TO FAMILIAR

Mark 6:1-6

BRIEF INTRO:

Ever heard the expression: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” That phrase’s meaning is plain: The more extensive knowledge or association that we have of someone or something typically leads to a loss of respect for them. That is what we witness in our following study. Jesus was simply “to familiar” to those in His hometown that they could not OR would not believe Him to be anyone OR anything remotely more special than themselves. Matthew 13:54-58 shares a similar account.

This familiarity also tends to lead to boredom with a person or thing because we have too much experience with them and know what to expect.

This study may not be full of profound doctrine or theology, per se, but it does provide two essential things for us today:

  1. It reveals the unbelief in those closest to Jesus and why.
  2. It gives us a warning to check our hearts, so we don’t make the same mistake.

Jesus went out from there and *came into [a]His hometown; and His disciples *followed Him. 2 And when the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and [b]the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man learn these things, and what is this wisdom that has been given to Him, and such [c]miracles as these performed by His hands? 3 Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of [d]James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are His sisters not here with us?” And they took offense at Him.

FOCUS ONE: To familiar in his hometown, so they won’t listen to his wisdom

Jesus was consistent! His custom was to teach in the synagogue on the Sabbath (Matthew 4:23). Jesus was compassionate towards the people and wanted them to come out of the darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). He humbled Himself, even to the point of death; death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-11). And how much more compassionate might He be in His hometown among His friends and family?

We are told that they recognized positive characteristics in Him (wisdom, miracle-working power). *”They acknowledged the two great proofs of the divine original of His gospel – the divine wisdom and the divine power, and yet, though they could not deny the premises, they (would not) admit the conclusion.”

As astonishing as these things were, they would certainly not make them think of Jesus any differently, especially as divine. “Is not this the carpenter. . .” They saw Him as a peer who did menial labor as they did, so they were not impressed with His humility.

Even though they were astonished (ἐξεπλήσσοντο), they weren’t moved to belief! That Greek word I have above comes out of two words: ek (out of) and plesso’ (to strike). This is a powerful word 1 “often meaning to drive one out of his senses by a sudden shock.”

They were amazed at His wisdom, BUT because of their familiarity with Him and His family, took offense at Him rather than placing their faith in Him!

Jesus went out from there and *came into [a]His hometown; and His disciples *followed Him. 2 And when the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and [b]the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man learn these things, and what is this wisdom that has been given to Him, and such [c]miracles as these performed by His hands? 3 Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of [d]James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are His sisters not here with us?” And they took offense at Him.

FOCUS TWO: To familiar in His synagogue so they won’t submit to his authority and power

They knew His family. And even though they were astonished at His teaching, “they were offended at His person and for that reason would not believe”
Often that is the case with us in our culture today. I witnessed this phenomenon in one or two local churches I was a member in back in the day. Some people seemed to have a hard time benefiting from the speaker (lay speaker in these cases) simply because they knew him and his history and therefore struggled with submitting to His teachings.

What I am referring to is nowhere near the issue taking place in this account of Mark, but it stems from the same rotten fruit: familiarity!

These questions then became derogatory: “Is not this the carpenter” (common laborer). “The son of Mary” (A man was not described as his mother’s son in Jewish usage even if she was a widow, except by insult. CR Judges 11:1-2; John 8:41). “His brothers and sisters” were well known—people of similar circumstances.

So, since the hometown folk could not explain Jesus, His teaching, and his power to do miracles, it led them to take offense at Him, someone not unlike them (in their thinking).

4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not dishonored except in [a]his hometown and among his own relatives, and in his own household.” 5 And He could not do any [b]miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He was amazed at their unbelief.

And He was going around the villages, teaching.

FOCUS THREE: To familiar with his relatives, so won’t look to Him for compassion

It is so sad reading those verses. Jesus was disrespected and given no honor in all places in His hometown. We can’t even begin to fathom the childhood of Jesus. Did He get into trouble? Did He have a bad attitude? Was He lazy and withdrawn with His face in an iPhone all day disobeying His parents? Obviously not!

Far from that picture, we would believe Jesus to be obedient, helpful, a hard worker, joyful! The townspeople would have noticed such character as he grew up. They should know that He was different than the other children in many ways. So, it is striking that they would have so much trouble now!

Jesus “wondered” at their unbelief. This word is a different Greek word than what Mark used in verse two. This word is ( θαυμάζω,v {thou-mad’-zo} it means:
1) to wonder, wonder at, marvel 2) to be wondered at, to be had in admiration.” It is not as strong a word as what was used to describe the people in verse two.

“There was no limitation of His power, but His purpose was to perform miracles in the presence of faith. Only a few here had faith to come to Him for healing.” it is sad to read that because of their persistent unbelief, “He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hand on a few sick people and healed them” (v. 5).

“So far as is known, He never returned to Nazareth.”

