BAPTIZE NOT ALWAYS A TOTAL SUBMERSION
Matthew 15:1-2; Mark 7:1-6. “And the Pharisees and certain ones, the scribes, having come from Jerusalem, are assembled before Him. And seeing certain ones of His disciples eating bread with defiled, that is, unwashed hands; for the Pharisees and all the Jews, unless they may wash their hands diligently, do not eat; holding the tradition of the elders; and from the forum, if they may not be baptized, they do not eat; there are many other things which they receive to hold, such as the baptism of pots and cups and brazen vessels and couches.” Here we have the regular Greek word baptizo, constantly used in the Christian ordinance in this case, setting forth the washing of their hands when they came from the forum before they ate. How do you know but they totally immersed their hands? Perhaps they did, and for aught we know they did not but that hypothesis is utterly irrelevant to the question at issue, as it says “they” are baptized — i.e., the whole person — whereas it is a well-known fact that those Pharisaic traditions only required the washing of hands, and that was all they did. But in that case it is said that they were baptized. In a similar manner and from the same reason — i.e., the Pharisaic traditions — they baptize “pots, cups, brazen vessels, and couches.” Of course, they did not immerse the beds on which they slept and the couches on which they ate; as they would have to do it every time they came from the forum, where they were likely to transact business with Gentiles, come in contact with unclean animals, and in various ways contract ceremonial defilement. We have no controversy on water baptism or anything else. We only want the truth, which will stand the white light of the Judgment. We advise all to satisfy your consciences on this subject and every other. These Scriptures certainly reveal the fact that baptizo, the constant Greek word for baptize, does not always mean a total submersion.
“Then the Pharisees and scribes interrogated Him, Wherefore do not Thy disciples walk according to the traditions of the elders? But they eat bread with unwashed bands.” The Word of the Lord is alone authoritative. The Churches of the present day are burdened to death with human institutions, unheard of in the Bible, wearing out the people, bankrupting them financially and spiritually, consuming their time, which ought to be spent in saving souls, in which case the Lord would turn on them showers of blessings, making life a heaven instead of a tread-mill drudgery. “And responding, He said to them, Well did Isaiah prophesy concerning you hypocrites, as has been written, This people honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. For leaving the mandate of God, you hold the traditions of men, the baptisms of cups and pots, and you do many other such things.” Here we see that our Savior denounces all of these empty Church rites and ceremonies, with which the clergy have burdened the people. God wants His people to be free as angels, unincumbered, to labor in His vineyard with the greatest possible efficiency, and fight the devil, not like soldiers, but heroes. Hypocrite means an actor on the theatrical stage, playing an assumed part. This was the awful trouble of the Jewish Church: they had run into hollow hypocrisy and dead formality, clinging to their Church institutions with the pertinacity of a drowning man, and at the same time spiritually dead, blinded by Satan, and led captive at his will. The Oriental Churches seemed to have lost sight of everything but their own traditional institutions, while the Americans are on their track at locomotive speed. We need all the holiness people in the world — i.e., those who take the Holy Bible as their only guide — to go on eagles’ wings to the ends of the earth, and preach the everlasting gospel, before the people are all caught fast in the meshes of ecclesiastical tradition, tied up in human institutions, and totally blinded to the simple, sweet Word of God; thus led away into playing religion, instead of getting it deep down in their hearts, till it goes through them like a cyclone of fire, revealing all the contents of their interior spirit, committing to the flames all the chaff of dead formality, which constitutes the essence of practical hypocrisy, so abominable in the sight of God, and so utterly withered by the preaching of Jesus.
