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MARK CHAPTER ONE
As we begin please take a moment and get into your mind just what the baptism of Christ was like, what the meaning of it was etc. Some questions to answer: What was the purpose of Christ’s baptism? What was seen by the people? What was the sign and who/what was the sign for? What did God say at the time?
I might tell you that there are some that feel the dove descending was only descriptive of the UFO that descended over the area. The UFO was quiet and smooth as a dove. The 40 days in the wilderness was just the Gospel writer’s way of accounting for the disappearance of the Lord from the earth for a time while he was on the UFO. Just thought we ought to start you out in your thinking on the right foot.
As the study progresses you will see the real baptism of Christ as it is actually recorded in the Word.
1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
We see a simple start for the book, and a simple declaration that the author is going to start telling the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Not only is this book about the man Jesus, the Messiah, but the Son of the living God. Not only is it a book about the unique God-man, but it is about the Good News that the Son of God revealed to all of mankind.
The term translated "beginning" has the thought of something that commences something, or can relate to the cornerstone laid by which all other stones are laid. This is the CORNERSTONE account of the Good News of Christ.
1. Luke is a little more detailed in his account of John the Baptist. Luke 3:4 "As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways [shall be] made smooth; 6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. 7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 10 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? 11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. 12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him Master, what shall we do? 13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. 14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do?And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse [any] falsely; and be content with your wages. 15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;"
Luke records that John required works worthy of repentance, while Mark mentions repentance and confession and Matthew mentions only confession. There is something of importance here. We have mentioned that some deal with baptism and remission of sins as a unit, while if this is true Luke and Matthew really mislead their readers because they did not mention it. Since the three books were written to three different sets of readers that would need to know of the requirements, if remission of sins was part of the package, wouldn’t all three writers mention such an important item? I think that they would.
In relation to those coming to John, note that there were leaders to soldiers coming for information on how to be prepared. It would seem that John knew that some of them had been told when he asked "who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Had they just heard it through the grapevine, or was there someone out there doing some advance work? It would seem just the word of mouth would be sufficient since John was calling people "vipers" which would tend to gain some attention.
This passage, as well as many others, shows the need to compare the gospels with one another as you study one of them. They give a total picture only when viewed together. Viewing just one will give you only a portion of the overall.
2. The gospel of John takes a different approach to the Baptist. John 1:6 "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John 7:1-53 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
Just a simple introduction of the man in relation to the Savior.
3. Consider John’s comment about John the Baptist, "sent from God." We often talk about looking for God’s man to pastor our church, or ask God to lead His man to us, etc. Just how often do we say these things then take the first man who shows up on the doorstep no matter who or what he is?
Years ago a church had just gotten rid of a pastor that was quite tyrannical to his people. The folks were looking for "God’s man" yet they took the first man to candidate and he turned out to be worse than the one they had just rid themselves of.
Finding God’s man may take a lot of time, it may take a lot of effort and it should take a whole lot of prayer. The question may arise, how do we find God’s man?
a. Pray b. Pray c. Go lookingd. Ask questions of the man e. Pray f. Check the man’s references - all of them g. Find out if he feels that he is God’s man for this place - Ask him why he feels this way h. Find out if he is in complete agreement with the church doctrinal statement, constitution, goals and purpose statement – ask if he will leave if he comes to be in disagreement with the items mentioned. i. Find out what his plans for the church might be over the next five years - do the plans fit those items in the previous point j. Compare his associational background to your own. (Many men of "other" groups are taking churches outside their groups and leading them into their own group)
4. Luke 3:4 b-5 mentions "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;"
My wife and I grew up in a small town in mid Nebraska in the 40’s and 50’s. There was a road south of town that led to another very small town. This road was built many years before when dollars were in short supply. The construction costs would only cover building a road over the hills and into the valleys, and there were many hills and valleys. The fun of the road was to go fast and hit the top of the hill and feel your stomach go air born. Not that I was prone to take part in this activity because I like my stomach right where it is supposed to be, but my wife’s father would give his girls a real thrill as they went to visit their aunt in that small town to the south.
The thrill rides continued into the 50’s when the county had some extra road money. The county went out and completely ruined this road. They shaved off the hills and used the dirt to fill in the valleys and made that road into a plain ordinary boring flat road.
John the Baptist was to pave the way before the Master. He was to make the road smooth for the ministry that He was to have to the Jewish people. Isaiah the prophet prophesied years before of this man and told the Jews what he would do.
He preached a message of repentance and baptism as a preparation for the Messiah. He was setting the stage for the message that Christ would present to the Jews. This message was of a coming kingdom, the kingdom which was foretold by the prophets in the Old Testament.
The point of this might be that you personally may be one that is sent before. God may have a particular plan for a church. He may send you for a time to prepare the people. He may not choose to use you to finalize his work with the people. He may move you on to another place and call in the man who will fulfill His desire for the church body.
The point being that if you don’t seem to be getting anywhere in your ministry just keep at it and stay tuned to the Lord. When He says move on, then move on and know that you have completed your work for Him in that place.God has many servants to do many different jobs. Be sure you do your job to the best of your ability and let Him do that which He desires to do.
I knew an old church planter years ago. He would plant a church and assist it until they could afford a full time pastor and move on. Many of these churches grew to be large and good works of God. What did the man do - just started churches - well, just started great works of God. He knew his strength and knew his God and the two got along quite well in HIS plan.
Don’t feel less because you seem to be lesser, because you may be the key to what God wants to do in this particular spot of geography and history.
5. One application that will not be made is to compare your ministry to that of the Lord. Often we tend to start comparing what we are doing with what others in the Word did for God. First of all this is the Lord Jesus Christ – God - that we are talking about in the study of Mark. You will not measure up to Him, but He is your example and your goal in life to emulate.
