Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Mark 6:14-16


14 Herod Antipas, the king, soon heard about Jesus, because everyone was talking about him. Some were saying, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead. That is why he can do such miracles.” 15 Others said, “He’s the prophet Elijah.” Still others said, “He’s a prophet like the other great prophets of the past.” 16 When Herod heard about Jesus, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has come back from the dead.” ~ Mark 6:14-16 

Today we return to our study of Mark 6 where the message of the gospel is the main theme. 
There are two reasons the disciples had success in their overnight ministry trips: the gospel was front and center, and, Herod was preoccupied with his fear. This is the way God always works. Opposition to the Gospel in one place serves to advance it in another.

In v.14 of today's passage we read, "Herod Antipas, the king, soon heard about Jesus, because everyone was talking about him. Some were saying, 'This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead. That is why he can do such miracles.'"

Herod Antipas was a "tetrarch" which means "a ruler of a fourth." Herod was the king or ruler of Galilee and Perea, which is that country just east of the Jordan River. It is known as present-day Jordan all the way down to the Dead Sea. 

Herod Antipas wanted to be recognized as king, but Augustus, the Roman ruler, refused him the title. Herod’s father, Herod the Great, was the king who was ruling when the Lord Jesus was born. When Herod the Great died, the Roman emperor divided his kingdom into four parts. One part was given to Herod Antipas.  

Herod Antipas actually thought the Lord Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead. But the Scriptures tell us that John the Baptist did no miracles!  And, Herod was a Sadducee and they did not believe in miracles. Herod had really bad theology because he was not known for reading the Old Testament Scriptures in order to be defined by them.

In order to be defined by the God of the Bible, we must be in the Word regularly. This means that we not only need to read it, but, we must be read by it, as well. And, when we are read by the Word, we will be defined by God as we give way for His will to be done in and through our lives. This is not what saves us, but, it may be used of God in the lives of others that may end up saved themselves.

Herod Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded, because John the Baptist spoke convicting words to him. Herod Antipas was already married, but, he took a liking, while he was in Rome, to his half brother Philip's wife Herodias, and seduced her away from her husband. Herodias was the daughter of his half brother Aristobulus, so, she was actually his niece that he married. And, since John the Baptist told Herod he was guilty of adultery, Herod had John beheaded.

As a result, Herod Antipas was haunted by what he had done. Whenever a man does an evil thing, everyone becomes his enemy. Inwardly, his thoughts return to the wicked thing that he had done. Inwardly, he was guilt-ridden, and outwardly, he lived in the fear that he will be found out.

Herod did demand, however, that his subjects call him “king”. He ruled from 4 A.D. to 39 A.D. He was run off to what is now known as France by the Roman emperor for demanding to be made a king in 39 A.D.

Mark refers to Herod as king, but, Herod falls woefully short of what would be expected of the Jewish king.  Herod, an insecure ruler, was always on the alert for any threats to his rule. This underscores mankind's deepest problem: insecurity. Granted, sin is our deepest problem, but sin's lack will always lead us to be insecure and to make insecure and immature decisions.

It is the holiness of the Lord Jesus that addresses this problem that all mankind shares. The Greek word for "holy" means "complete" or "whole." Holiness means wholeness, lacking nothing. God desires for us that we live a life of wholeness. The Lord Jesus came to this sin-filled world in order to make broken people whole. His calling on us is the application of His life to ours.

In v.15 of today's passage we read, "Others said, 'He’s the prophet Elijah.' Still others said, 'He’s a prophet like the other great prophets of the past.'"

Some thought the Lord Jesus to be the Old Testament prophet, Elijah, because of the prophecy in Malachi 4:5, which reads, "Before the coming of the day of the Lord, God will send Elijah the prophet." That is the very reason to this day at Passover, Jews keep their door open and an empty chair in case Elijah would come back to their Passover meal.

In v.16 of today's passage we read, "When Herod heard about Jesus, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has come back from the dead."

All of this brings us back to Herod's mistaken understanding of the Lord Jesus. A faulty understanding of the meaning of things comes from our lack of an understanding that is defined by the Lord. This is why it is so important for us to be defined by the Word of God, the written and the living Word of God. It is not about obedience so much as it is about being defined by God. When we have His culture growing in us, we will see things as they are. Most lack a proper understanding of the nature of things, and, are therefore, deceived due to the fact that they are not being defined by God. 

We were created by God who knew each one of us even before we were in our mother’s womb. Our true identity corresponds with how He created and defined us to be. When sin entered into the picture, we were thwarted from living out of a God-given identity. To live the abundant life the Lord Jesus died to give us, we must be defined God. He has been known to re-write our narrative after all of our trauma, loss, and hurt. This only happens as we allow Him to do so. 

Today, we do well, to read God's Word, asking Him to define us by His way of thinking. This will not mean we will become sinless. It does mean God will heal begin healing the hole in our souls that causes us to seek validation from the wrong sources. When we allow Him to define us, we will grow in the confidence that is not circumstantial. We will grow in the wholeness that ushers us to Him who unfailingly gives meaning and purpose to the willing soul.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Mark 6:7-13


7 And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits. 8 He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick—no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. 9 He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes. 10 “Wherever you go,” he said, “stay in the same house until you leave town. 11 But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.” 12 So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. 13 And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil. ~ Mark 6:7-13

Today, we continue our study of Mark 6 where the emphasis is on the message of Christ. This chapter divides into three sections: the first is found in v.1-20, the second in v.21-34, and the third is in v.35-43. 
The emphasis on this first section is on the fact that the unbelief of the people limited the work the Lord Jesus could do in that area.

In v.7 of today's passage we read, "And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits."

The Lord Jesus sent out the disciples in twos, partly for the accountability. But, also, as the Scriptures have established, it is by the mouth of two witnesses that every word is established. The Lord Jesus did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. So two witnesses were enough to substantiate the message. The disciples were there to witness the event and supply the name and the power of God and their mutual testimony to the people of that place. 

The disciples knew, based on what the Lord Jesus has told them in Mark 4:15, that "Satan quickly comes and takes away the teaching" from some. However, in Mark 3:27, they had also heard the Lord Jesus say that He had bound the "strong person," meaning Satan himself. They had watched the Lord Jesus preach, cast out demons, heal the sick, and even raise the dead. By teaching them, while using His parables, the Lord Jesus had taught them to expect rejection but to believe that the kingdom of God is moving into the hearts of men, regardless of how things might appear.

