liberal theologists do not like this passage for they believe that a "loving" Christ would not destroy the demons nor the pigs. They believe that this was even an utter waste of very good pigs! Was it? Should any of the Gadarenes been raising pigs to begin with? Good question.
I want to lay out some points about demons and demon possession:
1.) All of the Scriptures bear witness to the reality of demons. To accept the authority of Scripture is to accept the reality of demons along with the reality of angels.
2.) Demons were particularly apparant during Jesus Christ's ministry, but were not limited to just that period of time. Evidence of demon presence in modern society appears in various forms. There has been a growing resurgence and manifestation of demonism once more.
3.) For whatever reasons, demons seek to indwell mankind rather than animals. They seek to manifest their evil, wicked, nature through human beings. They seem to very restless. We get that impression from Luke 11:24. Wickedness seemingly can't exist unless it can manifest itself at long last, causing fear, repulsion, intolerance, rejection, and violence. Good spirits never seek to take possession of humans. The Holy Spirit is the lone exception to that statement, and He only indwells believers. The Holy Spirit does not commandeer our minds nor our bodies to make us do things that we do not want to do. But as truly as the Holy Spirit indwells believers, so too, demons are able to indwell unbelievers. Demons can't possess the redeemed in Christ for greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world (I John 4:4).
4.) Demons would rather go into a herd of animals than to be sent back to where they had come from. It must therefore not be a pleasant place for them to go back to?
5.) Since there is only one Devil, they ought to be called demons and not devils. Unclean spirits are demons, workers of iniquity in the employ of Satan, the Devil.
6.) Demon origin is not explicitly stated in the Bible. We can only speculate as to where they came from. Are they some of the fallen angels? Are they something else entirely? Satan has not created them for he has no creative powers himself. Perhaps he has corrupted some of his fellow angels and they ended up turning into demons. We simply do not know for sure. But they do exist.
7.) Their numbers would appear to be many.
8.) They are under the command of Satan, doing his will. Speculation? Perhaps. Reading Revelation can provide some insights into this area.
9.) Demon purpose appears to be the final undoing of mankind. Their actions indicate that they seek to achieve the same ends as does Satan.
10.) Present day examples: Satan worship; serial killers who eat their victims; killers who bury their victims alive; killers who slowly torture their victims; some of the mentally ill; and some musicians. Those who claim that they find reality in Satan worship, I do not doubt their claims at all. It is merely a matter of what kind of reality are they finding?
11.) Jesus Christ has power and authority over demons.
There is no reason for any believer to live in fear of demons or to adopt some superstitious idea about demons. If you feel that demons are bothering you in some way, simply ask Jesus to deliver you from their influence. Ask Him to protect you from them, to send a protective force of angels to stand guard round about you. As has been plainly seen here in Mark 5, demons have already been cast out in His name and to walk around in fear of them is a lack of faith in God.
That is all for today, beloved! May you have gained some confidence and courage from this study so that demons may concern you but they will not freeze you with fear. Christ has already dealt with demons and they have been cast out and down. Christ will come again one day to cast them down into the lake of fire for once and for all time. What a glorious a day that will be! Amen! Grace and peace be yours today!
Fri, Sep 7th - 12:25PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And the same day, when the evening was come, He said to them, Let us go over to the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even while He was on the ship. And there were with Him other smaller ships as well. And there arose a great windstorm, and the waves beat against the ship, so that it was full of water. And He was in the rear part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they woke Him up, and said to Him, Master, do You not care that we all perish? And He stood up, and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm upon the sea. And He said to them, Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him (4:35-41)?"
This is an innocent situation where Jesus had become tired and desired to sleep while they sailed across the sea to the other side. All of these men got scared twice. First, they became frightened by the ferocity of the windstorm that seriously threatened to sink the ship, and them along with it. Second, they became frightened by the fact that Jesus merely spoke a few short words and both the wind and the sea obeyed Him. They were hung up on the fact that they viewed Him as merely another mortal man. "What sort of man is this?"