Some compare themselves to Paul, or to Moses and see the great works recorded of them and feel inadequate before them. One must remember that what isn’t recorded is that Moses had to get out of bed and face the sheep for forty years and go to bed dog tired because of the stupid sheep getting into trouble. Paul had a lot of mornings of waking up on the cold hard ground with an ache in the back and having to go off on another long day’s trek across country. We tend to see the high points of their lives and forget that the other days of their lives were full of pitfalls and hard knocks just like ours.
Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to anyone else as far as quality of life. Use the Lord as your example and discard all others as your standard. You will not equal his great ministry but you can equal the ministry that He has planned for you. He knows what He wants you to accomplish, and it may be great in your eyes or it may be meager in your eyes, but in His eyes it will be just perfect if you do it.
On the forums I see so many pastors that are down about their churches not growing or progressing as they think they ought. It is Christ that will build HIS church and it is the Holy Spirit that will draw growth as God has planned it. Think of that! That takes the ball out of your court and puts it where it belongs - IN GOD’S - IT IS HIS RESPONSIBILITY TO DO THE GROWING NOT YOURS. That should take a large load of your back and allow you to move along as planned and watch God do His building.
Guess I wish that I had learned that earlier in life :-) but then you probably will not pay too much attention to it either now that you have read it. We tend to think we can do it all while the Lord watches even though He set it up differently. We should watch while God does the work. Not to say you sit in the study all week watching reruns of your favorite show, you work yourself as hard as you can, just don’t waste time worrying about what is or is not being accomplished. Follow His leading and do His work, and let Him give the increase.
6. The thing that might impress you most is the people’s reaction to the Lord’s ministry. Hetaught with authority, not as the Scribes. Too much emphasis on this thought in relation to the church today, but one must see the application. So many today are preaching the gibberish of the day and fail to see they ought to be preaching the Word with the authority that it has.
You cannot teach “psycho-babble,” or “feel good shivers,” or “riches are for you” and expect people to understand the Word of God. It is the Word that is the authority, not all the fluff and stuff of today’s pulpits. If someone stands in a pulpit today and preaches the Word, he will most certainly be perceived as not as one of the Scribes, but as one having authority.
Yes, do your topical messages now and then and let the Lord use them, but concentrate on the explanation of passages verse by verse and allow the Spirit of God to move in people’s lives. Teach them what the Word says and they will feed upon it and will be edified. Give them fluff and stuff and they will feed on it and starve. Realize the fluff and stuff is the foo foo cuisine of today, while the Word of God is the steak and potatoes of the spiritual life.
7. Maybe one more loose application. The Lord did many miracles and they all were to draw attention to the kingdom offered. We may be the only attention to the kingdom that some people we meet see. We are living in a lost society that seldom sees true Christianity. They see the perversions the media likes to push, they see the pollution of a few as they use Christianity to front their schemes and crimes but they seldom see the real Christianity that only we can show them. We are Christ’s testimony on earth and if we do not do it, no one else will.
It is your generation’s responsibility to reach your generation. I shudder to think of the result of my generations work. When I was saved in the fifties it was through the ministry of the Word of God. It was due to a fundamentalist that loved the Lord and loved the Word and considered it his responsibility to talk to everyone he met.
The preachers of today are so into seeking the new programs, the new entertainment and the cutting edge methods to draw the lost into their churches to hear the fluff and stuff that they forget that their message is Jesus Christ - they may even talk about it but with what authority - they have none - the church looks just like the world, why would some message of Christ be too important amid all the fun and stun of modern day services?
Live your life before everyone you meet as a living testimony of the saving power of God. Then when opportunity allows, speak of that same message and watch God give the increase. Fluff and stuff may increase numbers, but it does not always produce Christians.
In my generation the polls show that Christianity has decreased. At one time they said that over half the nation was evangelical Christian and today that is listed as way under half the nation. Yes, we are a population for the politicians to deal with, but we are a shrinking population and you can see it at every turn in our nation. The majority is bent on crushing us through legislation lies and any other means they can find.
Our message was lost long ago, and unless we get back on message they will be on us like hyenas on a dead carcass.8. In verse thirty-eight Christ mentions, "And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns that I may preach there also:" Not a common verse to advance missions, but it ought to be. Christ knew it was the purpose to take the message to where people were, not draw the people to where the message is. Missions is ALL about taking the message to the people. They seek not God, so why would we think that they would seek us out, the messengers to hear our message?
Not a logical implication to be sure.
We are to take the message of salvation to the world, not create program after program entertainment after entertainment, and not foo foo after foo foo to draw the lost into the church where the message might be heard. We should - every one of us - be taking the gospel to those we meet everyday and then when they respond, take them to church to be discipled.
9. In relation to the leper it is recorded "Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth [his] hand, and touched him" The Old Testament tells us that the leper was put out of the camp. They were not to be in contact with others. It would be indicated that if Christ touched the leper and that Christ was here to fulfill the law rather than break it, that the disease may have been gone before the Lord touched the man. (See also Numbers 5:2; Leviticus 19:1 ff; and Leviticus 14:4; Leviticus 14:10)
10. Constable states "The second person of the Trinity became a servant to create a gospel, to provide good news for human beings." Consider his phrase "to create a gospel." Is this a valid observation? Or is it not more correct to say that the life, death and resurrection of Christ was the Gospel. He did not create anything, he exists and thus the Gospel exists.
We need to be more specific in our observations of the Word. Recently a forum thread ran along the lines of "Are Christians copycats?" Are we becoming just like the world was the thought. Yes, this is what the church is doing for the most part.