Putting up an image or the appearance that we have it all together is dangerous. As believers in the Lord Jesus, we are often tempted to put up the image that everything is good, and, choose not to be real. It is dangerous to lead people to think that we have no troubles. In fact, I have discovered that my troubles advance the gospel. Especially, if I walk with Him each day. And, when I do not walk with Him, those opportunities are often missed.  

The Lord Jesus orchestrated the disciples’ transition from being spectators to being participants. Based on the parables and on the rejection the Lord Jesus received in some places, the disciples had been prepared to expect the worst. Some would "hear the word and accept it," while others would "not receive" or "listen" to the disciples. 

In v.8-9 of today's passage we read, "8 He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick—no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. 9 He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes."

Without provisions, the disciples would be dependent on the hospitality of the people in the villages they visited. The Lord Jesus’ instructions forced them to believe in Him to open doors.  Often, God chooses leanness for us, so that we will not mistake the origin of His provision. We must be careful to recognize His curriculum for our lives.

In v.10-11 of today's passage we read, "10 'Wherever you go,' he said, 'stay in the same house until you leave town. 11 But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.'"

Hospitality was huge in biblical days. A traveler back then, didn't have to look for a hotel when he arrived in a town. It was the responsibility of the town to show hospitality and to give what was necessary for those who were traveling. A stranger was always invited into the people's homes for a night of two. 

To "shake the dust off of their feet" meant if the people refused the free gift of salvation, the disciples were to make a statement of what will happen to those who refuse to believe in the grace of the God of the Bible. As the Lord Jesus would later say in John 3:17-18, "17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son."

In v.12 of today's passage we read, "So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God."

Now, when the disciples went out, they went out with the gospel to inform the people; "Whoever believes in the Lord Jesus will not be separated from God for eternity, but, will have everlasting life." That was the message these disciples took to these towns around Galilee. And, their trips were only overnighters, so they did not need any supplies. They were to trust the Lord as they went. As a result, they saw the Lord open doors, and they walked through those opened doors, and, they shared the message of the gospel with the people who were receptive to them and the gospel. It was a message of God's love and salvation. It also included telling the people to repent or to change their mind about salvation, that it was a free gift for those who had long tried to earn God's favor. This enabled them to enter into that which God had in mind all along, a personal relationship with Him.
 
The seeming ineffectiveness of the Lord Jesus in His hometown was overshadowed by the disciples’ effectiveness in the surrounding villages. Sometimes, embracing the Lord Jesus involves facing the rejection of people we love. If we follow Him, however, rejection always has the ability to turn into an opportunity. He orchestrates our transition from being spectators to being participants, sharing His mission with us, sending us into a resistant but needy world.

In v.13 of today's passage we read, "And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil."

Miracles accompanied the gospel message in order to authenticate the message. Also, in the Old Testament, olive oil was a symbol of God’s presence. When someone of note was anointed, they were anointed with oil which was symbolic of God's blessing and presence. This was a reminder to all present that they weren’t the source of the power, they were just the channel of it. And by that simple symbol, they, in a familiar way, passed the glory back to the Lord. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Mark 6:1-6


"1 Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. 2 The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” 3 Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. 4 Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” 5 And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief." ~ Mark 6:1-6

Today, we transition into Mark 6 which has as its emphasis the message of Christ. This chapter divides into three sections: the first is found in v.1-20, the second in v.21-34, and the third is in v.35-43. The emphasis on this first section is on the fact that the unbelief of the people limited the work the Lord Jesus could do in that area.

After healing the woman with the twelve year issue of blood, and, raising from the dead the twelve year old daughter of the synagogue ruler, the Lord Jesus has traveled back home to Nazareth, from the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee which was about 22 miles away. 

In v.1 of today's passage we read, "1 Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. 2 The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?"

The people of Jesus’ hometown naturally had difficulty with this "hometown" boy. In fact, on that first Sabbath the Lord Jesus had returned home, the townsfolk let Him know what they thought about Him. Literally, they were perplexed by the Lord Jesus for they had always known Him to be a lowly carpenter. They had no idea that He could be the Savior of the world.

Interestingly, the church going folks should have recognized the Lord Jesus for who He was since there are so many passages in the Old Testament that tells us about Him. Yet, the people there in Nazareth were not in the habit of looking for God through the Scriptures. Thus, when the Lord Jesus began His ministry, they mislabeled Him as a lowly educated person. 

In v.3 of today's passage we read, "Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him."

The Greek word translated "carpenter" literally means a craftsman. This was typically somebody who was a blue-collar worker. In ancient times a carpenter was somebody who could build anything from a chicken coop to a home. Since most of the buildings were made of stone, it is believed the Lord Jesus was primarily a stonemason. 

The hometown folk did not see the Lord Jesus as a Rabbi,  for He did not jump through the hoops of their system. The people saw Him as a man who worked with his hands. After all, He got His hands dirty. They thought He could not be the Messiah because He did not fit their definition of Messiah. And, they had been "deeply offended" just a few weeks earlier when He subtly claimed to be the Messiah after His reading in the synagogue.
 
The Lord Jesus refused to allow the flawed perception of sinful man to define Him. He set a real good precedent here for you and me. Sadly, most people are defined too much by what others think rather than what God thinks. The Lord Jesus illustrated for us well what it looks like to be defined by the Father in heaven. We are best defined by Him when we obey His word.

In v.4 of today's passage we read, "Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family."

Whereas the people in the hometown of the Lord Jesus were astonished by His teaching, they remained in their unbelief regarding His identity. And, although faith in the God of the Bible is tremendously powerful, unbelief is equally as powerful. The power of unbelief was and is so great that it cast all humankind into a separated state with reference to God. And, its impact will also extend throughout all eternity for those who resist the luring of God to believe in Him.

In v.5-6 of today's passage we read, "5 And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief."

In this moment, the Lord Jesus accentuated the people’s inability to believe. It was unbelief in the God of the Bible that brought the curse upon all of humanity. And, it is unbelief in the Son of God that catapults people into eternal hell. When we are defined by our unbelief in the God of the Bible, we will be defined by something else. Most are most often defined by their fallen understanding of life.

The Lord Jesus
 could not work any miracles in Nazareth because the people lacked faith in Him. 
There is a very serious relationship between His work in this world and our faith in Him. Indicated here is the idea that the Lord Jesus desired and would have done much more, but the people's lack of belief in Him prevented it. In fact, "He was totally blown away by their unbelief."

