Mark 7:1-13 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 7:1-13

  • Mark 7:1-4
  • The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him. 2 They observed that some of his disciples were eating bread with unclean—that is, unwashed—hands. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, keeping the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like the washing of cups, pitchers, kettles, and dining couches.)
    • The difference and the argument between Jesus and the Pharisees here are of tremendous importance, because they sho the very essence and core of the difference between Jesus and the orthodox Jews of His time
    • Why do Jesus and His disciples not observe the tradition of the elders?
      • The law originally meant two things
        • The Ten Commandments
        • The first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch
          • It contains a certain number of detailed regulations and instructions, but in the mater of moral questions, what is laid down is a series of great moral principles which individuals must interpret and apply for themselves
          • For a long time, the Jews were content with that
          • In the fourth and fifth centuries before Christ, there came into being a class of legal experts whom we know as the scribes
            • They were not content with great moral principles; they had what can only be called a passion for definition
            • They wanted these great principles amplified, expanded, and broken down until they issued in thousands and thousands of little rules and regulations governing every possible action and every possible situation in life
            • They are what is called the oral law; these rules make up the tradition of the elders
          • This is not the elders as in officials of the synagogue; It means the ancients, the great legal experts of the old days, like Hillel and Shammai
          • 300 years or so after Christ, a summary of all these rules and regulations was made and written down; The Mishnah
            • One of these rules and regulations is about hand washing
            • It describes something which is ceremonially unclean and unfit for the service and worship of God
              • There were definite and rigid rules for this
              • It was not in the interests of hygienic purity
              • It was for ceremonial cleanness which was at stake
              • Before every mean, and between each of the courses, the hands had to be washed, and they had to be washed in a certain way.
                • They had to first be free of any coating of sand or mortar or gravel or any such substance
                • The water for washing had to be kept in special large stone jars, so that it was clean in the ceremonial sense and so that it might be certain that it had been used for no other purpose, and that nothing had fallen into it or had been mixed with it
                • First, the hands were held with fingertips pointing up; water was poured over them and had to run at least down to the wrist
                  • The minimum amount of water was 1/4 of a log, which is equal to 1 1/2 eggshells full of water
                  • While the hands were still wet, each hand had to be cleansed with the fist of the other
                  • Tis meant that at this stage the hands were wet with water; but that water was now unclean because it had touched unclean hands
                • Next, the hands had to be held with fingertips pointing down and water had to be poured over them in such a way that it began at the wrists and ran off at the fingertips
                • After all this was done, the hands were clean
                • To fail to do this was in Jewish eyes not to be guilty of bad manners, not to be dirty in the health sense, but to be unclean in the sight of God
                • Anyone who at with unclean hands was subject to the attacks of a demon called Shibta
                • To omit so to destruction
                • Bread eaten with unclean hands was not better than excrement
                • A Rabbi who once omitted the ceremony was buried in excommunication
                • Another Rabbi, imprisoned by the Romans, used his drinking water to ceremonially wash his hands instead of quenching his thirst, and almost died of dehydration
          • That, to the Pharisaic Jew was religion
          • It was ritual, ceremonial, and regulations like that which they considered to be the essence of the service of God
          • Ethical religion was buried under a mass of taboos and rules
            • A large number of animals was unclean
            • A woman after childbirth was unclean; a leper; anyone who touched a dead body was unclean
            • And those who had become unclean in this way made unclean anything they in turn touched
            • A Gentile was unclean; food touched by a Gentile; Any vessel touched by a Gentile was unclean
            • So, then, when a strict Jew returned from the market place he immersed his whole body in clean water to take away the taint he might have acquired
            • Vessels could easily become unclean; they might be touched by an unclean person or food
              • In the Mishnah there are no fewer than 12 treatises on this kind of uncleanness
                • A hollow vessel made of pottery could become unclean on the inside, but not the outside; It did not matter what/who touched the outside, but it did matter what touched it inside
                  • If it became unclean it must be broken; and no unbroken piece must remain which was big enough hold enough oil to anoint the little toe
                • A flat plate without a rim could not become unclean at all; but a plate with a rim could
                • Flat vessels made of leather, bone, or glass could not become unclean; if they were hollow they could become unclean outside and inside
                  • If they were unclean they musth be broken; and the break must be a hole at least big enough for a medium-sized pomegranate to pass through
                • To cure uncleanness; earthen vessels must be broken
                  • Other vessels must be immersed, boiled, purged with fire—in the case of metal vessels—and polished
                • A three-legged table could become unclean
                  • If it lost one or two legs it could not
                  • If it lost three legs it could, for then it could be used as a board, and a board could become unclean
                • Things made of metal could become unclean
                  • Except a door, a bot, a lock, a hinge, a knocker, and a gutter
                • Wood used in metal utensils could become unclean
                  • But metal used in wood utensils could not
                  • Thus a wooden key with metal teeth could become unclean; but a metal key with wooden teeth could not
    • We have taken some time over this scribal laws because that is what Jesus was up against
      • To the scribes and Pharisees, these rules and regulations were the essence of religion
      • To observe them was to please God; to break them was to sin
      • It was precisely because Jesus had no use for all these regulations that they considered Him a bad man
      • There is a fundamental split here==that between those who see religion as ritual, ceremonial, rules and regulations, and those who see in religion loving God and loving their fellow man
  • Mark 7:5-8
  • 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ceremonially unclean hands?” 6 He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines human commands. 8 Abandoning the command of God, you hold on to human tradition.”
    • The scribes and the Pharisees saw that the disciples of Jesus did not observe the tradition and the code of the oral law in regard to the washing of hands before and during meals, and they asked why
    • Jesus quotes from Isaiah 29:13
      • Isaiah accused the people of his day of honoring God with their lips while their hearts were really far away
      • In principle, Jesus accused the scribes and Pharisees of two things
        • He accused them of hypocrisy
          • One whose whole life is a piece of acting without any sincerity behind it at all
          • Anyone to whom religion means carrying out certain external rules and regulations, anyone to whom religion is entirely connected with the observation of a certain ritual and the keeping of a certain number of taboos is in the end bound to be a hypocrite
          • Such people believe that they are good if they carry out the correct acts and practices, no mater what their hearts and their thoughts are like
          • He might hate those around him with all his heart, he might be full of envy and jealousy and concealed bitterness and pride
            • That did not matter as long as he carried out the correct hand washings and observed the correct laws about cleanness and uncleanness
          • Legalism takes account of outward actions; but it takes no account at all of people’s inward feelings
            • They may well be meticulously serving God in outward things, and bluntly disobeying God in inward things
            • There is no greater religious peril than that of identifying religion with outward observance
              • Church attendance, Bible reading, tithing, and even prayer do not make us good
              • How are our hearts towards God and towards others?
                • And if in our hearts there are enmity, bitterness, grudges, and pride, no all the outward religious observances in the world will make us anything other than hypocrites
        • He accused them of substituting the efforts fo human ingenuity fo the laws of God
          • For their guidance for life they did not depend on listening to God; they depended on listening to the clever arguments and debates, the ingenious interpretations of the legal experts
          • True religion can never only be the basis of human thought
          • It must always come, not from their ingenious discoveries, but from the simply listening to and accepting the voice of God.
  • Mark 7:9-13
  • 9 He also said to them, “You have a fine way of invalidating God’s command in order to set up your tradition! 10 For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death. 11 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is corban’” (that is, an offering devoted to God), 12 “you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. 13 You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”
    • The exact meaning of this passage is very difficult to discover
    • It hinges on the word Corban, which seems to have undergone two stages of meaning in the Jewish usage
      • The word meant gift
        • It was used to describe something which was specially dedicated to God
        • A thing was Corban was as if it had already ben laid upon the altar
          • It was completely set apart from all ordinary purposes and usages and became the property of God
          • If a man wished to dedicate some of his money or his property to God, he declared it Corban, and thereafter it might never again be used for any ordinary or secular purpose
          • A creditor might say, “the debt you owe me is Corban”
            • The debt you owe me is dedicated to God
            • From then the debtor ceased to be in debt to another person and began rather to be in debt to God, which was far more serious
            • The creditor could discharge his part of the matter by making a quite small symbolic payment to the Temple, and then keep the rest for himself
        • To introduce the idea of Corban into this kind of debt was a kind of religious blackmail transforming a debt owed to another person into a debt owed to God
        • A man declaring his property Corban, sacred to God, and then when his father are mother in dire need comes to him for help, “I am sorry that I cannot give you any help because nothing that I have is available for you because it is dedicated to God”
          • The vow was made an excuse to avoid helping a parent in need
          • The vow which the scribal legalist insisted upon involved breaking one of the Ten Commandments which are the very law of God
      • Corban became a much more generalized oath
        • At some time perhaps in a fit of anger or rebellion, a man had said to his parents, “Corban anything by which you may ever be helped by me”
          • Afterwards, even if he repented from his rash vow, the scribal legalists declared that it was unbreakable and that he might never again render his parents any assistance
    • There were cases in which the strict performance of the scribal law made it impossible to carry out the law of the Ten Commandments
      • Jesus was attacking a system which put rules and regulations before the claim of human need
      • The commandment of God was that the claim of human love should come first
      • The commandment of the scribes was that the claim of legal rules and regulations should come first
      • We must take care that we never allow rules to paralyze the claims of love