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR US:

  1. 1. Are we so familiar with our bible that we don’t spend much time with it?
  2. 2. Are we too familiar with our churches that we don’t attend regularly?
  3. 3. Are we so familiar with our brothers and sisters in Christ that we would rather avoid them?
  4. 4. Are we too familiar with the gospel that we no longer experience wonder at it?

• Matthew Henry
• Word Studies in the NT

ONLY BELIEVE

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

  1. Your faith has made you well
  2. Go in peace
  3. 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?

Common:

  1. Both are in a hopeless situation (vv. 23, 25-26)
  2. Both seek Jesus for healing (vv. 22, 27)
  3. Both expressed fear (vv. 36,33)
  4. Both exhibit faith (vv. 23, 28)
  5. Both receive what they sought (vv. 34, 42)

Not in common:

  1. Jairus is a male; the woman is, well, a woman (vv. 22, 25)
  2. He is a synagogue official, she is a woman with a hemorrhage (vv. 22, 25)
  3. Jairus boldly approaches Jesus, the woman sneaks up in a crowd (vv. 22, 27)
  4. He exhibits fear and concern, she exhibits embarrassment and shame (23,36,27,33)
  5. She endured much at the hands of others; Jairus is pleading for someone else (vv. 26, 23)
  6. 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

THE GERASENE DEMONIAC

Mark 5:1-20

5 They came to the other side of the sea, into the region of the Gerasenes.

BRIEF INTRO:
The region named in this account of Mark as Gerasene, *” is also known under three other names: Gergesenes, Gadarenes (Matthew 8:28), and Gerasenes. This was a small town located on the lakes eastern shore. Most of its inhabitants were gentiles.”

Here is one instance of Christ “binding the strong man” (3:27).

2 When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him. 3 He lived among the tombs; and no one was able to bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces; and no one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and cutting himself with stones.

FOCUS ONE: The possessed man

1. This person was in a miserable condition:

2. Possessed by an “unclean spirit.”

3. He was outraged.

4. Led by this spirit to relocate to the “tombs,” among dead people! According to Jewish belief, contact with the dead or graves rendered one “unclean.” (Leviticus 11:24-31; Numbers 9:6-10).

5. The spirit’s (legion) have complete control over him, exhibiting immense strength (chains and shackles broken); no one could bind him humanly speaking, But Christ is not only human; He is also divine!

6. He constantly cut himself with stones.

7. In such a condition, he was a horror to himself and others and very dangerous to those around him.

8. He normally would cast his rage upon others, but not with Jesus! With Him, he or, I should say, the demons possessing him, runs up to Jesus and bows before Him (exhibits a reverence, an understanding of who this man is)!

“The devil is a cruel taskmaster. This wretched creature was night and day in the mountains and in the tombs, crying and cutting himself with stones. What is a man, when reason is dethroned and Satan enthroned” (Matthew Henry)?

6 Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; 7 and shouting with a loud voice, he *said, “[a]What business do You have with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!”

FOCUS TWO: The Son of the Most High God

  1. He is the “Lord” (Master), “Jesus” (Savior), “Christ” (Anointed one)! (Cr. Luke 6:46; Matthew 1:21; Hebrews 1:9).
  2. He saves from sin (Matthew 1:21), wrath (Romans 5:9), all our enemies, including Satan (Luke 1:69-71), all uncleanness (Ezekiel 37:23), and much, much more!
  3. He came to seek and save the lost, call sinners to repentance, gives life, and do the will of the Father (John 6:38).
  4. His Nature is good, righteous, holy, just, all-powerful, all-wise, and as such, even though He came to earth as a man, through the incarnation (Matthew 1:18-25), He transcends all human limitations. He has all perfection, is without sin, and is divine (Psalm 110:1).

5. Unlike the “unclean spirit,” Christ saves us from death and brings life!

Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; 7 and shouting with a loud voice, he *said, “[a]What business do You have with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” 8 For He had already been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he *said to Him, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged Him earnestly not to send them out of the region. 11 Now there was a large herd of pigs feeding [b]nearby on the mountain. 12 And the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us into the pigs so that we may enter them.” 13 Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the pigs; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.

FOCUS THREE: The structure of the narrative

As you can see in the image I posted above, the gospels have a structure to them, 1 “every text has a structure. This structure will reveal an emphasis,” and that emphasis is what we must glean from as we study the Bible and in this case, the gospel of Mark.

The structure of a “narrative,” which we are studying in this post, always has three avenues of approach (Characters, Literary devices, and the plot). The third is what we are focused on in our study, although we witness a contrast and comparison between the unclean spirit in the man and Jesus, as I tried to flesh out in each previous focus.

In these verses, we can establish the “setting” in the country of the Gerasenes, on the east side of the sea where Jesus previously was ministering. There is a mad man possessed by an unclean spirit that has complete control over him. This man dwells among the tombs, unable to be bound by anyone, and upon seeing Jesus, he immediately runs to meet up with him as Jesus gets out of the boat.

