Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mark 6:53-56 commentary: to be made whole

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.

These people had expectations of Christ. This has been discussed before, the many diseases the people suffered. You can see this in many third world countries, in the Southern Hemisphere mostly, today with thousands upon thousands of people born into leprosy, blindness, and other sicknesses for which they have no hope of being cured. There was a time in our own country that cholera and yellow fever and even malaria weren’t so uncommon. These people had heard of Christ’s reputation and flocked to Him in the hopes of being healed or of having a loved one healed.

Leviticus 14:2 This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest:

Psalm 38:7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh.

Psalm 41:8 An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more.

Look at how the faith healers have to set up a tent, take up an offering, advertize on television. Why don’t they do it like Christ did if they are genuine? If you could really heal people you wouldn’t need our modern rituals. People would probably throw money at you to be healed of cancer.

We live in that time between the death of the last person who knew Christ before and just after the resurrection and the beginning of the Great Tribulation, that period of time we call the Church Age. We have the Bible. If God supernaturally heals someone today He doesn’t use a special person to work through because we have the Spirit of God residing inside of us. If it is His will to heal us supernaturally He can do it through that Spirit.

God has permitted modern medicine and sanitation to meet with the Bible and add to it in a way that would not have been possible in an ancient people like the Hebrews. Admonitions to wash wounds in running water, for cleanliness, sanitation rules, and dietary restrictions that were found in the Law of Moses given as the civil and ceremonial law to the Hebrews are understood now in a way that they weren’t for thousands of years. God has permitted the science and practice of medicine to move fast and far in the last century and a half. We have, for some strange reason, learned more since 1900 than in all the centuries previously combined about real science in regard to medicine, sanitation, food preparation and storing, and in the industrialized nations many of the diseases that would have afflicted these people of first century Judea are unheard of.

What expectations do we have of Christ?

There is still one disease for which man has no known cure that he came up with in a laboratory. There is a 0 percent chance that you will be cured on your own or that even the symptoms will be relieved. It can still destroy your life and even harm others, at the very least making your life less than what it could be. It is called sin. Some who become Christian had a disciplined and submissive spirit even as unbelievers so they come to the Bible and say, “I will obey.” For the most part and for much of the time they do quite well, at least on the surface. But, they often don’t feel a need or a draw to read the Bible very much. It is enough for them to be told what to think by a favorite pastor or Christian celebrity, even someone from the political world who claims to be a Christian.

Others realize they are wicked. God has delivered them from something that ruled their lives like alcohol, drugs, or sexual sin. They are more than aware that they did nothing themselves but accept what was done to them. They have no intention of placing themselves back into a situation where they could fall. They seek God’s will through His Bible every day. They need to be changed, they know that. They are willing to be changed by God’s word. They come to the Bible, to prayer, to a church meeting expecting something to happen, wanting something to happen, desiring to be filled with the Spirit of God that’s inside them much like a glass with a little water, when heated up, is filled with water vapor. They need and desire to be filled and overflowing with God’s Spirit, not in a way that manifests itself necessarily in acts of emotional abandon but in the fruit of the Spirit.

The ancient Hebrews were known physically by the civil and ceremonial law they kept which distinguished their daily and religious life from those around them. The modern Christian should be known physically by the fruit of the Spirit inside of him or her that can’t help but reveal itself to those around them.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

What expectations do you have of Christ? Do you run to Him pleading and expecting to be changed, to be made more like Him, to be made a vessel meet or worthy for His use? Do you seek to be in His presence, to be filled by His Spirit that dwells in you?

Do you seek to be made whole, perfected, and complete? Or do you think you’ve already arrived? I’d rather be in that desperate crowd seeking to touch the hem of his robe than in the clique of Pharisees standing self-righteously by looking down their noses at the great unwashed throng pleading for mercy from the One who created them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mark 6:47-52 commentary: call on Him

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.

Call out to God.

Christian man or woman, boy or girl, did God hear your voice this morning when you woke up?

Psalm 5:3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

Did God hear your voice at noon and at night?

Psalm 55:17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

Do you have a Hollywood Jesus who expects nothing from you but feigned, lisping spirituality, and benign neglect? Or do you have a Saviour who speaks to you through His words in His Book? Do you speak to God in prayer often?

1Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

Romans 12:12b… continuing instant in prayer;

Do you listen to men who love Christ exhort you with things from His own words in His Book?

