Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Jesus Walks On The Water

Mark 6:45-56

“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.  And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.” (Mark 6:45-46)

Jesus had taken his disciples to the desert to give them a chance to rest and discuss what had happened when they went out to preach, much like doctors in teaching hospital holding a post mortem.  When they arrived, the crowd had guessed where they were going and out run them, so they were unable to spend the time reviewing what had happened.  Concerned for the people, Jesus insisted on feeding them before sending them home.  Immediately after feeding them, he bundled the disciples into a small boat and told them to go to the other side of the sea.  It was late afternoon, and the crowd would not be able to get clear around the lake before the disciples Got there. 

After teaching for a little longer, Jesus dismissed the multitude to go home and rest for a while.  He then went up on a nearby hill to pray.  One of the most effective tricks Satan uses is to get us so busy we don’t have time to stop and pray or spend time with the Lord, because, as we are so often told, “The king’s business requires haste.”    As a result we end up wasting a lot of our energy, when time spent talking with God and reading his word would give us a more effective approach. 

“And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land.  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.   But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled.” (Mark 6:47-50a)

The disciples were rowing against the wind and about dusk, Jesus could still see them.  He started walking to them and early the next morning, before daylight, he caught up with them.  When they saw him walking on the water in the dark, they thought it must be some kind of ghost or evil spirit and began to try to fend him off, whether by praying or by some superstitious ritual. 

“And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.  And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.  For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” (Mark 6:50b-52)

Jesus spoke up and let them know it was him and that they had nothing to be afraid of.  It was at this point Peter went to meet him on the water, although Mark doesn’t mention it.   When he got into the ship with them, the wind stopped and they got to other side in short order.  Because they were not thinking about the miracle of feeding the five thousand the day before, the disciples were amazed again by his power.  They still had a sinful human attitude that made it hard for them to believe. 

“And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore.  And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was.  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 6:53-56) 

When they landed near Gennesaret, the people recognized him and spread the word throughout the region.  People began to bring the sick to be healed.  Knowing he was coming, they brought the sick into the streets of every community, begging him to heal them, or trying to touch his clothing because everyone who touched him was healed.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Feeding the five Thousand

Mark 6:30-44

“And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.  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.  And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.” (Mark 6:30-32)

In Mark 6:7-13, Jesus had sent out his disciples to preach.  Now they returned and began to report what had happened when they preached.    Jesus told them to take a short break, because the crowds were huge and they literally didn’t even have time to eat.    He got them onto a ship without telling anyone where they were going, intending to take a short vacation. 

“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.  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.” (Mark 6:33-34)

Because they had followed him before, many of the people were able to guess where he was going and cut across on land, traveling faster than the ships traveled.  When Jesus and the disciples arrived, they found the crowd already there waiting on them.  Jesus recognized them as having no real leadership and began to teach them the things they needed to know. 

“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: 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.” (Mark 6:35-36)

Later that afternoon, the disciples reminded Jesus that there was no food available in that place, and suggested he tell the people to go to the nearby towns and buy something to eat, because they hadn’t brought anything with them. 

“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?

He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see.

And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.” (Mark 6:37-38)

Instead, Jesus told the disciples to feed them.  They asked him if he wanted them to go to town and buy food for the whole bunch, because it would probably cost more than they had with them.  Jesus asked how much food they had, and they told him they had one little boy’s lunch, basically a couple of sardines and five tortilla like pieces of bread. 

“And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.  And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.  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.” (Mark 6:39-41)

Jesus had the people sit down in groups of fifty or a hundred to make it easier to serve them.  Then he took the food, and looked up toward heaven and prayed over it before beginning to break pieces off and put it into baskets for the disciples to serve to the crowd. 

“And they did all eat, and were filled.  And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.  And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.” (Mark 6:42-44)

When they finished and everyone had all they wanted, each of the disciples still had a full basket of food left.  Over five thousand men had been fed with the one little boy’s lunch.  They had far more left over than they started with.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

John’s Execution

Mark 6:14-29

“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 show forth themselves in him.  Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.  But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.” (Mark 6:14-16)

Word of Jesus’ miracles began to spread, and people began to question who he was.  John the Baptist had been killed and Herod thought he must have come back to life and was doing these miracles.  He was especially concerned because he had ordered John’s execution.  Others thought he was Elijah, or one of the other prophets come to life, while still others thought he was a new prophet. 

“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.  For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.

Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 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.”  (Mark 6:17-20)

John had confronted Herod for having an affair with his sister-in-law, reminding him what the law said in Leviticus 20:21 about it being and incestuous relationship.  “And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness…”    Herod had John arrested, but had a respect for the Jewish religion and began to listen to what John had to say.   Having left her own husband for his brother, Herodias was really upset that John said it was wrong and Herod was listening to him.  She was pretty sure Philip would not take her back.  She began to look for a way to have John killed so she didn’t lose her position. 