In the same way that faith is contagious, unbelief is contagious. 
Adam and Eve failed to enter into God's promise because of their unbelief. The world at large failed at the preaching of Noah, only eight people got into that boat. The results of the Flood was an incredible example of the power of unbelief. Pharaoh hardened his heart against God in unbelief and the firstborn of his household died. When our view of the Lord Jesus fails to bring us to our knees, we painstakingly fall short of His power.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Mark 5:35-43


35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of the synagogue leader. They said, “Your daughter is dead. There is no need to bother the teacher anymore.” 36 But Jesus paid no attention to what they said. He told the synagogue leader, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37 Jesus let only Peter, James, and John the brother of James go with him. 38 When they came to the house of the synagogue leader, Jesus found many people there making lots of noise and crying loudly. 39 Jesus entered the house and said to them, “Why are you crying and making so much noise? The child is not dead, only asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. So, after throwing them out of the house, Jesus took the child’s father and mother and his three followers into the room where the child was. 41 Taking hold of the girl’s hand, he said to her, “Talitha, koum!” (This means, “Young girl, I tell you to stand up!”) 42 At once the girl stood right up and began walking. (She was twelve years old.) Everyone was completely amazed. 43 Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell people about this. Then he told them to give the girl something to eat. ~ Mark 5:35-43

Today, we return to our study of Mark 5 where the Lord Jesus has just healed the lady with the twelve year old bleeding problem. She had waited twelve years, whereas, Jairus' only waited for a short while, but, for Jairus, the waiting felt like a lifetime. 

In v.35-36 of today's passage we read, "35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of the synagogue leader. They said, 'Your daughter is dead. There is no need to bother the teacher anymore.' 36 But Jesus paid no attention to what they said. He told the synagogue leader, 'Don’t be afraid; just believe.'"

While the Lord Jesus was healing the lady with the issue of blood, news reached Jairus that his daughter had died. The delay had proven deadly. And, at that moment Jairus was advised to not trouble the Lord Jesus anymore. However, the Lord Jesus encouraged Jairus, "Don't be afraid; just believe." Literally, the Lord Jesus said to Jairus, "Stop fearing; keep on believing." That is to say, "You came with faith, you trusted that I could do this, stop your fearing. Maintain that level of faith that you had. Keep believing."

At this point, the words of Psalm 55:4-5 best described Jairus. It reads, "My heart is in anguish within me. Horror has overwhelmed me. Fear and trembling come upon me. The terrors of death have fallen upon me.

No doubt, Jairus went numb, and, his greatest fear was his present reality. The cure for our fears is faith in the God of the Bible. When we are devastated like Jairus was that day, it is because we lack faith in the God of the Bible. But, when we exercise our faith in Him, our fears are kept in check. 

We can only imagine what the remaining walk was like for Jairus as they approached his house. I am sure he thought to himself, "Could it be that a miracle can still happen?" Real faith entertains such. It doesn't guarantee the Lord will do what we want, but real faith entertains it, especially when the Lord specifically promises it.

In v.37-38 of today's passage we read, "37 Jesus let only Peter, James, and John the brother of James go with him. 38 When they came to the house of the synagogue leader, Jesus found many people there making lots of noise and crying loudly."

This is the first time in Mark's Gospel the Lord Jesus revealed He had an inner circle. He allowed Peter, James, and John to join Him as He went into the little girls room, along with her parents. But, before He entered the house, the Lord Jesus encountered the people mourning the death of this little girl. Middle Eastern funerals were loud events with lots of wailing and screaming. Because they buried their dead very quickly, they only had a short opportunity to show how much they really loved her.

In v.39-40 of today's passage we read, "39 Jesus entered the house and said to them, “Why are you crying and making so much noise? The child is not dead, only asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. So, after throwing them out of the house, Jesus took the child’s father and mother and his three followers into the room where the child was."

The contrast was so very evident between the hopelessness of the mourners and the hopefulness of the Lord Jesus. Faith in the God of the Bible is the greatest antidote to our fears. But, when we are in the middle of the intense pain, it is hard to navigate in the arena of hope. But, believing that God is sovereign and that He works in every detail of our lives is the only correct way to navigate our lives in this world, whether He chooses to perform a miracle or not.

Death is not what it appears when faith in the God of the Bible is present. Death is merely temporary, and, is nothing more serious than going to sleep. It is only on this side of the curtain that is death our enemy. Just beyond the curtain, the monster turns out to be our friend. The label death is still on the bottle, but the contents are eternal life. Death is our friend because it reminds us that heaven is as near as a heartbeat. 

In v.41-43 of today's passage we read, "41 Taking hold of the girl’s hand, he said to her, “Talitha, koum!” (This means, “Young girl, I tell you to stand up!”) 42 At once the girl stood right up and began walking. (She was twelve years old.) Everyone was completely amazed. 43 Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell people about this. Then he told them to give the girl something to eat."

It was at this point that the Lord Jesus went into the room where the dead little girl was, alone with her parents, Peter, James and John. And from this moment on, Peter's account of this episode is woven throughout Mark's account. Even the very language the Lord Jesus employed at the bedside of the little girl is repeated, for Peter never forgot those words. 

In v.41, we read, "Taking hold of the girl’s hand, he said to her, “Talitha, koum!." 

According to Numbers 19, a dead body was considered unclean. Like the woman before, the Lord Jesus came into contact with the dead, and by doing so, He availed Himself to death. Of course, this would not be the only time He did this. Then, He commanded the twelve year old to stand on her feet. Like the woman before, in that moment He restored the little girl to community. It was His touch that raised her to life. Death departs in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

According to v.42, "... the girl stood right up and began walking. (She was twelve years old.) Everyone was completely amazed."

This little girl not only had life, she had all the normal strength of a twelve-year-old. This is the way it is in every single of the miracles the Lord Jesus ever performed. Every one of His miracles were complete miracles.

The Lord Jesus could have healed this little girl from afar. But, had He, His personal touch of compassion would be missing in this story. And, it is obvious this is one element that He accentuates in this chapter. And, to underscore the fact that she was alive, the Lord Jesus told the people to get her something to eat.

The two main characters in this narrative belong together, yet they were as far apart as they could have been. Jairus would have had nothing to do with a woman whose condition excluded her from the synagogue. Yet, they are brought together in this story by their suffering, their desperation, and, by their faith in the God of the Bible. It is good to be desperate, because when we are desperate, we are more willing to throw ourselves at the feet of the Lord Jesus, begging Him to bring His kingdom to bare in our lives.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Mark 5:30-34


30 At once Jesus felt power go out from him. So he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 His followers said, “Look at how many people are pushing against you! And you ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32 But Jesus continued looking around to see who had touched him. 33 The woman, knowing that she was healed, came and fell at Jesus’ feet. Shaking with fear, she told him the whole truth. 34 Jesus said to her, “Dear woman, you are made well because you believed. Go in peace; be healed of your disease.” ~ Mark 5:30-34

Today, we return to the presentation of Mark of the Lord Jesus and His earthly ministry. We find ourselves in Galilee and the Lord Jesus is interacting with a crowd of people there, helping the sick and delivering the message of forgiveness from God.

In v.30 of today's passage we read, "At once Jesus felt power go out from him. So he turned around in the crowd and asked, 'Who touched my clothes?'"

There were many there that day in the crowd pressing against the Lord Jesus. And, this woman had been watching the Lord Jesus touch people all day, and whenever He touched them, the people got better. So, naturally, she thought, "If he can touch people and they get better, I bet it'll work in reverse. If I touched him, I'll be better."

So, she set as the point of contact the very edge of His robe. And, when she touched it, her faith in Him activated the possibility into fact. She was healed. And, she and the Lord Jesus felt it, immediately. The Lord Jesus always notices our touch of faith. 

In v.31 of today's passage we read, "His followers said, 'Look at how many people are pushing against you! And you ask, ‘Who touched me?’"

Unaware that this woman had been healed, the disciples were baffled by this question of the Lord Jesus. Since they lacked full understanding of the events of that day, the disciples were clueless. This is what gets us into trouble most of the time: our lack of knowledge and understanding. In fact, throughout the Scriptures we see this played out over and over again. This is why faith in the God of the Bible is so crucial.

Our daily lives are like a puzzle. Many of the pieces that are put into place are done so painstakingly. The fruits of the Spirit are of utter necessity for us to see the unfolding of His daily plan in our lives. One of the fruits of the Spirit that is most important during our times of trial is patience.

According to Proverbs 14:29,"Patient people have great understanding." I have discovered that my impatience stems from my lack of understanding. Patience always hitches a ride with understanding. Patience is a fruit of His Spirit, and, it hangs from the tree of Galatians 5:22. 

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to wait. The key to patience is deep faith in the sovereign control of God in this world. Whether we are waiting for that special person or that dream job, when we take our small mustard seed of faith and wait around for God to place another piece on our puzzle, we will begin to notice the tapestry that will come forth. This has happened in my life so often, and sadly, I have failed at waiting far more than I have succeeded at being patient.

In v.32 of today's passage we read, "But Jesus continued looking around to see who had touched him."

The Lord Jesus looked around to see this woman. He is relentless, and His pursuit of the heart made alive to Him is dogged. For so long, the only reason anyone ever looked for this lady was to avoid her. But, on that day, the Lord Jesus was different from those who lacked understanding.

In v.33 of today's passage we read, "The woman, knowing that she was healed, came and fell at Jesus’ feet. Shaking with fear, she told him the whole truth."

Like Jairus, this ailing woman fell down before the Lord Jesus, and proceeded to identify herself to Him and to tell Him her story. In Isaiah 10:4 we read, "Without Me they shall bow down among the prisoners, and they shall fall among the slain." This was her story, up until she met the Lord Jesus. And now, she was bowing before the God of all creation. We can not stand before our foes until we have learned to bow before our God.

Worship is not something we do one hour on Sunday. Worship is a product of the frustration of not knowing what will happen next in our lives, and, waiting on the Lord to act in our lives. When we get to this point, we discover that we are being defined by the Lord, and in essence, we find ourselves worshipping Him because we are being defined by Him.

In v.34 of today's passage we read, "Jesus said to her, “Dear woman, you are made well because you believed. Go in peace; be healed of your disease."

The Lord Jesus commends this worn out lady's “faith”. In healing her, the Lord Jesus restored her to the community. That day, the Lord Jesus saw not an outcast but a daughter. He saw not her uncleanness but her faith. 
Many people in her world didn’t have the time for her, but the Lord Jesus held off an urgent mission and an important man in order to look for her. This lady chose to believe that His power to heal her was greater than the people's ability to alienate her. 

Like this unnamed woman, we often discover that our sorrow erupts from a deep place inside us. Most of our lives we’ve been excluded by others, but not so with the Lord Jesus. He has always included us in on His work in this world. There have been times when we have ached deeply for acceptance. He is the only One who is aware of such aches and He accepts us just as we are. He loves us too much to allow us to remain as we are, but make no mistake, He loves us just as we are. He calls us sons and daughters. He sees what others do not. He sees in us the quality He values most ... He sees vulnerable faith, and, when He sees it, He is pleased. 

Mark 5:25-29


25 Among them was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered very much from many doctors and had spent all the money she had, but instead of improving, she was getting worse. 27 When the woman heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his coat. 28 She thought, “If I can just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Instantly her bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was healed from her disease. ~ Mark 5:25-29 

Today, we return to Mark 5 where the Lord Jesus has been going from town to town, healing the sick and preaching the Good News about the forgiveness of sin. On this particular day, we note the change of heart in the people who lived in the area where the man possessed by as many as 6000 demons lived. The tremendous change in the hearts of the people was due to the changed life of the former demonic man. It is obvious that he went throughout the area telling his story to whomever would listen.

In v.25-26 of today's text we read, "25 Among them was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered very much from many doctors and had spent all the money she had, but instead of improving, she was getting worse."

Mark interrupts the story of the desperate leader of the synagogue and his twelve year old daughter with the story of a woman who had an issue with bleeding for twelve years. The bleeding this woman was experiencing made her unclean and unfit for worship in the synagogue over which Jairus presided. According to the Law of Moses, if she had touched anyone in her condition, they also would have been pronounced unclean. But, like Jairus, she was desperate. She had spent her life’s savings on physicians to no avail.

In v.26 of today's passage we read, "...but instead of improving, she was getting worse." 

This lady's condition had not only made her socially poor, it also made her economically poor. However, through her poverty she was being made rich, spiritually. Had she not gotten worse, she would not have come to experience the touch of the Lord Jesus. When our trials increase, we must find our way to worship God through them, because God will deepen us with Him through those hard times if we are receptive to that deepening. 

This condition this lady had was bigger than anything in her life. And, her encounter with God was to teach her how to see that God is bigger than her biggest problems. This is the point of all of our problems: to discover that He is bigger than any of them. And, He always uses them to enable us to see Him with our hearts as He is, and, to bring about His biggest purposes in our lives.

God did not create evil, but He did create the potential for evil. The Bible says God is good and only does good things, He does not commit evil acts. But, He created the possibility of evil by giving people free choice. There could not be a world where there is genuine freedom and thus the ultimate value, which is love, unless there were human choice. We can not have human choice unless we give people an actual choice between the highest good or the highest evil. 

So, if people do certain activities, take certain substances, incur certain consequences, that's because God has allowed free choice. And, God had to allow free choice because there could not be genuine love, which is the highest value, unless there were absolute freedom of choice. 

God desires for us the response of Jairus and this woman with this issue with bleeding. He desires for us worship. They both bowed down before Him. He desires this not for His benefit but for ours. You see, He knows that what we worship will define us. The problem is our pain either moves us to God or moves us away from God. At the end of it all, it is our choice.

In v.27-28 of today's text we read, "27 When the woman heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his coat. 28 She thought, 'If I can just touch his clothes, I will be healed.'"
 
In v.23 Jairus wanted the Lord Jesus to touch his daughter. In v.27 the woman wanted to touch the Lord Jesus. Jairus risked his position by associating with the Lord Jesus, while this woman risked being thrown out of the city by touching the Lord Jesus. They knew that this was the risk they had to take, for they had run out of options. And, after touching the Lord Jesus, the woman was healed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Mark 5:21-25


21 When Jesus went in the boat back to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him there. 22 A leader of the synagogue, named Jairus, came there, saw Jesus, and fell at his feet. 23 He begged Jesus, saying again and again, “My daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so she will be healed and will live.” 24 So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed Jesus and pushed very close around him. 25 Among them was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. ~ Mark 5:21-25

Today, we return to our study of Mark 5 where the Lord Jesus delivered a man of demon possession. As a result, the Lord Jesus gave this once out of control man a life changing story that was useful in sharing the Gospel with others. The life changing story the Lord Jesus gave this formerly demon-possessed man screams at us that the Lord Jesus is not repelled by us, no matter how messy we are, and regardless of how messed up our lives are or have been. 

When we recognize that the Lord Jesus is not put out by our messed up condition, we are naturally moved deeply. This is largely what changes the hearts of all who encounter Him. Once we begin seeing that He is not turned off by our messiness, and, that He doggedly pursues us, no matter what, it is as if our eyes are seeing for the first time. Those to be pitied in this world are not the formerly demon-possessed, those to be pitied are those who have eyes that are yet closed to the wonderful person who chose to go through hell to be our Savior.

In v.21-23 of today's passage we read, "21 When Jesus went in the boat back to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him there. 22 A leader of the synagogue, named Jairus, came there, saw Jesus, and fell at his feet. 23 He begged Jesus, saying again and again, 'My daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so she will be healed and will live.'"

Jairus was the official in charge of the synagogue. In the first century, the ruler of the synagogue was the one who was in charge of maintaining the building and organizing the synagogue services. Jairus was the highest standing spiritual authority in the city of Capernaum. He was probably a Pharisee, and, they were not that fond of the Lord Jesus. So, it's interesting that a man of this stature and standing, came to the Lord Jesus to ask for his twelve year old daughter to be healed.

Jairus, given his position, had to overcome his prejudice toward the Lord Jesus. In order to do so, he had to overcome his pride. But, he was desperate because the life of his daughter was at stake. And when we are desperate, we are more prone to embrace the very valuable characteristic of humility. Suffering always involves a certain measure of desperation. And, it is out of such a context that we are most likely to look up to the Sovereign One. 

Until we are in these types of conditions, we typically live our lives looking inward or outward, but rarely upward. But when something happens like this, we are more prone to call upon the Lord. That's why C. S. Lewis said, "God whispers to us in our pleasure, but he shouts to us in our pains."  

Obviously, Jairus had heard of the Lord Jesus and His power to heal, so he reached out to Him. Jairus risked his position, as the ruler of the synagogue, when he went to the Lord Jesus for help. According to v.22, Jairus bowed down before the Lord Jesus which was an act of worship. Jairus was the kind of Jew least likely to seek out the Lord Jesus for help, but he was desperate and he loved his daughter so much.

Undoubtedly, Jairus was thinking the Lord Jesus had healed others before, maybe He could heal my little girl. What a picture of a loving father who is most willing to do anything for the good of his daughter. In fact, according to v.23, Jairus came to the Lord Jesus "begging." There is that word again. How humiliating was this moment for this proud religious leader. And yet, he embraced it. God responds to such displays of humility. In James 4:6 we read, "... God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

In this case, the request of this hurting father was specific. He requested that the Lord Jesus "come and put Hs hands on her so she would be healed and would live." Life, he desperately hoped, was to be found in the touch of the Lord Jesus. As we study the Gospels, we often see the Lord Jesus reaching out with his hand to touch people. In Matthew 8:14-15, He touched Peter’s wife’s mother and took away her fever. According to Matthew 9:27-31, He touched the eyes of two blind men and gave them sight. In Mark 7:31-35 we learn that He touched the ears and the tongue of a deaf mute and gave him the ability to hear and speak. And, according to Mark 1:40-42, He touched a leper and made him whole.

In v.24-25 of today's passage we read, "24 So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed Jesus and pushed very close around him. 25 Among them was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years."

The emphasis in this story which will be interrupted by a woman with a health issue of twelve years, is that of desperation. Here, we  find a fascinating contrast, and I believe it's here by design. Jairus had a twelve-year-old daughter, and, this woman had a twelve-year-old disease. For twelve years this daughter brought nothing but joy to Jairus, and, for twelve years this disease brought nothing but torment to this woman. 

These stories are our stories. We all, at various times, have been confronted with situations that made us desperate. It has been my experience that when I dig down deeper in my walk with the Lord that I discover real reality. It has been my experience that when, on the heels of some of the most desperate moments in my life, that I have learned to entertain the right questions. And, as a result, I have discovered that it is the Lord who has the right answers to those questions. 

When we are desperate for the Lord, we are in a good spot. Our desperation causes us to throw aside the dumb stuff in life that we tend to value more than we should. In the end, our desperation serves us, causing us to ask the right questions and to invest in the right kingdom ... His kingdom and His definitions for the life that we all long for.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Mark 5:18-20

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18 As Jesus was getting back into the boat, the man who was freed from the demons begged to go with him. 19 But Jesus would not let him. He said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man left and began to tell the people in the Ten Towns about what Jesus had done for him. And everyone was amazed. ~ Mark 5:18-20

We return, today, to Mark 5, to the story of the man who was demon possessed with up to 6000 demons. Miraculously, after the townsfolk had tried for years to control this erratic man, the Lord Jesus delivered him from the control of the dark side which had tormented him incessantly. 

In v.18 of today's passage we read, "As Jesus was getting back into the boat, the man who was freed from the demons begged to go with him."

Once this man had been delivered by the Lord Jesus, he did not want to live another day without having Him in his life. This is the way it works, once we have truly come into a personal relationship with the Lord, we want to hang out with Him all of the time. The once demon shackled man "begged" the Lord to allow him to go with Him. 

That word "begged" is a common word in Mark's gospel. The demons who were once in this man from the Gadarenes "begged" the Lord Jesus to let them go into the pigs. And, now the previously demon-possessed man "begged" Him to let him go with Him. This is what a tormented soul who has been made alive to God desires. For the first time in his life, he desired to be with the One who is wholly. 

In v.19 of today's passage we read, "But Jesus would not let him. He said, 'Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.'"

The Lord Jesus sent this guy to share his story with his people, but he had no witnessing training. If we have a story with the Lord, we need no other training. This man, by the way, is the first preacher the Lord Jesus ever sent out. He had not yet sent the apostles out to preach the gospel. This is the first person the Lord Jesus ever sent out to preach His name, and he is a Gentile who had a really messed up past. And when the Lord gave him a testimony, it was a heck of a story. And, it was powerful because he had been demon possessed for so long. And, the people knew his story. From the moment we were born again, we were given the desire to tell others the great things the Lord has done for us. This is one of the greatest signs that we have entered into a personal relationship with the Lord.

In v.20 of today's passage we read, "So the man left and began to tell the people in the Ten Towns about what Jesus had done for him. And everyone was amazed."

The name of the region where this man lived was Decapolis which was a region of ten cities east of the Jordan River. This delivered man worked his way through those ten cities telling the people about his miraculous encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Mark 7:31-32 we read, "31 Then Jesus left the area around Tyre and went through Sidon to Lake Galilee, to the area of the Ten Towns. 32 While he was there, some people brought a man to him who was deaf and could not talk plainly. The people begged Jesus to put his hand on the man to heal him."

The once demon-possessed man had been sharing his story about how the Lord Jesus had delivered him from demon possession for months before the Lord Jesus returned to that area. As, a result, when the people learned that the Lord Jesus had returned to the area, they responded differently than they had before. They brought this deaf man to Him for healing. The once demon-possessed man was given a story by the Lord Jesus that enabled him to tell the whole region who the Lord Jesus was; and when He came back, the crowds were prepared to receive Him and His message.

"Everyone was amazed." There were amazed by the story of the once demon-possessed man. The Greek word used in Mark 5:20 translated "amazed" means "to admire with wonder." This was the first missionary the Lord Jesus ever sent out. And, his story with the Lord Jesus was a story about God's grace.

"Lifestyle evangelism" is an evangelism strategy that focuses on our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus lived in the presence of those who have yet to enter into a personal relationship with Him. This is done with the goal of attracting them to the message and to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. According to Acts 5:13, Christians of the early church were known for their good works, being "highly regarded by the people." The combination of a vibrant personal relationship with the Lord and a vibrant sharing of that faith with those who know not the Lord around us is the most effective way to being a witness for the Lord Jesus. The key in all of this is that we have a daily and vibrant walk with the Lord Jesus. So, look to Him daily for the stories that He will give you so that you can be like the once demon-possessed man, telling others about what the Lord Jesus has done in your life.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Mark 5:11-17


11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on a hill near there. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us into the pigs; let us go into them.” 13 So Jesus allowed them to do this. The evil spirits left the man and went into the pigs. Then the herd of pigs—about two thousand of them—rushed down the hill into the lake and were drowned. 14 The herdsmen ran away and went to the town and to the countryside, telling everyone about this. So people went out to see what had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the man who used to have the many evil spirits, sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. And they were frightened. 16 The people who saw this told the others what had happened to the man who had the demons living in him, and they told about the pigs. 17 Then the people began to beg Jesus to leave their area. ~ Mark 5:11-17

Today, we return to our study of Mark 5 where the Lord Jesus and His disciples are on the eastside of the Sea of Galilee in a gentile area known as the area of the Gerasene people. Among the Gerasenes, faith in the God of the Bible was lacking. As a result, the demonic activity there was high because there was low impact of the truth. The people there had long rejected the truth, and so, the work of the enemy was heightened.

After arriving in this area, a demon possessed man ran down to meet the Lord Jesus and His disciples. After a short discussion the Lord Jesus commanded the demons to leave the man. And, this is where we pick up the story.

In v.11-13 of today's passage we read, "11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on a hill near there. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us into the pigs; let us go into them.” 13 So Jesus allowed them to do this. The evil spirits left the man and went into the pigs. Then the herd of pigs—about two thousand of them—rushed down the hill into the lake and were drowned.

When the demons were cast out of this man, they entered into a large herd of pigs. And, all two thousand pigs rushed down the mountainside and drowned in the sea. Unable to destroy this man, the demons destroyed the pigs. The pigs' death was a testimony to this man and a to all who looked on that this once bound man had been freed from the demons. The Lord Jesus allowed the demons to overtake the pigs because it provided proof that they had left the man. The demons did not want to leave the man, but they had to because the Lord Jesus was there to bring deliverance to him. This was the Lord Jesus' way of making visible His ability to free a person from the stronghold of satanic deception.

In v.14-15 of today's passage we read, "14 The herdsmen ran away and went to the town and to the countryside, telling everyone about this. So people went out to see what had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the man who used to have the many evil spirits, sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. And they were frightened.
"

All of the people of the area came to see what had happened that day. And, when they arrived on the scene of the miracle, they saw the man who was once uncontrollable and out of his mind, sitting with a sane mind at the feet of the Lord Jesus. These deceived people saw what the Lord could do in a person's life. It was obvious that the once bound man had been set free and the people had no more reason to fear him as they had before. 

But, all of this frightened the people of the Lord Jesus. They lacked the ability to recognize God in their midst. So trained were they by the deceptive powers of darkness, they could not see the light. Before, they were frightened by the demon-possessed man, but now, they are frightened of the Lord. This man who was so violent, was made obviously harmless, yet the people were frightened more by his deliverance than they were of his bondage. This story describes the trauma of holiness that we see throughout the Bible from those who come into the presence of God and are at odds to Him.

When the truth came to this people, they were so defined by error that they could not recognize the truth. We see this in Romans 1 where the Apostle Paul informs us that the God of the Bible who was invisible and unknowable to sinful man, made Himself visible and knowable. He has given us visible proof of His existence in the creation and through our conscience to apprehend His existence.

Sinful people who love their sin more than the truth deliberately refuse to acknowledge the revelation of God. As a result man's moral capacities are darkened and they turn off the revelation of God. Then they do something so detrimental to their souls, they cease to be thankful to God. All of this has a deadening effect upon our ability to respond to truth. This is the deceptive work of the enemy. Compounded deception is very hard to undo.

In Romans 1:21 we read, "Nor were they thankful but became futile or empty in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.

