EASTER

                                       

Sing, soul of mine, this day of days,
The Lord is risen.
Toward the sun rising set thy face,
The Lord is risen.
Behold, He give them strength and grace;
For darkness, lights or morning, praise;
For sin, His holiness; for conflict, peace.

Arise, O soul, this Easter Day!
Forget the tomb of yesterday
For thou from bondage art set free;
Thou sharpest in His victory
And life eternal is for thee
Because the Lord is risen!

Author unknown

THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE

Mark 4:21-34

BRIEF INTRO

The disciples are still included with others following Jesus (v. 10). But these parables appear only to be explained to the disciples (v. 34). Why does Mark place them here? Most likely because they reinforce His message of the kingdom. One parable or teaching builds upon another and then another until His listeners have the whole instruction He aims to give them. 

The first reveals how the kingdom’s message goes forth (sowing) and how people (soils) will receive it. These next few that we will discuss today explain the necessity for a proper response to them. 

21 And He was saying to them, “A lamp is not brought to be put under a [a]basket, or under a bed, is it? Is it not brought to be put on the lamp stand? 22 For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, [b]let him hear.”

FOCUS ONE: Let the light shine

These following parables are still a part of Jesus’ teaching to His disciples and “His followers” (v. 10). But later (v. 34), we find that He only explains them to “his own disciples.” it seems logical that this would be the meaning of verse 23: “If any has ears to hear, let him hear.”

“1In this parable Jesus pointed out the self-evident fact that a lamp, a lighted wick in a shallow clay bowl full of oil, was not meant to be lit and then hidden under a measuring bowl (as was done at bedtime) or a bed (lit. Dining couch). Rather, it was to be placed on its stand where it would give light.”

Then adding another self-evident fact to His teaching, Jesus explains how nothing is hidden that will not be revealed. During the night, whatever is hidden or concealed is meant to be brought out into the open (light) for use during the day. A lamp’s purpose was not to be hidden but to light up the space where it is located. How does that add value to our thinking on how a lamp can be used? 

2 Parables are meant to convey spiritual truth. So what is the truth that He was teaching? “The purpose of a lamp is to be put on a lamp stand and not under a bowl or bed, so the present hiddeness of Jesus will not always be —-hidden things are meant to be brought out into the open (v.22)-and God intends that one day Jesus will be manifested in all His glory. But who Jesus really is, is now hidden.”

His teaching was not intended to be kept secret or for a small circle of followers. After Jesus ascends, it would be the disciple’s responsibility to proclaim these truths to others, continuing the work of Jesus so that others would hear and understand His message so that they might be saved!

It is therefore vital for us to be careful hearers of His word.

24 And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. [a]By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides. 25 For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

FOCUS TWO: Open your ears

Just like the previous teaching began with “and He was saying to them,” so too does this one and the next (v. 26). I am not sure much could be said about that observation other than that statement seems to group them in a trilogy of teaching on the kingdom. 

The “carefulness” in which we listen is now highlighted. This listening involves a level of spiritual perception that, when heeded, will bring a greater understanding of more truth. The more a person listens to and appropriates it, the more truth about Himself will be revealed. 

This warning is as much for us today as it was for them. So LISTEN to what is being said here. 3″ The more one appropriates the truth now, the more one will receive in the future. Whoever does not lay hold of the word now, even the little spiritual perception he has will be taken from him.”

It appears that the “standard of measure we use,” is about the way we value and utilize the truth that has been given!

26 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up daily, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. 28 The soil produces crops by itself; first the stalk, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. 29 Now when the crop permits, he immediately [a]puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

FOCUS THREE: The mystery of kingdom growth

Let me briefly summarize what we just read in our text. We have a man acting in faith, casting seed into the soil. His purpose for planting seeds rests in the hope that the seeds will grow and produce a bountiful crop. He doesn’t know how, but eventually, it happens; ultimately, he has a harvest. 

The farmer cannot explain how it happens. Seeds are planted and are dependent on something outside of the farmer who planted it. Winds and rain beat against the soil. Sunshine and clouds pass over the crops, and yet, even though he sleeps, it springs up and grows and eventually produces a crop. What joy he experiences because harvest time has come!