“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; 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.  And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.

And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.

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.” (Mark 6:21-25)

On his birthday, Herod invited his officers and leaders to a party.  Herodias’ daughter danced for the crowd to provide entertainment, and Herod was so pleased he offered to give her anything she asked for.  Not knowing what to ask for, she asked her mother, who told her to ask for John the Baptists head on a covered platter.  The girl did as her mother demanded. 

“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.  And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.” (Mark 6:26-28)

Herod didn’t want to kill John, but to keep his reputation, he decided to go ahead and have him killed.  He gave the orders and little later they delivered John’s head to the girl, who took it to her Mom.  When Herod heard about Jesus’ miracles, it is easy to understand why he was worried. 

“And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.” (Mark 6:29)

John’s students took his body and buried it.  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Sending Out The Twelve

Mark 6:1-13

“And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.  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?  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.” (Mark 6:1-3)

Jesus returned to the area around Nazareth, accompanied by his disciples.  The people were amazed at his teaching in the synagogue, questioning where he had learned these things, because after all they knew his family and he had never been away to school to or other special training.   It is exactly what Matthew 13:54-57a describes.  “And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?  Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?  And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?  And they were offended in him…”  They were amazed at his miracles and teaching, but because they knew him, they thought he was just trying to make himself appear better than they were.

“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.  And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.  And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.” (Mark 6:4-6)

Jesus pointed out that people tend to take those they have known for a long time for granted and overlook their wisdom and experience while readily accepting those who have far less experience or skill simply because they don’t know how much experience they really have.    As a result of their disbelief, he was not given the opportunity to do many mighty works such as he had done in the surrounding towns such a Capernaum or Bethsaida.  He continued to go through the local communities teaching but with little impact.   

Even in the cities where he had done the most miracles, the focus was on the miracles rather than on what he was teaching, as Matthew 11:20-24 tells us.   “Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.   But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.” 

It is very easy to draw a crowd for a program to help alcoholics or the homeless or for a music program or revival who have no interest in the teaching, but just want to be part of the activity.  As a result even they miss the most important part of God’s word.  Those from his hometown missed even the excitement and miracles.    In order to reach out to others beyond the local area Jesus had to send out his disciples. 

“And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.
And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.  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.” (Mark 6:7-11)

Jesus sent out his disciples, instructing them to make no effort to raise support or supply their needs, but to simply trust him for their everyday needs.  When they went into a town, they were to settle in the first place that showed interest and focus on teaching that area rather than looking for a better place.   If a place did not welcome them they were to go on down the road to the next town, shaking the dust off their shoes as a testimony against that community.  God would punish the people of the community for ignoring his word.    It was not their place to try to make people listen. 

“And they went out, and preached that men should repent.  And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” (Mark 6:12-13)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Jairus’ Daughter

Mark 5:35-43

“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?” (Mark 5:35)

Jesus had been on the way to Jairus’ house to heal his daughter when the woman with the issue of blood touched him, resulting in Jesus stopping to talk to her.  Before he finished talking to her, one of Jairus’ servants came to tell them that the girl was already dead and there was no longer any point in Jesus coming to the house.
“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.” (Mark 5:36-38a)

When Jesus heard what the servant said, he told Jairus not to be concerned that it was too late, but to believe in him.  From there on Jesus forbade any one except Jairus, Peter, James, and John to go with him.  A common mistake is that there is more power if more people are there.  One person with the Holy Spirit has access to all the power of God.  More people will not give God more power.     

”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.” (Mark 5:38b-40a)

Jewish custom made for a great deal of drama when someone died, with weeping and wailing, at the top of their lungs to make sure everyone knew how upset they were.   The behavior upsets others so that the emotional response gets bigger and more uncontrolled.    Jesus asked why they were so upset because the girl was not dead, but in a coma.    They had seen many dead people and were sure they she was dead.  They began to make fun of him for thinking they couldn’t tell the difference.
“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.” (Mark 5:40-41)

Jesus chased out everyone except the father and mother and his three disciples, so that the girl would not be upset by the crowd when she recovered.  Then, with no drama or ritual, he took her by the hand and told her to wake up.    When he did she awoke and got out of bed,  She was twelve years old

Though he knew the girl was at the point of death, Jesus had taken time to deal with the woman with the issue of blood.  How many times do we get so caught up in the urgency of one situation we neglect others, considering them less important or urgent.  When we trust God, he will enable us to do everything that needs done.   Too often we forget to trust God completely in our efforts to make things happen. 
“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.” (Matthew 5:42-43)

Her parents and the disciples were amazed that he healed her so easily.  He instructed them not to make a big deal of it so she wouldn’t be upset, and told them to feed her and treat her as a normal child.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Woman with the Issue of Blood

Mark 5:21-34

“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.” (Mark 5:21-23)

When Jesus returned to the area around Capernaum, a multitude flocked to meet him.  One of the people in the crowd was Jairus, one of the leaders of the local synagogue.   He fell at Jesus’ feet begging him to come and touch his daughter and heal her because she was at the point of dying. 