Mark 6:35-56 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 6:35-56

  • Mark 6:35-44
  • 35 When it grew late, his disciples approached him and said, “This place is deserted, and it is already late. 36 Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat.”37 “You give them something to eat,” he responded. They said to him, “Should we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” 38 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he instructed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves. He kept giving them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 Everyone ate and was satisfied. 43 They picked up twelve baskets full of pieces of bread and fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were five thousand men.
    • Feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all 4 gospel accounts
    • To read this story, so simply and yet so dramatically told, s to read something that reads like an eyewitness account
      • They sat down on the green grass
        • The only time when the grass would be green would be in the late springtime, around mid-April
        • At that time the sun set at 6 pm, so this must have happened at some time in the late afternoon
      • They sat down in groups of 100 and of 50
        • The word for group is very pictorial
        • It is the normal Greek word for the rows of vegetables in a garden
        • When you looked at the groups as they sat there in their orderly rows, they looked for all the world like the rows of vegetables in a series of garden plots
      • They had 12 baskets left over
        • No orthodox Jew travelled without his basket
        • Romans made fun of the Jew and his basket
        • Two reasons for the basket, which was a wickerwork affair shaped like a narrow-necked pitcher, broadening out as it went down
          • Orthodox Jews carried his own food supplies in his basket, so that he would be certain of eating food that was ceremonially clean and pure
          • Many a jew was an accomplished beggar, and into his basket went the proceeds of his begging
    • The wonderful thing about this story is that all through it runs an implicit contrast between the attitude of Jesus and the attitude of the disciples
      • It shows two reactions to human need
        • Send them away so that they can find something to eat
          • These people are tired and hungry. Get rid of them and let someone else worry about them
        • You give them something to eat
          • These people are tired and hungry. We must do something about it
        • There are always people who are quite aware that others are in difficulty and trouble, but who wish to push the responsibility for doing something about it on to someone else
        • There are always people who when they see someone up against it feel compelled to do something about it themselves.
        • Let others worry
        • I must worry about my brother’s or sister’s need
      • It shows us two reactions to human resources
        • We could not earn enough in more than six months’ work to give this crowd a meal
          • Anything we have got is no use at all
        • What have you got?
          • Five loaves, more like rolls
            • John tells us they were barley loaves
            • Barley loaves were the food of the poorest of the poor
            • Barley bread was the cheapest and the coarsest of all bread
          • Two fish
            • About the size of sardines
            • Tarichaea, which means the salt-is town, was a well-known place on the lake from which salt-fish went out to all over the world
            • The little salt-fish were eaten as relish with the dry rolls
          • In the hands of Jesus, little is always much.
            • We may think that we have little talent or substance to give to Jesus
              • That is no reason for a hopeless pessimism such as the disciples had
            • The one fatal thing to say is, “For all I could do, it is not worth my while trying to do anything.”
            • If we put ourselves in to the hands of Jesus Christ, there is no telling what He can do with us and through us
            • Boy walking the beach throwing starfish back…
  • Mark 6:45-52
  • 45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After he said good-bye to them, he went away to the mountain to pray. 47 Well into the night, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 He saw them straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Very early in the morning he came toward them walking on the sea and wanted to pass by them. 49 When they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke with them and said, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, 52 because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened.
    • After the huge crowd had been satisfied, Jesus immediately sent His disciples away before He dismissed the crowd
      • Why? 
      • The original language actually alludes to Jesus physically throwing them into the boat to get them away from the crowd
        • John tells us that after the crowd had been fed there was a move to take Jesus and to make Him king
        • 5,000 men, plus women and children gathered out in the wilderness, you get the feel of a revolution
        • Jesus either did’t want His disciples to get caught up in the crowd mentality, or they already had, and He was determined to get them out of the situation before it got worse
        • Galilee was the hotbed of revolution. Nationalistic outbursts commonly formed from Galilee
        • If this movement was not checked, there might well emerge among the excitable people a rebellion which would wreck everything and lead to disaster for all concerned
    • When He was alone, He went up on a mountain to pray
      • There was the hostility of the orthodox people
      • There was the frightened suspicion of Herod Antipas
      • There were the political hotheads who would make Him a nationalistic Messiah against His will
      • At this particular time there were many problems on Jesus’ mind and many burdens on His heart
    • Jewish night ran from 6 pm to 6 am and it was divided into four watches
      • 6-9; 9-midnight; midnight-3; 3-6
      • Our translation tonight doesn’t include it, but others tell us it was during fourth watch
        • So, about 3 am, Jesus looked from the mountainside across the lake
        • It was only about four miles across at that point, and in the light of the moon He could see the disciples’ boat struggling against the wind and the waves
        • Immediately Jesus saw His friends in trouble 
        • The moment for prayer was past
        • The time for action had come
        • He came to them and their storm became a calm
          • With Him beside them nothing mattered any more
          • St. Augustine
            • “He came treading the waves; and so He puts all the swelling tumults of life under His feet. Christians—why afraid?”
          • When Christ is there the storm becomes a calm, the tumult becomes a peace, what cannot be done is done, the unbearable becomes bearable, and we pass the breaking point and do not break
          • To walk with Christ will be for us also the conquest of the storm
  • Mark 6:53-56
  • 53 When they had crossed over, they came to shore at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As they got out of the boat, people immediately recognized him. 55 They hurried throughout that region and began to carry the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 Wherever he went, into villages, towns, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch just the end of his robe. And everyone who touched it was healed.
    • No sooner had Jesus landed on the other side of the lake than once again He was surrounded by crowds
      • They came to get
      • They came with their insistent demands
      • They came—to put in bluntly—to use Him
      • In a way it is natural that we should come to Jesus to get things from Him, for there are so many things that He alone can give
        • But it is always shameful to take everything and to give nothing, and yet it is very characteristic of human nature
          • There are those who simply make use of their friends
            • There are some people from whom we never hear unless they want something from us
            • There are those who regard other people as existing to help them when they need their help, and to be forgotten when they cannot be of use
          • There are those who simply make use of the Church
            • They desire the church to baptize their children, marry their young people, and bury their dead
            • They are seldom seen there unless they wish some service
            • It is their unconscious attitude that the church exists to serve them, but that they have no duty whatever towards it
          • There are this who seek simply to make use of God
            • They never remember Him unless they need Him
            • Their only prayers are requests, or even demands, made of God
            • Vending Machine God
      • If we examine ourselves, we are all, to some extent, guilty of these things
      • It would rejoice the heart of Jesus if more often we came to Him to offer our love, our service, our devotion, and less often to demand from Him the help we need