I could have used this passage in my other blog about "Who is this Jesus?" This Jesus is God come in human flesh to reveal to all of mankind exactly who God is and what God expects from all of us. Christ Jesus has the authority and the power to command the natural forces in the universe to do His bidding immediately. God expects all of us to have faith in Him, through belief in Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Godhead. The Son of God is equal to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. All three have the same power and authority as the others, and are fully capable of acting immediately. There is no need for them to hold a board meeting to decide what to do. They do not need to take a survey nor a poll to help them figure out what to do. Three in One. No multiple gods, no other gods, and no originator gods are to be inferred by this. There is only God. He was, He is, and He shall ever be. I can't explain it scientifically, but it is still true spiritually. Why? Because God is a spiritual being, not a corporeal being like us. People have difficulty grappling with this conept simply because we do not have an everyday point of reference to help us to understand God. God exists as a spiritual being living outside of our physical universe which He created. Science can't help us quantify God, qualify God, or even detect God. The same problem also extends to angels since they too are spiritual beings created by God. They exist outside of our universe, only entering into it as directed by God. The only angelic beings that interact with humanity without God's approval are those who believed the lies spoken by Satan long ago. That part is scary. How can one defend ones' self from an enemy who hates you, if you refuse to believe that that enemy even exists? The enemy can act with impunity, wage open warfare against you, and watch you react in utter confusion to what is happening in your life.
We need to concern ourselves with properly answering Jesus' question of why we have no faith? Why don't we believe more? Why don't we trust Him more? Why do we doubt that the Bible is true? Why do we change what the Bible says, making it say different things? Why, why, why? Because we do not have enough faith in Christ Jesus, we do not believe 100% in our hearts that He is God. There is no fear of God in us. That fear is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. Today too many of us are hung up on the concept that God is all loving, that He is LOVE. This is undoubtedly true, but what happened to all of His other attributes? What about all powerful, all knowledgeable, all wise, all just, all merciful, all long-suffering, all righteous, etc., etc.? Can a loving God ignore being holy, pure, just, and righteous? Will God still be all loving if He allows us to remain unfaithful and imperfect to the point of condemning ourselves to eternal torment, and does nothing to try to change our minds? No, God came and revealed Himself to us in order that we would we be without any excuse if we so chose to remain unfaithful to Him and remain immersed in our imperfection. God's love allows us the freedom to choose what we will believe, but that power of choice comes with consequences. God's love has provided us with a path to achieve redemption, if we so choose to take it. God will not coerce any to make this choice. You can choose to not believe and eventually go to the lake of fire for all of eternity. But it is your choice, not God's.
I pray that you have a wonderful Friday, and a wondrous weekend! Grace and peace be with you all!
Thu, Sep 6th - 1:16PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should germinate and grow up, and he does not know how it happens. For the earth brings forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full ear of corn. But when the fruit is brought forth, he immediately uses the sickle, because the harvest has come (4:26-29)."
An unusual parable perhaps? It is only found here, in the Book of Mark. It is full of action, and is about the "kingdom of God." As I have already pointed out, the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God often become interchangeable in the vocabularies of Christians. But they are not identical. The kingdom of God is the larger entity including the entire universe; the kingdom of heaven is God's rule over the earth. One is a subset of the other. But here in Mark Christ speaks of them synonymously.
It still remains quite the mystery how the material contained within a tiny seed can from into a seedling and eventually into a much larger plant. Science does not create its own seeds from raw materials, there is too much information required to order the workings of the plant internally. It is something that remains out in the realm of God.
The basic principle given by God in these verses is that just as men know when it is harvest time in their fields of crops, so too, God knows when the spiritual harvest time has arrived. These verses also demonstrate the power of God's Word once it is released within people.
"And He said, To what shall we compare the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed,which, when it is sown in the soil, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: but when it is sown, it grows up, and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may roost under the shadow of it. And with many such parables did He speak the Word to them, as they were able to hear it. But He did not speak to them without it being a parable: and when they were alone, He expounded all things to His disciples (4:30-34)."
As you probably know, mustard is a condiment and not a foodstuff. God does not say that mustard will grow to be as great in height as trees. He says that it becomes taller than any other "herb." Could an eagle roost in it? Of course not. But God did not state that all birds of the air could roost in it. Christ was picturing for us how robust the growth of Christian faith in Jesus would be in the years to come. Starting out with just Him (a seed), His kingdom would grow exponentially and branch out everywhere. It would surprise those on the outside of it. They would become amazed that it could endure.