One person responded that she thought that we were to be "Christianizing everything." Further she observed that this thought came from the great commission. I responded that we aren’t to Christianize anything, we are to be reaching the lost and discipling the converts.
This sort of thinking comes from some of the wishy washy preaching of our day. Christianize everything - really! Where does the Word even hint at this task for the believer? We are here to evangelize, not reform society. No wonder there are fewer and fewer Christian’s in this country today.
11. It might be suggested that the first verse "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;" is a bold declaration of the beginning of the redemption of mankind as Genesis 1:1 is the bold declaration of the beginning of mankind. What God did in Genesis to bring mankind into existence so God does in Mark to bring mankind into God’s family.
Constable observes correctly that the Bible never uses the term "gospel" to relate to a book, but rather to the good news. Calling Matthew, Mark, Luke and John Gospels is a later usage of the word which was a rather natural transition.12. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew "Joshua" meaning "Yahweh saves" while Christ is the transliteration of the Greek word "kristos" meaning "annointed." Jesus was his earthly name while Christ was his title. Constable mentions that Jesus Christ was by Mark’s time of writing more of a proper name rather than a name and a title.
It should be mentioned that the name Jesus is seldom used outside the Gospels without "Lord" or "Christ" thus one might suggest that the familial usage of "Jesus" might be rather inappropriate. It tends to concentrate one’s thoughts upon His earthly time. Most that overemphasize the name "Jesus" often overemphasize His earthly ministry and subjugate His eternal ministry to a lower place than the former.
13. In verse two Mark mentions "As it is written in the prophets" and he uses the perfect tense. This is quite important to the theologian in that this would indicate something that was written that remains written and will remain written to an ultimate end. This, if you haven’t caught it yet would indicate that the New Testament Jews held to the authoritativeness and the validity of the Scripture. It was something that was written, that is quotable and something that was of benefit.
Many today wonder at the real validity of the Old Testament and its accounts, yet Mark took them as valid, true, and useful for his own day. Can we do less? Not if we are going to give the Word its due place in our lives as a guide, both Old and New.
Constable gives detail to the quote and its original sources "This quotation is a blend of words taken from the Septuagint version of Exodus 23:20, Malachi 3:1, and Isaiah 40:3. Mark shaped this quotation to stress the messianic emphasis in these Old Testament passages. He probably introduced this quotation by referring to Isaiah because the Isaiah part contains the main point he wanted to stress (v. 3) or perhaps because Isaiah was the more prominent of the prophets he quoted."
14. There almost seems to be an emphasis on "desert" and "wilderness" in this passage. John the Baptist ministered in the wilderness, Christ was baptized in the wilderness, and Christ was tempted in the wilderness. I am not sure there is a lot of significance here, but one might consider this in respect to our everyday, American Christian living. Anything out of the ordinary is a major upset for most people. We tend to want our own way in our own little comfort zone and if we get bumped out of our comfort zone, we tend to get cranky.
Here we see John ministering in a miserable sort of place, Christ going out into the pits of Judah to be baptized and then being thrust out into other areas of similar geography alone - that should have made him cranky but it did not, He just went as directed and did what He had to do.
Likewise when we get knocked out of our comfort zone we ought to see what God might want us to do and just do it and enjoy the ministry we have no matter where it might be.
It might also relate to what God wants you to do with your life. He may have a desert for you to minister in or some far off remote place where you will be alone and tested. Be open to God’s leading wherever it may take you and don’t worry about the place, the situation nor theconditions. Just let God be your guide, not your own sensibilities about country and situation.
15. Constable observes "Peter’s sermon in Acts 10:37 began at the same place as Mark’s Gospel with the ministry of John the Baptist. This is one evidence of Peter’s influence on the second Gospel." Not sure why there would be that evidence to him, it could have been that Mark influenced Peter, or it could be that some third party influenced both Mark and Peter, or it could well be that Mark and Peter were moved by THE SAME SPIRIT to record what they did.
16. One mention of the casting out of demons. Christ simply spoke and the demons obeyed. He had no special formula, He had no cross to wave over the person, He simply spoke and the demon responded. There was no struggle, no spewing forth of green gunk, no gyrations that fill a half-hour of the movie, simply the spoken word.
Is should also be noted the man was normal immediately; he did not have to go a long series of counseling. Recently on television a man was interviewed and he spoke of the multitudes of demons that he had cast out. He mentioned in the process of his self glorification process that these people who he had freed had to go through extensive counseling to get over the years of torment. This would seem to prove that he is not of God in this process, for God completely heals of all problems including the demon.
17. Mark relates in 1.36 "And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. 37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All [men] seek for thee." To which Constable relates, "Simon and his companions-who they were is unimportant-did not understand Jesus’ need for prayer. They seem to have had the common attitude that when things are favorable we do not need God’s help. Their words implied annoyance. Apparently they felt Jesus was not taking advantage of His popularity to promote His mission."
I trust that you do not take leaps of such in your own interpretation. Yes, they may have been wondering at the Lord’s taking time, but to suggest their reasoning seems a stretch of one’s imagination.
18. It is noted in the passage that some of the disciples left their father to take responsibility to mind the family business. This is not an uncommon situation in our own day. Often a son is called to the ministry which takes the son away from the Father and his care/influence. It should also be noted that there is no indication that the father failed, nor that the son failed. Both continued on in their calling and both prospered.
Years ago when the Lord first called me into ministry my father was ailing and not expected to live more than a few more months. When I felt the call of God this was one of the primary thoughts of my mind. When the Lord seemed to be leading me far away for college the topic again came to mind. If I were to go off to college I would likely never see my father again.
