The Power of Faith

“And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: and seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, He came, if haply He might find any thing thereon: and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it,
‘No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.’
And His disciples heard it.  And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.  And He taught, saying unto them,
‘Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer?’ But ye have made it a den of thieves.’
And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy Him: for they feared Him, because all the people was astonished at His doctrine.  And when even was come, He went out of the city.  And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, ‘Master, behold, the fig tree which Thou cursedst is withered away.  And Jesus answering saith unto them,
‘Have faith in God.  For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.’ ”  Mark 11:12-26 (KJV)

IN THE FIG TREE JESUS SHOWS US THE FRUITLESSNESS OF A DEAD RELIGION AND CONFRONTS IT.
As Jesus and the disciples were  leaving Bethany, back toward Jerusalem, Jesus spots a fig tree with leaves on it – advertising that it had fruit.  When Jesus arrives there they discover it has no fruit.  Jesus curses the fig tree.  To some this may seem unnecessary for Jesus to have done, but it seems to me that there is a message we must hear and heed.

  1. “There was a voice in it for the JEWISH CHURCH. Rich in the leaves of a formal religion, but barren of all fruits of the Spirit, that Church was in fearful danger, at the very time when this withering took place. Well would it have been for the Jewish Church if it had had eyes to see its peril!”
  2. “There was a voice in the fig tree for all the branches of Christ’s VISIBLE CHURCH in every age, and every part of the world. There was a warning against an empty profession of Christianity unaccompanied by sound doctrine and holy living, which some of those branches would have done well to lay to heart.”  From J. C. Ryle commentary on Mark’s Gospel.

Dead religion offers nothing but leaves, and like the “fig leaves” which Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with were inadequate, so are the “fig leaves” of a dead religion.  In Scriptures the “Fig tree” often represents the nation of Israel and/or its religion (See Hosea 9:10; Nahum 3:12;  Zechariah 3:10).  It is somewhat intrigueing that we have Jesus’ strong words to this fig tree just before He enters the Temple compound and finds them “Buying and selling”.  You will also notice that when Jesus and the disciples pass by the fig tree again that it is dead.

Why did Jesus “curse” the fig tree.  First of all “it was not the season for figs” according to the text, but it had leaves, and most usually the leaves and the figs grew together.  Secondly, by having leaves but no figs it was “advertising” it had fruit when it did not.

There are many people who do not believe that Jesus ever became angry.  Those who think that must have never read of the two times Jesus cleansed the temple.  He cleansed the temple once when He had just began His ministry three years prior to this, and then He does it again here.  You can read about the first “Cleansing” in John chapter two, verses thirteen through seventeen.

Here is what was going on in the Temple compound.  It was expected that the animals brought to the Temple for sacrifice would be inspected by the priest, but it had became a practice to find fault when there was no fault.  It may have been something like this – A priest would say an animal was at fault then sell the owner of the “faulty” offering an “approved” offering, and then, he would sell this man’s animal as “approved” to someone else.  Some people who travelled great distances may expect to buy a Temple approved offering at the Temple.  It was nothing more than theft, and dishonesty that was taking place in the name of God.  There was no holiness, righteousness, or godliness in the place.  The “House of prayer” had been turned into a “Den of thieves”, and Jesus would not tolerate it.

The money changers would charge great fees for exchanging Greek and Roman monies for the Temple money.  They made a great deal of profit by this deed, and took advantage of many poor people by the selling of doves for an extravagant  profit.

The Church of the Lord Jesus this day needs to pay careful attention to this.  The things of God are not for the making of profit.  Using the name of God to attach a price on things is theft, and dishonors the name of the Lord.  There are business men today who attend church so as to maintain a base for their business, and to keep a good name in the community they are in.  Some will even try to conduct a little business in the church.  There are some who think the church should be conducted like a business, when it is not a business, nor should it be conducted as such.  It is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and is to be conducted by His guidelines and for His purposes, and glory.

In looking at the fig tree this is how we could define “Dead religion” – 1.  It offers much but delivers little;  2.  It is cold and formal;  3.  It seems alive by its much activity [its buying and selling], but God is not there;  4.  Its leaves cover its fruitlessness, but not to God’s eyes.

In verses 20 through 26 Jesus gives us a lesson in faith.  The fig tree He “cursed” the day before has already withered – it is dead.  It was so dead that even its roots were dried up.  “Have faith in God” is the statement Jesus issues to the disciples.  It is faith in God that makes all things possible.  Someone has said, “Where God guides, He provides”.  Is that true.  Yes! it is.

Faith is believing in what you cannot see, touch, smell, taste, or hear in the physical realm.  You can see evidences of faith in God, for instance; the rising of the sun, and its setting; the order of the universe; the intricacies of the human body, and the bodies of animals as well;  the singing of the birds;  and all the other details of life.  Faith believes in God, even when there is no possible way of something happening.  Jesus’ words on prayer are strong, and is telling us to ask as if we have already received it

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24(KJV).

That is genuinely the prayer of faith.  Believing you have received it before you do.

Notice the importance Jesus places on “Forgiveness”.  Without forgiveness we cannot expect answer to our prayers.  God is so good to forgive us, we ought also to forgive those whom we believe responsible for offending us.

Remember this, NO FORGIVENESS, NO ANSWER TO PRAYER.  KNOW FORGIVENESS, KNOW ANSWER TO PRAYER.

Mark Eleven – Twelve through Twenty six

“And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: 13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. 14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. 15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. 17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. 19 And when even was come, he went out of the city. 20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. 22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”  Mark 11:12-26 (KJV)

IN THE FIG TREE JESUS SHOWS US THE FRUITLESSNESS OF A DEAD RELIGION AND CONFRONTS IT.
As Jesus and the disciples were  leaving Bethany, back toward Jerusalem, Jesus spots a fig tree with leaves on it – advertising that it had fruit.  When Jesus arrives there they discover it has no fruit.  Jesus curses the fig tree.  To some this may seem unnecessary for Jesus to have done, but it seems to me that there is a message we must hear and heed.

  1. “There was a voice in it for the JEWISH CHURCH. Rich in the leaves of a formal religion, but barren of all fruits of the Spirit, that Church was in fearful danger, at the very time when this withering took place. Well would it have been for the Jewish Church if it had had eyes to see its peril!”
  2. “There was a voice in the fig tree for all the branches of Christ’s VISIBLE CHURCH in every age, and every part of the world. There was a warning against an empty profession of Christianity unaccompanied by sound doctrine and holy living, which some of those branches would have done well to lay to heart.”
  3. “There was a voice in the fig tree for all the branches of Christ’s VISIBLE CHURCH in every age, and every part of the world. There was a warning against an empty profession of Christianity unaccompanied by sound doctrine and holy living, which some of those branches would have done well to lay to heart.”   From J. C. Ryle commentary on Mark’s Gospel.