TRUE RELIGION — INTERNAL & SPIRITUAL
Matthew 15:10-20; Mark 7:14-23. Matthew: “Calling the multitude to Him, He said to them, Hear and understand. Not that which cometh into the mouth defileth a man; but that which goeth out of a man, that defileth a man. Then His disciples, coming, said to Him, Do you know that the Pharisees, hearing the word, were offended? and He, responding, said, Every plant which My Heavenly Father did not plant, shall be rooted up.” The subject here is the Pharisaic traditions, and an infinite diversity of burdensome human rites, ceremonies, and institutions which had been foisted on the Jewish Church, covering up and literally hiding the heavenly superstructure, till the people, seeing nothing but humanism, were following the shadow, ignorant of the substance, led by the blind clergy in the way of death. All that was smashed up by the Roman armies, a few years subsequently to this awful prophecy, sweeping their institutions from the face of the earth, and annihilating the Jewish polity. A similar doom awaits the Pharisaical institutions of the Gentile Church, when the bloody revolutions of the Armageddon shall roll their desolating billows over the world, eliminating from the Church all her human inventions, and reducing her down to primitive simplicity and apostolic purity, unfurling the New Testament standard to all nations, and thus verifying the prophecy of Jesus, “Every plant which My Heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” We would better all take warning, and come up at once to the simplicity of Jesus and His apostles revealed in the New Testament. “Let them alone; they are blind leaders of the blind; and if the blind may lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” We have no right to shove this back and leave it with the fallen Church, apostate membership, and godless clergy, of our Savior’s time. It is written for us. The unspiritual leaders all around us, stickleristic for their human institutions, and ignorant of God’s grand spiritual truth, are leading the multitudes to ruin. Jesus makes no mistake. Leaders and followers shall altogether fall into the ditch of irretrievable woe.
Mark: “And when He came from the multitudes into the house, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable.” As he was at Caperuaum, His home after His expulsion from Nazareth — and, having no house of His own, it is believed that Peter’s house was His home — it is more than likely that this in the house into which He entered. “And He says to them Are you truly yet without understanding? Do you not know that everything without, entering into the man, is not able to defile him? Because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach; and goes out into the excrement, purifying all edibles;” i.e., in the gospel dispensation we have large liberties on the question of eating and drinking, as these edibles and potables do not go into the heart, but into the alimentary canal, portions being eliminated for the nutriment of the physical being, and the residue becoming soil, and perfectly purified by the chemical agencies brought into activity by earth, air, and water, so there is actually no ultimately surviving impurity. On this problem we are to walk in the light which God gives us, sedulously observing the laws of hygiene with reference to eating and drinking, as to time, quality, and quantity. We should all beware of side issues, calculated to absorb undue attention, and deflect us from the grand trunk-line of holiness to the Lord. In that department, fanaticism is prone to bivouac. “And He said, That which cometh out of the man defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of the people, proceed evil reasonings, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, hypocrisy, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, folly. All these evils come out from within, and defile the man.” O what an appalling and horrific den of rattlesnakes, here catalogued by the Infallible, constituting the black cohort of inbred sin, occupying the heart of poor, fallen humanity, till extirpated, eradicated, washed away by the cleansing blood, consumed and annihilated by the refining fire of the Holy Ghost, poured down from heaven in Pentecostal floods and sanctifying baptism!
“Evil reasonings” are most adroitly manipulated by demons, who will crowd around you and argue you down, answering all of your objections to something, painted fair as Eden flowers, but black as the pit.
“Adulteries and fornications,” so nearly synonymous that Jesus, in view of their awful power over their wretched victims, here almost indulges in tautology by way of emphasizing this vice, which is, probably more than any other, productive of human ruin in time and in eternity.
“Wickedness” is a generic term, in the plural number, comprehending every vice conceivable, whether included in this catalogue or not.
“Deceitfulness” lies deep down in the subterranean jungles of the fallen spirit, cropping out in all phases of guile, craft, stratagem, trickery, chicanery, and hypocrisy, so utterly irreconcilable with that unsophisticated simplicity, innocence, and guilelessness characteristic of angels and redeemed spirits, and yet, by many pseudo-preachers and saints, winked at and apologized for as shrewdness in trade and business sagacity.