Of course when I opened the word looking for leading my eyes fell on the passage where the Lord was telling some to let the dead bury the dead - to go ahead in the calling under discussion. I made my decision and off to college I went.God intervened in our lives as well as my fathers. He didn’t allow us to go to the college we headed off to, but rather one about 300 miles away. Not only did we get to see my father often but soon he was re-diagnosed to be without the malady that was to take his life and we enjoyed a number of years of seeing him.
If God calls you, do not allow circumstances to deter you from following - He will take care of the details of life, you take care of the obedience.
19. Verse 27 speaks volumes to the reason for miracles and the sign gifts of later on. "27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine [is] this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him." they were amazed - something really big had gotten their attention and they wondered about it. The miracle called great attention to the Lord and more specifically to His message, the "new doctrine" and this is the exact purpose of miracles and sign gifts - to draw attention to the Gospel that Mark calls out attention to.
Verse 29 further emphasizes the dual items of miracles and message, "having wrought this miracle, and finished his sermon." Further, verse 33 states that this process of miracles and spoken word had the desired effect. "And all the city was gathered together at the door."
20. In verse 40 we note that the man kneeled before the Lord. Might I suggest that this is the proper position before God? We ought to be kneeling before Him rather than jumping and swaying and hopping and laughing etc. before Him. Yes, this man wanted healing, but he also knew who this was and knew the proper approach for Him. If you study the word worship in the Bible it often relates to prostrate on your face before God. Moses was told to remove his shoes when he was before the Lord, Isaiah was undone in God’s presence and America comes to this same God as if their pants were filled with biting ants. Screaming, waving, shaking and swaying if not jumping up and down and dancing are the norm for many congregations today.
Bow in His presence and you might be able to hear that still small voice. I rather doubt many really hear Him with all the racket going on around them.
When I was young and in the Navy a friend asked me to go to church with him. I accepted not knowing what kind of church he attended. The service went well - back in the 50’s before the drums, keyboards, worship teams and commotion. However at the end of the service the pastor began to pray and the people around me started to holler, and pound the pew back before them and it went from prayer to chaos in a millisecond. It was so terrible that I could no longer hear the pastor and the door was the only acceptable course of action. My friend came out later and mentioned, "I guess you don’t like that kind of service." We remained friends but not co-church goers.
21. Gill when commenting on verse 43 "And he straitly charged him" goes into a long section on the fact that the man had sinned and that the leprosy was due to his sin as it was in the Old Testament and goes further to state that Jewish writers held that Proverbs 6:16 problems were the cause of leprosy. It is not clear to me from those words that leprosy was due to sin in the man’slife, nor that it always was in the Old Testament, nor why he would suggest that Jewish writers were correct in their interpretaion/application of the Proverbs passage.
It is hoped that application on the part of the reader is based on more than speculation and supposition.
22. In relation to Christ hearing the words from the Father "Thou art my beloved Son" in verse eleven some might wonder if this was some sort of revelation to the Son of previously unknown information. Indeed Maclaren seems to indicate this when he says "But we know that our Lord grew, as to His manhood, in wisdom, and that His manhood was continually the receiver, from the Father, of the Spirit; and the reality of His divinity, as dwelling in His manhood from the beginning of that manhood, is not affected by the belief that when the dovelike Spirit floated down on His meek head, glistening with the water of baptism, His manhood then received a new and special consciousness of His Messianic office and of His Sonship."
It should be somewhat offensive to the reader to think that Christ did not know who and what he was from his first thoughts of such things. It seems foreign to me to suggest that Christ did not know who he was from an early age. Indeed is the account of Jesus in the synagogue at twelve not clear on this? (Luke 2:42 ff) He mentions clearly that He was about his Father’s business and it is clear that he was not speaking of Joseph.
To suggest that Christ did not know who and what He was is to demean his character and nature.
23. Maclaren describes the astonishment of the leaders with Christ’s teaching (verse 22) with great flourish of words. "They had got so accustomed to the droning dreariness and trivial subtleties of the rabbis, that it had never entered their heads that there could be any other way of teaching religion than boring men with interminable pedantries about trifles of ritual or outward obedience."
It rather quickly crossed my mind that he could have been describing modern day believers. The average church goers would be shocked at hearing the Word preached as it ought rather than hearing a steady diet of fluff and stuff. The Word should be fresh and new at all times, if not there is something wrong in the preachers/teachers relationship to it.
24. Some that teach baptism make grand stretches of the imagination to show that baptism was something carried over from the Old Testament. This might be a possibility, however the evidence is never shown by these that believe such things. In all the reading and study I have done I have never run across anyone that displays from Old Testament passages where baptism was a part of any dispensation prior to the ministry of the Baptist.
The Life Application Bible states that some believe that baptism was a part of becoming a follower of God in the Old Testament, that when a Gentile came to the Jews to become a follower of God that they were immersed. This again, may be true, but from what indication of Scripture would be my question.Some suggest that the washings of the Old Testament were baptisms; however, again the passages are not suggested to prove this point.
It seems to me that baptism was something relatively new on the scene and that it was simply an indication of preparedness for the kingdom that was to be offered. Christian baptism is then explained as something else in the New Testament epistles.
25. In relation to the temptation of Christ the obvious question is always "Could Jesus have sinned?" Of course he could have sinned, he was truly human. On the other hand, of course He could not sin, He was God. There are good people on both sides of the discussion but one thing must be maintained in the discussion. He was tempted in all ways as we. Within those three major points find your position.
It has always been clear to me that of course He could not have sinned because He was God, but to be tempted as the rest of the human races is tempted He would have had to have that ability within His nature. The fact that He perfectly relied upon the Holy Spirit in all areas of His life would be the "could not have" aspect and the fact that He was human would be the "could have" aspect of the matter.