After he sows the seed, he does nothing toward its growth. His focus is now on other things, and slowly, over time, it gradually grows! “First the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.” 

This parable is about how the kingdom grows! It explains how spiritual growth is accomplished in the seed planted in the “good ground” or soil (v. 20). It grows gradually. God carries on His work after the gospel seed is planted in an individual’s heart. Sometimes it seems more slowly than others, BUT ultimately, only until He decides to reap the harvest of that soul and saves that person!

I like how Matthew Henry sums it up: “From the fruit of the gospel taking place and working in the soul, Christ gathers in a harvest. When those that receive the gospel aright have finished their course, the harvest comes, when they shall be gathered as wheat into God’s barn” (Matthew 13:30).

30 And He was saying, “How shall we [a]picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is the smallest of all the seeds that are upon the soil, 32 yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants, and forms large branches, with the result that the birds of the sky can nest under its shade.”

33 And with many such parables He was speaking the word to them, so far as they were able to [b]understand it; 34 and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.

FOCUS FOUR: Kingdom growth

This last parable answers the question: “How shall we “picture” the kingdom of God?” In this parable, Jesus again uses something so natural and normal to the listener’s everyday life to explain how God’s kingdom emerges. 

1. Like a mustard seed

The mustard seed may not be the smallest seed known to humanity, but it was the smallest of all the seeds in the fields that day. But, once it had grown, it would become the largest of all garden plants (12-15 feet in height)! The contrast in this particular parable is between the seemingly insignificant beginning of this seed being planted and what it eventually becomes to the seemingly insignificant beginning of the gospel seed planted in humanity’s hearts (soil) and what it ultimately becomes!

The birds of the air nesting in its branches may simply be indicating the surprising size of the results, the incorporation of the Gentiles into God’s kingdom, OR it represents the sphere of salvation, which would grow so large that it would provide shelter, protection, and benefit to the people. These are a few possibilities I gleaned from various commentaries. 

Jesus spoke with many other parables not recorded here. It makes me wonder how many He told that we do not have a record of. Like His signs and wonders that John spoke about, I wonder if “the world itself would not be able to contain them” if they were all written down (John 21:25)!

He explained the parables only to His disciples (privately) we read in verse 34. Don’t just read that statement in passing. It’s important. I believe it marks a shift in Jesus’ teaching method and purpose. This statement stems from a situation that recently happened to Him after He healed the man with the withered hand on the sabbath (v. 1-6). Because of that rejection and the state of the hardened hearts that blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, Jesus would no longer speak openly and clearly to all around Him. 

“3This method of teaching left unbelievers with riddles, and kept them from being forced to believe the or disbelieve Him-they could make no decision to follow Him since they did not understand what He taught.”

MY summation of all the kingdom parables:

Whether it’s Jesus, His disciples, or those that come after them spreading the seeds of the gospel, a large amount of the time it will NOT be heeded as it falls on the hardened, conscience seared hearts of rebellious sinners, who are more interested in this life than the one to come.

But God assures us that there is good soil, hearts He has prepared for His gospel, and they will receive it rightly and be saved. They will slowly but surely produce fruit that is evidence of that fact. 

Our responsibility as Christians is to proclaim the gospel, and spread the seeds so others can hear and believe (Romans 10). We are not prejudiced on where we spread the seeds, but we are to give to all freely. The results are up to God, not us. We can do nothing to affect true salvation growth in the hearer; only God can. So we can sleep easy at night knowing that we were faithful in sowing, and so we trust Him to be faithful in reaping.

His kingdom WILL grow, perhaps not as quickly as we would like to see, but it grows. The result will be fantastic to behold!