“Murders.” Do not forget, “He that hateth his brother is a murderer.” “Man looketh on the outside, but God looketh on the heart.” The spirit is the essence in the Divine estimation, God seeing the anger, wrath, malice, envy, jealousy, revenge, which are the spirit of murder, deep down in your heart, and consequently condemning you, as if you had imbued your hands in the blood of your neighbor.
“Thefts.” If you cheat a person out of a dollar, you are as really a thief in the sight of God as if you had gone at midnight and stolen a horse. The reason why Churches are dead is because they are so frequently ruled by criminals, who grieve the Holy Spirit away, the man who can steal most by cheating promoted to the highest office.
“Covetousness.” This is the fatal and magnitudinous sin of the day. It sent an apostle to hell, and almost ruined Jacob. It is the crying sin of the Church today, alone disqualifying her to girdle the world with missionaries, and envelop the nations with sunbursts of light and glory.
“Impurity.” O how black and how impudent this monster, intruding into homes, withering and blighting the fairest domestic flowers, blasting the dearest social bliss, turning communities into battle-fields and homes into hells!
“Pride.” John Wesley pronounced pride the great mother-sin, generating whole groups of vices and follies, which prove rattlesnakes in the bosom, and develop perdition in the home, superinducing ruined health, dissipated fortunes, and alienated friends.
“Folly.” This is a very comprehensive term, as it is the opposite of wisdom, which, in the Bible, means the grace of God that saves soul and body. As a rule, pride and folly are more prevalent with women, sending millions of the fairer sex to be brutalized by demons in the bottomless pit; while the dark, vulgar vices — e. g., murder, theft, robbery, and blasphemy roll their pestilential billows over men and boys, precipitating them into hell by millions before their time.
“Blasphemy.” This vice, to all human appearances, is the most unapologizable, as Satan bates his hook when he goes fishing for the participants of all other sins, while in case of blasphemy lie just drops down the naked hook, and, to the surprise of angels, disgust of good men, and the ridicule of devils, the poor dupe opens his mouth in blasphemy against the God who gives him breath, for which he couldn’t give an excuse nor a reason to save his life. N.B. All repetitions of God’s name are blasphemy, unless taken in prayer, supplication, adoration, praise, with due reverence and solemnity.
THE SYROPHENICIAN WOMAN
Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30. “And rising up, He departed thence into the regions of Tyre and Sidon. And having come into a house, he wished no one to know it; and He was not able to be hidden. For a woman, hearing concerning Him, whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, coming out, fell down at His feet. And the woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by race, and asked Him that He may cast the demon out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, Let the children first be fed; for it is not good to take the bread of the children and cast it to little dogs. But she responded and says to Him, Yea, Lord, for even the little dogs under the table do eat the children’s crumbs. And He said to her, On account of this word, go; the demon has already gone out of thy daughter. And having come into her house, she found that the demon had gone out, and the daughter was lying on a bed;” a confirmation of the demon’s departure, as hitherto her vexation and misery had been such that she could not rest, day or night, but incessantly leaped, struggled, gnashed, foamed, and wallowed, a raving maniac. We have many such now, comparatively unknown, because secreted away in mad-houses and lunatic asylums; there being no such institutions in that day, every family having to care for their own maniacs, lunatics, and epileptics the best they could; consequently giving great notoriety to all such characters, generally denominated demoniacs, because all these abnormal conditions are in some way imputable to Satanic influence.
Matthew 15:22 : “My daughter is awfully demonized. And Jesus did not respond a word to her; and His disciples, coming, asked Him, saying, Send her away, because she crieth after us. And He responding, said, I am not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” These lost sheep were the rank and the of the Jewish Church, both membership and clergy, who are actually lost in the fogs of dead formality and empty hypocrisy, to which they were vainly clinging for salvation, with the exception of a saint here and there.
Matthew 15:28 : “Then Jesus, responding, said to her, O woman, great is thy faith; be it done unto thee as thou dost believe. And her daughter was healed from that hour.”