There is further on this in my theology if you would like to dig deeper. (See Christ/temptation of file 02350)
2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
The term translated "written" is the term we gain our term "graphic" from. It is the written character. The tense used here is the perfect indicative which would indicate sometime past the writing took place and that the writing will continue into the future to a point of culmination. The indicative is a statement of fact - it is a sure thing.
The term "prophets" would refer back to the Old Testament prophets since the New Testament Prophets prophesied due to gifts of the Spirit which had not been given at the time of the beginning of the Lord’s ministry, nor do we have any indication that any of those prophets wrote down any of their proclamations.
"Behold" is a verb in the imperative - do it - behold it - this is important. Pay attention to this information. Some preachers need to use this term before they start their message, maybe thepeople would pay more attention to his thoughts.
"Messenger" is the word "angleos" which is normally translated angel. It is the same term translated angel in Revelation 3:1 where John mentions the angel of the church at Sardis. Since verse six of Mark one identifies this messenger to be John the Baptist, we know it is not in this context referring to an angel. We might further remember that John was born of a woman, again proving that he was not an angel.
We see two terms translated "before" in this verse. The first is the Greek word "pro" or before but the second word is another Greek word that has the thought of before one in your presence or one going before that you can observe. This certainly pictures the Baptist and the Lord. They knew well what each other were doing, and John was preparing the way for Christ. (They were related by blood, in that Mary and Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother were cousins according to Luke 1:36 "And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.".) Whether they knew each other as relatives or even fellow ministers is not clear. We will see in this section that John states he did not know the Lord - by sight at least.
Just how did he prepare the way might be a great subject to delve into. We will not try to do that now, but suffice it to say now that whatever the Lord Jesus came to do, John was to smooth the way for that work - he was to assist by making the way easier.
Galatians declares the same truth in another manner. 4.4 "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." In "the fulness of the time was come" we find that the Lord came at just the right moment in history, at the precise time that God decreed it. Many historians have said that there would not have been a better time for Christ to come.
Politics was right for free travel, there was a common language across the land, the roads that the Romans built were the best in the world and allowed the Gospel to spread adequately. Everything in history was set - some might say the stage was set by God to accept His Son into history. In Mark we see that there was one there to precede the Son of God in ministry to make the way straight. Matthew 3:3 also mentions this fact as well as naming the prophet in question.
"For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." As you study one gospel you will need to look at the other three gospels as well for they shed light upon one another.
The prophecy is found in Isaiah 40:3 "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see [it] together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it]." It is also recorded in Malachi 3:1.
Life Application Bible makes a good point as to why Mark mentions the forerunner John. "Whydoes the Gospel of Mark begin with the story of John the Baptist and not mention the story of Jesus’ birth? Important Roman officials of this day were always preceded by an announcer or herald. When the herald arrived in town, the people knew that someone of prominence would soon arrive. Because Mark’s audience was primarily Roman Christians, he began his book with John the Baptist, whose mission it was to announce the coming of Jesus, the most important man who ever lived. Roman Christians would have been less interested in Jesus’ birth than in this messenger who prepared the way."
4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
In this passage we want to look at two items, John baptizing in the wilderness and his baptism.
IN THE WILDERNESS: Vine mentions of this word "desolate, deserted, lonely" while another mentions "desert." Not a real pleasant place to be. It was not the Ritz and it was not where one would go for a time of refreshment. I looked at a satellite map of the area and it looks as barren as Vine describes it.
BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS:
Now, right away we should note that his baptism is not the same as church baptism. Church baptism is never called a baptism of repentance, nor is it linked directly to the remission of sins but rather is an outward sign of inward regeneration. We have already, as church age believers repented of our sins and found forgiveness of our sins, and THEN we seek baptism as a sign of what God has done in our lives.
Acts mentions John’s baptism several times. Once in relation to a time line of Christ’s life in Acts 1:21 "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection."
Again in 10.36 where it mentions John’s preaching: "The word which [God] sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 37 That word, [I say], ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." Here we see that there seems to be a finish to the baptism of John, "after the baptism which John preached" seems to be a break between John’s ministry and the Lord’s ministry.
In Acts 13:24 ff we see that John ministered to the "people of Israel." This is of great note. He preached to the Jews, not to the Gentiles, nor to the church. "When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not [he]. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of [his] feet I am not worthy to loose."The text also mentions "John fulfilled his course" indicating that there was a finish to what he was sent to do.
Acts 19:1 ff is key. It again shows a difference between John’s baptism and the baptism of the early church. They immediately knew there was a difference, and were properly baptized when they heard from Paul. "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard [this], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
We are not given a 25 minute sermon on the difference between John’s baptism and the baptism of the church, but it is clear that the difference exists.
For the most part, John was preaching to the Jewish folks that were looking for a king and kingdom. He was assisting them in preparation for that kingdom, though they soon rejected it because they did not like the teaching of the King. Christian baptism is an outward sign of an inward change of life that is due to belief and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.
There is a large controversy about the "remission of sins" as well, but we won’t deal with it here. Those that believe that baptism is required to be saved, camp on this phraseology both in Acts and Mark the last chapter. It will suffice to say that even the Jewish Historian Josephus did not believe in the idea that baptism was not an integrated part of salvation.
"Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and was a very just punishment for what he did against John called the Baptist [the dipper]. For Herod had him killed, although he was a good man and had urged the Jews to exert themselves to virtue both as to justice toward one another and reverence towards God, and having done so join together in washing. For immersion in water, it was clear to him, could not be used for the forgiveness of sins, but as a sanctification of the body, and only if the soul was already thoroughly purified by right actions." (Antiquities 18.5.2 116-119 copied from http://members.aol.com/fljosephus/JohnTBaptist.htm#Baptism 3-18-07)
5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
This text has appeared in many of my studies to explain the word "all" adequately. "All the land of Judea" is the phrase that Mark uses, but we know that "all" of Judea did not go out to John. Many went even multitudes went to be baptized but not "all" as in every single person in Judea.