The “plot” thickens as the two meet. We now feel the conflict as it begins to unfold! What is the conflict? The demon does not want to be bothered by “Jesus, the Most High God.” He does not want to leave the man, be “tormented,” or be sent “out of the country” (v. 10).

As the conflict elevates, we see Jesus conversing with the unclean spirit (v. 9,13), leading us to the story’s “climax. “There will be a point of no return in the narrative, and in our particular case, that point is when the “legion” entreats Christ to enter the swine (v. 12).

Jesus gives the “legion” permission to go into the swine (v. 13). It is at this juncture that they:

  1. 1. Leave the man.
  2. 2. Enter and kill the swine.

There is no returning from that! Christ allowing it is the “resolution” of the account of Mark about this man. By allowing the spirits to enter the swine He:

  1. 1. Removed the spirits from the man.
  2. 2. Bound the strong man.
  3. 3. Gave a visible testimony to His deity (v.15).
  4. 4. And gave an opportunity for the people to believe in Him.

Sadly, they do not believe in Him but request that He depart from their region. It is sad when people have so much light, evidence, and experience with Jesus and yet reject Him. It is grievous to witness such hardened hearts and calloused minds toward Christ Jesus.

Their rejection in this story leads to a new “setting.”

20 And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis [a]what great things Jesus had done for him, and everyone was amazed.

FOCUS FOUR: The application

  1. We shouldn’t be surprised to face opposition when we follow Christ. We should expect it! Does Satan want us to follow Christ? NO. Does He want us to be victorious in our walk of faith? NO. He will do whatever he can to mislead, confuse, torment, and discredit us. So we have to be alert to the danger, utilizing the whole armor of God consistently, recognizing that our enemy, “the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
  2. We cannot win the battle against Satan and his forces in our own strength. We have to rely on the Lord for strength because He is more potent than Satan. He is strong, much stronger than we are. We must be diligent at seeking the Lord daily for wisdom, faith, and strength to walk through each day, with His help, “avoiding temptation and fleeing evil.”
  3. What other applications can you pull out of these scriptures?

• *The Bible knowledge commentary, pg. 122
• 1 Simeon Trust handout on “principles of exposition.”

JESUS HEALS ON THE SABBATH

Mark 3: 1-6

BRIEF INTRO: In this chapter, we witness a continuation of Christ’s healing power and authority. Christ’s popularity is on the rise, while His ability to have “alone time” is greatly hindered due to the multitude’s continuous presence. This chapter begins with the Pharisees “watching” Him to see if He would heal on the Sabbath so they could accuse Him. It ends with His brethren and family members believing that He is out of His mind, and so they attempt to remove Him from the people to a “safe space!”

Sandwiched in the middle of all that, Mark tells us about Jesus appointing the twelve to apostleship and their purpose OR function.

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

FOCUS ONE: Pharisees are watching

The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day. They sat on “Moses seat,” which means that they had the highest authority to instruct people in the law. But they “*had gone beyond the any legitimate authority and were adding human tradition to the Word of God” (Matthew 15:3-9) and constantly opposed Him, for that Jesus condemned them.

The Pharisees are often exposed for this very thing elsewhere in scripture (Mark 10:2-12; Luke 18:9-14; Matthew 19:3-12; John 7:43-49; John 8). These examples must suffice for now, but these few samples prove that they always tested, challenged, and opposed the Lord.

On this particular day, we read that they are watching. They stood aloof of the people in the synagogue, just observing all that was transpiring. They were not innocent bystanders by any means. Instead, they were purposely, thoughtfully, and maliciously waiting for Jesus to do something that they could accuse of before the authorities. In this case, they waited to see if “He would heal on the sabbath” (3:2).

 He *said to the man with the withered hand, “[b]Get up and come forward!” And He *said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He *said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.

FOCUS TWO: Jesus challenges the Pharisees

The tension grows! Jesus sees the man with the withered hand in the synagogue. The man’s deformity was likely a “*form of paralysis or deformity from an accident, a disease, or congenital defect.” He tells the man to “rise and come forward.” Jesus sees the man; He knows the Pharisees are watching and why, and He calls this disabled man forward anyway! Obviously, Jesus has a higher purpose for what He is about to do. A good and righteous purpose, unlike the Pharisees.

The man appears to obey Jesus’ command to come forward. I can picture this man in front of Jesus, perhaps a bit nervous, as Jesus asks the Pharisees this question. “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or evil, to save life or to kill?” this rhetorical question “1destroys their argument by forcing a logical conclusion: Would your interpretation of the law ever demand you to destroy life or do evil? No answer.” Matthew records Jesus using a sheep analogy to help them understand and form a correct conclusion (Matthew 12:11-12).

This question elevates the issue from a legal to a moral problem. “* Jesus was forcing the Pharisees to examine their tradition regarding the Sabbath to see if it  was consistent with God’s Old Testament law.” The clear understanding would be that any failure to do good or save a life was wrong and would not be in obedience to God’s original intention for the sabbath observance. 

The Pharisee’s silence showed their refusal to answer the question, and in not doing so, the implication was that their views of the OT law were false!