Dead religion offers nothing but leaves, and like the “fig leaves” which Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with were inadequate, so are the “fig leaves” of a dead religion.  In Scriptures the “Fig tree” often represents the nation of Israel and/or its religion (See Hosea 9:10; Nahum 3:12;  Zechariah 3:10).  It is somewhat intrigueing that we have Jesus’ strong words to this fig tree just before He enters the Temple compound and finds them “Buying and selling”.  You will also notice that when Jesus and the disciples pass by the fig tree again that it is dead.

Why did Jesus “curse” the fig tree.  First of all “it was not the season for figs” according to the text, but it had leaves, and most usually the leaves and the figs grew together.  Secondly, by having leaves but no figs it was “advertising” it had fruit when it did not.

There are many people who do not believe that Jesus ever became angry.  Those who think that must have never read of the two times Jesus cleansed the temple.  He cleansed the temple once when He had just began His ministry three years prior to this, and then He does it again here.  You can read about the first “Cleansing” in John chapter two, verses thirteen through seventeen.

Here is what was going on in the Temple compound.  It was expected that the animals brought to the Temple for sacrifice would be inspected by the priest, but it had became a practice to find fault when there was no fault.  It may have been something like this – A priest would say an animal was at fault then sell the owner of the “faulty” offering an “approved” offering, and then, he would sell this man’s animal as “approved” to someone else.  Some people who travelled great distances may expect to buy a Temple approved offering at the Temple.  It was nothing more than theft, and dishonesty that was taking place in the name of God.  There was no holiness, righteousness, or godliness in the place.  The “House of prayer” had been turned into a “Den of thieves”, and Jesus would not tolerate it.

The money changers would charge great fees for exchanging Greek and Roman monies for the Temple money.  They made a great deal of profit by this deed, and took advantage of many poor people by the selling of doves for an extravagant  profit.

The Church of the Lord Jesus this day needs to pay careful attention to this.  The things of God are not for the making of profit.  Using the name of God to attach a price on things is theft, and dishonors the name of the Lord.  There are business men today who attend church so as to maintain a base for their business, and to keep a good name in the community they are in.  Some will even try to conduct a little business in the church.  There are some who think the church should be conducted like a business, when it is not a business, nor should it be conducted as such.  It is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and is to be conducted by His guidelines and for His purposes, and glory.

In looking at the fig tree this is how we could define “Dead religion” – 1.  It offers much but delivers little;  2.  It is cold and formal;  3.  It seems alive by its much activity [its buying and selling], but God is not there;  4.  Its leaves cover its fruitlessness, but not to God’s eyes.

In verses 20 through 26 Jesus gives us a lesson in faith.  The fig tree He “cursed” the day before has already withered – it is dead.  It was so dead that even its roots were dried up.  “Have faith in God” is the statement Jesus issues to the disciples.  It is faith in God that makes all things possible.  Someone has said, “Where God guides, He provides”.  Is that true.  Yes! it is.

Faith is believing in what you cannot see, touch, smell, taste, or hear in the physical realm.  You can see evidences of faith in God, for instance; the rising of the sun, and its setting; the order of the universe; the intricacies of the human body, and the bodies of animals as well;  the singing of the birds;  and all the other details of life.  Faith believes in God, even when there is no possible way of something happening.  Jesus’ words on prayer are strong, and is telling us to ask as if we have already received it “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24(KJV).

That is genuinely the prayer of faith.  Believing you have received it before you do.

Notice the importance Jesus places on “Forgiveness”.  Without forgiveness we cannot expect answer to our prayers.  God is so good to forgive us, we ought also to forgive those whom we believe responsible for offending us.

Remember this, NO FORGIVENESS, NO ANSWER TO PRAYER.  KNOW FORGIVENESS, KNOW ANSWER TO PRAYER.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Ten – One Through Twelve

MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE QUESTION AS A TRAP FOR JESUS.

“1 And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again. 2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. 3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? 4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. 5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. 11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”  Mark 10:1-12 (KJV)

This question and answer is a very important one for the 21st century and all centuries ahead.  How we view marriage will affect the society and culture we live in.  When God and His Word are honored, obeyed, and heeded then love and respect for others will be prominent in the marriage, home with the children and in governments.

Though this question is put to Jesus to trap Him, it is one Jesus answered, and no other answer is valid, but that of Jesus.  Always looking for a way out, instead of a way to improve, or to make a relationship better; is a cowards way.  The best way is not the easy way, and because something is hard does not make it the wrong way.  Let no one think that God approves of divorce and remarriage.  As a matter of fact He still hates it.

In Matthew’s account (19: 3); the Pharisees came to Jesus and asked the question this way, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?”  In asking the question it shows what mentality the Pharisees were of.  It was the belief and practice of that day that a man could “Put away” [divorce] his wife for what ever reason he desired.  If she burnt the toast one morning he could divorce her.  If she looked cross eyed at him he could give her a writing of divorce, and send her hiking out the door of his home.

Here is what the Old Testament says of this,

“When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. 2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.  Deut 24:1-2 (KJV)”.

The idea of this law was to protect the woman from a life of torment, loneliness, and poverty.  Jesus said, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.” Mark 10:5 .  The “God idea” of marriage was one woman, one man, for a lifetime.   Due to the sin in mankind’s heart God gave provision for divorce.

We must remember that by Old Testament law adultery was punishable by death.  Any man or woman found guilty of adultery was subject to public stoning, unto death.  Who ever, for no  reason other than a “want” of change divorces their spouse  and marries another is guilty of “adultery”.  That is the message Jesus is giving to these Pharisees.  Thus, showing them the fallacies of their beliefs, and teachings that divorce was okay, no matter the reason.  It is important for us in this day to remember what God says in Malachi about divorce;

“Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”  Mal 2:15-16 (KJV)

J. C. Ryle gives us three rules for marriage,

“The first is to marry only in the Lord, and after prayer for God’s approval and blessing. The second is not to expect too much from their partners, and to remember that marriage is, after all, the union of two sinners, and not of two angels. The third rule is to strive first and foremost for one another’s sanctification. The more holy married people are, the happier they are. “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify it.” (Eph. 5:25, 26.)”

Let us strengthen our nation, our cities, and our churches by strengthening our faith in God, and His Word; and let’s begin at home in our marriages by loving our spouse with the heart of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Chapter Eight

Mark 8:1-38

From J. C. Ryle, for verses 1 – 13, “Let us observe in this passage how great is the kindness and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  “Let us observe, in the second place, from this passage, that with Christ nothing is impossible.”  “Let us observe, in the last place, how much sorrow unbelief occasions to our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.” Mark 8:1-9 (KJV)

There are some who want us to believe that the feeding of the “five thousand” and the feeding of the “four thousand” are actually the same feeding “Miracle”.  If they were they would not be mentioned back to back with one another.  Mark 6:34-43 contains the miracle of the feeding of the “five thousand”, and then Matthew 14:15-21 does as well.  Then, we have the feeding of the “four thousand” here in chapter 8 of Mark with the feeding of the “four thousand” also mentioned in Matthew 15:32-38.  The questions of the legitimacy of Scriptures only come from those who do not want to believe it.  I am not talking of “honest” questions which are for information and not for placing doubt.