Why did Jesus, with His apostles, suddenly leave Capernaum, and go away into Phoenicia, a heathen land? It was not to preach the gospel, as the time of the Gentiles had not yet arrived. It was to take much needed rest for their weary bodies. The Twelve had labored so assiduously in their double-quick evangelistic peregrinations throughout all Israel, that when they all returned to Him at Capernaum a few days previously, seeing them worn, jaded, hoarse, foot-sore, and leg-weary, He advised them to go aside into an “uninhabited region and rest a little while.” When they undertook it, the people in the cities dotting the bank of the Galilean Sea, observing them going away in a ship, some following in boats, and many running overland around the sea, anticipate their disembarkation, so that by the time they have reached the mountain park off the coast to the northwest, between Bethsaida and Tiberias, they find many people on the spot, the crowd increasing, as they pour in from all directions, till, by the middle of the afternoon, when our Lord, moved with compassion for the hungry, miraculously feeds them on five loaves and two fishes, they find a swelling throng of ten thousand. Though, sending away His disciples, dismissing the multitude, and going under the darkness of the ensuing night into the mountain to pray; walking out on the stormy sea at midnight, to the relief of His tempest-tossed disciples, embarking with them and returning home to Capernaum; the multitudes, embarking on several ships at Tiberias, follow on across the sea, where they find Him, and give audience to that wonderful sermon on entire sanctification (John 6), which upset so many of His disciples that they “turn back, and walk no more with Him,” — now He resorts to a second attempt to secure that physical rest which He had already admonished them to take; as He knew that they had to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth and preach to all the Gentiles; hence the importance of hygienical prudence. Consequently they now leave the land of Israel, and go off among the heathens, to whom as yet they had no commission to preach. Though they propose to go into retirement and remain a little while in voluntary exile, in some way this woman finds them out. Syria and Phoenicia join by a mere air-line, and consequently there was much miscegenation between them, this woman being a mixed-blood of these two celebrated ancient Shemitic races. Such is her importunity, crying after them incessantly, that the disciples get utterly worn out with her annoyance; so they implead their Master to send her away. Consequently He dismisses her, by a positive notification that He is not sent to the Gentiles, but to the children of Abraham. Such is her importunity that the Master is constrained to deal very plainly with her, informing her as to the impropriety of taking the children’s bread and casting it to contemptible little dogs. The woman unhesitatingly accepts the situation, oblivious of the opprobrium, responding, “Yea, Lord, for even the little dogs do eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” At that moment, Jesus responds, “Great is thy faith, O woman Let it be done unto thee as thou dost wish.” From that moment the demon evacuated her daughter, so that she could lie down and rest sweetly on the bed like a tired child. O what a happy respite from raging mania! What is the solution of this wonderful problem? Why did Jesus call her “dog?” Of course, He knew all about her, even before He went thither; and traveled all the way from Capernaum, not only to give the Twelve and His own weary body. the much-needed rest, but to meet this wonderful woman, whose heart, amid all the superstitions of idolatry, the Holy Ghost had prepared for the mighty work of demoniacal ejectment, destined to bring a heavenly sunburst into her home. While we see here that this miracle was wrought commensurately with the faith of the mother, yet Mark, whose message Peter, an eye-witness, dictated, says nothing about her faith, but only indirectly emphasizes her humility, which is the granite pedestal on which alone the majestic column of faith can rise and penetrate the skies. Now you see that after Jesus has notified her that she is excluded by the impassable wall separating Jews and Gentiles, having discarded her under the opprobrious epithet of a contemptible little dog (as the Jews called all the Gentiles dogs, thus stigmatizing their impurity, as the dog is the unclean animal interdicted by the Mosaic law), when she unhesitatingly, without the slightest repellency of the insult, accepts the situation, shouting, “Yea, Lord, even the little dogs do eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table:” “All right; I accept the situation, and take the dog’s place under the table of my Lord and Master, infinitely delighted to be the Lord’s dog rather than the devil’s queen.” That sweeps every objection from the field, and leaves Jesus her humble Servant. Consequently He says, outright, “O woman, great is thy faith! Let it be done unto thee as thou dost wish;” i.e., “If you are humble enough to take a dog’s place and be satisfied with dog-fare in the house of God, rather than a queenly crown in this wicked world, all right! You can have anything you want! All heaven is open to such humility! Come right along, and take it!” This kind of humility and faith leaps a million of miles above the partition wall for ages standing between Jews and Gentiles; while the pearly gates spontaneously fly wide open, and angelic platoons sweep out from the golden city, making the heavenly arches ring, “Welcome home, Syrophenician woman and demonized daughter!”