Those who reject knowledge of God end up as "fools."  As I am sure that you know, the temperature of the sun is 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit and the Earth is 93 million miles away from the sun giving us the temperatures that we enjoy on this earth. If the Earth were the slightest bit closer, we would all burn up. If we were the slightest bit farther away, we would freeze to death. And, add to that, the Earth spins on its axis 365 and 1/3 times as it makes its journey around the sun. As a result, we enjoy the four seasons that we have. Otherwise, life, as we know it, could not be sustained on this planet. The alternate freezing and burning would be too much. This is why the Earth is tilted on its axis 23 degrees, which contributes to the four seasons that we do enjoy.  

One would have to be a "fool" to say all of this is a product of time plus chance plus nothing. As described by the Apostle Paul further in Romans 1, the progressive nature of rejecting the truth leads to senselessness. This is the nature of Satan's way, degeneration.

In Mark 5:16-17 we read, "16 The people who saw this told the others what had happened to the man who had the demons living in him, and they told about the pigs. 17 Then the people began to beg Jesus to leave their area."

One would think that this kind of miracle would cause a revival in that whole area, but it sadly did not. The people begged the Lord Jesus to leave. Instead of wanting to hear more, they were motivated by their fear more than the potential birth of faith in the God of the Bible. These people were more afraid of God's presence in their lives than they were of the demons that once possessed the cave dwelling man. Rather than rejoicing over the deliverance of the man from demonic possession, the people begged the Lord Jesus to leave because they loved money more than the rule of God in their lives.

Here in Mark 5, we see the parables of Mark 4 being played out in the life of this once demon enslaved man. After meeting the Lord Jesus, his heart was now characterized by the good soil in the parables of the sower and of the seed. No longer was he enslaved to evil, now, he was enslaved to good, bearing good fruit a hundredfold. And the people in the town were the opposite, they remained dead to God because of their unforgiven sin.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Mark 5:1-10


1 Jesus and his followers went to the other side of the lake to the area of the Gerasene people. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, instantly a man with an evil spirit came to him from the burial caves. 3 This man lived in the caves, and no one could tie him up, not even with a chain. 4 Many times people had used chains to tie the man’s hands and feet, but he always broke them off. No one was strong enough to control him. 5 Day and night he would wander around the burial caves and on the hills, screaming and cutting himself with stones. 6 While Jesus was still far away, the man saw him, ran to him, and fell down before him. 7 The man shouted in a loud voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I command you in God’s name not to torture me!” 8 He said this because Jesus was saying to him, “You evil spirit, come out of the man.” 9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He answered, “My name is Legion, because we are many spirits.” 10 He begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of that area. ~ Mark 5:1-10

Laws control the lesser man... Right conduct controls the greater one.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/mark_twain_118453?src=t_control
Today, we transition into Mark 5 where the Lord Jesus and His disciples had arrived on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, the area of the Gerasene people. Among the Gerasenes, faith in the God of the Bible was lacking. And, if a believer in the God of the Bible visited there, his faith had better be strong due to the strong influence of the demonic world. The demonic activity there was high because there was a low impact of the truth. The people there had long rejected the truth, and so, lies abounded as if they were the truth. 

In v.1 of today's text we read, "Jesus and his followers went to the other side of the lake to the area of the Gerasene people."

The Lord Jesus took His disciples to the land of the Gerasenes to create a context wherein the disciples' faith would grow even more. As on that day, the Lord tests our faith, in order that we might grow in our trust of Him. And, if our faith is strong enough we will see that He can handle whatever problem comes our way. But even if our faith is weak, He still does not allow our faith in Him to collapse. In such a context, He holds us up and sees us through. And, through the process, He lays the foundation for stronger faith as we witness His might and His power. 

In v.2-5 of today's text we read, "2 When Jesus got out of the boat, instantly a man with an evil spirit came to him from the burial caves. 3 This man lived in the caves, and no one could tie him up, not even with a chain. 4 Many times people had used chains to tie the man’s hands and feet, but he always broke them off. No one was strong enough to control him. 5 Day and night he would wander around the burial caves and on the hills, screaming and cutting himself with stones."

This man who lived in a graveyard was controlled by demons. He was a man who was more comfortable with the dead than he was with the living. We wonder what preceded this man's life, causing him to be demon possessed. Demons do not just enter someone without their consent. There had to be certain precedents before the demons entered him. Perhaps this man had dabbled in the occult or something of the sort. We are not sure what preceded this man's condition, but, we do know, he opened the door to the demonic in some way. This is why we must be careful about those things that we avail ourselves to. Not that believers can be possessed, but, we can open ourselves to demonic oppression.

All attempts by the townspeople to control this demon possessed man were to no avail. This is what we do to people we do not understand and cannot control, we send them away. For some time this man was isolated away from the people, and alone. This man approached the Lord Jesus who had just arrived in the boat with His disciples, after the storm. The possessed man was like the storm. Both the storm and the man, were uncontrollable. That was until the Lord Jesus came upon the scene.

Before he was possessed by demons, this man had a home and friends. We know this, because the Lord Jesus, at the end of the story, sent him back to both. But he lived isolated away from humanity in a cemetery of open tombs cut out of the side of a hill. These tombs contained bodies which were laid out to decompose. The condition of this man's existence was deplorable. 

Mark says that he had been previously bound. Over and over again the community had tried to restrain this once sane man. The people repeatedly tried to control him because he was out of control and he was a serious threat to their community. With the increasing difficulty that this man posed, the more they tried to control him. However, at some point, he tore off the chains and the shackles that bound him and he ran away seemingly free, but he was so very far from freedom.

Like many, this poor man probably thought God could never love him, but we could never be too far gone for God. One of the greatest things about Him is that He goes out of His way to save the unwanted. No one is outside of His reach. However, God has never been known to force Himself on anyone. He awaits the cries of those who long for true freedom, His freedom. All of the people had given up all hope for this man, and we can understand why, when we look at his desperate condition. The disciples believed the Lord Jesus was just traveling across the lake to get to a place where He could get some rest from the clamoring crowds, but, it is obvious that He came to save this unloved and unwanted man. 

In v.6-8 of today's text we read, "6 While Jesus was still far away, the man saw him, ran to him, and fell down before him. 7 The man shouted in a loud voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I command you in God’s name not to torture me!' 8 He said this because Jesus was saying to him, 'You evil spirit, come out of the man.'"