Jesus becomes angry, grieved at their hardness of heart. Does that statement trouble you (3:5)? The Greek word for “anger” is (Orge). 2It means to desire eagerly or earnestly; Wrath, anger as a state of mind. It is used in the anarthrous, which means that there is NO definite article in the original, and it is a noun, not a verb in this usage.

Jesus certainly had displeasure at their hardness of heart and unwillingness to repent. BUT His reaction was consistent with His divine nature, not outside it. His anger is ALWAYS consistent with His holiness! Christ’s righteous indignation, expressed at times throughout our bibles, is always in total alignment with His divine character and nature. Unlike our anger.

But don’t miss the “other side of the coin” here. The Pharisees hardened hearts grieved the Lord. It weighed on Him, causing sorrow within Himself at such willful stubbornness. I have grieved myself when I think of how my willful sinfulness, stubbornness at times, or callousness affects my Father, Redeemer, and sustainer. BUT I am thankful that His mercy is new each day (Lamentations 3:22-24).

FOCUS THREE: Jesus heals the man

Jesus took a moment and looked around at these men, allowing them to respond to His question. They don’t, so He tells the man to “stretch out your hand.” He does, and it is healed! 

In some instances, Jesus touches those He heals; in others, He speaks, and they are healed. That is what we read here. This man experienced complete and perfect restoration of his withered hand by the words of Jesus! Everybody in the synagogue witnessed it. They all knew the situation of this man. They knew what his arm was like before that day and what it is like now. 

We are not told how they responded. We can only imagine. BUT we are told how the Pharisees responded (v.6). They immediately leave the synagogue and begin plotting to “destroy” Jesus. With their minds already made up, they join forces with the “Herodians” (v. 6). This group is said to be much smaller than the Pharisees and “tended toward political opportunism.” To them, Jesus would have been a threat to their status quo of the Roman rule, which was a big plus for them.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This ancient proverb is what we see being put into practice by these two groups. “The Herodians opposed the Pharisees on nearly every issue, but were willing to join forces with them because they both wanted desperately to destroy Jesus.” All the gospels record their intent (Matthew 12:9-13; Luke 6:6-10; John 11:53).

After the Pharisees left the synagogue, Jesus moved on to the sea with His disciples. Despite the frequent confrontations with the Pharisees, Jesus’ popularity grew so much that we read in verses seven and eight that “multitudes” came from all parts of Palestine to see and hear Him for themselves!

*Macarthur Study Bible pg. 1463

1 Liberty Bible Commentary pg. 1972

2 The complete Word Study NT, pg. 941

A PARALYTIC HEALED

BRIEF RECAP: Mark’s emphasis in his writing is to reveal Jesus, the son of God, as a suffering servant who ultimately gives His life as a sacrifice. The spotless lamb of God in place of filthy (sin) sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)! For his readers to understand who Christ is, God in the flesh, he must reveal Christ’s authority over all things. He does that by sharing particular events in the life of Christ that do just that; shine a light on His divine power and authority in His teaching and over disease, paralysis, fever, demons, and nature.

So far, he has shared the synagogue accounts in Capernaum (1:21-22) that shed light on His authority in His teaching (1:22). Then a man with an unclean spirit (authority over demons or the spirit world) is healed (1:23-28). Simon’s mother-in-law is healed (1:30-33). His power and authority cast out many more with various diseases and demons, clearly revealing to all with “eyes to see and ears to hear,” that He has divine authority over every area of creation!

And this focus continues into our next chapter with Mark sharing the account of Jesus healing a paralytic and forgiving his sins! 

Mark 2:1-12

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

FOCUS ONE: He goes BACK to Capernaum, from the Galilean region, and I find it interesting that it took “several days” for the news that He was at home to get around usually the people are “hot on His heels.” This home is considered most likely Peter and Andrew’s house (1:29). Remember, Jesus stated that He has no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:19-20)! Most likely, this was His base of operations in that part of the country. We quickly learn from Mark that even this place He called His home afforded Him no privacy.

Mark tells us this house quickly filled up once the people learned that Jesus was there. So much so, there was no more room inside, “even near the door.” Perhaps these people wanted to see more miracles. Who wouldn’t? BUT Jesus wasn’t doing miracles in the house; He was speaking the word to them (2:2).

For us to understand the actions of these four men who brought a paralytic on a pallet to Jesus, we need to be able to visualize the layout of a typical Palestinian peasant’s house:

“*It was usually a small, one-room structure with a flat roof. Access to the roof was by means of an outside stairway. The roof itself was usually made of wooden beams with thatch and compacted earth in order to shed the rain. Sometimes tiles were laid between the beams and the thatch and earth placed over them.”

These four men carry this paralytic to see Jesus. They quickly observed how over-crowded this house was, and apparently, they were persistent in their endeavor and promptly came up with “plan B.” They carry the man up the stairs and proceed to take Peter and Andrew’s roof off! That is not something you can plan for when contemplating going into ministry.