DEAF & DUMB HEALED
Matthew 15:29-31; Mark 7:31-37. “And again having gone out from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, He came to the Sea of Galilee, in the midst of the coasts of Decapolis;” this word is from deka, “ten,” and polis, “city.” There is no city by the name of Decapolis, as the word literally means “ten cities,” and is the name of a region southeast of the Galilean Sea, in which there were ten prominent cities. I saw it in my recent visit. When our Savior left His retirement up in Phoenicia, He journeyed southward, leaving the Sea of Galilee on His left, preaching along through Galilee, and entering Decapolis. “They bring Him a dummy, stammering a little, and entreat Him that He may put His hand on him. And taking him from the crowd into privacy, He put His fingers into his ears, and spitting, touched his tongue, and looking up to heaven, groaned, and says to him, Ephphatha, which is, Be thou opened. And immediately his ears were opened, and the bridle of his tongue was loosed, and he continued to speak correctly. And He commanded them that they must tell no one; but the more He charged them, the more abundantly they proclaimed it abroad. And they are astonished exceedingly, saying, Truly, He hath done all things well; He both maketh the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak.” Matthew: “Many multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, the blind, the dumb, the maimed, and many others, and threw them down at the feet of Jesus, and He healed them, so that the multitudes were astonished, seeing the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking round, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.” When the news of His presence flies on the wings of the wind to the ten prominent cities representing that great east country, known in history as Perea, constituting a part of King Herod’s dominion, the multitudes come pouring from every point of the compass, bringing with them the lame, that their feet and limbs might be restored; the maimed — i.e., the people whose hands and arms were crippled, so they could not use them; the deaf, the dumb, the blind. O what sensations sweep the multitude, like cyclones, as they see the clubfooted, withered-limbed, reel-footed, broken-legged, all running foot-races, leaping, and jumping, their old crutches all stacked up in a pile, as I saw in Brother Simpson’s Berachah Home in New York; the people who hadn’t been able to use their hands and arms in a score of years, piling rocks, climbing trees, and performing a diversity of gymnastic, dumb-bell exercises, demonstrating to the multitude the perfect restoration of their hands and arms; the dumb singing the good old songs of Zion, shouting the praises of God, and testifying like apostles; and the deaf so delighted with the musical voices ringing in their ears on all sides! In vain does Jesus charge them not to publish His mighty works, lest they arouse the multitude to come and crown Him King, as they were about to do but a month ago, when he fed the hungry multitudes in Galilee. The news is too good to keep. These hundreds and thousands of beneficiaries are bound to tell His wonderful benefactions, miraculously healing them, to the unutterable surprise of all their friends, who now rejoice with them, making many homes vocal with the praises of Israel’s God, who has sent among them a Mighty Prophet, having power over all physical ailments and spiritual derangements, everywhere healing diseases and ejecting demons.
This Hebrew word ephphatha, which means “be thou opened,” has a beautiful application throughout the gracious economy. You will never hear the Word of the Lord to spiritual edification unless Jesus touches the ear of your soul and says, Ephphatha. It is equally true that you will never see the deep things of God, and the Bible, and the beauty of holiness in His kingdom, unless He touch your spiritual eye, and say, Ephphatha.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Mark 7". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany