An extension of the wider mercy view of salvation. What you need to know!
JESUS’ VIEW OF CHRISTMAS
As I write this post, the temperature in Indiana has dropped into the negatives, the snow has ceased falling, and the wind is constant and bone-chilling. I have been writing the previous post’s on the view of Christmas (incarnation) from the standpoint of various people in the Bible and directly related to the Christmas story. I have been doing this because it seems that we, and by we, I mean our American culture, have lost NOT only a “proper view” of Christmas but a biblical one as well.
*A poll conducted back in 2017 asked 1,000 people nationwide, “How do you view Christmas today?” They have come up with some interesting responses. 43% of the respondents said they think “it is all or mostly cultural,” while 31.3% said it is an even mix between cultural and religious. Only 15% view it as most or all religious.
Part of the problem that has led to a shift in the past thirty years is the growing number of people who identify as “spiritual” but not religious. While numbers might not be “your thing,” what they represent should be. They reveal a decline in Americans viewing Christmas as a “religious” celebration and a rise in a secular view of it.
But that is not the only denominator that affects this cultural shift in America. Age also appears to play a role in it. In the 18-35 age group, 55.4% say they view Christmas as cultural rather than religious. The most interesting aspect of all this is the number of people that still plan on celebrating Christmas across America. “85% plan on celebrating Christmas even though they have different views of its meaning and significance.”
That is why these biblical viewpoints of Christmas from people involved in the first coming of Jesus are so vital. But the most important view is that of the “baby” Himself, Jesus Christ. What is His view of His birth, life, death, and resurrection? This is a view of Christmas, and our children and children’s children need to be reminded of the purpose of Christmas.
Jesus Christ came into the world through the virgin birth and was found lying in a lowly manger to display God’s love for us! “But God shows His love for (us) in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). While mankind was lost in their sins (lust, greed, adultery, fornication, murder, hate, envy, blasphemy, etc), God made very clear His love for His creation and His desire to redeem them from the bondage of their sin through His Son Jesus!
“In this is the love of God made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that (we) might live through Him” (1 John 4:9). Our Children need to know that “that the reason the Son of God appeared (baby Jesus) was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Not so we can spend ourselves into debt and have a day or two off of work or school!
Jesus, Himself stated that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they (you and I) may have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). He also said of Himself, “The Son of Man (Jesus) came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). His “view” is clear; His “purpose” evident.
So, why should we celebrate the birth of Jesus? Is it simply a “cultural” or secular holiday void of religious value? Is it just something we do no different than the Fourth of July or Labor Day? OR can it be that this day we celebrate has a vastly more significant value?
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. . .” (1 Timothy 1:15)!
This is “the reason for the season.” This is the view of the triune Godhead. This is why we celebrate Christmas! God sent His only Son to pay the penalty for sin that I owe so that I would be made right with Him and enjoy Him forever!
Nothing anyone in this life can give us that is as important, as valuable, and indestructible as the salvation given to sinners through the gift of the baby in a manger over two thousand years ago-Jesus Christ!
I pray that we fully enjoy this greatest of gifts this Christmas season.
*Saint Leo University polling institute, an online poll
JESUS AND THE BEGGAR
BRIEF INTRO: As we enter the last section of chapter ten, we read about the healing of a blind man named Bartimaeus. This serves as another transitional passage in Mark’s gospel. “In the conclusion of this section, the renewed sight of Bartimeaus, a man who recognizes the identity of Jesus and follows Him in the way, stands in contrast to the ongoing difficulty of the disciples, who struggle to see clearly what it means to follow Jesus.”
This account also points us to and builds the bridge for Christ’s “triumphal entry” in the next chapter, as Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus using the title “Son of David” (vv. 47-48)! In that account, the “crowd takes up the perspective of Bartimeaus, calling out their blessings toward Jesus and the coming kingdom of David” (11:9-10).
46 Then they *came to Jericho. And later, as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a beggar who was blind named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they *called the man who was blind, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51 And replying to him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the man who was blind said to Him, “[a]Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has [b]made you well.”And immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the
FOCUS ONE: What do we learn about Jesus?