We see that Jesus had “Compassion” on the people who were following.  His heart was moved with sympathy and called for them to be fed.  The question came up again, “How are we going to feed them?”  “How many loaves have we?” was the question Jesus asked.  Their answer was “seven”.

As I sit and study this passage I find myself wondering why these disciples were wondering how these people were going to be fed.  Then, I stop to think about how many times I have seen the wonder of the power of God in Christ and I wonder no more at the “doubts” of the disciples.  It is “hardness of heart”.  Why is it we can witness the power of God and His intervention in our lives one day, and then, just a few days later we are in doubt again and wondering, “Where is God in all of this?”

We must note  that in Matthew’s Gospel of this account he writes in verse 38, “Now those who ate were 4,000 men, besides women and children.  Matt 15:38 (HCSB)”.  Seeing how there were four thousand men it would be quite reasonalble to assume there could have been 12,000 – 15,000 or more there to eat of the bread and fish of the Creator.  That would only be a wife and one child for every man who was present.

The compassion of Jesus is wonderful, and it is sure that nothing is impossible for Him.

“And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. 11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.”  Mark 8:10-12 (KJV)

The unbelieving will not believe even though they see a sign.  If they will not believe “Moses and the Prophets” they will not believe though one has risen from the dead.  Jesus made a similar statement in Luke 16:31.

Jesus had done many mighty works and the Pharisees were witnesses to many of them.  Their problem was jealousy.  Jesus had a following and they did not.  Jesus was doing mighty works, and they could not.  Jesus lived a life without fault, and they did not.  Jesus lived a life without sin, and they did not.  Jesus was the Son of God, and they were the children of Satan.

In Matthew 12:38-40 Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matt 12:39-40 (KJV)”.  When these religious leaders were not even believing the Scriptures (Moses and the Prophets), why would they believe even though they had the Son of God standing before them doing miracles.  They “Could not see the forest for the trees”.  As we saw in the last chapter (chapter 7) they added their tradition to their laws, thus, in effect cancelling out the Scriptures – at least for themselves.  Because of that the Word of God had no effect on their lives, and it would not have any effect on others as they looked at the Pharisees.  The sign of the prophet Jonah was that he had been three days and nights in the “Fish’s belly”, and Jesus would be three days and nights in the “Heart of the earth”.

Jesus rose from the grave after three days, and rather than believe it they tried to make it into a lie, by telling lies, and bribing officials to tell lies.  They were blind, so they could not see.  They were deaf, so they could not hear.

Seeing miracles does not give faith.  They may assure it, but faith comes by hearing the word of the Lord (Rom. 10:17).  Faith stands when there is no miracle.  Faith grows without a miracle, and by the word of the Lord.

“And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. 14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. 15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. 16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. 17 And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? 18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? 19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. 20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. 21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?”  Mark 8:13-21 (KJV)

(SEE Matthew 16:12).

As we saw in the last chapter the Pharisees made themselves “loopholes” in order to escape the clear teachings of the law.  Only the religious leaders knew these “loopholes”, thus the people knew nothing of them.

The “Leaders” had a Sabbath law of a “Sabbath days journey”.  By this they limited the distance a person could travel on the Sabbath.  They exempted themselves by interpreting that law to mean from your property, so they could take a chair, stool, saddle, sandal, piece of clothing out a normal “Sabbath days journey”, then take another piece of personal property another “Sabbath days journey”, and place another item, and could go on and on.  These actions were, thus, a form of “False doctrine” and “False living”.  They were condemning themselves by their very lies and the lives they lived.

J. C. Ryle on verses 14-21,  1)

“Let us notice the solemn warning which our Lord gives to His disciples at the beginning of this passage.”  2) “Let us notice the dull understanding of the disciples, when our Lord gave the warning of this passage.”

 

“And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. 24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. 25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. 26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”  Mark 8:22-26 (KJV)

J. C. Ryle gives us four thoughts concerning these verses,

1) “it is well to remember, in reading passages of this kind, that the Lord is not tied to the use of any one means.”;   2) “One thing in the passage demands our special observation. That thing is the gradual nature of the cure which our Lord performed on this blind man. He did not deliver him from his blindness at once, but by degrees.”;   3) “Let us see then in this gradual restoration to sight, a vivid illustration of the manner in which the Spirit frequently works in the conversion of souls. We are all naturally blind and ignorant in the matters which concern our souls. Conversion is an illumination, a change from darkness to light, from blindness to seeing the kingdom of God.”;   4) “Finally, let us see in the gradual cure of this blind man, a striking picture of the present position of Christ’s believing people in the world, compared with that which is to come. We see in part and know in part in the present dispensation. We are like those that travel by night. We know not the meaning of much that is passing around us.”

 

“And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? 28 And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. 29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. 30 And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. 31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”  Mark 8:27-33 (KJV)

Things J. C. Ryle writes that we as Christians need to observe,

1) “Let us observe the variety of opinions about Christ, which prevailed among the Jews. Some said that He was John the Baptist–some Elijah–and others one of the prophets. In short every kind of opinion appears to have been current, excepting that one which was true.”;   2) “Let us observe the good confession of faith which the apostle Peter witnessed.”;   3) “Let us observe the full declaration which our Lord makes of His own coming death and resurrection. We read that “He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”;   4) “Finally, let us observe in this passage the strange mixture of grace and infirmity which may be found in the heart of a true Christian. We see that very Peter who had just witnessed so noble a confession, presuming to rebuke his Master because He spoke of suffering and dying.”

 

“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”  Mark 8:34-38 (KJV)

J. C. Ryle’s commentary on these verses,

1) “We learn, for one thing, from these verses, the absolute necessity of self-denial, if we would be Christ’s disciples, and be saved. What says our Lord? “Whoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”;   2) “Let us often ask ourselves whether our Christianity costs us anything? Does it entail any sacrifice? Has it the true stamp of heaven? Does it carry with it any cross? If not, we may well tremble and be afraid. We have everything to learn. A religion which costs nothing, is worth nothing. It will do us no good in the life that now is. It will lead to no salvation in the life to come.”;   3) “We learn, for another thing, from these verses, the unspeakable value of the soul. What says our Lord? “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” These words were meant to stir us up to exertion and self-denial. They ought to ring in our ears like a trumpet, every morning when we rise from our beds, and every night when we lie down. May they be deeply engraved in our memories, and never effaced by the devil and the world!”;   4)  “We learn, in the last place, from these verses, the great danger of being ashamed of Christ. What says our Lord? “Whoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.'”