Mark 6:16-34 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study

Mark 6:16-34

  • Mark 6:16-29
  • 16 When Herod heard of it, he said, “John, the one I beheaded, has been raised!” 17 For Herod himself had given orders to arrest John and to chain him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias held a grudge against him and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing he was a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard him he would be very perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him. 21 An opportune time came on his birthday, when Herod gave a banquet for his nobles, military commanders, and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When Herodias’s own daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 He promised her with an oath: “Whatever you ask me I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” “John the Baptist’s head,” she said. 25 At once she hurried to the king and said, “I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head on a platter immediately.” 26 Although the king was deeply distressed, because of his oaths and the guests he did not want to refuse her. 27 The king immediately sent for an executioner and commanded him to bring John’s head. So he went and beheaded him in prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When John’s disciples heard about it, they came and removed his corpse and placed it in a tomb.
  • This story has all the simplicity of tremendous drama
    • First, the scene
      • The scene was the fortress of Machaerus.
      • It stood on a lonely ridge, surrounded by terrible ravines, overlooking the east side of the Dead Sea
      • It was one of the loneliest and grimmest and most unassailable fortresses in the world
      • To this day the dungeons are there
      • It was in that bleak and desolate fortress that the last act of John’s life was played out.
    • Second, the characters
      • The marriage tangles of the Herod family are quite incredible, and there inter-relations are so complicated that they become almost impossible to work out
      • Herod the Great was in power when Jesus was born. He was responsible for the massacre of the children in Bethlehem
      • Toward the end of his life, he became almost insanely suspicious, and murdered member after member of his own family
        • A Jewish saying became popular; “It is safer to be Herod’s pig than Herod’s son”
      • He married Doris
        • Had a son named Antipater
        • He murdered this son
      • He married Mariamne (Hasmonean)
        • Sons Alexander and Aristobulus
        • Murdered both
        • Herodias from our passage was the daughter of Aristobulus
      • He married a second Mariamne (Boethusian)
        • Son Herod Philip
        • Herod Philip married Herodias, who was the daughter of his half-brother Aristobulus, and therefore his niece
        • Herod Philip and Herodias had a daughter, Salome, who is the girl who danced before Herod of Galilee in our passage
      • Herod the Great then married Malthake
        • Archelaus and Herod Antipas
          • Herod Antipas is the Herod of our passage
      • Herod Philip who married Herodias originally, and the father of Salome, inherited none of Herod the Great’s dominions
        • He lived as a wealthy private citizen in Rome.
      • Herod Antipas visited Herod Philip in Rome
        • There he seduced Herodias and persuaded her to leave her husband and marry him.
          • Note who Herodias was
            • She was the daughter of his half-brother, Aristobulus, and therefore his niece 
            • She was the wife of is half-brother Herod Philip, and therefore his sister-in-law
          • Previously Herod Antipas had been married to a daughter of the king of the Nabataeans, an Arabian country
            • She escaped to her father, who invaded Herod’s territory to avenge his daughter’s honor and heavily defeated Herod
      • Herod the Great finally married Cleopatra of Jerusalem
        • Had a son called Philip the Tetrarch
          • Philip the Tetrarch married Salome
            • The daughter of Herod Philip, his half-brother
            • The daughter of Herodias, who was the daughter of Aristobulus, another of his half-brothers
            • Salome, whom he married, therefore at one and the same time was his niece, his great-niece, and his wife
  • By marrying Herodias, his brother’s wife, Herod had broken the Jewish law (Leviticus 18:16, 20:21) and had outraged the laws of decency and morality
  • Because of this adulterous marriage and because of Herod’s deliberate seduction of his brother’s wife, John had publicly rebuked him
  • It took courage to rebuke in public a despot who had the power of life and death
  • In spite of John’s rebuke Herod still feared and respected him, for John was so obviously a man of sincerity and of goodness
  • But with Herodias it was different
    • She was implacably hostile to John and determined to eliminate him.
      • Herod held a feast for his birthday
      • Into that feast, came Herodias’ daughter Salome to dance
        • Solo dances in those does in such society were disgusting and licentious (promiscuous and unprincipled in sexual matters) pantomimes (an absurdly exaggerated piece of behavior)
        • Such dances were usually the art of professional prostitutes
        • This is a grim commentary on the character of Salome, and of her mother, who allowed and encouraged her to do so
        • Herod was pleased though
          • Offered her any reward
          • Herodias got the chance she had plotted for so long
          • Through her spite and desire for revenge, John was executed
  • Herod
    • He was an odd mixture
      • At one and the same time he feared John and respected him
      • At one and the same time he dreaded John’s tongue and yet found pleasure in listening to him
      • Herod could fear John and love him, could hate his message and yet not be able to free himself from its insistent fascination
      • Herod was simply a human being
        • Are we so very different?
    • He was a man that acted on impulse
      • He made his reckless promise to Salome without thinking
      • Let us take care
      • Let us think before we speak
      • Let us never by self-indulgence get into a state when we lose our powers of judgment and are liable to do things for which afterwards we will be very sorry
    • Herod feared what others might say
      • Many have done things they afterwards bitterly regretted because they had not the moral courage to do the right
      • Many have made themselves far worse than they might otherwise have been because they feared the laughter of their so-called friends
  • Salome and Herodias
    • There is a certain greatness about Herodias
      • Years after this, her Herod sought the title of King.
        • He went to Rome to plead for it, but instead of giving him the title, the emperor banished him to Gaul for having the insolence and the insubordination to ask for such a title
        • Herodias was told that she need not share this exile, that she could go free, and she proudly replied that where her husband went she went too
      • Herodias shows us what an embittered person can do
        • The trouble with Herodias was that she wished to eliminate the one man who had the courage to confront her with her sin
        • She wished to do as she liked with no one to remind her of the moral law
        • She murdered John that she might sin in peace
        • She forgot that while sh need no longer meet John, she sill had to meet God
  • John the Baptist
    • He was a man of courage
    • John preferred death to falsehood
      • He lived for the truth and he died for it
        • Those who bring to others the voice of God act like a conscience.
        • Many would silence their consciences if they could, and therefore those who speak for God must always take their lives and their fortune in their hands
  • Mark 6:30-34
  • 30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place, 33 but many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they ran on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore, he saw a large crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things.
    • When the disciples came back from their mission, they reported to Jesus all they had done
    • Jesus told them to come with Him to a lonely place on the other side of the lake that they might have peace and rest for a little time
      • Here we see what might be called the rhythm of the Christian life
        • The Christian life is a continuous going into the presence of God from the presence of people and coming out into the presence of people from the presence of God
      • There are two dangers in life
        • First, there is the danger of a too constant activity
          • We cannot work without rest; and we cannot live the Christian life unless we give ourselves time with God
        • Second, there is the danger of too much withdrawal
          • Devotion that does not issue in action is not real devotion
          • Prayer that does not issue in work is not real prayer
          • We must never seek God’s fellowship in order to avoid human fellowship but in order to fit ourselves better for it
        • The rhythm of the Christian life is the alternate meeting with God in the secret place and serving one another in the market place
      • The crowds saw Jesus and the 12 going away
        • Here, it was four miles across the lake by boat and ten miles around the top of the lake on foot
        • When Jesus and His disciples stepped out of the boat, the very crowd from which they had sought some little peace was there waiting for them
        • He looked at them
          • They were so desperate in earnest
          • They wanted so much what He alone could give the
          • To Him they were like sheep without shepherd
            • A sheep without a shepherd cannot find the way
              • Life can be so bewildering
              • We can stand at some crossroads and not know which way to take
              • It is only when Jesus leads and we follow that we can find the way
            • A sheep without a shepherd cannot find its pasture and its food
              • We can gain strength for lie only from Him who is the living bread
            • A sheep without a shepherd has no defense against the dangers which threaten it
              • If life has taught us one thing, it must be that we cannot live it alone
              • No one has a sure defense against the temptations which assail us and from the evil of the world which attacks us
              • Only in the company of Jesus can we walk in the world and remain untainted by it
              • Without Him we are defenseless; with Him we are safe.