The first thing we learn about Jesus in this account is that He is the king who hears! As Jesus, the disciples, and “a great multitude” of people were going out from Jericho, a blind man named Bartimaeus was sitting by the road. As the roar of the crowd became louder and the air of excitement intensified, it became clear to Bartimeaus that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by.
At once, He begins to “cry out” to Him. In other words, He starts shouting, as loud as he can, to Jesus. He uses the term “Son of David” in his plea for help. This term for Jesus is a “messianic title.” When the people referred to Jesus in this way, they meant that He was the long-awaited deliver or messiah, who was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.
Sadly, many people in the crowd rebuked the blind man. Why wouldn’t they want Jesus to hear him? Why wouldn’t they want to see Jesus heal this man? Perhaps they were caught up in the “crowd mentality,” a mindset focused on one thing, their long-awaited deliver coming to deliver them from Roman rule, thereby restoring the kingdom and reclaiming political power back to the Jewish people. But their rebuke does not stop Bartimeaus, not at all. Their repeated attempts to silence him met with his repeated cries for help (v. 48).
We also learn that Jesus is the king who sees the faith of the needy (v.51). Jesus stops, calls him over to Himself, “and casting off his cloak, he jumped up, and came to Jesus” (v.50).
50 And throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51 And replying to him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the man who was blind said to Him, “[a]Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!”
FOCUS TWO: What do we learn about a life of faith?
The beggar’s hope is rightly placed: People of faith set their hope on Jesus, our king (vv.47-48, 50). Nobody else could have healed this man from his physical dilemma, and nobody else can heal us from our spiritual sickness! Bartimeaus was exhorted to have courage and go to meet Jesus (v. 49). Instantly, he jumped up and went to Jesus.
Bartimeaus exhibits the type of faith each of us should have. A trust that “jumps” at the opportunity to go to Jesus for anything and everything we need because we believe wholeheartedly that He is willing and able to meet those needs. Confidence that He hears and sees us and wants a close, personal relationship with us. Why? Because He loves us!
52 And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has [b]made you well.”And immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.
FOCUS THREE: What do we learn about our response to Jesus?
The way Bartimaeus responded to Jesus is a beautiful picture of how all those who believe in Him should react. People of faith follow Jesus out of gratitude for His grace (v.52). Mark tells us that after Jesus healed him, Bartimaeus “began following Him on the road” (v. 52).
“Mark undoubtedly portrays the healed blind man in a literal sense as walking behind Jesus and heading with Him toward Jerusalem. However, the verb ἀκολουθέω can also have a “metaphorical” sense in Mark to indicate someone’s personal allegiance to Jesus and His teaching. This metaphorical meaning for ἀκολουθέω occurs whenever Mark refers to individuals following Jesus (1:18; 2:14; 8:34; 10:21,28; 10:52;14:54; 15:41). Therefore Mark’s point seems to be that Bartimaeus became a follower of Jesus.”
Bartimaeus responded rightly to Jesus, as many of you have reading this post. His response was immediate and led him to follow Christ. By “following Jesus,” I mean we witness a changed man! Not only physically because of the healing, but more importantly, spiritually, as Jesus granted him faith to believe!
He was willing to leave everything behind to walk in obedient faith to his Lord. He immediately began the journey on his new path in life that was prepared for by God! A journey now filled with hope, not despair; faith rather than fear.
Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament, pg. 181-184
Mark 5: 21-43
BRIEF INTRO: We have noticed beginning in chapter four (4:1) that Jesus was teaching by the sea. After He finished His teaching using parables, He wanted to cross over the sea to go to the other side, into the region of the Gerasenes (4:35; 5:1). There He was met by a man “with an unclean spirit” who lived in the tombs (5:2). Jesus commanded the spirits to leave the man and gave His permission for them to enter the swine. The herd, about two thousand, ran into the sea and drowned!
We witness Jesus getting into the boat and “crossing over again “to the other side (5:21). It is there where one of the synagogue officials approaches Jesus. In the events leading up to this meeting, we find two fascinating and seemingly “hopeless” situations that Jesus proved His Lordship over! First is the deadly storm (4:35-41). Second, the man possessed by the “Legion” (many unclean spirits). He now moves into what I will term another set of seemingly hopeless situations: a diseased woman and a dead girl! We will witness in each of these situations, yet, again, the complete authority and power Jesus has over all the things and all the scenarios of our daily and temporary lives!