 

-Tim A. Blankenship quoting much from J.C. Ryle

The Servant, The Word, and Traditions of Men

Mark 7:1-37

“1 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. 2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?” Mark 7:1-5 (KJV)

If there is fault to find the fault would be with those who seek to find fault with that which is perfect.  The disciples, or followers of Jesus are not perfect, but they do follow a perfect Lord and Savior.  The “Nay-sayers” and “fault finders” are simply without any evidence of truth, and so object to any one who is living out the truth; which is the life of Jesus.

In the day we live in there are good health reasons for washing of hands.  To wash hands after using the restroom is certainly a means of preventing disease, illness, or sickness.  Washing one’s hands after using a handrail or shaking hands with people is a good idea, to prevent colds, the Swine flu [h1n1] threat of the day, or other sickness.  There is much sickness that is passed from one person to another just by the hands, so washing them often is a good idea, but let’s not be obnoxious about it.

There are a lot of people who believe the saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is in the Bible.  It is not.  I think the religious leaders of Jesus’ day must have thought that it was.  They had developed a tradition of “Handwashing” which they had elevated over Scriptures.  Not only had they done that, but they had neglected to practice the practical teachings of Scripture concerning caring for parents (vv. 10-11).

Verse 3 –  “except they wash”

G3538
νίπτω
niptō
nip’-to
To cleanse (especially the hands or the feet or the face); ceremonially to perform ablution: – wash. Compare G3068.

v. 4 – “except they wash”

G907
βαπτίζω
baptizō
bap-tid’-zo
From a derivative of G911; to make whelmed (that is, fully wet); used only (in the New Testament) of ceremonial ablution, especially (technically) of the ordinance of Christian baptism: – baptist, baptize, wash.

In verses three and four we have the word “wash” used in  two different ways.  The one in verse three has to do with the washing of hands before eating their meal in a ceremonial fashion.

“The ceremony involved someone pouring water out of a jar onto another’s hands; whose fingers must be pointing up.  As long as the water dripped off at the wrist, the person could proceed to the next step.  He then had water poured over both hands with the fingers pointing down.  Then each hand was to be rubbed with the fist of the other hand.” FROM MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE pg. 1473.

Verse four is our word for “Baptism”, and it leaves us with the idea that after these men had been to the market, around a lot of people, they were required to take a ceremonial bath [it could be only the immersing of their hands in water] before they could even eat a meal.  That seems like a whole lot of trouble to eat a meal.

The disciples were eating without the ceremonial cleansing of their hands.  The question was brought up by the Pharisees as to why this was so.  Nit pickers is the word I would use concerning them.  Eating without washing the hands defiles no one.

The Pharisees were actually accusing Jesus of teaching the disciples against the “traditions of the elders”.
For verses 1 – 13 J. C. Ryle wrote, 1)

“The first thing which demands our attention in these verses, is the low and degraded condition of Jewish religion, when our Lord was upon earth.”;   2) “The second thing, that demands our attention, is the uselessness of mere lip-service in the worship of God.”;   3)  “The last thing that demands our attention in these verses, is the tendency of man’s inventions in religion to supplant God’s word.”

“6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. 14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. 16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. 18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; 19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? 20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”  Mark 7:6-23 (KJV)

When the traditions of men become as important or in the case of the Pharisees more important than the clear teachings of God’s Word, then hypocrisy had crept in and the Word of God has no affect on the heart.  These were, in effect, honoring God with their lips, but their heart was unclean and far from God – “Wherefore the Lord said, ‘Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men…” (Isaiah 29:13).

The Pharisees were teaching the traditions of men as though they were “doctrine” with the same authority and inspiration of Scriptures.  They were wrong.  Are there ways by which we can put “traditions” above Scripture?  How about some rules concerning our buildings, area of worship, music in worship, giving of offerings in worship, our dress, physical appearance, etc.?  Can a born again/Christian be a hypocrite?  NO!  Can we be hypocritical?  YES!

G5273
ὑποκριτής
hupokritēs
hoop-ok-ree-tace’
From G5271; an actor under an assumed character (stage player), that is, (figuratively) a dissembler (“hypocrite”): – hypocrite.

A “Hypocrite” is, “an actor under an assumed character”.  Basically someone pretending to be something they are not.  They can boast long and loud of their faith and character, but there is no fruit, proof, or evidence of it.  Jesus called these men “You hypocrites…”.  They were “Hypocrites” not just hypocritical.  They put on a good religious front, but had nothing of the heart.

They had even taken the commandment of God which says, “Honor your father and mother” and put a tradition with it which allowed them to withhold support from their elderly parents if they had designated the support need as “a gift”.  “Corban” was the phrase they used to exonerate themselves from supporting their parents.  That is one of their traditions which had taken the place of Scripture.  They had in affect made of “None effect” by their traditions.

The heart of man is desperately wicked.  It is from the heart that man is defiled and made unclean.  Nothing from without us can make us unclean.  It is due to an unclean heart that we stand condemned by God, to a Christless eternity.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV)”.   Can we hear the words of Jesus as He tells us that He is more concerned with the depraved heart of man than He is with “sacrifice”; “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.  1 Samuel 15:22-23 (KJV)”.  Although this is Old Testament it certainly portrays the depraved heart, in thinking that an act of “sacrifice” is greater than the written Word of God.

J. C. Ryle writes for verses 14 – 23, 1)

“We see in the beginning of this passage, how slow of understanding men are in spiritual things.”;   2)  “We see, in the second place, from this passage, that the heart is the chief source of defilement and impurity in God’s sight.”;   3)  “We see, in the last place, from this passage, what a black catalogue of evils the human heart contains.”

“24 And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. 25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 26  The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.”  Mark 7:24-30 (KJV)

The “dogs” to which Jesus refers is not a derogatory term of meaning “mean, vicious, or mangy”, but most likely a family pet.  Jesus ministry was to be to the household of Israel, and this woman was a Gentile, “And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”  Matthew 15:22 (NASB)”, and He viewed this woman and her child as part of the household, but not a prominent part of it.  The “dogs” were under the table.

This was a test of the woman’s faith.  How would she respond?  Would she leave disappointed or would she keep on believing, and trust the Savior to do His work in her and her daughter?  She would believe.  The woman’s daughter was another one who was demon possessed.  It does not go into any details to tell us the situation of the daughter – how this demon effected her life – it just simply tells us she “had an unclean spirit”.

Just by His Word Jesus delivers the daughter, and the mother leaves believing the saying to be true.  That is a wonderful faith.  Concoction of rules does not a righteous person make.  Believing the Word of God and obeying is the path of righteousness.

J. C. Ryle on verses 24 – 30,

1)  “In the first place, this passage is meant to encourage us to pray for others.”;   2)  “In the second place, this passage is meant to teach us to persevere in praying for others.”

“31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.”  Mark 7:31-37 (KJV)

Someone has said, “We have two ears and one mouth, so that means we are to do twice as much listening as we do speaking”.  That is really good advice.  It is with that that it seems Jesus may have thought the same thing, because He opened up his hearing first.  Part of that would be because most people who do not hear cannot speak, or cannot speak well also.