These three verses prove that demons have faith. In fact, their faith is orthodox faith. And, their theology of God is spot on.  This is why they promote false teaching, because they know the truth and they do not want any human to know the truth. When this man saw the Lord Jesus, immediately he knew who He was. He came running to Him and cried out, "Son of the Most High God," which is the highest name a nonbeliever can know or use to refer to God. It is used all through the Old Testament by members of the Gentile nations. Interestingly, in the first part of this gospel account, until we get to the middle of it, demons were the only beings who recognized the Lord Jesus as "the Son of the Most High God." The first time a human made that statement is at the end of the book. It was the Centurion soldier at the foot of the cross who said it.

In v.9-10 of today's text we read, "9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He answered, “My name is Legion, because we are many spirits.” 10 He begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of that area."

This man's name was Legion, which in military terms, meant up to 6,000. This man had up to 6000 demons in him. No wonder he was so strong. When the man spoke to the Lord Jesus, he used a Hebrew idiom of conflict, meaning, "What to me and to you?" Then, after the demon identified the Lord Jesus as God, the demon begged the Lord not to torture him.

This man was defined by shame, brokenness and hell itself. His way of handling his inner turmoil was to cut himself. The demons in him were the complete opposite of the Holy Spirit who is patient, gentle and loving. The spirits in this man were of Hell. They belong to Satan. But, the Lord Jesus loved him enough to endure a violent storm and the uncontrollable faith of the disciples to get to him. This is the heart of our Savior who left heaven to come to this earth so that the willing could know the life of God in the souls of men.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Mark 4:35-41


35 That evening, Jesus said to his followers, “Let’s go across the lake.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him in the boat just as he was. There were also other boats with them. 37 A very strong wind came up on the lake. The waves came over the sides and into the boat so that it was already full of water. 38 Jesus was at the back of the boat, sleeping with his head on a cushion. His followers woke him and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are drowning!” 
39 Jesus stood up and commanded the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind stopped, and it became completely calm. 
40 Jesus said to his followers, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 The followers were very afraid and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” ~ Mark 4:35-41

Today, we complete our study of Mark 4 where the Lord Jesus has been openly teaching the crowds and privately explaining His teachings to His disciples. 
Today's passage is brought to a head by the Lord Jesus when He asked His followers two questions: "Why are you afraid?" and "Do you still have no faith?"

Our pursuit of God is always fueled by our questions. And, our questions exist due to our doubts. In the end, doubt does not have to be our enemy. In fact, our growing faith in the Lord is dependent upon such.

In v.35-36 of today's passage we read, "35 That evening, Jesus said to his followers, “Let’s go across the lake.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him in the boat just as he was. There were also other boats with them."

After teaching the large crowd that had gathered on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Lord Jesus and His disciples traveled in a boat across the sea. What we have here is the setting wherein the faith of the disciples was challenged and subsequently strengthened, even though they did not display great faith in the Lord that night.

You will remember the Lord Jesus had taught the parables of the soils and the seed. And now, came the application of the truth for the disciples. So, the Lord had to get them out on the Lake where the context would be such that they would experience for themselves what He had been teaching them.

In v.37 of today's passage we read, "A very strong wind came up on the lake. The waves came over the sides and into the boat so that it was already full of water."

The sea's location makes it subject to sudden and strong storms as the wind comes over the eastern mountains and drops suddenly onto the sea. 
It is surrounded by mountains up to  3,000 feet, and, storms are especially likely when an east wind blows cool air over the warm air that covers the sea. The cold air, being heavier, drops as the warm air rises. This sudden change can produce surprisingly furious storms in a short time.

But, as in our lives, these sudden changes did not surprise the Lord Jesus. The questions of the disciples that evening were much like those that we find ourselves asking Him today. And, if our faith in Him is the most important thing we possess, the most loving thing He can do for us is to lead us into moments where we are more convinced that we need Him for this is, in essence, what faith is.

In v.38 of today's passage we read, "Jesus was at the back of the boat, sleeping with his head on a cushion. His followers woke him and said, 'Teacher, don’t you care that we are drowning!'"

The Lord Jesus was sleeping as the storm came upon them, causing the amount of fear in the disciples to increase. It was at this moment that they woke Him. And, the question they asked revealed their shallow theology. When we possess shallow theology, we will be most concerned about our welfare. However, when our theology is most aligned with God's word, we will rest in His sovereignty.

In v.39 of today's passage we read, "Jesus stood up and commanded the wind and said to the waves, 'Quiet! Be still!' Then the wind stopped, and it became completely calm."

Although the disciples had seen Him heal the sick and cast out demons, they could not have imagined He would give orders to the wind and the sea to be quiet. In fact, He spoke to the wind and the waves as if He were commanding sickness or a demon out of a person. His authority, extended over all, even over creation.

The miracle that night was not in the stilling of the storm; it was in the suddenness with which the stillness came. All of a sudden the wind, which had been roaring and beating against the boat was, all of a sudden, absolutely still. And the waves, which had been dashing over the bow, filling the boat, threatening them, mounting up higher on every side, were suddenly stilled. This is what caught the disciples attention. All the way across the lake to the other side, and to the mountains on the east, the whole lake suddenly stilled, and they realized that this was indeed a supernatural stilling of the storm.

In v.40-41 of today's passage we read, "40 Jesus said to his followers, 'Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?' 41 The followers were very afraid and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!

We become afraid when we lose faith in God. And, the significance of this event is that our faith in the goodness and care of God in our lives is the antidote to our fear. The word translated "very afraid" is a sense of deep respect which has "awe" at its heart. Thus, out of the failure of their faith there came this deeper impression, this glimpse into the mystery of the identity of the Lord Jesus, which filled them with a deep sense of awe. It is this failure in faith that creates a doorway to greater vision. And, it is through such doorways that our faith is strengthened. Biblical faith consists of believing that the kingdom of God triumphs in the person of Jesus Christ. When the disciples awakened the Lord, they didn’t believe that He could do anything about the storm. After He had calmed the storm their fear was transferred from the storm to the Lord Jesus.

The tragedy of faith today is that we are no longer afraid of God. I'm not talking about the type of fear that makes us run from Him. I'm talking about the type of fear that makes us all fall down before Him in worship. The cause of all of this is the very popular me-centered teaching that attracts thousands, but transforms no one. We have made Christianity so comfortable with the temporary that we treat it like the kingdom of this world. But this world is not our home. We have come to the place where we treat our health and the pursuit of wealth as more important than God. 

We should never be surprised when on the heels of being taught by the Lord Jesus that He takes us into an arena to practice what He has taught us. This is what today's passage is all about. The disciples failed the test. Yet, with God, failure isn't the opposite of success. That night the faith of the disciples grew and informed their theology correctly. And, even though the disciples failed their examination of faith in the Lord Jesus, the groundwork was laid for a new expression of faith the next time they were under such a test.