21 When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and He [a]stayed by the seashore. 22 And one of the synagogue [b]officials, named Jairus, *came, and upon seeing Him, *fell at His feet 23 and *pleaded with Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will [c]get well and live.” 24 And He went off with him, and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him.
FOCUS ONE: Jairus boldly approaches Jesus
Directly after Jesus touches the shore, a man breaks through the crowds that have gathered and falls at Jesus’ feet. His name is Jairus, and he is a “synagogue official” (v. 22). As a synagogue official, Jairus would be some form of an attendant in the synagogue. That role entailed bringing out the Torah scrolls for the service, leading the synagogue in prayers, and returning the scrolls afterward. Historically speaking, “after the destruction of the Jewish temple in A.D. 70, worship could no longer take place in the temple, making the synagogue the central place of worship.”
He approaches Jesus in reverence and humility, NOT demanding or proclaiming entitlement, evidenced by his tone and demeanor (fell at His feet, pleading earnestly). This man exhibits great faith in Jesus to heal his daughter in what, humanly speaking, is a hopeless scenario to find himself in. She is only twelve years old and is at “deaths door” (v. 23). His faith in Jesus to heal her is impressive and instructive for us, even today. “Come and lay your hands on her so she can get well and live.”
Jairus is a bold man of faith. He was not afraid to approach Jesus, the only one that could help him in his hour of need. He must have heard of what Jesus was doing on the other side of the sea and so had no doubts that He was able to heal his daughter.
“So, Jesus went with him.” Everybody in that crowd wanted to witness a miracle. To see with their own eyes the Undoing of the impossible! With that many people pressing against Him as they walked, it must have been burdensome to move. At that moment, a woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years reached through the compacted crowd and touched Jesus’ robe.
I will focus on her story in my next focus point. But for now, I want you to put yourself in Jairus’ place. His daughter is close to death, and time is quickly running out. Jesus, his only hope, is now “side-tracked” by this woman who has an issue. Time is of the essence and Jesus, rather than continuing to his house, turns around inquiring as to who touched Him, which then leads to more precious time being lost as Jesus engages the woman.
Jesus, with great compassion, always seems to be ready to inconvenience Himself to help people in need. Are we prepared to do the same?
Jairus, like us, must have felt great apprehension in his soul when Jesus stopped to engage this woman. The fear of losing his daughter must have escalated as time appeared to be quickly passing by and hopes of healing were diminishing. And then, to have people come and tell you that your daughter has died while you were en route must have been deeply grievous to his soul.
BUT, Jesus knowing what was said, tells Jairus, “don’t be afraid, only believe” (v. 36).
We must remember, and this is VERY important to the story, that Jesus, by touching a dead person and being associated with blood, in their view, would Himself take on the uncleanness related to both of them (Leviticus 15:19-27; Numbers 19:11). BUT, rather than making Jesus unclean, the woman was instantly healed, and Jairus’s daughter was brought back to life!
25 A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but instead had become worse— 27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His [a]cloak. 28 For she had been saying to herself, “If I just touch His garments, I will [b]get well.” 29 And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that power from Him had gone out, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” 31 And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?'” 32 And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has [c]made you well; go in peace and be cured of your disease.”
FOCUS TWO: The woman sneaks up in the crowd and touches Jesus’ garments
As I meditated on this text, seeking to understand why Mark would include this story sandwiched between Jairus approaching Jesus and then going to Jairus’s home, I tried to put myself in his position. Sometimes it is helpful to do that when we are trying to figure out the plotline within our text. Now we have, most likely in Jairus’s view, an unwanted delay in Jesus healing his daughter by this woman that sneaks up to Jesus in the crowd.
Jairus, now with Jesus, is walking home to his beloved dying daughter. This woman “interferes” with his expectations, and that subsequent time lost results in the death of his little twelve-year-old daughter. When they began walking, there was hope; she was only in the process of dying. Now, after this woman engages Jesus, his daughter is dead! He is weighed down with grief.