It is important that we listen; especially to the Word of the Lord; so that we might faithfully and powerfully proclaim it to a world that is lost and condemned by sin.  Hear the Word of God then proclaim it.  Jesus said above, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (v.16).  All that Jesus said and taught is worth our hearing and doing.

The Lord opened the ears so me might hear the Gospel of Christ and be saved, and He gave us speech so that we might praise Him, and sound forth the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.  Do you have redeemed ears, and a redeemed mouth?  If you are in Jesus Christ you have.

Ryle wrote,

1)”The first thing that demands our notice in these verses, is the mighty miracle that is here recorded.”;   2)  “The second thing which demands our notice in these verses, is the peculiar manner in which our Lord thought good to work the miracle here recorded.”;   3)  “But there is one simple lesson to be learned from our Lord’s conduct on this occasion. That lesson is, that Christ was not tied to the use of any one means in doing His works among men.”;   4)  “We see the same thing going on still in the Church of Christ. We see continual proof that the Lord is not tied to the use of any one means exclusively in conveying grace to the soul.”;   5)  “The last thing which demands our notice in these verses, is the remarkable testimony which was borne by those who saw the miracle here recorded.”

If we do not do what we hear we are hypocrites and do not glorify the Lord of life. The miracle of your changed life is what others will see.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Rejected and Proven

“And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.”  Mark 6:1-6 (KJV)

We look at the life of Jesus in red, white and black and can believe and know that He is a great man, a great teacher, a great prophet – even greater than John the Baptist, a great preacher, but even so much more.  We learn from these letters that He is the very Son of God, and in fact is the very God incarnate – God come to us in flesh.  He is the Savior of the world.
Those who grew up around Him and those who saw Him growing up put no stock in Him.  They were witnesses of His life, but it was not important to them that He had never done anything wrong, had never sinned, never spoken back to his “parents”.  He in fact had never caused those who were raising Him any grief whatsoever, unless it was the things which Mary “pondered in her heart”.  To the people of Nazareth Jesus was nothing more than a carpenter, and did not deserve any credit as a teacher.
Here is what J. C. Ryle had to say of this matter.  1)  “We see, in the first place, how apt men are to undervalue things with which they are familiar.”  2)  “We see, in the second place, how humble was the rank of life which our Lord condescended to occupy before He began His public ministry.”  3)  “We see, in the last place, how exceedingly sinful is the sin of unbelief.”  Unbelief is still sin.  It is actually the very first sin that was committed.  Eve did not believe God when He had said “The day you eat of this tree you will surely die”, and she believed a lie.  It is because of the sin of “unbelief” that Jesus could do no mighty work in Nazareth.  Even Jesus was surprised “amazed” by their unbelief.

“And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; 8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: 9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. 10 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. 11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. 12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent. 13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.”  Mark 6:7-13 (KJV)

Mark notes that Jesus sent them out “two and two”.  It is important that we remember that, because their is strength in twos.  When one is discouraged the other can be a source of encouragement.  They can learn from one another.  They sharpen one another, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Prov 27:17 (KJV)”.  One is there to keep the other from falling, and if one does fall the other can pick him up.
Jesus told them they were to take nothing with them, except their staff, and the clothing on their backs.  It was to be a journey and ministry of faith.  (The word “scrip” could be seen as what we would call a “backpack”.)  When people heard their words, and saw their works they would support and care for their needs.  When they entered a city  or village they were to stay in one home, and not be moving from home to home.  If they were not received they were to leave shaking the dust from their feet, “as a testimony against them”.  They would have rejected God’s messengers, thus God’s message, so judgment could be coming their way.  The shaking of the dust from the feet is almost as to say, “Since you will not listen and hear the Word of God you have no hope”, thus it is time to move on to other people and places.

“And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. 17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. 19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. 21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; 22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. 23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. 24 And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. 25 And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. 26 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. 29 And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.”  Mark 6:14-29 (KJV)

“For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.  Luke 7:28 (KJV)”
Herod hears of the great and mighty works of Jesus, and begins questioning the identity of Jesus.  “Who is this Jesus?”  “Is he John the Baptist come back from the dead?”;   “…John reincarnated?”.  You can tell by this that Herod was a troubled man.  He had been troubled in his heart by the preaching of the prophet.
Mark goes into some details to tell us why he is troubled about John.  The Baptist had warned Herod that  “It Is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”  Herodias was her name.  Herod’s brother was Philip known as “Herod Philip II”.  Herodias was a nephew to Herod Antipas (the Herod of our text).  John the Baptist,  prophet of  God hated to see sin even in a Gentile ruler, and he told him so.  John got thrown into the dungeon for it, but yet Herod would not harm him, because the words rang true.
One of the main things a minister of God ought to do is rebuke sin wherever he sees it.  When it is seen in the ungodly it should be rebuked.  When it is seen in the redeemed it should be rebuked.  Sin is the  problem that infects and causes problems in every society.  For a man to take his brother’s wife is adultery, and that is the charge that John brought against Herod.  It matters not if it is a king, or the man in the gutter, sin must be rebuked.
What was the charge leveled against John?  It was for proclaiming the Word of God and rebuking the sin of the lands governor.
We see in Herod, “The amazing power of truth over the conscience”.  He has heard the words John preached and he is haunted by them, even after he has killed the man.  We can also see “How far people may go in religion, and yet miss salvation by yielding to one master – sin”.  In John we see, “How boldly a faithful minister of God ought to rebuke sin.  We see finally, “How bitterly people hate a reprover, when they are determined to keep their sins”.
When the Word of God is proclaimed it will accomplish that which God pleases.  It caused Herod to be very troubled.  For someone to even think that Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead, or “reincarnated” is on the border of lunacy.

“And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. 31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. 33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. 34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. 35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: 36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. 37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? 38  He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. 39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. 40 And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. 41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. 42 And they did all eat, and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. 44 And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.”  Mark 6:30-44 (KJV)

Jesus knowing the disciples needed some rest and food led them to leave to go to a deserted place, and get some rest.  There was so much ministry activity that they had not even had time to eat.
The disciples and Jesus leave by “boat” to go someplace quiet but then are overwhelmed by a great multitude of people.  The disciples have not yet learned what Jesus can do.  Evening [“the day was now far spent”] was coming on them quickly now, and there was no food, and there were thousands and thousands of people to feed.  It must have been going through the disciples minds, “There is no way these people can be fed; we need to send them home”.  Jesus had another idea, though.  He with the Shepherd’s heart had compassion on them and taught them.  When evening had come and the disciples were doubting and scheming on how to get rid of these people Jesus just said, “Let’s feed them”.
According to the Gospel of John there was a boy who had his “lunch” with him.  Would he share it with the multitude?  Here is what John says,

“One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said* to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” John 6:8-9 (NASB)”.