Mark 6:1-15 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 6:1-15

  • Mark 6:1-6
  • He left there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. “Where did this man get these things?” they said. “What is this wisdom that has been given to him, and how are these miracles performed by his hands? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” So they were offended by him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his household.” 5 He was not able to do a miracle there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. He was going around the villages teaching.
    • He was coming to His home town
      • There are no harsher critics than those who have known us since childhood
    • The Rabbis moved about the country accompanied by their little circle of disciples, and it was as a teacher, with his disciples, that Jesus came.
    • His teaching was greeted not with wonder but with a kind of contempt
      • They were scandalized that a man who came from a background like Jesus should say and do such as He did. Familiarity had bred a mistaken contempt
    • They refused to listen for two reasons
      • Isn’t this the carpenter?
        • Greek word here does mean a worker in wood, but it means more than merely a joiner.
        • It means a craftsman; one that builds ships and houses and temples. Someone who would build anything from a chicken-coop to a house; build a wall, mend a roof, repair a gate; the craftsman, the handyman, who with few or no instruments and with the simplest tools could turn his had to any job.
        • The people of Nazareth despised Jesus because He was a working man. He was a man of the people, a layman, an ordinary man—and therefore they despised Him.
        • The people of Nazareth despised Jesus because He was a working man. To us that is His glory., because it means that God, when He came to earth, claimed no exemptions. He took upon Himself the common life with all its common tasks.
        • We must alway s beware of the temptation to evaluate one another by externals and incidentals, and not by native worth.
      • The Son of Mary
        • The fact that they called Jesus Mar’s son tells us that Joseph most likely was dead
        • Jesus was only 33 when He died; and He did not leave Nazareth until He was 30
          • Why this long delay?
            • The most likely reason was that Joseph died young and Jesus took upon Himself the support of His mother and His siblings; and only when they were old enough to fend for themselves did He go forth.
        • But the people of Nazareth despised Him because they knew His family
          • Sometimes when familiarity should breed a growing respect it breeds an increasing and easy-going familiarity. Sometimes we are too near people to see their greatness
      • The result of all this was that Jesus could do no mighty works in Nazareth. The atmosphere was wrong, and there are smooth things that cannot be done unless the atmosphere is right.
        • It is still true that people cannot be healed if they refuse to be healed.
        • There can be no preaching in the wrong atmosphere
          • In an atmosphere of expectancy, the poorest effort can catch fire. In an atmosphere of critical coldness or bland indifference, the most Spirit-packed utterance can fall lifeless to the earth.
        • There can be no peace-making in the wrong atmosphere
          • If those gathered together have come together to hate, they will hate
          • If they have come together to refuse to understand, they will misunderstand. 
          • If they have come together to see not other point of view but their own, they will see no other.
          • But if they have come together, loving Christ and seeking to love each other, even those who are most widely separated can come together in Him.
      • There is laid on us the tremendous responsibility that we can either help or hinder the work of Jesus Christ. We can open the door wide to Him—or we can slam it in His face.
  • Mark 6:7-11
  • 7 He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs and gave them authority over unclean spirits. 8 He instructed them to take nothing for the road except a staff—no bread, no traveling bag, no money in their belts, 9 but to wear sandals and not put on an extra shirt. 10 He said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that place. 11 If any place does not welcome you or listen to you, when you leave there, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”
    • The innermost garment was the tunic
      • It was very simple. A long piece of cloth folded over and sewn down one side
      • It was long enough to reach almost to the feet
      • Holes were cut in the top corners for the arms
      • Commonly sold without any hole for the head to go through (to prove the garment was new)
      • At its simplest, this inner garment was little more than a sack with holes cut in the corners. In a more developed form it had long close-fitting sleeves; and sometimes it was oped up so that it was made to button down the front. 
    • The outer garment was used as a cloak by day and as a blanket by night.
      • Usually it was made of two strips of cloth, each seven feet by a little more than two feet, seen together. The seam came down the back
      • But a specially carefully made cloak might be woven of one piece, as Jesus’ robe was. This was the main article of dress.
    • There was the girdle.
      • It was worn over the two garments we have already described. The skirts of the tunic could be hitched up under the girdle for work or for running.
      • The girdle was often double for the eighteen inches from each end. The double part formed a pocket in which money was carried.
    • There was the head-dress
      • It was piece of cotton or linen about a yard square
      • It could be white, blue, or black
    • There were the sandals
      • They were merely flat soles of leather, wood, or matted grass.
      • The soles had thongs at the edges through with a strap passed to hold the sandal on to the foot
    • The wallet may be one of two things
      • It may be the ordinary traveller’s bag. This was made of a goat’s skin.
        • Often the animal was skinned whole and the skin retained the original shape of the animal, legs, tail, head and all! 
        • It had a strap at each side and was slung over the shoulder
        • In it the shepherd, or a pilgrim, or a traveler carried bread, raisins, olives, and cheese enough to last him a day or two
      • Or it could mean a collecting bag
        • Very often the priests and devotees went out with these bags to collect contributions for their temple and their god
      • If the first meaning is taken, Jesus meant that His disciples must take no supplies for the road, but must trust God for everything.
      • If the second meaning is taken, it means that they must not be like the grasping priests. They must go about giving and not getting.
    • It was the Rabbinic law that when a man entered the Temple courts he must put off his staff and shoes and more girdle.
      • All ordinary things were to be set aside on entering the sacred place.
      • It may well be that Jesus was thinking of this, and that He meant His disciples to see that the humble homes they were to enter were every bit as sacred as the Temple courts.
    • Hospitality was a sacred duty in the middle east
      • When a stranger entered a village, it was not his duty to search for hospitality; it was the duty of the village to offer it.
      • Jesus said if hospitality was refused, they must shake off the dust of that place from their feet when they left.
        • The Rabbinic law said that the dust of a Gentile country was defiled, and that when a man entered Palestine from another country he must shake off every particle of dust of the unclean land
        • If they refuse to listen to you, the only thing you can do is to treat them as a strict Jew would treat a Gentile house. There can be no fellowship between them and you.
    • So we can see that the mark of the Christian disciple was to be utter simplicity, complete trust, and the generosity which is out always to give and never to demand.
  • Mark 6:12-13
  • 12 So they went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons, anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
    • Here is a brief summary of the work that the Twelve did when Jesus sent them out
      • To the people they brought Jesus’ message. 
      • Herald’s proclamation
        • They did not create a message; they brought a message
        • They did not tell people what they believed and what they considered likely
        • They told people what Jesus had told them. 
        • It was not their opinions they brought to people; it was God’s truth
        • Those who would bring an effective message to others must first receive it from God.
      • To the people they brought the King’s message
        • Repent!
        • To repent means to change one’s mind and then to fit one’s actions to this change.
        • Repentance means a change of heart and a change of action. 
        • It is bound to hurt, for it involves the bitter realization that the way we were following is wrong
        • It is bound to disturb, because it means a complete reversal of life.
        • That is precisely why so few people do repent—for the last thing most people desire is to be disturbed.
        • The change is not necessarily from robbery, theft, murder, adultery, and glaring sins. The change may be from a life that is completely selfish, instinctively demanding, totally inconsiderate, the change from a self-centered to a God-centered life—and a change like that hurts.
        • Repentance is no sentimental feeling sorry; repentance is a revolutionary thing—that is why so few repent
      • To the people they brought the King’s mercy
        • Not only did they bring this shattering demand upon people’s lives; they brought also help and healing
    • So the Twelve brought to people the message and the mercy of the King, and that remains the Church’s tasks today and everyday.
  • Mark 6:14-15
  • 14 King Herod heard about it, because Jesus’s name had become well known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that’s why miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He’s Elijah.” Still others said, “He’s a prophet, like one of the prophets from long ago.”
    • There is the verdict of a guilty conscience.
      • Herod had been guilty of allowing the execution of John the Baptist, and now he was haunted by what he had done
      • Inwardly, they cannot command their thoughts; and, whenever they allow themselves to think, their thoughts return to the wicked things that they have done
      • Outwardly, we live in the fear that we will be found out and that some day the consequences of our evil deeds will catch up with us.
      • When Herod heard of Jesus, the first thing that flashed into his mind was that this was John the Baptist whom he had killed, come back to reckon with him
        • Because the sinning life is the haunted life, sin is never worth the cost.
    • There is the verdict of the nationalist.
      • Some thought that Jesus was Elijah come again.
      • It was an essential part of their belief that before the coming of the Messiah, Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, would come again to be his herald and his forerunner.
      • This is the verdict of those who desire to find in Jesus the realization of their own ambitions. They think of Jesus not as someone to whom they must submit and whom they must obey; they think of Jesus as someone they can use. Such people think more of their own ambitions than of the will of God.
    • There is the verdict of those who are waiting for the voice of God
      • There were those who saw in Jesus a prophet
      • People in those days were listening for the authentic voice of God—and in Jesus they heard it
        • It is true that Jesus was more than a prophet.
        • He did not bring only the voice of God
        • He brought the very power  and the very life and the very being of God

Mark 5:21-43 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 5:21-43

  • Mark 5:21-24
  • 21 When Jesus had crossed over again by boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the sea. 22 One of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet 23 and begged him earnestly, “My little daughter is dying. Come and lay your hands on her so that she can get well and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him, and a large crowd was following and pressing against him.
    • We don’t see the girls age stated here at the first of the story, but it is a significant factor
      • The story tells us that the ruler’s daughter was twelve years of age. According to the Jewish custom, a girl became a women at twelve years and one day. This girl was just not eh threshold of womanhood, and when death comes at such a time it is doubly tragic.
      • The story tells us something about this man who was the ruler of the synagogue.
        • He would have been someone of considerable importance
        • He was the administrative head of the synagogue. 
        • Think Chairman of the Board
        • He was responsible for making sure everything was ready so that services could be held.
        • H was one of the most important and most respected men in the community.
      • But something happened to him when his daughter fell ill and he thought of Jesus
        • His prejudices were forgotten
          • He was willing to take a chance on the outsider that wouldn’t conform, for the sake of his daughter
        • His dignity was forgotten
          • He fell at Jesus’ feet
        • His pride was forgotten
        • Some speculation here, but it seems that we can say that his friends were forgotten
          • Someone of this importance would have had someone else come to Jesus for him, especially with his daughter on the verge of death. He would have wanted to stay by her side. But it appears they did not agree with going to Jesus, and therefore, Jairus came to Jesus to make his own plea.
          • It is often the case that we are wisest when our worldly-wise friends think we are acting like fools.
        • Here was a man who forgot everything except that he wanted the help of Jesus; and because of that forgetfulness he would remember forever that Jesus is a Savior.
  • Mark 5:25-29
  • 25 Now a woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years 26 had endured much under many doctors. She had spent everything she had and was not helped at all. On the contrary, she became worse. 27 Having heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothing. 28 For she said, “If I just touch his clothes, I’ll be made well.” 29 Instantly her flow of blood ceased, and she sensed in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
    • This was a very common ailment, but also one that was very hard to deal with.
    • The Talmud itself gives no fewer than eleven cures for such trouble.
      • Some of theme are tonics and such, but some of theme are sheer superstitions
        • Carrying the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen rag in summer and a cotton rag in winter, etc. 
    • The trouble was that not only did this affect a woman’s health, it also rendered her continuously unclean and shut her off from the worship of God and the fellowship of her friends (Leviticus 15:25-27)
    • The physicians had had no success with the treatment of this woman’s case, and she had heard of Jesus. But her trouble was an embarrassing thing.
    • Here was a woman who came to Jesus as a last resort having tried every other cure that the world had to offer.
      • How many times do we do the same thing though.
  • Mark 5:30-34
  • 30 Immediately Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 His disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing against you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 But he was looking around to see who had done this. 33 The woman, with fear and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be healed from your affliction.”
    • This passage tells us something about three people
      • It tells us about Jesus and the cost of healing
        • Every time Jesus healed anyone, it took something out of Him
      • It tells us something about the disciples
        • It shows us very vividly the limitations of what is called common sense.
        • The disciples took the common sense point of view. How could Jesus avoid being touched in a crowd like that? That was the sensible way to look at things. There emerges the strange and poignant fact that they had never realized that it cost Jesus anything at all to heal others.
        • We often fail to realize what others are going through.
          • Because we have no experience of something, we never think what that something is costing someone else.
          • Because something may be easy for us, we never realize what a costly effort it may be for someone else. 
      • It tells us something about the woman.
        • It tells us of the relief of confession
          • It was all so difficult; it was all so humiliating. But once she had told the whole truth to Jesus, the terror and the trembling were gone and a wave of relief flooded her heart. And when she had made her pitiful confession she found him very kind.
  • Mark 5:35-39
  • 35 While he was still speaking, people came from the synagogue leader’s house and said, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the teacher anymore?” 36 When Jesus overheard what was said, he told the synagogue leader, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” 37 He did not let anyone accompany him except Peter, James, and John, James’s brother. 38 They came to the leader’s house, and he saw a commotion—people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.”
    • Jewish mourning customs were vivid and detailed, and practically all of them were designed to stress the desolation and the final separation of death.
      • Immediate wailing after death
      • Tearing of clothing
      • Flute players were essential (No matter how poor, had to provide at least two flute players)
      • Forbidden to work, anoint themselves, or wear shoes (Even the poorest again, had to cease from work for three days)
      • No traveling with goods
      • Prohibition from work extended to servants
      • He must not shave or do anything for his comfort
      • Couldn’t read the law or the prophets, for to read these books is joy.
      • Was permitted to read Job, Jeremiah, and Lamentations
      • Must eat only in his own house and must abstain altogether from meat and wine
      • Can’t leave the town or village for 30 days
      • Had to eat sitting on the floor and using a chair for the table
      • Custom that is still in place was to eat eggs dipped in ashes and salt
  • Mark 5:40-43
  • 40 They laughed at him, but he put them all outside. He took the child’s father, mother, and those who were with him, and entered the place where the child was. 41 Then he took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum” (which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, get up”). 42 Immediately the girl got up and began to walk. (She was twelve years old.) At this they were utterly astounded. 43 Then he gave them strict orders that no one should know about this and told them to give her something to eat.
    • This passage is a story of contrasts
      • There is the contrast between the despair of the mourners and the hope of Jesus. “Don’t bother the Teacher”; “There’s nothing anyone can do now.” “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”
        • In the one place it is the voice of despair that speaks, in the other the voice of hope.
      • There is the contrast between the unrestrained distress of the mourners and the call serenity of Jesus.
        • They were wailing and weeping and tears their hair and clothes in an act of distress; He was calm and quiet and serene and in control
      • Why the difference?
        • It was due to Jesus’ perfect confidence and trust in God.
          • The worst human disaster can be met with courage when we meet it with God.
          • They laughed at Him because they thought his hope was groundless and his calm mistaken.
          • But the great fact of the Christian life is that what looks completely impossible to us is possible with God.
            • What on merely human grounds is far too good to be true becomes blessedly true when God is there.
          • They laughed at Him…
            • But their laughter must have turned to amazement when they realized what God can do.
            • There is nothing beyond facing, and there is nothing beyond conquest—not even death—when it is faced and conquered in the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