This woman has been dealing with her ever-growing hopeless situation for twelve years. She tried every new thing she could. New doctors with new treatments and spent all her wealth but found no healing. Luke, the physician, tells us that nothing helped because her condition was incurable (Luke 8:43). It sounds like God had a plan in allowing her to suffer for so long. He would manifest His authority and power through her, under such circumstances for His all-wise and holy purposes! That’s how old Jairus’ daughter is (vv. 25,42).
Her faith was so great that she believed that she only needed to touch His garment and that she would be healed. Such faith was exhibited with Paul (Acts 19:12), the difference being Paul was not God; the Lord granted any power in Him to magnify His name and His gospel!
Jesus, wanting to draw the woman out of the crowd, asks, “who touched me?” He wanted her to have faith, not fear; praise, not trembling. She does come forward and tells Jesus everything (v.33). Jesus then makes this statement crucial for us to hear: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed from your affliction” (v. 34).
From his sentence, we draw out three statements
- Your faith has made you well
- Go in peace
- Be healed of your affliction
First, notice that her faith made her well, not touching His clothes. Second, Jesus was not angry at her for touching Him, and He granted her peace. And third, He heals her of her affliction.
*”The verb save (s’oz’o) in verse 28 can refer to deliverance from physical danger and affliction or deliverance from eternal judgment. It’s used in 10:26, where ‘being saved’ is par to inheriting eternal life and 10:17,30 “entering the kingdom of God (10:23-25). The primary meaning in this passage (5:23,28,34), however, relates to deliverance from physical difficulty since ‘being saved’ is par to ‘being healed from affliction’ (5:34). YET, even in his passage, (save) seems to point beyond mere physical healing from a particular affliction to a greater sense of wholeness and well-being, since the woman’s deliverance allows her to ‘live in peace.”
So there seems to be a strong suggestion that her faith also led to spiritual salvation!
We now begin to see the bottom piece of bread in this sandwich! Mark began with Jairus (bread), then entered the woman (meat), and now we have our next piece of bread (Jairus’ home) to complete the sandwich.
35 While He was still speaking, people *came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why bother the Teacher further?” 36 But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, *said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid, only [a]believe.” 37 And He allowed no one to accompany Him except Peter, [b]James, and John the brother of [c]James. 38 They *came to the house of the synagogue official, and He *saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. 39 And after entering, He *said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child has not died, but is asleep.” 40 And they began laughing at Him. But putting them all outside, He *took along the child’s father and mother and His companions, and *entered the room where the child was in bed. 41 And taking the child by the hand, He *said to her, “Talitha, kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were utterly astonished. 43 And He gave them strict orders that no one was to know about this, and He told them to have something given her to eat.
FOCUS THREE: The little girl arises
While Jesus was speaking to the woman, news came of Jairus’s daughter’s death. How distressing for him to hear, how discouraging for him as he may have counted in his mind the precious minutes being lost as Jesus engaged the woman. BUT, Jesus encourages him to continue having faith in Him, even though his situation appears pointless now that his daughter has died.
Imagine the scene as they walk up to his house, hearing the mourners’ loud lament. They saw so many people weeping and wailing at the girl’s death. Imagine standing there as Jesus tells them all not to cry. The child did not die but is sleeping! Would you have laughed at Him too!
Jesus takes Peter, James, John, and the child’s parents into the room where the twelve-year-old girl lies. He speaks while holding her hand, and she arises!
What similarities and differences do these accounts share?
- Both are in a hopeless situation (vv. 23, 25-26)
- Both seek Jesus for healing (vv. 22, 27)
- Both expressed fear (vv. 36,33)
- Both exhibit faith (vv. 23, 28)
- Both receive what they sought (vv. 34, 42)
Not in common:
- Jairus is a male; the woman is, well, a woman (vv. 22, 25)
- He is a synagogue official, she is a woman with a hemorrhage (vv. 22, 25)
- Jairus boldly approaches Jesus, the woman sneaks up in a crowd (vv. 22, 27)
- He exhibits fear and concern, she exhibits embarrassment and shame (23,36,27,33)
- She endured much at the hands of others; Jairus is pleading for someone else (vv. 26, 23)
- Jairus’s daughter dies and then is brought back to life; the woman remains alive (vv. 35, 34)
What do we learn from these things? We realize that they both needed Jesus, the king of the kingdom, the promised Messiah, Emmanuel, to heal their hopeless situation. And in so doing, Christ put on display His deity, authority, and power over all things natural or unnatural!