Stand back and see what Jesus can do.  When it seems like the chips are down, and there are too many people to feed, and the world is against you, just let Jesus move in and take over.
Jesus as the Shepherd that He was and is  commands the people to sit down in the “green grass”.  In the twenty third Psalm it says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures”, an assurance of plenty for “sheep” to eat.  It would not surprise me to find out that there was a still, calm body of water near by also.  Mark’s Gospel is the only one of the gospels which tell us that Jesus “With  compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd” (v. 34).  That is Mark’s way of declaring Jesus as the Shepherd of God’s sheep and He will tend and care for those who are His.
The number of men is all that is given.  The word “men” in verse 44 is not a generic term for all humanity; it is specifically refering to the male gender.  If these men came with their wives and children which most probably did with a few exceptions, then this number could range from 15,000 to 20,000 or more.  This was of Divine origin.  If anyone doubts the origin of the earth and all created things, then they will doubt the miracles of Jesus.  If God can create from nothing, then He can easily perform a “miracle” – that is what we call it – because during “miracle” the laws of nature are suspended; God overrules.   He has the power to take the molecules, atoms, protons, neutrons, etc. – all those unseen elements which He created, and turn them into more bread, and more fish, and He did it to feed thousands of people.

WOW!  Do not doubt, but be believing what God can do, and what He has done, and what He is going to do.
There are some who profess Christ as Savior who want to dismiss all the miracles with human understanding, by saying things like, “Jesus already had the food hidden away in a nearby cave”, or “The little boys generosity inspired all the others to bring out what they had, and so all were fed”.  None of that explains the “twelve basketfuls” that were left over.  Now, you talk about the Lord providing for His disciples.  Now they each had a basket of bread and fish to take home with them.  Remember they had not eaten, so they must have been hungry.
There did not have to be five loaves and two fish, there could have been nothing, or stones.  Remember when Jesus was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness for forty days.  The first temptation was to fill His need for sustenance.  “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread”, but Jesus did not yield to the temptation.  He said instead, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God”.  For Jesus to turn the stones to bread would have been to yield to the devil, and now, as then, He is yielding to the leadership of the Father.  He is acting as a Shepherd toward His caring for the sheep.
JESUS CARES FOR YOU.

“And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. 46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. 47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. 49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: 50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. 51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. 52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. 53 And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. 54 And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, 55 And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. 56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.”  Mark 6:45-56 (KJV)

Jesus sent the disciples away by boat while He sent the people on their way.  After that had been accomplished he departed to a “Mountain to pray”.  There is a lesson here for all of us who are His;  there is a time to be alone with God and Him alone.  Jesus, in human flesh, needed to recoup and spend time with His Father.  So do we.  Where Jesus could communicate with the Father face to face we must rely on the written Word, so it is wise to communicate with God while you have His Word at hand, and open before you.
As the disciples were rowing across the Sea of Galilee a boisterous wind came up, and it was a head wind which caused them to fight against it and evidently not gain much if anything in distance.  Jesus saw them rowing and struggling against the wind and went out to help them, and what a way He travelled to help.  It was sometime after midnight when Jesus came to them walking on the water.
This passage of Scripture even tells us that He “Would have passed by them”.   He came “Along side” of them to check their faith.  Would they recognize Him in His supernatural power and walking on the water?  They thought He was a ghost.  They still were dealing with a lot of personal superstition, if they were believing in ghosts.
Jesus recognizes their fear and assures them it is Himself, and He went up into the boat and it tells us that the wind ceased.
Jesus comes to us in the midst of our storms, but do we recognize Him or do we depend on our own methods and strength?   How would we react, even this day and age, if we were on the water in a boat and someone came walking in the midst of the night on the surface of the water, across a deep hole?
Many times, we as human beings, fear what we do not understand.  Seeing Jesus, and not knowing who it was is only a thing which is innate in every human being – fear of the unseen, unknown beyond.  Which is only evidence that God put in each of us the desire for that which is eternal.
In verse 52 Mark reminds us of the miracle of the loaves and fish, “For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. Mark 6:52 (KJV)”.  Had they really understood about the miracle of the loaves and the fish they would not have been “amazed” about Jesus’ ability to walk on water.  Both actually show His power and authority over nature [as we call it], and that He was and is the Creator of all that is.
When Jesus and the disciples arrive at Gennesaret [the other side] the people there knew who Jesus was and they began to bring the sick, and they thinking, “I only need to touch the hem of His garment”, and all who touched Him were healed.  This faith they showed was very similar the lady in chapter 5 who had had the bleeding for 12 years.  Jesus and the disciples minister to them, and great things are done

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus – Servant Of Freedom Seekers

Mark 5:1-43

“And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.  And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,  Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:  Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.  But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,  And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.  For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.  And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.  And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.  Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.  And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.  And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.  And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.  And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.  And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.  And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.”  Mark 5:1-17 (KJV)

SEEKING FOR FREEDOM FROM A DEMONIC POWER AND PRESENCE. (Mark 5:1-17). If you look at the state of this man he is in a miserable condition.  If you want to know what Satan can do for you just take a look at this man and you will see.  He will leave you naked, hungry, poor, desolate, isolated, cold, deserted, lonely, and hopeless.  Is that the kind of life you want?  Is that the kind of life you want for a family member?   Is that the kind of life you want for a neighbor?  I would think not.

We live in a period of time where even some Christians are doubtful of demonic existence.  If we are to believe God and His Word, then we have no contrary opinion on the matter.  We believe it or we do not believe God or His Word.  There are some who want to equate this to what could be called “epilepsy”, “lunacy”, or “frenzy”.  How does one who does not believe in demonic influence explain “broken chains” and “cords”, and that no one could control him.
You will notice that the demon who is speaking to Jesus knows who Jesus is.   He calls Jesus, “Son of the most high God”.  It seems to me that it is the man who comes out, and seeking Jesus.  It was not just “coincidence” which brought Jesus to this side of the Sea of Galilee.   Jesus said in chapter 4, “Let us go to the other side”, and there was this man waiting there to be freed from this terrible bondage.

It seems this place is made up of Gentiles, because no Jewish people would be raising swine, and they have very little concern that a man has been freed from the bondage of a demon, and he is now in his “right mind”.  They were more concerned with the 2000 pigs that perished than they were for the man.  If we are not careful we can get so worldly minded we are of no heavenly good.  Jesus cares for the man, not material possessions.

J. C. Ryle points out these things about the situation:

‘The possession of a man’s body by the devil, was a real and true thing in the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry.

What an awfully cruel, powerful, and malicious being Satan is.

How complete is our Lord’s power and authority over the devil.”

As born again people – born from above and into the kingdom of God – we have no need to fear demons, hell or the devil.  He is a mighty foe, and he does seek to steal, kill and destroy anything of God’s he can get his hands on.  The apostle John tells us, “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world”  (1 John 4:4).