Mark 5:1-20 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 5:1-20

  • Mark 5:1-13
  • They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 As soon as he got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met him. 3 He lived in the tombs, and no one was able to restrain him anymore—not even with a chain— 4 because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had torn the chains apart and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before him. 7 And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do you have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you before God, don’t torment me!” 8 For he had told him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 “What is your name?” he asked him. “My name is Legion,” he answered him, “because we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the region. 11 A large herd of pigs was there, feeding on the hillside. 12 The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs, so that we may enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs. The herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there.
  • My name is Legion, for we are many
    • This is an eerie and dark story
    • Looking back at Mark 4, as this is a continuation of the story of Jesus calming the storm, we find that this interaction with Jesus and the demon possessed man took place late in the day, possibly even at night
    • The disciples and Jesus had just finished crossing the Sea of Galilee (when Jesus calmed the storm). At its longest, it is 13 miles long. And at its widest it is around 8 miles wide. The particular part that Jesus and the disciples had just finished traveling was around 5 miles wide.
      • They landed in what is described later in Mark 5 as the Decapolis. We’ll discuss that when we get toward the end tonight.
      • This was part of the lakeside where there were many caves in the limestone rock, and many of these caves were used as tombs in which bodies were laid. At the best of times it was an eerie place; as night fell it must have been grim indeed
    • A demon possessed man came out of the tombs as Jesus and the disciples approached
      • This was a fitting place, for it was believed that demons dwelt in woods and gardens and vineyards and dirty places, in lonely and desolate spots and among tombs
      • It was during the night that they believed the demons to be particularly active
      • To sleep alone in the dark house at night was dangerous; to greet any person in the dark was perilous; to go out at night without a lantern or a torch was to court trouble; it was a dangerous place and a dangerous time, and the man was a dangerous man
    • Legion
      • Sometimes the man used the singular, as if it was him speaking, other times the plural as the demons spoke through him
      • A legion was a Roman regiment of 6,000 troops
      • This area was a staging area of Roman soldiers on the Eastern front, so this man had seen plenty of legions in his day
    • Jesus heals the man
      • It is clear that Jesus made more than one attempt to heal him
        • v. 8 tells us that Jesus began by His normal authoritative order for the demon to come out
        • He then demanded what the demon’s name was
          • It was a common belief that if you knew the name of a particular demon, the demon had lost all its power and control
        • Finally, Jesus gave him an unanswerable demonstration that the demons had gone out of him by sending them into the herd of pigs
          • This man needed deliverance, and Jesus delivered him by casting the demons into the herd of pigs
          • The pigs then rushed down the embankment, into the lake, and drowned
          • Like a wise healer who understood the psychology of a diseased mind, Jesus used the event to help the man climb back to sanity, and his disordered mind was restored to peace
  • Mark 5:14-17
  • 14 The men who tended them ran off and reported it in the town and the countryside, and people went to see what had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the man who had been demon-possessed, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and told about the pigs. 17 Then they began to beg him to leave their region.
  • The response to Jesus
    • I’ve mentioned this idea before, but here is the other side of it; there is no neutrality when encountering Jesus. You either want to follow Him, or you want Him as far away from you as you can get
  • The men in charge of the herd of pigs go into town to let the owners know what has happened
    • They may have been on the line for the cost of the herd if they couldn’t explain what happened, so they wanted to make sure they let someone know what was going on
      • When the people from town (not just the owners of the pigs) arrived, they found the formerly demon possessed man clothed and in his right mind
        • Note that Mark described the area as filthy, dirty, etc. and now is describing that man as clean, clothed, and in his right mind. The area is a gentile area, but through Jesus, the man (and the area) are now clean
  • Instead of embracing Jesus and the miracle of the healed man, the crowd focused on the economic impact of losing the herd of pigs
    • The routine of life had been unsettled, and they wanted the disturbing element removed as quickly as possible
  • A frequent cry of the human mind is, “Please don’t disturb me.” On the whole, the one thing people want is to be left alone
    • Don’t disturb my comfort
      • We get comfortable in our routine and we don’t like anything that disrupts that routine
      • We like to stay in our comfort zones
      • Myself included, that’s part of the reason this virus is causing so much havoc…it’s disturbing our comfort and our routine
    • Don’t disturb my possessions
      • None of us really willingly gives up anything we may possess
      • The older we get the more we want to hold on to it
    • Don’t disturb my religion
      • Don’t let unpleasant subjects disturb the pleasant decorum of my religion
      • Don’t let personal relationships disturb my religion
        • There is a type of religion which is fonder of committees than it is of housework, which is more set on quiet times than it is on human service. It prides itself on serving the church and spending itself in devotion—but in God’s eyes it has got things the wrong way round
      • Don’t disturb my beliefs
        • There is a type of religion which says, “If it has been good enough up to now, it is good enough for me.” There are people who do not want to know anything new, for they know that if they did they might have to go through the mental sweat of rethinking things and coming to new conclusions. There is a cowardice of thought and lethargy of mind and a sleep of the soul which are terrible things
        • The Gerasenes banished the disturbing Christ—and still there are people who seek to do the same
        • Conversation with Byron about making sure we don’t do the same things that our generation see as frustrating.
  • Mark 5:18-20
  • 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged him earnestly that he might remain with him. 19 Jesus did not let him but told him, “Go home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.
  • Life on Mission
    • Like I stated earlier, this took place in an area known as the Decapolis (Ten Cities)
      • Scythopolis (west of the Jordan), Pella, Dion, Gerasa, Philadelphia, Gardara, Raphana, Kanatha, Hippos, and Damascus
    • With the conquests of Alexander the Great, there had been a Greek penetration into Palestine and Syria
    • These Greek cities were within Syria, but were largely independent
    • They were liable to Roman taxation and Roman military service; frequently were the headquarters of Roman legions in the eastern campaigns
    • They were beautiful cities; they were stubbornly Greek in culture; they had their Greek gods and their Greek temples and their Greek amphitheaters; they were devoted to the Greek way of life
    • This is all to point out that this was not a Jewish territory. It was very much a Gentile area.
    • If Jesus was in the Decapolis, it is one of the first hints of things to come
      • There would be Jews there, but it was fundamentally a Greek area
      • Here is a foretaste of a world for Christ
    • The demon possessed man knew how much Christ had done for him. Instead of wanting Jesus to leave, he wanted to remain with Jesus and follow Him. 
      • There is good reason, however, to see why Jesus sent the man back
        • He was to be a witness for Christianity (which is what any Christ follower is called to)
          • He was to be a living, walking, vivid, unanswerable demonstration of what Christ can do for us. Our glory must always be not in what we can do for Christ but in what Christ can do for us
          • The unanswerable proof of Christianity is a recreated human being
        • He was to be the first seed of what in time was to become a mighty harvest
          • The first contact with Greek civilization was made in the Decapolis. Everything must start somewhere; and the glory of all the Christianity which one day flowered in the Greek mind and genius began with a man who had been possessed by demons and whom Christ healed
          • Christ must always begin with someone. In our own circle and society, why should He not begin with us