Jairus had many “why” questions, just like us, and he was able to get the answers, at least to some degree” through this experience. I think the story of the woman with the blood issue was placed in the middle because Jesus wanted Jairus to grow in his faith in Him. His circumstances did just that?
“But we may never know the answers to our why questions this side of heaven. Will you be willing to trust God during that most difficult moment?”
This account of Mark should encourage us to trust Jesus even when we have to wait longer than we would like.
*Exegetical guide to the Greek NT, Joel f. Williams, pg. 96
Extended reading: Matthew 27:62-28:15
Devotional reading: Verses 12-15
Each of us has friends, family members, and loved ones that seem to do all that they can to avoid the message of the gospel. They want to be “free” of His message for varied reasons that they deem to be legitimate. Some, sadly, will use extreme measures to discredit the gospel message, others, the tactic of avoidance!
“ The religious leaders went to a lot of trouble to be free of Jesus’ message. They spent time and energy trying to discredit Him in front of the crowds. Then they plotted His murder. When they caught Him, they tried to come up with witnesses and then had to convince Rome that Jesus was worthy of the death penalty. Once Jesus was dead, the leaders feared He would come back to life, either in fact or through rumor, so they got permission to seal and guard the tomb.
Finally, they had to come up with a story to explain the disappearance of Jesus’ body. Obviously the easier path would have been to accept Jesus’ message and make the appropriate changes in their lives and beliefs. We must make sure we don’t become so hardened that we, like the Jewish leaders, go to great lengths to avoid accepting the life saving message of the gospel.”
Adapted from the Every-mans Bible
WHEN RIDICULE HURTS
Extended reading: Judges 11:1-11
Devotional reading: vv.1-3
Being ridiculed can be very hurtful, especially if we are ridiculed for things that are completely beyond our control. The idea of being mocked or maliciously taunted illicit thoughts of fear, embarrassment, and anger within our hearts and minds. In these verses we learn that Jephthah faced such sin against himself. Even though he apparently possessed considerable courage and natural leadership ability, he was rejected by his half brothers because his mother was a prostitute.
This was something that Jephthah could not control; he had no say in the matter. This situation was a direct result of his fathers sinful choices. We learn rather quickly, as Jephthah had, that sin is NEVER a solitary issue! Its consequences are far reaching.
Like Jephthah, we may have been taunted by others because of our family background or for other problems beyond our control. We need to forgive those people, release the pain and grudges, and let go so that we can put those events behind us. Then we can move on to the tasks to which God has called us.
Adapter from Every man’s Bible
INSTABILITY VS LOGIC
Mark 3: 22-35
BRIEF INTRO: In our previous study, CALLING THE TWELVE, we were focused on Jesus’ appointing the twelve disciples to apostleship. This occurred after the controversy over Sabbath-healing and the Pharisees plotting with the Herodians to destroy Jesus (3:6).
Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea, where the multitudes from all parts of Palestine followed Him (3:7). There He healed many and confronted demons (unclean spirits).
Jesus not only faced opposition from without but also from within. That is where our focus in this study begins.
20 And He *came [a]home, and the crowd *gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat [b]a meal. 21 And when His own [c]people heard about this, they came out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.”
FOCUS ONE: Opposition from within (friends and family)
Jesus returns to Capernaum, His hometown, and it appears that He enters into Peter’s house again (2:1), where He has taken up temporary residence. Once again, many people follow Him looking for a miracle, healing, or just a good show. Mark tells us, “they could not even eat a meal.”
We find an interesting statement in verse 21: “And when His own people heard of this.” Who are His people? Local community, Jews, maybe family? The Greek expression used here describes someone’s friends or close associates. But in its strictest sense, it meant family, which appears to be the best way to understand it in these verses.
Jesus’ family heard that He was back in town, and they went to take Him away from the crowds, using force if necessary (v. 21). What was going on in their minds that they would believe that to be a viable option? They may have thought that He was crazy, a bit off, considering that He was thinking more of others, people He did not know, above Himself and perhaps even them. All His time is spent away, helping all types of people, even people the Pharisees say should not be considered approachable.