1 The NT Bible Knowledge Commentary, pg. 120

2 The Expositors Bible Commentary, vol 8, pg. 652

2. MacArthur Study Bible notes, pg. 1466

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

WHEN FAITH IS TESTED

Extended reading: James 1:1-8

Devotional reading 1:2-3

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”

What? Are you kidding me? We are to find joy in troubles because “our endurance” has a chance to grow? I am not kidding, rather, the Bible is not joking regarding a Christian attitude in the face of severe trials! I get it, these words appear to be a contradiction in terms, but I assure you they are not. Troubles are for complaining, problems are for whining, and heartache is for crying, at least we think so. But God seems to have a radically different view on these things! 

James writes to “Jewish believers scattered abroad” (v.1). He wants them to not only face their trials and tribulations but GROW through them as well. “For many of these early believers, their faith created a whole new series of troubles. Instead of complaining, crying, or giving up, James challenged the believers to have joy because their faith would have a chance to grow and deepen during the difficult times.”

Think about it for a moment. How is your walk of faith when everything is going great! I understand, we prefer it that way, but how does immense blessing help you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? 

Does prosperity and plenty put you on your knees in sincere, deep prayer? Do they drive you into the Bible consistently, or do you become lazy or relaxed in those things? “Most often it’s troubles that bring us back to God. God loves us enough to allow us the opportunity of going through various hardships in order to “conform us more into the image of His Son.” When our faith is tested we have a chance to grow.” 

“He wants us to be fully developed, perfect and complete, needing nothing” (1:4). If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you know that “everything about the Christian faith turns what we consider to be ‘normal’ upside down.’”

JOY IN OUR TROUBLES? WHY NOT

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:

1. Disciples

2. The crowds

3. The scribes

4. Jesus’family

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! 

1. James

2. Joses

3. Judas

4. Simon

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

THE VALUE OF ONE ON ONE BIBLE READING

I hope that you are involved in a small group bible study. If not, why not? List your valid excuses here:

1.

2.

3. 

(Please use the back of the paper for additional excuses)

Yes, I m being a bit facetious in hopes of helping you see that there is NO excuse for not being a part of a group bible study that is already formed or creating one yourself!

At this point in my post, I know you are feeling some emotions that you probably wish you didn’t—feelings of anger, fear, and perhaps conviction. I am not apologetic for that. However, I am thankful for these feelings because they might help me get my point across in a more meaningful and helpful way.

My purpose in this post, what I hope comes across as you read it, is simply this: There is great value and blessings in our spending time reading the Bible with someone else (I know, that’s the scary part).

Perhaps you have had some bad experiences in bible studies that you never want to repeat; I get it. I had several myself. I will share one of those with you now.

Back in the day (26 years ago, ahem), I began a ministry in my workplace to bring together and encourage other Christians in their walk of faith in the workplace environment. After about a year, I started a small group bible study, once a month, with several men who joined my ministry. It wasn’t long before I became discouraged with the group. 

If I remember correctly, all but one never took the time (throughout the month) to read over the scriptures for that study, much less think about them. The conversations always seemed to turn into “what do you think it means?” One person thought this, another that. Often, what these men brought forth had nothing to do with the text! And what really troubled me was that they did not appreciate an exegetical study of what the verses in their context meant. Eventually, I ended the study, discouraged and a bit bitter. 

Blessings become numerous when we gather together to seek, above all else, what God says about things, and willingly submit to it! So, I understand your reluctance to pursue such a thing again. But I want to lay out several reasons and blessings that come from a small group or one2one bible study when it functions under the premise that God’s word is sufficient.

So, let me begin sharing with you several reasons I think this is true in the hope that you will “circle back” on your current view and pursue, once again, something that our Lord means for our good and desires to bless us and others with.

God’s word is profitable for all things, and ours are limited (training).

Yes, I am stating the obvious here, but it needs repeating. 16 “All Scripture is [a]inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for [b]rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness;17 so that the man or woman of God may be [c]fully capable, equipped for every good work.”

The Book that we have in our possession is a divine wonder, given to us so that we may know our God, ourselves, and How He expects us to live. We can only “Know truth” by being in His word, which is truth (John 17:17). Our desire as “Christ followers” should be to have our “eyes open, that I may behold wonderful things from thy law (Word)” (Psalm 119:18). Not just for ourselves, but others as well!