 I wonder what expression Jesus had on His face as that roof opened up and the man was let down to the floor. Indeed He recognized their “ingenuity and persistent faith” (2:5). But Jesus seeing their faith (especially the four men), tells the man that his sins are forgiven rather than healing him. My guess is that wasn’t what they expected.

But some of the scribes were sitting there and thinking it over in their hearts, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins except God alone?” Immediately Jesus, aware [c]in His spirit that they were thinking that way within themselves, *said to them, “Why are you thinking about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He *said to the paralyzed man, 11 “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet, and go home.”

FOCUS TWO: CONFLICT WITH SOME SCRIBES

If we read through the gospel accounts, we would quickly observe how hard-hearted the scribes and Pharisees were. They often “reasoned in their hearts” that what Jesus was doing was powered by the devil and what He was speaking to the crowds was blasphemous (Matthew 9:3-4, for example). Jesus, “being aware of their thoughts,” confronts them!

The scribes say that He is blaspheming because only God can forgive sins. They are 100% correct that God alone can forgive sins, but their thinking is incorrect is that Emmanuel (God with us) is committing blasphemy when He exerts His divine power to do so! Many of the scribes and Pharisees did not view Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah that was prophesied about in the Old Testament.

The scribes most likely expected healing, but Jesus pronounces that the man’s sins are forgiven. Jesus confronts them with the probing question, “which is easier to say? Your sins are forgiven or rise and walk?” Jesus doesn’t give the scribes time to answer. The question He posed is meant to elicit deeper thinking on their part.

Obvious, even to us, is that telling someone that their sins are forgiven is the easiest of the two. Why? Because no one can see that take place. No one can prove that they have or haven’t been forgiven. On the other hand, healing someone entirely of their life-crippling physical condition would be VERY apparent to all!

So, Jesus does both! How cool is that? But His purpose in doing so was much more profound than simply healing one of His creations, as awesome as that is. His greater purpose is expressed in verse 10″ “But in order that you may know that the Son of Man (messianic title) has authority on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your pallet and go home.'”

FOCUS THREE: The whole point of Mark sharing this account – Jesus working this way, IS “So that you will know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

It is about His authority on earth!

Mark, like Matthew, chose to share these miracles and healings of Jesus to help their readers grasp the simple truth that Jesus, the Son of Man, is the long-awaited Messiah! He is the suffering servant that Isaiah prophesied about (Isaiah 53)!

These words to the paralytic would become two things:

  1. * A test of faith
  2. A demand for obedience

The paralytic arose (acted in faith) and walked out of the sight of everyone there (obedience), including the hard-hearted and skeptical scribes! There can only be one correct response to the power of God when it is manifested.

The appropriate response to His authority can only be to glorify Him! The wonder and amazement at what just took place overcame them all, INCLUDING the scribes (v. 12). 

Christ is not physically walking on earth with us, healing people, and casting out demons, BUT He still does such things on a daily basis around our world. Cancerous cells are no longer in the body. People who should no longer walk, talk, or even see again ARE! Sinners living life under the influence of Satan (John 8:44-45) are redeemed, cleansed, and made new! 

Which is easier to believe? That these people were lucky, OR that the Son of Man (Jesus) still exercises His authority over all creation?

But so that you may know that the Son of God has authority over all His creation, He led these gospel writers to write down these accounts so that you and I would be amazed at His compassion, astounded by His power, and would give Him praise to the glory of His name!

He then leaves home and goes to the seashore. All the multitudes were coming to Him!

*The Expositors Bible Commentary, pg. 632; pg. 113

MANY HEALED

Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com


Mark 1:29-34

BRIEF INTRO: We have heard the testimony of John the Baptist declaring that Jesus is the Lord (v. 3). We have listened to the testimony of Mark regarding the voice of God from heaven proclaiming that Jesus is His beloved Son (v. 11). We have read the testimony regarding Christ’s teaching and how it was so unlike the scribes; it had authority behind it. We EVEN listened to the testimony of demons who knew Him to be “the Holy One of God!” And now we come to a place (and this is only chapter one!), where the attested deity of Jesus will be displayed privately to the few present in Simon’s house. Let’s take a look!

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

FOCUS ONE:

Luke says: “and standing over her (He rebuked) the fever and it left her, she immediately arose and served them” (Luke 4:38-40).

Matthew calls Simon Peter—”when Jesus had come into the home he saw Peter’s mother in law lying in bed sick with fever, he touched her hand, the fever left, she arose and served them (Matthew 8:14-15).

I only parallel these scriptures here to get the fullest idea of what is going on. This is a more personal and private miracle then will be witnessed in a bit.

A personal case 

Jesus enters Simon’s (Peter) and Andrew’s (brothers) house to find Simon’s mother-in-law sick (we learn that Simon is married; cr. 1 Corinthians 9:5), so she was lying down. They are concerned for her and speak to Jesus. Jesus listens to them, goes to her, He raised her by taking her hand, and she was healed and served them! Again we witness the fast-paced testimony of Mark (immediately twice).

This is one instance in which Jesus healed by rebuking and physical touch. But He does not always choose to heal in this way (Matthew 9:6 speaking). As these new disciples began to follow Jesus, they were given an up-close and personal display of the power of the person they had only started to know. Without hesitation, He provided the healing that she so desperately needed. Take notice that when Christ heals, He heals completely! It is not done in stages, or with the help of big Pharma, or with physical therapy, not at all. His healing is perfect!

What does she do after Jesus raises her by the hand? She serves them! She gets them food, drink, and whatever was customary for the occasion. The facts attest to this. 

These men would witness Christ do many astonishing miracles for others in their town and elsewhere, but how impactful must this have been on these men as they are only in the elementary stage of their walk with Christ. They have witnessed His authority and power on display with the demons being cast out (v. 24), and now they have observed this same authority being manifested in the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law! But wait, there is much more to come!

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

FOCUS TWO:

Mark tells us that when Jesus entered Capernaum, it was the Sabbath (1:21). So the cleansing of the man with an unclean spirit and the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law took place on the Sabbath. That fact makes the statement “now when evening came, after the sun had set,” very informative! Why? Because he is telling us by this double-time reference that the people of Capernaum waited until the Sabbath day was over (sunset) before moving the sick so they wouldn’t break the law (cf. Exodus 20:10). Restrictions such as carrying anything, like stretchers.

In these verses, we have a beautiful picture of Jesus. He heals as many as come to Him with great compassion for the people! Reports of what Jesus had done became more widely known (v. 1:28; Luke 4:37), so naturally, people came to him in hopes AND faith that He would do the same for them or their loved ones. The term “whole city gathered at the door” is in the sense of hyperbole, an exaggerated sense of what happened. In other words, it feels as if the whole town came to the door simply because there were A LOT of people there.

He healed the sick, which revealed His authority over sickness, and He cast out demons (in the plural), which displayed His sovereignty over the spiritual realm. All of which teaches us that:

  1. Jesus is God (Philippians 2:6; John 10:30)
  2. He existed on earth in the “likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6)
  3. He has total authority (Matthew 28:18) in heaven and earth

We also should notice that He healed those who came to Him without prejudice. Young or old-irrelevant! Social standing did not matter, rich or poor-no issue. 

Jesus again does not permit the demons to speak because they know who he was. “Again silencing their cries of recognition, showing that they were powerless before Him” (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

John MacArthur makes a great observation regarding these demons: “The demons theology is orthodox (James 2:19), but though they knew the truth, they reject it and God who is its source.”

How sad that is. The rejection of Christ and His teaching is done by untold millions every day in our world. Next time we will read about Jesus seeking a lonely place to pray. Let us follow His example and find a place in which we can have quietness and alone time, and then pray for those we know personally who are rejecting Christ, that he would break through their hard hearts and seared consciousness and regenerate them through the working of His Holy Spirit. 

I’ll be praying with you. 

JEHOVAH RAPHA (pt 2)

BRIEF INTRO: 

My last post concluded with this statement: “The moral and spiritual sickness of mankind is an open, running sore. The heart of man is desperately sick, says Jeremiah 17:9. Herein is the hearts fundamental disease–the sin which alienates it from God–the sin which manifests itself in open and secret evil of every kind. How desperately mankind is in need of a healer, a physician!”

FOCUS ONE:  JEHOVAH THE HEALER IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

This brings me to my next point that The Lord is the great Healer of men. He alone has the remedy that can heal the spirits of men. He IS the remedy for the healing of man. And the Gospel is concerned primarily with the spiritual sickness and healing of mankind. Behind all the evils out there and all physical sickness– is sin. The importance of Marah in Israel’s experience is attested by the fact that God gave Himself this new name here—Jehovah-who-heals. 

This incident is intended chiefly as a lesson and warning against that sin and disobedience at the root of all sorrow, suffering, and sickness in the world. The tree cast into the waters is obviously a figure (type) of the tree on which hung Jesus in the New Testament. Friends, Jesus is the (only) remedy for the cure of mankind’s ills–and He alone can sweeten the bitterness of your human experience through that forgiveness of sin and sanctifying of life which is accomplished.

Certainly, God could and did heal physical maladies in the Old Testament whenever it pleased Him. Moses cried out to Jehovah on behalf of Miriam, smitten with leprosy: “Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee” (Numbers 12:13). There are many others!!

Many references to sickness and wounds in the OT are simply figurative expressions of moral and spiritual ills. It is instead in this sense that God is known as Jehovah-Rapha–Jehovah who heals. This is what Jeremiah means when he says: “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith Jehovah” (Jeremiah 30:17) and again: “Return, ye backsliding children and I will heal your backslidings” (Jeremiah 3:22).

 Isaiah speaks of the day when “Jehovah bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound” (Isaiah 30:26). He predicts the coming of One upon whom the Spirit of Jehovah God will rest in order, among other things, to bind up the brokenhearted ( Isaiah 61:1). The will, and the power, and the longing are present in Jehovah to heal. The only obstacle in the way of this spiritual healing is man himself. The remedy is there–near at hand–as near as the tree at Marah’s waters. “The word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart,” says Moses (Deuteronomy 30:14),

 There is salvation for every sin, healing for every evil. The remedy only awaits its acknowledgment or application. This, man, has often been unwilling to do.

“Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered” (Jeremiah 8:21, 22)?

The remedy was there–in Jehovah Himself–but they went on and on refusing it “till there was no remedy” (or healing) (2Chronicles 36:16). And centuries later, the word of the Lord Jesus to His people was, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40). 

FOCUS TWO: JESUS THE HEALER IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

The God who heals in the Old Testament is the God who heals in the New.

The ministry of the Lord Jesus began with healing. In the synagogue at Nazareth, having returned in the power of the Spirit from His great temptation, He opened His public ministry by quoting Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18).

“teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23). These miracles of healing constantly amazed the people, and He cited them as proofs of His identity and mission.

 But as with God of the Old, so with Jesus of the New Testament, physical healing was only incidental to His chief object, which was the healing of the souls of men. His opening words in the synagogue at Nazareth declared His mission to be to preach the Gospel, to preach deliverance, to set at liberty Cf 8:31,32,3 –

His miracles of healing were proof of His identity and mission–His credentials. Yet many of the sicknesses He healed were truly striking symptoms of that dark, dreaded disease which has- its- roots in the soul of men and not in the body – the disease of sin.

The Lord Jesus consummated (perfected or completed in every way) by becoming that tree that made the bitter pools of human existence, waters of life and healing and sweetness. The teaching of Marah is wonderfully fulfilled in Him. They were taught the corruption and the bitterness of the purely natural waters, which are only an aggravation of the soul’s sickness and need.

Only the tree of God’s provision and choice could purify and sweeten and satisfy. To the woman at the well the Lord Jesus said: “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall he in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13, 14).

Friends, The Lord Jesus is both the tree and the waters. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.” He is the well of salvation (Isaiah 12:3), the water of life, sweet, saving, and satisfying. In Jesus, the tree of life and the river of life in Eden’s garden are free and accessible to Adam’s sons once more.

 This is the picture presented to us in the closing scene of the Book of Revelation:

“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1, 2).

What Jehovah was to Israel at Marah, so the Lord Jesus is to all who will receive and obey Him, the Great Physician

JEHOVAH- RAPHA “The Lord our healer.”

Exodus 15

BRIEF INTRO:

In our Bibles, we find many names of God, names like El Elyon “the most High God” back in Genesis 14, El Roi “the God who sees,” in Genesis 16. “El Shaddai” the all-sufficient one in Genesis 17, Jehovah “the self existent one,” Back in Genesis 2, Jehovah Jireh “the Lord who provides” in Genesis 22. Many names of God reveal more of His character and nature to us. In this post, we are going to focus on the name Jehovah Rapha “The Lord who heals.”

I would say there is a sensible unfolding of God’s revelation of Himself to us. Scripture begins by revealing God as (Elohim), a God of great power, and then (Jehovah), a God who is eternal in His nature and essence. The (most high God), a God who sees all, Almighty, a provider, a healer, our banner, and so on and on and on…. all the way up to Emmanuel “God with us” in Matthew 1:23! And what a fantastic revelation of God in Christ this is Sacrificial, self-less love!

In these names, there is a progressive revelation of Jehovah meeting every need as it arises in the experience of His redeemed people–saving, sustaining, strengthening, sanctifying, and so on; and not only for the redeemed of that day but for God’s saints in all ages. The things that happened to Israel, the apostle Paul tells us, were our examples:

“Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1Corinthians 10:6).

FOCUS ONE:

 Well, let’s look at THE NAME Jehovah-Rapha –It means Jehovah heals. Jehovah means “self-subsisting—the self-subsisting one heals! The name Jehovah-Jireh, you may remember, arose out of the incident of Jehovah’s provision of a substitute in place of Isaac whom He had commanded Abraham to sacrifice upon the altar (Gen. 22). The name stands for Jehovah’s great provision for man’s redemption in the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who was the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.

This name of God, Jehovah-Rapha arises out of one of Israel’s earliest experiences in the wilderness, as told in Exodus 15. Let me remind you what is going on in the biblical narrative, and then we will zoom in to our text for this morning. In chapters 11 and 12, the Lord tells Moses that he is bringing one more plague on Pharaoh and Egypt. It is the plague of the death of the firstborn. This plaque would break Pharaoh and Egypt, and he would send the sons of Israel out of the land.

Next, we have the great Exodus of Israel (12:33-). The Egyptians gave them all kinds of gold, silver, and even clothing as they left Egypt. Scripture says: “thus they plundered the Egyptians (vs. 36) after 430 years as slaves in Egypt! In chapter 13, We see the Lord leading the people by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The Lord directs the people to turn back and camp before pa-hahiroth so it would appear to Pharaoh that the people were wandering around. Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, and he gets his army and chariots together and pursues Israel. The sea is divided by the Lord, Israel crosses over on the dry ground, But….Pharaoh’s entire army was lost (14:28). After this fantastic victory, Moses and all Israel rejoice and sing a song to the Lord (Chapter 15). Let’s read this together.

Here we find an amazing song of praise and adoration unto the Lord, and rightly so, He just saved them miraculously from the Egyptians by parting the sea and closing it up on their enemies!!

But this same chapter which records Israel’s triumphant song, also records the second murmurings of discontent and bitterness. In the first flush of victory, they went along joyfully the first day and perhaps even the second day. But the way was hot and weary, and their water was giving out. The third day was well along, and still, there was no water. Their throats were parched. They felt their plight becoming desperate. They forgot the might and mercy of the God who had so marvelously delivered them. In their anxiety and anger, they murmured against Moses in bitter complaint (vs. 24).

Can you imagine their feelings of relief and joy as they first came in sight of this well, but what angry disillusionment when they find the waters bitter–an aggravation and a mockery of their thirst.

This setback maddened them; what were they to do? Were they and their children to die there of thirst? BUT THEN God showed Moses a certain tree, which, when cast into the waters, turned those waters from bitterness to sweetness so that the people drank. They were refreshed and strengthened for the journey ahead. Their murmuring was turned to praise as their confidence in Jehovah and His servant Moses was renewed. Then we read in verse 26 that “God made a statute and regulation and there He tested them.”

“If you wilt diligently hearken to the voice of Jehovah thy God, and will do that which is right in his sight . . I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am Jehovah that heals you” (i.e., Jehovah-Rapha)

FOCUS TWO:

Just like in Abraham’s trying experience in the mount, there came a new and comforting name of God, Jehovah Jireh, —so out of Israel’s bitter experience in the wilderness, there comes another new and comforting name of God, Jehovah- rapha, (Jehovah heals). The word Rapha appears sixty times in the Old Testament, always meaning to restore, heal, cure, or a physician, not only in the physical sense but also in the (moral) and (spiritual) sense. And Jehovah here pledged Himself on condition of their obedience always to be their Healer.

Perhaps the first lesson we may draw from this story since these events are all examples is humanity’s need for a physician’s healing–even in a physical sense. The Old Testament reveals a number of instances in which God’s power is manifested, and sometimes by natural means, to heal the bodies of men. A notable example is King Hezekiah, who was healed and granted a definite additional span of years to live (2 Kings 20).

Nothing is more obvious, tragic, and costly than the toll that sickness has exacted from our human life and happiness. Disease is rampant the world over and has brought untold havoc. It is no respecter of persons and stretches out its tentacles into all classes and communities. It is a grim fact of human existence with which mankind has always had to cope and which has called for the exercise of our best minds, efforts, and resourcefulness to try and overcome.

Friends, The many hospitals and institutions everywhere, built and maintained at a great cost, bear witness to the prevalence and tragedy of sickness in the world. How appropriate, then, to the physical need of men is the name Jehovah-Rapha!

But man’s need for healing is even more significant in the spiritual realm. For here, the ravages of sin are even more grim and obvious. The tragedy and sorrow, and pain are even greater. Using the physical characteristics of a man, the prophet Isaiah describes the (moral) and (spiritual) condition of his people:

Notice the language used:

 “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and raw wounds: they have not been closed, neither bandaged, neither softened with oil” (Isaiah 1:5, 6).

The moral and spiritual sickness of mankind is an open, running sore. The heart of man is desperately sick, says Jeremiah 17:9. Herein is the heart’s fundamental disease–the sin that alienates it from God–the sin that manifests itself in open and secret evil of every kind. How desperately mankind needs a healer, a physician!

Brothers and sisters, sin is like the waters of Marah in our text, to which the children of Israel came in the wilderness. It is (NOT) sweetness and life (but) bitterness and death.

Yet the antidote to its poison, the remedy for its sickness, is ever near-even at hand, just as it was near the waters of Marah. For at those waters, God performed His miracle of healing by means of a tree growing nearby. It was the tree of God cast into the waters there that healed and sweetened them.

SIN AND ITS CURE

The worst of all diseases

Is light compared with sin;

On every part it seizes,

But rages most within.

It’s palsy, plaque, and fever,

And madness all combined;

And none but a believer

The least relief can find.

From men great skill professing

I thought a cure to gain,

But this proved more distressing, and added to my pain.

Some said that nothing ailed me, some gave me up for lost;

Thus every refuge failed me,

And all my hopes were crossed.

At length the Great Physician-

How matchless is His grace,

Accepted my petition,

And undertook my case.

First gave me sight to view Him-

For sin my eyes had sealed,

Then bid me look unto Him;

I looked, and I was healed!

Author unknown