The things they heard Him say or that were reported back to them. The wild accounts they hear about most likely became too much for them to reason out, and He needed to be brought back to His senses. We can assume that they did not understand Jesus’ mission or purpose for being there. They had enough and so reacted in kind.
That doesn’t mean that their intentions were evil; most likely, they had good intentions. But, good intentions without proper understanding always leads to poor judgment!
While our intentions may be good and our desire to help another appears noble, is our understanding of the situation and the persons’ motives correct? Have we OR are we in danger of committing the same mistake? Perhaps it would help us consider this truth in light of our daily walk of faith.
22 The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He [a]is possessed by [b]Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”
FOCUS TWO: Opposition from without
Mark tells us that the Scribes came down from Jerusalem. What does that mean? These men were “*Primarily Pharisees, i.e., authorities on Jewish law. Sometimes they are referred to as ‘lawyers.’ They were professional scholars whose speciality was explaining the application of the law.” Most of the Scspecialtylittle interest in the truth and its application. That is evident throughout the gospel accounts. Even though they witnessed many of the miracles Jesus performed, they were more focused on “destroying” Him so they could get back to the status quo (v.6; John 11:45-53).
In these verses, they give voice to their one accusation. “He is possessed by Beelzebul, and He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons” (v. 22).
We need to remember that the “multitudes often surround Jesus.” That group would consist of:
2. The crowds
3. The scribes
Each group has its agenda:
1. To learn from Jesus and serve
2. Motivated by curiosity and desire for physical healing
3. To accuse Him and argue with Him
4. Exert control over Him, perhaps protect Him
Jesus is confronted by one of those groups, the Scribes, and is accused of being possessed by Beelzebul!
Such rejection of the apparent truth; rejection of such clear revelation and experience by these men or any other person grieves my heart. To think that a person can come so close to Christ, experience His power, compassion, wisdom, and authority, and yet turn away from Him is concerning.
This is precisely what the writer of Hebrews is warning against (Hebrews 2:1-4)!
2 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to [a]what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved [b]unalterable, and every violation and act of disobedience received a just [c]punishment, 3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? [d]After it was at first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders, and by various [e]miracles and by [f]gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
How sad but true that such a thing does happen. There is no other way to receive forgiveness but through Jesus Christ (John 6:68). You can read about The Gospel here.
23 And so He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 And if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but [a]he is finished! 27 But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.
28 “Truly I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons and daughters of men, and whatever blasphemies they commit; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
FOCUS THREE: Jesus’ response
Jesus responds to their accusation by calling them closer to Himself as He speaks in parables. While their unfounded accusation was brief, His response was not! Parables were stories that involved present physical realities that illustrated a spiritual truth.
It seems that His argument proceeds from the lesser to the greater.
1. How can Satan cast out Satan? (The accusation)
2. Kingdom divided cannot stand
3. House divided against itself cannot stand
4. So, Satan would not be able to stand (The logical conclusion)
Simple logic! That is related to kingdoms and homes is true of Satan’s realm.
It reminds me of Ray Comforts witnessing videos when He gives proof that God, the creator, exists (building, painting, creation). He argues from the lesser-known truth to the greater using physical realities to teach a spiritual truth.
31 Then His mother and His brothers *came, and while standing outside they sent word to Him, calling for Him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around Him, and they *said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.” 33 Answering them, He *said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” 34 And looking around at those who were sitting around Him, He *said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, this is My brother, and sister, and mother.”
FOCUS FOUR: The family arrives
Again surrounded by the “multitude,” Jesus is notified that His family is outside “looking for Him” (cr. v.21). We learn from this statement that Jesus DID have half brothers and sisters. I say “half” because Joseph did not have any physical participation in the pregnancy of Mary (Matthew 1:18-25).
In Chapter Six, we learn some of their names!
5. “His sisters here with us?”
So, His earthly family is still outside, seeking to get near Him to remove Him from the multitude to a designated “safe space” where they can try to bring Him back to some sense of sanity (in their thinking).
But, in response to that information, Jesus makes a confusing statement for some (immediate earthly family), BUT an encouraging statement for others (Those who believe in Him)!