By the way, Jesus is not walking on ice or running like the lizard you’ve seen on the Discovery Channel as some foolish skeptics have blasphemously suggested. He is walking on water and stops and talks. “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” This is a violation of natural law, a miracle.

He’ll respond to your cry with comfort. He will take away your fear. Call to Him. He will answer you when you cry out to Him when you are toiling with rowing, when the wind is contrary to you, when every breath is a struggle, your body and mind ache, and your getting to the other side is in doubt. Think of those words…” it is I; be not afraid.”

Have you not considered what He has done for you? If you believe in Him He has saved you in spite of yourself from an eternity of agony and suffering which is common to all men. Your trouble here is but a moment in time. A hard heart is one of unbelief, one that won’t listen, one that won’t change, and be receptive to what Christ has for them. Maybe you’ve hardened your heart so you won’t trust Him. Maybe your heart is so hard you won’t even believe Him at all. Maybe, if you aren’t His yet, He’ll walk on by without your calling out to Him.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mark 6:45-46 commentary: get alone and pray

45 ¶ 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.

Get alone and pray by following Jesus’ example. Do you have a regular time of prayer when you are not around other people? It is good to pray with your spouse every day on your knees. It is good to pray with your children every day in private, family devotions where yours and their most heartfelt praise, thanksgiving, and requests are brought before God. But, it is also good to come apart some place alone and pray. Prayer strengthens and encourages you because the One to whom you pray responds to your reliance on Him.

For those people who like to be organized it helps to think of the acronym, ACTS. A is for adoration, praying with all praise and glorifying the One to whom you pray. C is for confession, confessing your sins which if you’re honest are many. T is for Thanksgiving, thanking a beneficent, loving God for the mercy and watchcare He bestows on you every day. Finally, S is for supplications, coming to God with every need and want, no matter how small you may think they are, and praying expressly for others; for Christians to draw closer to God and for those not born again to be drawn to receive Christ as their Saviour.

Do yourself and your relationship with Christ a favor and come apart to pray. Prayer is talking directly to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is not talking to yourself and prayer doesn’t change things. It’s the One to whom you pray that changes things. And of all the problems you face and the circumstances that might weigh you down the most important thing He can do is to change YOU.

You don’t need a showy, public prayer. You don’t need to try to preach a sermon to someone else when you are speaking to God. You need to genuinely praise Him, confess your sins to Him, thank Him, and ask Him for the needs and desires of your heart. And pray when you read the Bible. Pray fervently and without ceasing that God will give you light.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mark 6:35-44 commentary: feeding the 5,000

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.

The disciples want Jesus to stop preaching and to send the people away. But, they have two needs; one to fill their spiritual heart and one to fill their bellies. Jesus will see to both. We need to feed people who we lead to the Lord. Take some time. Create a Bible study in your home or on the ‘net. Sit down, break bread, study the words of God.

Furthermore, it is incumbent upon a Christian man, a husband to feed his wife and children during the week with the word of God. If you are waiting for and dependent upon the Pastor to feed your family and yourself once a week or even three times a week you are a worthless Christian. We have Sunday Schools in America because Christian men failed and let God down in their duty to be the Pastor of THEIR family and teach them (that’s not the reason it was founded in Great Britain first but that’s not for this commentary). If you are a Christian husband and you don’t conduct daily Bible reading with your family and Bible Study and devotions and worship with daily prayer, you are a waste of oxygen. Period. Get right with God you scoundrel, you cad, who dares to waste the family that God Himself has given you for the purpose of teaching them about Him and expressing His love to them. You think God gave you that boy so you could just teach him how to throw a football or that girl so you could just show her how to wear makeup?

You say, but I didn’t do that and my family turned out wonderful. Be very thankful that God has blessed you in spite of your faithlessness.

I will have to give answer to Christ when I face Him at His judgment seat for not having daily devotions with my family and for not having daily Bible reading. Even if in my step-family it had been a voluntary thing I know the young ones would have liked it and perhaps some of the older ones would have eventually joined in. When I think of the things that the Bible could have kept from my home if I just honored it faithfully I am sickened.

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

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.

I think of the significance of twelve baskets showing that this passage is doctrinally significant to the Jews, the twelve tribes of Israel.

44 And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.

Five is the number of death and of grace, depending on the context. Spiritually dead men hear the gospel and live, just as those who are faint from hunger eat bread and are revived.

The early church fed its members with spiritual food and physical food. The early church took care of its poor. It was not the social club, the meeting house for mere good times and good fellowship it is today. The church body was the anchor of the little Christian community within the community of pagans surrounding them. Do the people that come to your church know you care about them, not just spiritually but physically as well? Do you know who is suffering? Who is sick? Who has to choose between putting food on the table and gas in the car? Who is losing their home? If you want your church to grow then preach the word unadulterated and pure, and care for each other. Feed them. They don’t need jugglers, belly-dancers, or gymnasts. They need to hear the word of God preached truthfully and genuinely. They need to be encouraged to read the Bible, to have the fruit of the Spirit flowing from their every deed throughout the week.

I know, I know everyone wants to know what this passage REALLY means. What secret number arrangement? What prophetic intent? Let me pose something else. What if it just means what it says? Jesus, the bread of heaven;

John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Separated His followers from the world and fed His followers with physical bread in a miraculous manner to show us what we are supposed to do?

James 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

Feed their bodies and feed their hearts. Meet the physical needs and the spiritual ones. There is great power for unity in breaking bread with someone. How many meals have you eaten with your church family?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mark 6:34 commentary: teach them many things

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.

It is evidence of our Lord’s great love and mercy to have compassion on a bunch of hard hearted and stupid sheep who He knew wouldn’t do what He told them to do. One of God’s character traits is that He has compassion on stupid, stony hearted people. Here is something of note. Jesus condemns the religious leaders but regards the people as simple sheep who need a shepherd. The world needs to be taught this Book, this Bible. They are in darkness and they don’t have a clue what to do. Every week Christians are hearing the same message; how to be saved, that they must attend church, and that they must give money to the church. They aren’t growing because they aren’t being fed. They have to learn how to feed themselves and bring others to a knowledge of the truth.

Jesus called His disciples to carry on this mission of teaching men what He had taught those disciples.

Matthew 28:16 ¶ Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

This command is not based on a 1-2-3 repeat after me kind of phony conversion experience. This is based on people being taught the word of God by the Word of God and by those whom He has appointed. We now have a perfect Bible, the word of God on paper that we can read every day, praying for light and instruction from the Holy Spirit of God. We need to teach people how to read it; to let it define itself where possible, to use the mechanisms provided in it such as parallel phrasing and word replacement in corresponding verses, the italicized words that reflect words missing in Hebrew but present in Greek or vice versa and in English, too. We need to show people how if they read God’s book faithfully and pray without ceasing that God will change them and their lives. You probably won’t get taller or better looking or more intelligent and you might not get more money but you and your circumstances will change. So will your attitude toward them.

Christians need this book and they need it every day. The world tends to close in on every generation of Christians. Some simply run the other way. Others think that being busy about worldly things but with a “Christian” slant will change things. But if you want to have a victorious life over sin, despair, and bitterness then you must submit your mind to that Book every day. Let the Holy Spirit teach you and then you teach others.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Will you still have arguments with your spouse? Most likely. When you have the personality of a snapping turtle and hang on to every slight until God has to pry your jaws off of it you will still have issues.

Will you still have problems with money? Probably. God says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10) and that you can’t serve money and Him at the same time (Luke 16:13).

Will people still disappoint you, insult you, annoy you, and disgust you? Sure. Why should you be any better off than God Himself. Just see Romans 3:23 and 5:12.

But, you will change. You will be changed. You will be a different person when the Bible teaches you. You will be molded and shaken and stirred and rearranged by the words of God. Now, I’m not talking about reading “Our Daily Bread” or a verse over coffee in the morning as you hurry to work. I’m talking about reading the Bible from cover to cover, just reading. Bible study is great but it is a totally different thing. Read the Bible every day and let God speak to you through it while you speak to Him in prayer.

As Jesus Christ was here in body to teach the lost sheep of the house of Israel then, so we now have His words in His Bible and the Holy Spirit to teach us. Christians who don’t read the Bible or know it are ignorant and in need of the knowledge it gives. Know it like the back of your hand, be delighted and instructed by it every day, commune with your Creator through its pages, and let His light shine into your life examining your motives and desires and making things that you see dimly now be exposed to your mind’s understanding.

Then, show others how. Teach.