Mark 4:21-41 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 4:21-41

  • Mark 4:21-25
  • 21 He also said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn’t it to be put on a lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be brought to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. By the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and more will be added to you. 25 For whoever has, more will be given to him, and whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”
  • We mentioned when we started this study that Matthew and Luke most likely used Mark as a source for their writings. Here is one example where we see differences between Mark and Matthew. Mark has these sayings of Jesus written consecutively, but Matthew has them spread around.
    • Mark 4:21 is found in Matthew 5:15
    • Mark 4:22 is found in Matthew 10:26
    • Mark 4:24  is found in Matthew 7:2
    • Mark 4:25 is found in Matthew 13:12 and Matthew 25:29
  • What do we take from this difference?
    • While these are sayings of Jesus, they may not be connected
    • Jesus more than likely said all of these more than once, as He taught in different locations to different people at different times during His ministry
    • Mark chose to record them together, Matthew spread them around. There is a chance that they were both correct in one way or another
  • 4:21 A lamp is meant to be seen and to help people see; and it is put in a place where it will be visible to all.
    • Truth is meant to be seen
      • Martin Luther nailing his 95 Thesis to the door of the Wittenberg Church on Nov. 1
    • Our Christianity is meant to be seen
      • It is often easier to keep quiet the fact that we belong to Christ and His church; but our Christianity should always be seen by everyone
  • 4:22-23 Truth ultimately cannot be hidden
    • It applies to truth itself There is something about the truth which is indestructible. Some people may refuse to face it; they may try to suppress it; they may even try to obliterate it; they may refuse to accept it, but great is the truth and in the end it will prevail.
      • Copernicus discovered that the Earth was not the center of the universe and that the Sun did not revolve around the Earth.
      • He did not publish his findings until he was about to die, and it was not well received
      • Galileo accepted Copernicus’ discovery, and publicly stated so
      • He was summoned to Rome and forced to recant his statement or die
      • After a new Pope was in place, Galileo again publicly stated his beliefs, and again was forced to recant or be tortured. He again recanted, but was still thrown into prison
      • Even Martin Luther, who was opposing the Roman Catholic Church, thought of Copernicus as a heretic. “People gave ear to an upstart astrologer (Copernicus) who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon…this fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy: but the sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.”
      • Each of us must take care that we are not fighting against the truth
    • It applies to ourselves and to our own life and conduct
  • 4:24 In life there is always a balance. How much we give determines how much we get (not talking about offerings, although I do believe that it is impossible to out-give God)
    • In our study
      • The more time we put into the study of something, the more we are able to grasp
    • In our worship
      • The more we bring to worship, the more we get from it
      • Worship should be a lifestyle and not just something we do for 3-4 hours a week
      • There are three ways we come ill-prepared for corporate worship though
        • We come entirely for what we can get
          • What can I get out of this service? Instead of “What can I contribute to this service?
          • The likelihood is that we will criticize the music, find fault with the message, or will regard the whole service as a performance for our entertainment instead of it all being for God’s glory
        • We come without expectation
          • Going through the motions
        • We come without preparation
          • We haven’t spent time with God throughout the week, and our hearts aren’t right for a corporate worship gathering
    • In our personal relationships
      • If we are always in a bad mood, then we don’t connect with and build relationships with others.
      • Not saying that we can’t have bad days, but you really do get out of relationships what you put into them
  • 4:25 The whole lesson of life is that it is inevitably and profoundly true that the more we have the more we will given
    • Knowledge
      • The more we learn about a subject, the more we are able to continue to learn about a subject
      • You don’t become an expert in something before learning the basics
    • Effort
      • The more physical activity we do, the more capacity we have for physical activity
      • The opposite is also true; the less we do, the less we are capable of doing
    • Skill or Craft
      • The more we develop the skill of hand, or eye, or mind, the more we are able to develop it. If we are content to drift along, never trying anything new, never adopting any new technique, we remain stuck in the one job with no progress. If we neglect our particular skill, we will find in the end that we have lost it altogether
      • My mom always talks about how she used to be able to sing really well, but she stopped singing specials and solos in church. After a while of this, she lost her ability or skill to sing like she could before
    • Ability to bear responsibility. The more decisions we compel ourselves to make, the better we are able to make them. But if we shirk our responsibilities, if we evade decisions and waver all the time, in the end we will become flabby, spineless creatures totally unfit for responsibility and totally unable to come to any decision at all
  • Mark 4:26-29
  • 26 “The kingdom of God is like this,” he said. “A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day; the seed sprouts and grows, although he doesn’t know how. 28 The soil produces a crop by itself—first the blade, then the head, and then the full grain on the head. 29 As soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
  • God’s Kingdom will grow through Him
    • This is the only parable found in Mark that is not found in any other gospel and it tells us  unmistakeable truths
      • Humans are helpless
        • We cannot create anything. Yes, we plant, but we don’t make the seed grow (figuratively or literally) (Paul planted, Apollos watered, but it was God who grew it)
      • The Kingdom of God (and how nature gives us an idea of how the Kingdom works)
        • Nature’s growth is often imperceptible
          • When you see someone or something day after day, it is often hard to see growth, but if you see someone or something after a longer period of time, that growth becomes apparent
        • Nature’s growth is constant
        • Nature’s growth is inevitable
          • Tree roots break through concrete and weeds come through asphalt
      • There is a time when it will be too late
        • There is a day when the harvest comes. Inevitably when the harvest comes, two things happen
          • The good fruit is gathered
          • The weeds are destroyed
        • Three things that this lays upon us
          • It is a summons to patience
            • We are creatures of the moment and inevitably we think in terms of the moment. God has all eternity in which to work
          • It is a summons to hope
            • We are living in an atmosphere of despair, but there is hope if we are Christ followers
          • It is a summons to preparedness
            • There are no more chances once Christ returns. We have to be ready on that day
      • Mark 4:30-32
      • 30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use to describe it? 31 It’s like a mustard seed that, when sown upon the soil, is the smallest of all the seeds on the ground. 32 And when sown, it comes up and grows taller than all the garden plants, and produces large branches, so that the birds of the sky can nest in its shade.”
      • From the smallest to the greatest
      • Two pictures that the Jews would automatically see
        • In Palestine a grain of mustard seed stood for the smallest possible thing. It did in fact grow into something very like a a tree, taller than a man riding on a horse
          • Birds were very fond of the seeds, and it was not uncommon to see a cloud of birds on or flying over a mustard tree
        • OT great empires were described like a tree and the tributary nations within it were said to be like birds finding shelter within the shadow of it branches
      • The figure of a tree with birds in the branches therefore stands for a great empire and the nations which form part of it. The parable tells us a few things
        • Never be daunted by small beginnings 
          • Drops of dye in a bucket of water
          • We often feel that for all that we can do, it is hardly worth while starting a thing at all. But we must remember this—everything must have a beginning. Nothing emerges full grown. It is our duty to do what we can; and the cumulative effect of all the small efforts can in the end produce an amazing result 
        • It speaks of the “empire” of the Church
          • The Church began with an individual and it is meant to end with the world
          • The Church is an empire in which all kinds of opinions and all kinds of theologies can find a place
            • Restoration Movement tenant: We are not the only Christians, but we are Christians only
          • The Church is an empire in which all nations meet
            • Stained glass commission for a new church based on Ann Shepherd’s hymn “Around the throne of God in heaven, Thousands of children stand
            • Painter originally painted all of the children white until he dreamed of Jesus repainting the children all of the colors of the world
            • “Why! It’s God’s family at home.”
            • The Church is the family of God; and that Church which began in Palestine, small as a mustard seed, has room in it for every nation in the world. There are no barriers in the Church of God. The barriers are of our own making, and God in Christ has torn them down
  • Mark 4:33-34
  • 33 He was speaking the word to them with many parables like these, as they were able to understand. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable. Privately, however, he explained everything to his own disciples.
  • The wise teacher and student
  • Jesus taught to the ability of those who were listening to Him
    • Kit vs. Andy
  • There are two dangers that wise teachers must avoid
    • Self-display
      • The goal is to draw attention to the subject, not the teacher
    • Aura of Superiority
      • True teaching does not consist in telling people things. It consists in learning things together
      • There are certain qualities which those who would teach must constantly seek to acquire
        • Teachers must possess understanding
          • We have to understand why someone is struggling with understanding before we can help them understand
        • Teachers must possess patience
          • Jewish Rabbi Hillel said, “An irritable man cannot teach”
        • Teachers must possess kindness
          • Cannot poke fun of someone that is not understanding something that we are teaching in a way that turns them off to learning at all
          • Kelley and her math teacher
      • There are certain qualities that students should seek to display as well
        • Wise students do not go away to forget
          • They go away to think over what they have heard. Wise students go away, not to forget what they have learned, but quietly to think it over until they have discovered what it means for like and for living for themselves
        • They seek the teacher’s company
  • Mark 4:35-41
  • 35 On that day, when evening had come, he told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.” 36 So they left the crowd and took him along since he was in the boat. And other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”
  • In the storms of life, Jesus gives us peace
    • In sorrow of loss, we have peace in Jesus
    • When we don’t know what to do, we can find peace in Jesus
    • We find peace in Him when anxiety and the worries of life engulf us