This statement is like a bomb that just exploded! What does He mean by this? Isn’t family important? Can we pick out or cast aside family at will? Many questions can arise from His statement. But what is His point?
First, we must understand that Jesus IS NOT disrespecting His family with these words. In John 19:25-27, for example. Dying on the cross, His last breath near, Jesus’ thoughts were on the care of His mother, Mary. He tells John to “behold your mother.” And to His mother, He says, “behold your son.” John took her into his household in obedience to Christ at that moment!
The issue is not that anyone can become a “spiritual mother, brother, or sister to Jesus BUT that through faith in Him and obedience to His will, we become part of the “family of God.” Adopted children, by grace thru faith!
*Macarthur Study Bible notes, pg. 1394
God’s power to change lives
Extended reading: Mark 1:21-28
Devotional verse: Verse 27
“Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. ‘What sort of new teaching is this?’ They asked excitedly. ‘It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey His orders!’”
Many people seem to falsely believe that Jesus would never forgive them of their sins. Others erroneously state that they have “gone to far” this time and have forfeited God’s love. But these verses teach otherwise! They are too vile, too horrible for Him to forgive.
They teach us that Jesus not only has the authority to cleanse, heal, and redeem. He also is willing to reach into our lives and deliver us from these things, to pour out His grace upon us and save us from something far worse than a physical disease; the sickness of our sinful hearts!
*“God’s power to change lives was demonstrated as Jesus cast out an evil spirit. If Jesus has the power to cast out evil spirits, He certainly has enough power to free us from the sins that entangle us. We need to recognize our problems and sins, confess them honestly, and call out to Him for help.”
Delay no longer. Call out to Him, and you will find grace greater than your sin! What is the gospel?
*Some parts adapted from the “Every mans Bible” NLT
WHO’S THIS MAN
Who’s this man they crucified
with iron nails upon a tree?
Blood and water flowing down,
O, what thy love bore at Calvary!
What were they thinking on that day
when the guards took Christ away?
When they shouted, “His blood be on us,”
and led Him to Golgotha’s cross.
They accused Him in the night,
mocked and ridiculed the Light;
crown of thorns upon His head,
nailed to a cross; His body bled.
The light turned into darkness,
our debt was satisfied;
Precious Jesus gave up His Spirit
and now our savior is glorified.
O, it was Jesus, that fateful day,
there couldn’t be another way;
for the Father sent the Son,
He could be the only one!
Larry Stump Jr.
A REVERSAL OF FORTUNES
I recently read through Spurgeon’s Catechism and was meditating on question sixteen: “Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?” The answer is not good. “The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery?”
The fall (Genesis 3) eluded to is that time in which Adam and Eve, our first parents, disobeyed God’s ONE command; the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When Adam, being our representative, sinned, we fell with him: “By one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19). “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).
Because of that choice to violate God’s command, all of mankind lives in a state of guilt, lacking any righteousness, and sadly, the corruption of our whole nature. That is why Solomon, hundreds of years later, cried out, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity (Futile or meaningless).” Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, and in his writing, we recognize that he clearly perceives the evil all around him, as well as the results of it on mankind and creation.
Does this mean that we should live our few breaths in this life in despair? Absolutely not! Isaiah the prophet writes of a time when there will be a new heaven and new earth (Isaiah 65:17-19). A time when sin and its corruptions will be remembered no more! In John’s gospel, he wrote about mankind’s one pathway to escape the bondage of sin, its misery, and the wrath that follows, and that pathway that person is God’s only begotten Son, Jesus (John 3:16)!
God revealed His plan of salvation to us by way of the Prophets and Apostles. He told us that Jesus had to die on a cruel cross as our substitute (representative). Shed His blood as an atonement for sin, once for all (Hebrews 10:10), and rise from the grave victorious over sin, death, and hell. He said that we must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, trust in His redemptive work only, and that such a faith is accompanied by repentance (Acts 20:21).
Our current state may be one of sin and misery, but that is only the first part of the story. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep”. . . “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ, all shall be made alive”. . . “But each in his order: Christ the firstfruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:20, 22,-23).
The curse will be removed! Christ HAS broken our bondage to sin, and we will be with our savior throughout all eternity, not as enemies, but as His beloved children