God’s Holy Word trains and equips us to “walk by faith and not by sight,” and as “iron sharpens iron, so one man to another” (Proverbs 27:17). 

  1. People get to read it for themselves with others (relationships)

Interaction is the breeding ground for conversation! People are more comfortable within a small group in a less formal setting than in broader contexts. Within a small group or one2one, there are opportunities to question and discuss scripture and its meaning honestly. Such an interchange of thoughts on a particular passage within a group can often lead a person to think on it in far more profound ways than they would have otherwise. This helps them grow in Christ OR move one step closer to Him (sanctification)!

  1. An excellent and powerful way to evangelize (salvation)

Small groups or one2one bible reading affords a more incredible opportunity to share the gospel with someone else (evangelism). Rather than witnessing being so dreaded or being the “one thing” so feared by the vast swath of Christians, this setting naturally leads to deeper spiritual conversations without struggling with how to get someone else to talk about spiritual things. 

The conversations happen naturally because you are already in the word of God together! God’s word not only instructs, rebukes, and corrects us along the way; it is the mechanism by which God saves sinners (Romans 10:9-17)! We read it together, discuss what it says, and His Spirit convicts, gives understanding and leads sinners to repentant faith!

So, there it is, my reasons to challenge and encourage you to rethink the value and purpose of a small group or one2one bible study. If you are interested in learning more about this, you can go on Amazon and purchase a small book by David Helm entitled: ONEtoONE Bible reading, a simple guide for every Christian.

THE PHARISEES QUESTION WHY

Mark 2; 13-28

BRIEF RECAP: In our previous study, we read about Jesus healing a paralytic man who was brought to Him when He was in His hometown and most likely at Peter’s house. We witnessed great faith by these men and its results: the paralytic not only being healed but his sins being forgiven as well!

In those beginning verses of our chapter, Mark brings to light the very first why question for his readers. One of many that he sheds light upon in this chapter, in his account of Jesus’ ministry in Capernaum. In this study, I want to break down the remaining verses of the chapter based on those questions. Let’s get to it! Ready?

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

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

FOCUS ONE: Why is he eating with tax collectors and sinners?

Here again, we witness Jesus walking by a man He calls to follow Him. He did this same thing with Simon and Andrew as they were casting nets into the sea (1:16-17) and with James and John mending their fishing nets (1: 19-20). And now, in the same manner, he says to Levi (Matthew ) as He passed by the tax office, “follow me.” 

Luke adds, “he left everything behind, got up and began to follow Him (Luke 5:28). Even though the other accounts mentioned above do not have those words, the implications are there! Following Christ requires commitment, a willingness to forsake all else for Him.

It appears that Levi wanted to throw a “going away” party for his friends that he would be leaving behind. Levi certainly knew that the people despised his profession. He witnessed and practiced all sorts of theft and deception, to say the least, in his work each day exacting taxes and his share for the Romans from his people. Levi wants them to meet Jesus! So, he has a party at his home, and Jesus is the guest of honor!

While Levi (Matthew) obediently follows the Lord and commits all to Him, his co-workers are not so disposed but are curious to see this man who would NOT ONLY have contact with them but would enjoy fellowship with them as well. So much so that Mark records that many were present.

Once again, we find the “scribes of the Pharisees,” questioning what Jesus does or says. They ask why He eats with these people and enjoys such close fellowship with them. According to their philosophy, these people were ignorant of the Law and did not follow the strict pharisaic standards. Sinners (v.16) denotes people who refuse to follow the Mosaic Law as they interpreted it. Jesus’ answer to their question is very profound and instructive. “And hearing this, Jesus *said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'”

  • Healthy people don’t need a physician; sick people do
  • I came to call sinners, not the self-righteous (to eternal life)

“*Jesus’ call is to salvation; and in order to share in it, there must be a recognition of need. A self-righteous man is incapable of recognizing that need, but a sinner can.”

The Pharisees would see no need for themselves to repent (healthy people, at least in their own eyes), but sinners (sick people) can and would be able to acknowledge their guilt and need for forgiveness.

Which type of person are you? 

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

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

FOCUS TWO: Why don’t your disciples fast?

Directly on the heels of the last question and Jesus’ response to it, we read of another issue that concerned the Pharisees and John’s disciples. The problems were that of “fasting” and why Christ’s disciples were not practicing the twice-a-week fast that the Pharisees decreed should be adhered to (Luke 18:9-14).

Twice a week fasting is more than required by any biblical standard. 

“*Jesus did fast on at least one occasion (Matthew 4:2)- but privately, in accordance with His own teaching (Matthew 6:16-18). The Law also prescribed a fast on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29-31), but all other fasts were supposed to be voluntary, for specific reasons… The fact that these Pharisees raised this question shows that they thought of fasting as a public exercise to display ones own spirituality.”

Jesus responds to their question with a question! His question “sets up a comparison and a veiled analogy to Himself.” It would be very inappropriate for the guests at a wedding and the bridegrooms’ attendants to fast (a sign of mourning) while the bridegroom is with them and the event is joyful. This situation will one day change (Acts 1:9-10), and then fasting (mourning) would be a proper response.

This allusion by Jesus of His death is the first hint of the cross in Mark’s gospel.

It is interesting, and I think we need to be made aware that John’s disciples are following the Pharisaic rendering of the Law as well! Not only the Pharisees. These disciples of John would appear to be those that DID NOT transfer their allegiance or faith to Christ (Acts 19:1-9). 

So, what does the “parable” of the cloth’s and wineskins have to do with fasting?

One thing that we should keep in the forefront of our minds as we study the gospels is their “transitional nature.” They are the bridge from the Old Testament (Law) to the New Testament (Grace). From laws being written in stone, to God’s Law being written on our hearts! From the Old Covenant to the New Covenant.

Jesus is making a critical point that they need to understand moving forward, and that is: “*Any attempt to bind the newness of the gospel to the old religion of Judaism is as futile as trying to patch an old garment with a new unstrung piece of cloth. Equally disastrous to pour new wine into old wine skins… Salvation, available through Jesus, was not to be mixed with the old Judaistic system.”

23 And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain24 The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And He *said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; 26 how he entered the house of God in the [a]time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the [b]consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath [c]was made [d]for man, and not man [e]for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even of the Sabbath.

FOCUS THREE: Why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?

Yet again, the Pharisees are upset with what Jesus does or doesn’t do, allows, or does not allow. This time their question is regarding the sabbath observance. How much time transpired between Levi’s house and this incident is unknown other than what is stated in our text: it happened on the Sabbath. 

And that is the problem that the Pharisees have with Jesus’ disciples picking the heads of the grain. Not so much that they did it, but they did it on the Sabbath! What the disciples did was not in violation of any known law (Deuteronomy 23:25). “What the Pharisees objected to was doing this (what they regarded as reaping) on the sabbath.” They added many rules to the laws given by Moses and made it so unbearable to comply with the Law faithfully.

So, again, Jesus answers the question with a question that comes from an account in 1 Samuel 21:1-6, where David and his companions were hungry and ate the consecrated bread. “Although the actions of David were contrary to the law, he was NOT condemned for it.” Jesus does not claim that the sabbath law was not broken but that such violations under certain circumstances are warranted. In other words: “Human need is a higher law than religious ritualistic.”

 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath [c]was made [d]for man, and not man [e]for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even of the Sabbath.

In this statement, “Jesus claimed He was greater than the Sabbath, and thus was God. Based on that authority, Jesus could in fact reject the Pharisaic regulations concerning the Sabbath and restore God’s originalintention for sabbath observance to be a blessing not a burden” (MacArthur Study Bible).

This should challenge us. Has our observance of the means of grace, sacraments of the church, etc., become more of a burden than a blessing to us? We need to examine ourselves and humbly confess such things to our Heavenly Father. What God meant for our good, let us not make it a burden.

*The Expositors Bible Commentary 8, pg. 635

* MacArthur Study Bible notes

*The bible knowledge Commentary, pg. 114

God’s power to change lives

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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.

MANY HEALED

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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.