“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.” (Mark 5:24-28)

Jesus went with Jairus and the crowd followed around, pushing and shoving to be close to him.  As they went, a woman who had an ongoing menstrual discharge heard he was coming,  she had spent all the money she had trying unsuccessful treatments that seemingly only made things worse.  Embarrassed by her problem, she pushed her way in to touch Jesus in the belief that just touching his clothing would be enough to heal her. 

“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?” (Mark 5:29-31)

The woman was healed instantly and could feel the difference in her body.  Jesus was also aware that the healing had happened, and asked who had touched his clothing.  With the crowd pushing and shoving to get close, the disciples couldn’t believe he was concerned about one person touching his clothes. 

“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.” (Mark 5:32-33)

Jesus looked for the person who had touched him, and the woman, fearing he would be angry finally confessed to touching him, explaining why she had done so.  She had thought he wouldn’t even notice such a little thing. 

“And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” (Mark 5:34)

Jesus was not angry, he just wanted her to know he cared about even her problem, no matter how small it was.  Unfortunately, we frequently forget that God is concerned about even our smallest problems.  The cure for her problem was the same as that for others with bigger problems, just trusting him to heal them. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Maniac of Gadera

Mark 5:1-20

“And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.” (Mark 5:1)

On the eastern side of the sea of Galilee there was a city known as Gadera, which controlled a fairly large area around it.  One of the small towns they controlled was called Gergessa.  Local people such as Matthew were familiar with the smaller towns, while those from other areas such as Mark and Luke were only familiar with the larger town, such as Gadera.    All three passages refer to the same area. 
“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.” (Mark 5:2-5)

Today, the man who met Jesus would be considered insane.  He had allowed Satan to influence his mind to such a point he was not in full control of his thinking, often doing things that injured his body, cuttint himself with stones,  Rage caused such a surge of adrenalin he was not conscious of pain, with the result he was able to break chains and restraints that held other men readily.  Those who work with the insane are aware of how far they may be willing to go to get their way.  Their best efforts to confine  or institutionalize him had failed. 

“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.” (Mark 5:6-8)

Even the most insane still retain some capacity to control their own mind and think.  The maniac saw Jesus and the demons controlling him recognized his power. Aware that he could easily cast them out, the demons convinced the man to ask Jesus to go away and leave them alone so they did not hurt him on the way out, because Jesus told them to leave him.  Their leaving would produce symptoms similar to the withdrawal symptoms a drug addict of alcoholic feels.    Many choose to remain under  control rather than endure the pain of withdrawal. 

“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.” (Mark 5:9-12)

Jesus asked the name of the demons, and they said their name was legion because there were so many different ones.  An important fact about demonic ot spirit control is found in Luke 24:39, when Jesus said, “…a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”  Because they lack a physical body, spirits have very limited power in the physical world.  Satanic spirits seek some living thing which will allow them to control its mind in order to accomplish their evil purposes. 

The Jews were not supposed to eat hogs, but they had begun raising them to sell to the Romans to feed the army.  The demons asked permission to go into a nearby herd of hogs, as they would still have a physical body at their disposal. 

“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.” (Mark 5:13)

 Jesus gave them permission to go into the pigs if they could.  The hogs chose to drown themselves rather than to allow the demons to control them.  Many people do not understand the demons cannot take over a person’s mind unless he allows them to.  Unfortunately, once they start getting control, it becomes increasingly difficult to force them out. 

“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.” (Mark 5:14-15)

The herders were unable to stop the hogs from drowning themselves in the sea.  They were terrified by their abnormal behavior and went running to the owners to tell them what happened.  When they returned with the owners, they were shocked to find the insane man acting normal, fully clothed and carrying on conversations with Jesus and the disciples. 

“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 5:16-17)

The owners and political leaders were more concerned with their lost revenue than they were with the impact on the victims, and demanded that Jesus leave the city.  It is a not uncommon attitude.   Rather than arguing with them Jesus simply left, following the advice he gave in Matthew 10:14-15 and Mark 6:11. “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.   Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.”  He did not waste his time trying to reach people who made it clear they were not interested.    They had made their choice. 

“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)

The man who had been healed wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus told him to stay there and tell the people what God had done for him.  He had a major impact on the area even though the leaders had rejected Christ.   A local man who follows Christ often has a bigger impact than a famous preacher, or in this case, the Lord himself, simply because people can see the change in him.