“And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.  Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.  And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”  Mark 5:18-20 (KJV)

A FREED PEOPLE SEEK TO TELL OTHERS HOW TO BE FREE. (Mark 5:18-20). This man who had been possessed by a “Legion” of demons is now free and He desires to go with Jesus as He is leaving.  Jesus knows the best position for one to be in.  He tells the man to go to his home, and to tell his family and friends “how great things the Lord has done for you”.

It would only take a moment.  He had been enslaved by demons and many tried to control him with chains, and various types of bonds, but none would do.  Finally, he meets Jesus and is freed by the mere words of Jesus.  I cannot begin to think I could know how this man felt to have a clear mind, to be free from the invisible chains which drove him to such “insanity”, and “gross behavior”.  In any case it is similar to the freedom we all experience when we first trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  We were bound by chains of sin and darkness, and condemned to an eternity without Christ to the fires of Hell, and when we met Jesus He set us free, and gave us eternal life in  His presence.

We have much to tell our friends and family.  Let us do it with such excitement and enthusiasm as our friend in the tombs did.  We have been freed by Jesus, just as the man in the tombs was, let us be as free to share our testimony with our friends and loved ones.  They need to know.

“And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea.  And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,  And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.  And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.  And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,  And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,  When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.  For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.  And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.  And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?  And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?  And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.  But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.  And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”  Mark 5:21-34 (KJV)

A WOMAN SEEKS FOR FREEDOM FROM HER TWELVE YEAR PHYSICAL AFFLICTION. (Mark 5:21-34).  It so happens that Jesus and His disciples have gone back to the West side of the Sea of Galilee now and there is a multitude waiting for them there.  Jairus, a “ruler of the synagogue” has approached Jesus concerning his “deathly ill” daughter.  As Jesus is walking through the crowd there is a woman who has been ill for twelve years with an “issue of blood”.  She has spent much of her money for “Physicians” to try and find out what is wrong with her, but to no avail.  She sees her only hope as being Jesus as he is in the crowd.  Her faith says, “If I may but touch the hem of His garment I will be healed”.

When she touches Jesus’ garment she “felt in her body that she was healed of that plague”.  Only thing Jesus realized there had been some  “Power” go out from Himself, and He turned to see who had “touched Him”.  Was He angry? No!  It seems to me that He was very much impressed with this woman of “Faith”.  Jesus asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  Well!  My goodness many said and we would do the same.  Lord, You are in a crowd of people, of course someone touched You.  It was a purposeful touch, not a accidental touch one might get while walking in a crowd of people.  It would be like being in a large mall and you have someone come up and purposefully grab your shirttail or coattail and you turn to see who it is and it is a friend.  I doubt the touch was as vigorous as that, but it would have a little similarity to it.

Can you imagine being afflicted with a plague such as this woman has endured for twelve years.  Can you imagine her desperation to find a cure, healing, help in any fashion.  This could not have been good for her health.  It is really kind of a marvel that she has not died.

Jesus commends her for her “Faith”.  “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. Mark 5:34 (KJV)”.  Then, Jesus goes on with the man [Jairus] who came for Him concerning His daughter.

Do we have the faith of this woman.  Willing to risk it all knowing that Jesus is our only hope for healing,  health, life and eternal life.  Put your faith in Jesus, He will see you through it all.

“While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?  As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.  And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.  And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.  And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.  And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.  And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.  And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.  And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.”  Mark 5:35-43 (KJV)

THE DAUGHTER DIES, BUT DO NOT BE AFRAID – JESUS RAISES HER TO LIFE AGAIN. (Mark 5:35-43).  Certainly, as we look at this event, of this “ruler of the synagogue” and his daughter we can learn at least two things.  First of all sin, illness, disease, death, and sorrow does not play favorites with age, and secondly, they do not play favorites with religious or political stature.  This child was twelve years of age.  The same period of time as that of the woman who was healed of her affliction.  It is bound to happen to any of us.  Death, disease, sickness, and plague hits us all, and it is to us all that the Scripture says,

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”  Hebrews 9:27 (KJV)

The only sad part about this event is that this young lady of twelve years would one day die again, and this time it was without Jesus raising her again.  It is sure that one day we will die, and our age or social stature will have no way of prevention in it.

It is evident that this “ruler” had respect for Jesus.  Note the words of his servant, “Why troublest thou the Master any further?”   This “Ruler” had evidently been teaching about Jesus or this man knew who Jesus was too.  It is amazing what people will do to find healing – even in our day.  People who have the means have been known to look the world over for a cure for cancer, or any other long, drawn out illness.  What if you do not have the “Means”?  What do you do then?  You can find rest, peace, security in Jesus.

The life of this young lady is not over yet, as long as Jesus can see her.  The real faith is seen in the girls father.  Despite the possibility of suffering ridicule from his peers in the “Ministry” he seeks out Jesus.  He risks his religious reputation to find Jesus to heal his daughter.

What is the life of a lost loved one worth?  That is a question we must ask ourselves and ask it every day.

The girl had died, but Jesus says to Jairus, “Be not afraid, only believe”.   Jesus is laughed to scorn by those who are there to “Mourn” the death of the child.  They are most likely paid mourners who have come for this purpose of mourning the dead for the family.  Jesus says that she is only asleep.  Cannot be a funeral if she is only asleep.  Jesus “Puts them all out”, and then He takes those who will believe with Him.  He “Put them all out” sounds as though He used a little force to do it.  “Get out!  Get out!”  Can you see it?  And people are always saying Jesus was always without anger.  Not so.  He is angry with the wicked, and everyday according to the Psalmist (Psalm 7:11).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Message Of Jesus – Still Needed

“And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.  And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.”  Mark 2:1-2 (KJV)

“They crowded to hear Him, as we read in this passage, “until there was no room about the door.” They were amazed. They were astonished. They were filled with wonder at His mighty works. But they were not converted. They lived in the full noon-tide blaze of the Sun of Righteousness, and yet their hearts remained hard. And they drew from our Lord the heaviest condemnation that He ever pronounced against any place, except Jerusalem–“And you people of Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in Sodom, it would still be here today. I assure you, Sodom will be better off on the judgment day than you.” (Matt. 11:23, 24)”  From J. C. Ryle Commentary

There is a need for humanity to hear the words of Jesus.  It is a necessity of human beings; if we are to be eternally saved; to hear and heed His Word.  The  earthquake (December 26, 2004) which caused the tsunami in the Indian Ocean; and various other earthquakes, storms, and wars; should be a wake up cry to the world.  God is still in charge of the world.  The death toll has been staggering – to say the least – reaching into the hundreds of thousands, and many of those going into eternal fires of torment.

There is sin still in our world.  Every one of us born of man is born into sin.  We are sinners by birth and sinners by choice.  It is because of sin that there is sickness, disease, death, tsunami, tornado, earthquake, storms, etc..