Mark 4:1-20 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 4:1-20

  • Mark 4:1-2
  • Again he began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around him. So he got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was by the sea on the shore. 2 He taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them,
  • Jesus and the use of Parables
    • Jesus was prepared to use new methods. He was willing to take religious preaching and teaching out of its conventional setting in the synagogue into the open air and among the crowds of ordinary men and women
    • There must have been many among the religious leaders of the day who regarded Jesus’ methods as sensationalism ((especially in journalism) the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement); but Jesus was wise enough to know when new methods were necessary and adventurous enough to use them
      • I see this often today when someone is attempting to adapt methods to reach a crowd that doesn’t know Jesus yet…We’ve never done it that way before…the message stays the same but the method in which the message is presented can and needs to be updated
    • Jesus chose to use a new method of speaking in parables
      • A parable is basically a comparison
      • It is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning
    • Why did Jesus choose this method? And why did it become so characteristic of Him that He is known forever as the master of the parable?
      • Jesus chose the parabolic method simply to make people listen
        • I hear it all the time “the church shouldn’t try to be entertainment”. And I agree with that for the most part (too many things to compete with)
        • But, there is an element in which we need to do things in such a way that we catch people’s interest or we are never going to reach them with the message
        • That’s why I use things like humor, stories, videos at times, and other elements in my sermons when they fit 
        • Jesus was talking to a crowd out in the open. If He didn’t catch their attention, they would just leave
      • Jesus was using something with which Jewish teachers and audiences were entirely familiar
        • Other Rabbis were using parables as part of their teaching method, so the Jewish audience was used to this
        • OT contains parables as well; maybe the most famous being the story of the man who steals his neighbor’s only lamb that Nathan told David when confronting him about his sin with Bathsheba
      • Jesus was making an abstract idea concrete
        • Few people can grasp abstract ideas. Most people think in pictures
        • There is a sense in which every word must become flesh
      • Jesus was compelling people to think for themselves
        • If you really want to help someone grasp an idea or a lesson, you don’t do it for them. You give them the tools to figure out how to do it themselves
  • Mark 4:3-9
  • 3 “Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow. 4 As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly, since the soil wasn’t deep. 6 When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce fruit. 8 Still other seed fell on good ground and it grew up, producing fruit that increased thirty, sixty, and a hundred times.” 9 Then he said, “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen.”
  • The Sowing of the Word
    • Jesus started from the here and now to get to the there and then
      • He started with the simplest of things in which even a child could understand
    • Jesus showed that He believed that there was a real kinship between earth and heaven
      • It was possible to see God in the ordinary, common, everyday things of life
      • Archbishop William Temple “Jesus taught men to see the operation of God in the regular and the normal—in the rising of the sun and the falling of the rain and the growth of the plant”
      • Romans 1:20 “For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.”
    • The very essence of the parables is that they were spontaneous, of the moment, and unrehearsed
      • Their supreme greatness is that Jesus composed these immortal short stories on the spur of the moment
      • In its most characteristic use the parable is a weapon of controversy, not shaped like a sonnet in undisturbed concentration but improved in conflict to meet the unpremeditated situation
      • When we bear in mind that the parables of Jesus were fleshed out spontaneously, their wonder is increased a hundredfold 
    • They were meant to be heard, not read and studied
      • The parables must never be treated as allegories
        • In an allegory, every part and action and detail of the story has an inner significance
      • An allegory is something to be read and studied and examined
      • A parable is something which was heard once and only once
      • It was a situation in which one great idea let out and shone like a flash of lightening
      • It is always wrong to attempt to make every detail of a parable mean something. 
      • It is always right to say: What one idea would flash into someone’s mind on hearing this story for the first time?
  • Mark 4:10-12
  • 10 When he was alone, those around him with the Twelve asked him about the parables. 11 He answered them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those outside, everything comes in parables 12 so that they may indeed look, and yet not perceive; they may indeed listen, and yet not understand; otherwise, they might turn back and be forgiven.”
  • Why Jesus Used Parables/The Secrets of the Kingdom
    • The Secrets of the Kingdom
      • It means something which is quite unintelligible to the person who has not been initiated into its meaning, but is perfectly plain to the person who has been initiated. It does not mean that the kingdom is remote and hard to understand; but it does mean that it is quite unintelligible to those who have not given their hearts to Jesus, and that only those who have taken Jesus as Mater and Lord can understand what the kingdom of God means
      • I Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved
    • Quotation from Isaiah 6:9-10
      • Some will always hear but for whatever reason refuse to understand
      • If we read this hearing not a tone of bitter exasperation but a tone of regretful love, it will sound quite different. It will tell us not of a God who deliberately caused blindness and his His truth, but of people who were so dully uncomprehending that it seemed no use even for God to try to penetrate the iron curtain of their lazy incomprehension. 
  • Mark 4:13-20
  • 13 Then he said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand all of the parables?14 The sower sows the word. 15 Some are like the word sown on the path. When they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them. 16 And others are like seed sown on rocky ground. When they hear the word, immediately they receive it with joy. 17 But they have no root; they are short-lived. When distress or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately fall away. 18 Others are like seed sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, 19 but the worries of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 And those like seed sown on good ground hear the word, welcome it, and produce fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundred times what was sown.”
  • The Parable of the Sower Explained
    • Four types of soil 
      • The hard ground beside the road
        • Fields were in the form of long, narrow strips. They were divided by little grass paths which would become hard as stone as people walked on them
        • There are some people into whose hearts Christian truth can find no entry
        • This is due to their lack of interest; and that comes from a failure to realize how important the Christian decision is. Christianity fails to make an impact on so many people not because they are hostile to it, but because they are indifferent
      • The rocky ground
        • This was not ground full of stones; it was a thin soil over a shelf of limestone rock that was prevalent in Palestine
        • Seed which fell there sprouted all right; but because the soil was so shallow and held so little nourishment and moisture, the heat of the sun soon withered the sprouting seed and it died
        • It is always easier to begin a thing than to finish it (finish well)
        • Someone once said “We have learned that it takes about five percent effort to win a man to Christ, and ninety-five percent to keep him in Christ and growing into maturity in the church”
        • Two troubles
          • The failure to think the thing out and to think it through, the failure to realize what it means and what it costs before the start is made
          • There are thousands of people who are attracted by Christianity but who never let it get beyond the surface of their lives
          • The fact is that with Christianity it is a case of all or nothing. We are safe only when we have given ourselves in total commitment to Christ
      • The ground full of thorns
        • It is easy to pack life with such a multiplicity of interests that there is no time left for Christ
        • I’m sure we can all think of someone who was once faithful that fell away because they let the world distract them
      • The good, clean, deep soil
        • If we are really to benefit by the Christian message, the parable tells us that we must do three things
          • Hear it
          • Receive it
          • Put it into action
            • Many people hear it, fewer receive it, and even fewer put the message into action
            • Life on Mission
            • If the Word of God is not changing you, then you haven’t let it penetrate your life
    • What’s the one big idea that someone first hearing this parable would get?
      • Although part of the seed never grew, the fact remained that at the end of the day there was a splendid harvest. This parable was meant to end despair. 
      • It may seem that much of our effort achieves no result; it may seem that much of our labor is wasted
      • But this parable says “Patience! Do your work. Sow the seed. Leave the rest to God. The harvest is sure.”

Mark 3:20-35 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 3:20-35

– Mark 3:20-21

– 20 Jesus entered a house, and the crowd gathered again so that they were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard this, they set out to restrain him, because they said, “He’s out of his mind.”

• Jesus’ own family doesn’t understand what He is all about

• In fact, they think that He has lost His mind

• Matthew 10:36 makes even more sense when we realize this (“a man’s enemies will be the members of his household)…Jesus lived this out Himself

• What led His family to think this?

– Jesus had left home and the carpenter’s business at Nazareth

– Jesus was obviously on the way to a head-on collision with the religious leaders of the day

– Jesus had started a little society of His own—and a very strange society it was

• Most organized their lives around three things…and Jesus had shown that these really meant nothing

– He had thrown away security

– He had thrown away safety

– He didn’t care what society thought of Him

• H.G. Wells “the voice of their neighbors is louder than the voice of God”

– What appalled Jesus’ friends was the risks that He was taking, risks which, as they thought, no one with any sense would take.

– Mark 3:22-27

– 22 The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons.” 23 So he summoned them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand but is finished. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.

• A House divided against itself will fall

– The religious leaders of the day never questioned Jesus’ ability to cast out demons…they questioned by what power He did these things

• Jesus’ argument is straightforward…if Satan casts out other demons, then a civil war has begun, and he will fall.

• You don’t rob a strong man without first tying up the strong man

• The defeat of the demons did not show that Jesus was in alliance with Satan; it showed that Satan’s defenses had been breached. A stronger name had arrived; the conquest of Satan had begun

• Two things emerge here

– Jesus accepts life as a struggle between the power of evil and the power of God

• Didn’t argue about where evil came from…just dealt with it in the most effective way…You don’t argue about the origin of fire while your house is burning

– Jesus regarded the defeat of disease as part of the conquest of Satan

– Mark 3:28-30

– 28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for all sins and whatever blasphemies they utter. 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.”

• The unforgivable sin

• This was said by Jesus when the scribes and Pharisees had declared that the cures He performed were performed not by the power of God, but by the power of the devil. These men had been able to look at the incarnated love of God and to think it the incarnate power of Satan

• The Holy Spirit revealed God’s truth; second, He enabled that truth to be recognized

– The Holy Spirit enabled men and women to recognize God’s truth when it entered their lives

• But if people refuse to exercise any God-given faculty they will in the end lose it.

• If people refuse the guidance of God’s Spirit often enough they will become in the end incapable of recognizing that truth when they see it

• Evil becomes good and good evil

– Why should such a sin have no forgiveness?

• H. B. Sweet says, “To identify the source of good with the embodiment of all evil implies a moral wreck for which the Incarnation itself provides no remedy”

• 1920’s Bishop of Darby A. J. Rawlinson calls it “essential wickedness”

– Consider the effect of Jesus on people

• The very first effect is to make them see their own utter unworthiness in comparison with the beauty and the loveliness of the life of Jesus

• If people have got themselves into such a state, by repeated refusals to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, they they cannot see anything lovely in Jesus at all, then the sight of Jesus will not give them any sense of sin; because they have no sense of sin they cannot be repentant, and because they are not repentant they cannot be forgiven

• So, it’s not that they cannot be forgiven. It’s that they have gotten to a point that they see no need in being forgiven, therefore, they will not be forgiven. Hebrews 6:4-6 comes to mind

– Mark 3:31-35

– 31 His mother and his brothers came, and standing outside, they sent word to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him and told him, “Look, your mother, your brothers, and your sisters are outside asking for you.” 33 He replied to them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 Looking at those sitting in a circle around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

• True family

• Being family is more than just being related by blood (we talked about that in the life of Joseph)

• Common experience

– It has been said that two people really become friends when they are able to say to each other, “Do you remember?” And then go on and talk about the things they have come through together

• Common interest

– Christians have that common interest because they are all people who desire to know more about Jesus Christ

• Common obedience

– “Band of Brothers”

– Tax collector (Matthew) and fanatical nationalist (Simon the Zealot) should have and probably did hate each other at some point

• They were bound together, however, because both had accepted Jesus Christ as Master and Lord

• Common goal

– We are all trying to introduce others to Jesus

Mark 3:1-19 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 3:1-19

  • Mark 3:1-6
  • Jesus entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a shriveled hand. 2 In order to accuse him, they were watching him closely to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 He told the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand before us.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger, he was grieved at the hardness of their hearts and told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against him, how they might kill him.
    • There was a dispatchment from the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem
      • They would have been unmistakeable, sitting in the seats of honor
      • They were not there to worship or learn
      • They were only there to keep tabs on Jesus, and He would have absolutely understood this
    • In the synagogue was a man with a paralyzed hand
      • The Greek indicates that this was not a birth defect…an injury or illness had occurred to cause this man’s disability
    • If Jesus was a cautious man, He would have made sure not to have interacted with this man, as it was the Sabbath
      • As we talked about in the last section, all work was forbidden on the Sabbath
      • Healing was considered work
      • Medical attention could be given only if a life was in danger
        • A woman in child birth could be helped
        • Infections of the throat could be treated
        • If a wall fell, enough could be moved to determine if anyone was alive…alive could be retrieved and helped…dead were to be left until after the Sabbath
        • A fracture could not be attended to
        • Cool water could not be poured on a sprain
        • A cut finger could be bandaged with a plain bandage (no ointment)
        • An injury could be kept from getting worse, but could not be made better
      • A strict Jew would not even defend himself on the Sabbath
        • Wars of the Maccabees
          • Jewish rebels took refuge in caves.
          • Syrian soldiers offered them a chance to surrender, but they refused
          • Syrians attacked on the Sabbath, burning the caves, without even having to close off the entrances
        • Pompey, Roman general besieging Jerusalem
          • Defenders took refuge in the Temple precincts
          • Pompey built a mound on the Sabbath that gave him the ability to overlook and bombard the area
          • They did nothing to stop him, because it was the Sabbath, even though doing nothing signed their own death warrants
        • Rome had a compulsory military service
          • Jews were eventually exempted from this because they refused to fight on the Sabbath
    • Jesus knew this man’s life was not truly in danger
      • He brought the man out to where everyone could see
      • He asked the scribes two questions
        • Is it lawful to do good or evil
          • They had to admit it was lawful to do good and unlawful to do evil
          • Healing the man was obviously a good thing
        • To save a life or to kill
          • In a sense, Jesus was saving this man’s life by giving him back his livelihood 
          • All while they were plotting to kill Him
    • Jesus then healed the man
      • The Pharisees immediately left and started plotting with the Herodians
      • No Pharisee would normally have anything to do with a Gentile or someone who did not keep the law (unclean)
      • The Herodians were the court entourage of Herod; they were continually coming into contact with Romans
      • They were prepared to enter into what was for them an unholy alliance. In their hearts, there was a hate which would stop at nothing
    • This passage shows the clash of two ideas of religion
      • Pharisees
        • Religion was a ritual
        • Obeying certain rules and regulations was the only thing that mattered
        • Jesus broke this, which made Him a “Bad” man
      • Jesus
        • Religion was service
        • Love God and others
        • To Jesus the most important thing in the world was not the correct performance of a ritual but the spontaneous answer to the cry of human need
  • Mark 3:7-12
  • 7 Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a large crowd followed from Galilee, and a large crowd followed from Judea, 8 Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and around Tyre and Sidon. The large crowd came to him because they heard about everything he was doing. 9 Then he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, so that the crowd wouldn’t crush him. 10 Since he had healed many, all who had diseases were pressing toward him to touch him. 11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God!” 12 And he would strongly warn them not to make him known.
    • The crowds are continuing to come to see Jesus due to His power of healing…and they are coming from 100+ miles away in some cases
    • Demon possessed were identifying Him as the Son of God
    • Continued theme of Jesus warning/not allowing anyone to tell others that He is the Messiah
      • Why?
      • It was not time for the cross yet, so He is helping to control the timeline
      • To show that He is the Messiah, He must first explain to the people what the Messiah was actually supposed to be
      • They had the wrong idea of what the Messiah was going to be and do.
  • Mark 3:13-19
  • 13 Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, to send them out to preach, 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 He appointed the Twelve: To Simon, he gave the name Peter; 17 and to James the son of Zebedee, and to his brother John, he gave the name “Boanerges” (that is, “Sons of Thunder”); 18 Andrew; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
    • Jesus chooses His disciples
    • He is established in His ministry, with His message and method
    • He’s been preaching throughout Galilee and His impact has been considerable
    • Two practical problems have now emerged
      • Finding a way to make His message permanent (if and when something happens to Him)
      • Finding a way of spreading His message far and wide in a time with no social media, print, news, etc.
      • To solve this problem, He chose those on whose hearts and lives He could write the message and who would go out from His presence to carry that message abroad
    • It’s significant for us that Christianity began with a group
      • From the beginning, the Christian faith is something that had to be discovered and lived out in fellowship
      • This was the complete opposite of the Pharisees (they separated themselves from those they were trying to teach
        • Pharisee literally means the separated one
      • The whole essence of Christianity from the beginning is that it bound men and women together and presented them with the task of living with each other and for each other
    • Christianity began with a very mixed group as well
      • Two extremes met in the disciples
        • Matthew the tax collector (Therefore an outcast)
        • Simon the Zealot (men that were pledged even to murder and assassination to clear their country of the foreign yoke)
        • The man who was lost to patriotism and the fanatical patriot came together in that group, and no doubt between them there were all kinds of backgrounds and opinions
      • Christianity began by insisting the most diverse people should live together by enabling them to do so, because they were all living with Jesus
    • By worldly standards, the men Jesus chose had no special qualifications
      • They weren’t wealthy, no special social position, no special education, not trained theologians, not high-ranking religious leaders, they were 12 ordinary men
      • Two special qualifications
        • They had felt the magnetic attraction of Jesus
        • They had the courage to show that they were on His side
      • These 12 had all kinds of faults, but whatever else could be said about them, they loved Jesus and they were not afraid to tell the world that they loved Him—and that is being a Christian
    • Jesus had called them to two purposes
      • He called them to be with Him
      • He called them to send them out (be on mission) (saved people serve people) (had been won to win others)
      • For their task, He equipped them with two things
        • He gave them a message
          • They were to be His heralds
          • A wise man said that no one has any right to be a teacher unless he has a teaching of his own to offer, or the teaching of another that with all the passion of his heart he wishes to grow
        • He gave them power
          • Because they were with Him, something of His power was on their lives