We are then told that Jesus spoke only in parables to the multitudes of people, and He spoke to them only as long as they were able to understand what He was speaking about. Afterwards He would get His disciples alone and then explain what He meant in each parable. The disciples were not left wondering what in the world their Master was talking about. They received one-on-one explanations of what they meant, they received words of truth. This same thing must happen with disciples of Jesus today. We must get alone with God and ask Him to please explain passages of scripture to us. He will instruct His Spirit to enlighten us. But this requires us to be studying God's Word regularly, praying regularly, asking Him to forgive our unbelief. It requires us to enter into a very intimate relationship with Christ Jesus. There can be no aloofness on our part. There can be no withholding of parts of our lives from His control. We must release ourselves, our children, our spouses, our occupations, our leisure time, everything, to Christ. Then we can enter into the holy life that awaits us, the life that the Holy Spirit calls us to live. Grace and peace be yours today!
Wed, Sep 5th - 1:02PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And He said to them, Don't you know this parable? and how then will you know all parables? The sower sows the Word. And these are they by the way side, where the Word is sown; but when they have heard it, Satan comes immediately, and takes away the Word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the Word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution comes for the Word's sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among the thorns; such as hear the Word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of wealth, and the lusts of other things enters in, choking out the Word, and it becomes unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the Word, receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirty-fold, some sixty, and some a hundred (4:13-20)."
The sower initially is Jesus Christ, and thereafter it is each believer. The seed is the Word of God. The birds by the way side are Satan. The stony ground hearers are those who allow afflictions, sufferings, and persecution to turn them away from God. They are "fair weather" believers. Many people profess belief in the Word of God but their fleshly desires bear them away from serving God. The thorny ground hearers are those who let the cares of this world distract them, to become vastly more important than saving peoples' souls for all of eternity. "I must provide for my family first!" "My children do not want to go to church!" "My football team is playing today, I can't go!" Too many people are allowing the world to shut them out from Christ. Then we have the good ground hearers who are those who are converted genuniely by the Word of God. Not all of them produce the same amounts of "fruit." Some produce more than others, or less. What is curious here is that Jesus points out to these people listening to Him that if they can't understand this parable how in the world will they ever understand all of the other parables.
"And He said to them, Is a candle brought out to be put under a basket, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hidden, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come out into the open. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear (4:21-23)."
This parable relates to how light reveals that which has been hidden by darkness. A person who lights a candle does not then take it and place a basket over it to block all of its light. Nor do they place it under their bed. No, they light the candle and then place it up where it can shed its light everywhere and allow them to see clearly what is around them. God's Truth is the light. When I receive the truth I must then act. I am held responsible to the degree to which I have had this light given to me. The light is shining brightly, and my response to it is all important. You and I were in darkness until the light of the gospel got through to us. We are not sinners simply because we are ignorant, or are weak. No, we are sinners because we are willful. God tells us in Romans 1 that even when men knew God, still they did not glorify Him as God Almighty. The Light of the World has come to reveal what kind of sinners we all are, and it creates a responsibility. We are lost, missing, wandering, blind, and if we refuse to accept the Light, then we shall continue to blunder on in the darkness of our lives. We will remain blind to the pitfalls that lay before us as individuals, and as a nation. Neither paints a very pretty picture.
To whoever hears the Word there is to be some subsequent action. There can't be a turning away and continuation of daily activity without some sort of impact having been felt. God demands action, always has demanded action, and always will demand action. Faith is action. It is acting upon God's Word, not sitting around watching TV 24/7. This means that today Christians must not simply remain sitting in the pews/chairs of their sanctuaries on Sundays, but they must get up and begin acting upon what they have heard from God. Jesus Christ has provided you and I with a token, a ticket, an earnest, which will allow us to board the airplane going to heaven. But we don't get to heaven by sitting in the airport holding tightly onto our ticket. We must get up, get moving, and actually get on board the airplane! You and I must believe it enough to board the plane and find our place there. Action is required. Check all of the people that Jesus healed. All of them were required to go and do something. We too must get up and do something that God has been asking us to do for a long, long, time. We must get up and go spread His Word to those who have not heard it before. Thousands upon thousands of people are being born each and every day in this world, who will bring God's Word to them? It has to be you and I. So, do you have ears to hear? Have you heard? If so, then you now know that you must choose to do something with the Truth. Choose wisely, my friends, choose wisely!
Tue, Sep 4th - 1:00PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And when He was alone, the twelve disciples and others gathered around Him asked about the parable. And He said to them, to you it is given to you to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but to those that are outside of this circle, all of these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and yet not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them (4:10-12)."
Quite obviously there were many who did not understand what this parable was all about. They could not make the connection between the physical act of sowing seeds and the spiritual one of sowing the gospel. These verses are hard ones to accept on the face of things. My initial reaction is that God has turned His back on people and will not allow them to be saved. He is preventing people from becoming redeemed. But what is the reality here? Jesus had been teaching truths about God for some time to the multitudes of people, and to the Pharisees and scribes. The religious rulers pretty much had rejected His words and the multitudes were becoming indifferent to spiritual truths, simply wishing to be fed and to see miracles. People wanted to see His miracles but not spiritually apply them to their own lives. The real world situation was then forced to deal with parables about spiritual matters. So those people who truly hungered and thirsted after righteousness would be able to understand the parables and be filled while those who wanted spiritual truth could have their eyes opened.
We can find this very same thought threading its way through the second chapter of I Corinthians: "But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither as it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God." What we then read in the verses following this reveals to us that natural man can't receive the things of the Spirit of God for they appear to be foolishness to him/her, neither can they know them, because these things are spiritually discerned, not physically discerned. The natural man/woman remains enslaved to a paradigm of relying totally upon the physical senses and what they can tell us. No matter that they may learn, and accept, that the senses can be fooled, they will insist upon trusting in them over everything else. Logical? Hardly. God teaches us to not trust in our senses because they can deceive us. People may present themselves to us falsely, tricking our physical senses into accepting them as friends; all the while they remain antagonistic towards us in their hearts while they labor to achieve our harm. We are to walk by faith and not by sight.
Getting back to the verses here, we can use every means available to us to try to get people to understand spiritual truth, but they must want to understand them before these things can be made real to them. They must first accept that Christ is God and that He died to pay for their sins. They must also accept the fact that God's Spirit will come to dwell within them once they repent of their sin. If their heart and eyes are open and they want to know, then the Spirit of God is going to bring into their heart the great truth. All of these things will be made quite real to them.
Much is talked about how to refer to people who do not believe in Christ Jesus. Are they lost? Are they missing? Are they depraved? Are they sick? In actuality, they are all of these things. But one of the biggest things about them is the fact that they are blind spiritually. This blindness prevents them from avoiding the snares and pitfalls that Satan places in their path each day. They can't see that their sin causes them to repeat the same blunders over and over and over again. I read a book that said we ought to think of unbelievers as simply "the missing." They are missing from church, from communion, from redemption, from God's family, and from the marriage feast of the Lamb in the future. All of the empty seats in our church buildings represent those who are simply missing from hearing the truth. What are we doing to change this picture? People are wandering through life day after day and are clueless about the fact that they are walking towards a cliff edge up ahead, one that is cunningly camoflaged so that it can't be recognized until it is too late. It requires spiritual discernment to see what is up ahead of us in life. It requires a change of mind, of thinking, of looking at things.
God's Word is the "seed" that falls. What sort of soil are you today? Are you a good soil for growth, or very poor soil without any sort of nourishment in you? You see, all of us are lost, missing, blind, wandering around, and it is our reception of the Word of God that determines whether we are redeemed or whether we remain estranged and lost from God for eternity.
That is all for today, beloved. Tomorrow (I hope!) will see us cover God's explanation of what this parable speaks about. We will also discover what the parable of the candle and the basket is all about. Hope you come back for more of God's Word in the days and weeks to come! Grace and peace be yours!
Back to Blog Main Page