People will often gather; as they did for Jesus on the day we read here; to hear a great speaker, because of what they might see, receive, or to be entertained.  The people of Capernaum were awed by Jesus, and the words He spoke, but they would not take heed to His words.

There are people who are asking, “If God is omnipotent and omniscient, then why did He not prevent this horrible disaster in the Indian Ocean?”,  “Why did He not prevent the destruction of this tornado, earthquake, the death of my son or daughter; husband or wife?”  God is Omnipotent [All-Powerful] and Omniscient [All-Knowing], and yes He could have prevented the disaster, but because of the fall “Nature” just as sin is allowed to run its course.  We had just as well ask, “Why did my Dad die?” or “Why is there death in the world?”  Most Christians would agree that death is the result of sin, because we know those verses that tell us “death came into the world because of sin” (Rom. 5:12-21).

The world needs to hear the words and message of Jesus because there is coming a judgment upon the world unlike which the world has never seen.  It seems to me that God is screaming for mankind’s attention.  Still there are those who keep asserting that “…these things are only a thing of nature, there is no God, and this tragedy only proves it.”

In stark reality it seems to me to show that God is truly gracious; for if He were to take His hand completely away from His creation; the universe and the  world on which we live, and all that is in it would come to an abrupt end.  And He would be completely just in doing so.

People in Ezekiel’s day would gather to hear a preacher preach, but not do according to his teaching (Ezekiel 33:30-33).  Jesus said, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not what I say?”  Good question.  We as God’s people need to hear what God says and take heed to what He says.  The people of the world need to hear what God says, they need to hear what He says about repentance and faith, about His Son Jesus and the way to eternal life through Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus – Ministry

The Gospel of Mark has for a theme, “I came not to be ministered [served]; unto, but to minister and give My life a ransom for many” and that is what Jesus did all of His three years of ministry.  Jesus defines service, by His life, and work.

Mark 1:21-45

VV. 21 – 34  —   PROOFS AND EVIDENCE OF THE LIFE AND MINISTRY OF OUR LORD.

In these verses we find religious leaders who are amazed and the people who are amazed by the teachings of Jesus.  He did not teach theories, and philosophy.  He taught the teachings and Word of God like He knew it.  He was the One who had spoken the world into existence, and hung the stars and planets in place and gave them order in their revolutions.  No one can speak the Word of God with authority except they have received it from God and His Son.

We see the uselessness of intellectual knowledge in religion.  The demons cry out to Jesus in recognition of who He is.  Jesus commands their silence.  Someone so holy can not be rightly announced by what is unholy.  Satan, the enemy of God and man – especially saved men and women – know who Jesus is, but they are not redeemed.   The demons  “Believe and tremble” (James 2:19), so when a man or woman say they believe in God, they are doing no more than the demons.  It does not mean they have been redeemed by the life blood of Jesus Christ.  You would not ever find a more “religious” lot than the demon lot condemned to Hell.  Knowledge of who Jesus Christ does not save.  Without trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord of one’s life you stand condemned.

Jesus commanded this “unclean spirit” to come out and he came out.  This man who was possessed by this “demon” was brought to the right person.  Have you ever asked yourself why a demon possessed man was at the synagogue in the first place.  Could it be that the man still had some sense of the need of deliverance, and the providence of God put him there that very day for his deliverance and salvation?  Could be.

The Lord provides complete and perfect cure when He heals Simon’s [Peter’s] mother in law.  As soon as she is raised from her sickness she is in full health, and goes to serving the guests.  Jesus has a heart for serving the people and giving them health.  The most important health He provides and gives is spiritual/soul health.  There is no better health than a healthy soul, and heart that is in tune with Jesus.

Jesus went about after these things and healed the sick and delivered captured souls.  What a wonderful Servant/Savior we have.

VV. 35 – 39  —   LOOK AT OUR LORD’S PRAYER LIFE.

To look at His prayer life is to get a perfect example of what a prayer life ought to be.  First of all,

“His very perfection was a perfection kept through the exercise of prayer”. J. C. Ryle study of Mark’s Gospel

We ought to learn from that and realize that if we would pray we would become stronger against Satan and sin, and temptation.  Secondly,

“To be prayerless is to be Christless, Godless, and in the high road to destruction”. J. C. Ryle study of Mark’s Gospel

It is by God’s Word that we can keep from sin through the power of prayer.  The Word of God, hidden in our heart, and the commitment of prayer will strengthen us against sin.

The Lord came into this world to ultimately provide salvation for sinners by dying for mankind’s sin on the cross, being buried, and rising  from the dead.  He came to minister by preaching the truth of God.   The Lord Jesus would have been the greatest preacher to ever live.  He gave honor to the position of the preacher.  It is sad that there are some who cause that honor to stink, and then it is no more honor.  Our Lord was a preacher, and that gives it the highest honor possible, no matter what some may do.

VV. 40 – 45  —   JESUS CARES FOR THE UNCLEAN.

The disease of leprosy was a dreaded, even feared disease.  It would cause sores on the body, and the skin and flesh would rot on the body.  The Old Testament condemns them as “unclean”.  The person who had leprosy was not allowed to live with his or her family, they became “outcast”.  Of course, family often cared for them, without getting near them; providing them food, and probably clothing and needed items.  Here Jesus does something that was ceremonially forbidden.  He touched the “Unclean”.  Jesus was guilty.  He was guilty of loving and giving His life.  That is what He was guilty of.

As soon as Jesus touched the leper, and said, “I will; be thou clean”, the leprosy was gone and he was clean.  The power of Jesus’ healing is wondrous, it is Almighty.  It is great knowing that such a Man even cares for those who are “Unclean”.  We were unclean by sin.  We were as the leper.  We were vile, desparate, and in need of healing, then Jesus came and He touched us, healed us and cleansed us.  Notice, the leper came to Him.  He was drawn by what he had heard.  He was delivered by faith in the Lord, not by any work he had done.  It was the Lord who touched him, and He was clean.  He was healed.  He was made whole.  What a Savior.  What a Great Physician.

When Jesus had healed and cleansed the leprous man, He told him to be silent about what had taken place in his life.  Rather than being silent about it, though, he went and told every one he saw.  Doing this crippled the ministry of Jesus to the people.  There is a time for silence.  Since the resurrection of Jesus we have been commanded to go and tell all that we have seen and heard of Jesus.  The day of silence is over when it comes to talking about Jesus.  There are still times we should remain silent.  Jesus even told us not to cast our pearls before swine.  Would that not be giving the gospel to those who do not want to hear it?  Those who are imprisoned in self-righteousness?  Those who are enamored in their own goodness, thinking God will have a scale and weigh their good deeds against their bad deeds, and the good will out weigh the bad?  Those who are enjoying their wickedness are not ready for the truth of God’s Word, nor the gospel. These are the people who bask in their self righteousness.

-Tim A. Blankenship