It is rather like my speaking generically of "the church" being lost in worldliness. Do I mean that every last church on the planet is lost in worldliness? No. It is only a figure of speech to indicatea seeming totality, but not every single one.
It would seem that these folks were attempting to get right with God to the best of their ability. Yes, some were probably just following the crowd while others were making an outward show for the benefit of others, but many if not most were attempting to set things right before their God.
Long and hard have been the discussions of the word translated baptized. Many say that it can relate to pouring or sprinkling, but the thought of the word is to dip, to wash, or to whelm. None of these really picture sprinkling or pouring in my mind.
Did you notice when I read the quote from Josephus that even he believed John was immersing the people? "For immersion in water"
Immersion is the only logical conclusion since he was doing it in a river. If only sprinkling or pouring, he could have done it in Jerusalem where there was clear water and a Men’s Warehouse and McDonalds.
Now if you want to talk about washing, when I was a kid my mother worked outside the home so I was expected to wash the lunch dishes when arriving home after school. I would fill the sink and put all the dishes in the water and go watch television for an hour or so. By the time I returned I could just pick them out of the water and rinse them under the faucet. Now as to the silverware, I always did it a little differently because the soaking did not always do the trick. She had a Pyrex coffee maker and I would put it under the faucet, put the silverware in and run the hot water into the coffee pot for several minutes as hot as it would go. Again, after a little television and the silverware was clean.
Wash means wash to me, it means under water and cleaned.
They were confessing their sins. "Sins" is the normal word translated sin in the New Testament. Simply it relates to missing the mark or in this case missing the mark set by God for our spiritual lives.
As to “confessing” we see Romans 14:11 speaks to all bowing to confess Christ in the end. This is the same word. It relates to the agreement on sin or having the same view of your action as the Lord does. Now this is pretty difficult in our own day since there is little in life that is really wrong if "YOU" deem it okay. Sin is a rather obscure idea these days. We may make a mistake but never sin.
When men speak of their infidelity it is a mistake, or maybe even a BIG mistake, but seldom do they have God’s view of their sinful act. Indeed seldom do they have their wife’s view of the sinfulness of their act. Confession must be the thought of knowing how God feels about the situation and agreeing with Him that it was truly wrong. Philippians 2:11 uses the same term.
"And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father." They will agree with God about Who Christ is.When you go to your prayer time and seek forgiveness, take a little time to consider your wrongs and see if you can come to God’s view of what you have done. That is what confession is really about.
6 And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
Okay, the clothes I can put up with but never the diet! John, how could you set such a disgusting example for us? This diet sounds like the diet my doctor wants me to follow - low fat, low salt and low sugar. I often comment that the doctor has me on a Styrofoam and water diet, but that is rather exaggerating it to me.
Life Application Bible states that John chose this sort of clothing to separate from the religious leaders of the day. I would challenge this line of thought and suggest that he was wearing what he could afford to wear. Many of God’s servants dress a little less than the norm due to lack of money to dress as their followers would have them dress.
Taken to task once because I wore a sweater and cowboy boots instead of a suit with my nice shirt and tie, I often attempt to dress as best I can but I do not take the opinions of the religious leaders of how I dress. I wear that which I can afford and do not attempt to make myself something I am not - as many seem to do.
Locust and wild honey! Everyone knows honey is not to be eaten unless it is prepared properly and out of a plastic container! Locust is even worse. Years ago the Midwest was pleasured with a super abundance of grasshoppers. They were thick as a cloud at times in the air and as you drove down the highway you could hear the crunching under the wheels. The cars were literally covered with the dead grasshoppers. I can’t imagine too many Americans wanting to eat one of those things much less have them for a steady diet.
The authorities relate that the locust blow into Israel on a fairly regular basis and that they are eaten by many. There are many ways to prepare them for eating including roasted, salted, fried in butter, and raw. Our taste in America is much different than many other peoples of the world.
While in the Navy I served as a Shore Patrolman from time to time. When in Hong Kong our area to cover was rather out of the way and in the middle of a market. I could not believe what people were actually willing to pay for to take home and eat. The hamburger at the end of the shift was much appreciated, though I wondered what might have been in it.
A. T. Robertson relates that the people of this area even today collect wild honey and sell it for a living.
I have read that there was a plant that had an edible meat on it that they think might have been what Mark had in mind, though the accounts of yearly migrations of locust make me think the footed finger food might be the more likely.One might wonder at the attire and diet of John, and one might wonder if it were not the result of his total rejection of the world system of his time, and a total reliance upon the Lord for provision. After all, the Lord promises provision of needs to the birds of the air, but that involves living in nests in trees and eating bugs and worms.
There is one story that must be shared. When teaching we were on a very limited support and many times our budget for food was quite small. We ate what we could afford and enjoyed timely gifts from the Lord. One year we were allowed to glean a potato field and those small red potatoes were so great when fried. Later in the year someone donated cases and cases of eggs to the school. For weeks we had eggs three meals a day. The question was not what do you want for dinner; it was how would you like your eggs.
All of this calls up the point of what do we really need to survive this life. Do we need the cars the appliances, the houses, the clothes and all that other stuff, or could we do with a considerable amount less? Might we consider John’s lifestyle and wonder at our own and even maybe reconsider our own a little while?
Camel’s hair and skins: What can be said of this? Not too much. He wore camel skins and skins around his waist. Kind of like a caveman. Hope I did not just make the same mistake GEICO made :-)
7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
Imagine the listener when they heard these words from John. He was a powerful, verbal man who was setting the country on its collective ear and yet he declares quite specifically that he is peanuts in comparison to the one that will one day come.
It would be hard to imagine anyone "mightier" than one that could draw crowds of all strata of society; someone more influential than one that was drawing crowds of people from the cities into the wilderness to be dunked in a dirty river.
It may be of note that John knew that he was to die an early death in that he said, "There cometh one mightier than I after me." Note the "after" indicating that he might pass before the mightier one would become prominent.
"Cometh" is in the present tense so he knew Christ was becoming active in His ministry.
I am sure that it has crossed other minds through the ages that these two men must have had some interesting talks with themselves in those times when they found time to think. They knew who they were, they knew their coming lives and how they would play out in history. There must have been a focus of mind that most of us have never been capable of having to continue on toward their end.
There most certainly were critics that questioned who they were and what their true ministry wasto be, yet they did not allow detractors to mislead them from their focus on God’s plan for their lives. One must also wonder at just how John knew what that plan was and why he was so focused. Did God reveal it to him directly, or did he just KNOW what he was to do. Of course Christ knew his reason for being on earth, and He most certainly knew His end, but John was not God and could not have known without something special happening in his life to give him that confidence and knowledge of coming ministry. We will see indication soon that God had revealed some information to Him.
8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
This passage is used to prove that there is a second work of grace when the Holy Spirit is poured out in some manner after salvation to bring special whatever upon the believer. This is often called the second blessing, or in the case of Pentecostals the baptism of the Spirit. When it happens the "sign" of course is speaking in tongues as they did on the day of Pentecost. HOWEVER, there is no indication of this teaching in this context or verse. It is a simple statement that Christ would baptize with the Holy Spirit, as in salvation. We are baptized into the body of Christ via the Spirit. To make more of this is to read into the context a lot more than the normal meaning of words allows.
It is a further statement that John knew that what Christ was going to do was far greater than anything he could do, even though he was a most influential man.
This would also give rise to the assumption that John knew the purpose and work of Christ. He knew a lot more about Christ than the average person. Indeed, it would seem that He knew this Christ was God, and that Christ was here to do a work far above what any man could do. To know that Christ could command the Spirit in the act of baptizing men there would have to be a great knowledge of God’s plan for that point in time.
9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
Here we have the simple statement that Christ came for baptism. This would make most wonder about the present "cometh" used in the previous text. Was John looking upon the scene around him and did he see Christ coming, or were the two passages removed from one another more than that?
The phrase "And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan." would indicate that this was a different time than the passage relating to Christ coming. The synoptics do not shed any further light on this either.
Only Matthew records the hesitation of John to baptize the Lord. Matthew 3:14 mentions "But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him."If our assumption is correct that John knew a lot more than others about the baptism of the Spirit then this passage would only add further weight to our thinking. He states that he needs Christ’s baptism rather than Christ needing his. John knew that his baptism was for one purpose, while Christ’s baptism was for another purpose.
It is always rather strange to me that those that trace baptism back to the New Testament time go clear back to John the one that had an inferior baptism to the Lord’s or believer’s baptism. Indeed in Acts the baptism of John was shown to be inferior to church age baptism or believer’s baptism. Why would you trace your "spiritual lineage" to an inferior baptism?
Those that believe that the local church is the only church often hold to what is called apostolic succession which goes back to John. Their doctrine is really named incorrectly since John was not an apostle in the sense of the twelve. Indeed if they held to their name they would be more correct - holding to succession back to believer’s baptism. They believe that if you are not baptized by one that was baptized by one that was baptized by one that was baptized -- back to John that you have not been properly baptized.
The question should arise, if you trace your authority and purpose back to a man who offered an inferior/different baptism, is your baptism then not inferior also?
10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
Uhhh, LOGIC BREAK. If Christ came "up out of the water," he must have been down in it - IMMERSION seems the LOGICAL conclusion.
Matthew 3:16 "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him"
Luke 3:21 "Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, 22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased."
One is hard pressed to understand the pictures that have been produced, and the teaching that have been taught that all around Christ saw this event. They may have, but the text does not tell us that. The text could well read that Christ only saw the events contained in these verses. Is there any other passage that would suggest that others saw the event other than the physical baptism of the Lord?
To answer the question let us read from John 1:19 "And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22 Then said theyunto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I [am] the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. 24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 8 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. [Bethabara is not a known location. One places it about 25 miles from Nazareth while most suggest it was east of Jerusalem and "beyond Jordon" - People were mentioned as coming from Jerusalem so most assume this locates the area in the southern part of the Jordon River rather than the northern part.]
It would seem that at least John and Christ saw the events following Christ’s baptism but whether the people did or not is up for debate.
We also see further information about what John knew. In verse 32-34 it is revealed that God spoke directly to John at some time about his ministry as well as the coming of one that is mightier. Only by seeing the dove descending was John to know the Christ.
I think we have seen the importance of looking at all four gospels to gain the entire picture.
11 And there came a voice from heaven, [saying], Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Again, there is no indication here whether all heard the voice, or just the Lord and John. We saw from the Gospel of John that the dove was a sign to John the Baptist, thus the dove and voice may well have been uniquely tied together. Matthew mentions that the heavens were opened to "him" indicating John the Baptist. Luke does not indicate that anyone but Christ and John saw or heard this.
It would seem that if all the people saw this that there would have been quite a stir and that one of the synoptic writers would have mentioned it.
2 Peter 1:16 mentions the similar situation relating to the Mount of Transfiguration occasion.
"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellentglory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount." Peter was speaking of an occasion when there was a voice from God declaring Christ, Matthew 17:5 and Mark 9:2.
A point should be declared here. John the Baptist observed such a voice as did some of the disciples. Matthew and Mark declare these disciples to have been Peter, James and John. It would be of interest as to why these four men had a direct declaration from God Himself that Christ was the Son of God. What special need did they have in their coming lives to have this bestowed upon them?
Since John the Baptist was martyred this may have been a real boost to his confidence in facing his coming death. Peter, being the prime mover in the early church faced many trials as well that could have used a confidence booster - not to forget his hesitancy to acknowledge the Lord after the arrest of the Lord.
Just why James and John had this experience we don’t know. James was the leader of the church at Jerusalem and John may have needed this for his knowledge in recording his Gospel. The point is what grand knowledge to have had before going into the heavy duties of the Lord. God knew that they would need this for whatever the reason.
We also should give ourselves comfort in knowing that God will prepare us for the tasks He has for us. No matter how bad or how hard, He will prepare us adequately to face all that might come our way. We need not doubt that He has us prepared according to His need.
The term translated "voice" is the word we gain our word "phone" from. It has the idea of sound forth or voice. One of the leaders in one of the churches we have been a part of over the years has a voice that reminds me of the cartoons – you know when someone is towering over another with their mouth opened into a chasm yelling at the other. The listener is bent backward and his hair and clothing are being blown backward due to the force of the voice of the other. This deacon is rather quiet in most of his talking, but when he gets excited he does not control the force of his voice well. The force reminds me of these cartoon characters. His voice is booming it is largeness itself and to the point of being physically painful to the ear in a small room.
I have to imagine that this would be similar to what God’s voice might be like, not that it is meant to terrify, only that there is the force of almighty God behind it.
Mark and Luke state that God said "thou" art, while Matthew mentions "this is" my son. It could be assumed that Matthew was using poetic license to make a special point to the Jewish reader but he may also just have given this angle without thinking of the specific wording. It might be more to the point to contemplate why God would tell Jesus that He was His son, when they both knew the fact intimately well.
12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.
I will not make a lot of the point that the Spirit descended and "immediately the Spirit" wasworking in His life. Some make huge effort to prove that Christ did all He did on earth by His own divine power, yet here it is plain that the Spirit was very powerful in His life. "Driveth" is not the term I would have used of a being that was choosing His own options in life.
"Driveth" is normally translated "cast out" which demands a little more than just a minor "leading" of the Spirit, but a real force in His life. The lexicon lists as part of the meaning the thought of "deprive of power" thus again we see something that is of marked import, not just something of insignificance. Christ was driven to the wilderness for God’s purpose. Again, if Christ was under His own divine power, do you think the Spirit could "drive" Him or indeed need to drive Him? It seems rather inconsistent to me.
"Wilderness" gives a good definition to the word. Desert is also a possible aspect to the word. One aspect that might be surmised but that is not evident in the word itself is "lonely" which seems to be an additional thought of the word. Not only was Christ in a desolate place, but a lonely place as well.
Matthew 4:1 "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." The term Matthew uses is more in line with the thought of leading and it is in the passive voice which would indicate the action did not involve the Lord. It was the Spirit that was doing the action. This is the case in the Luke text as well. The Lord was being acted upon according to Matthew and Luke, while Mark also pictures the Spirit as the active member of the situation. It would seem that Christ was definitely moved of the Spirit to go into the wilderness.
Luke also uses the term "led" to describe this moment in the Lord’s life. 4.1 "and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness" The term he uses has the thought of laying hold of to lead as you would lead an animal.
The synoptics seem to picture Christ as being led or directed quite forcefully into the wilderness. It is of note that there were different words used. From the Spirit’s action it seems to be much more forceful, but from Jesus perspective much less forceful. What a perfect picture of God’s working in our lives. We see His leading as a part of our life, something that is allowed, yet in God’s mind and action it is something that is much more forceful and definite. (Calvinists, do not make too much of this statement, it does not mean that Christ had no choice in the situation and I do not imply such :-)
This is such a beautiful picture of God’s working in the background of our lives. We seldom know the intricacies of His working and protecting within our lives. He is constantly involved in our lives background not just spasmodically. Many times in our lives it has been evident in retrospect that He was so totally in our lives. Many times when we have narrowly avoided terrible accidents or problems, it has been evident in looking back over the situation that many little things came together to bring us to the close call rather than the catastrophe that it could have been.
One Christmas we were to drive to another state for the day. When I was finished with work, I climbed into the car and found we had car trouble. The problem added about a half-hour to ourdeparture time. We finally left our home and started down the freeway. As we entered the interchange area where we needed to go north, we could see a large fire burning. The nearer we came to the fire the more chilled we became. It was a fuel tanker that had overturned on the exit area where we needed to go north.
The terrible thought was plain in our minds - what if the car had not given trouble - might we have been in that disastrous wreck?
13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
Christ was tempted. The word translated "tempted" also has the idea of assay, or test to see what the quality is. The old west was full of assay offices where gold was to be found. The prospector would bring his gold to the assay office to find out what quality the gold was, was it poor or was it of high quality.
Not that anyone needs to be told just how Christ would assay out, He is perfection, He is God how could the assay come back wanting? On the other hand who would be stupid enough to want to test Christ as to quality? No thinking person would suggest such a thing, but Satan - Satan is another being, he just cannot take God at His word, he must test everything that God does or says, lest God be found wanting in some way.
Now I don’t know the motivation of Satan at this point, whether he is really inept enough to wonder who and what Christ is or whether he is doing this out of shear desperation. He wants to see if he can find some imperfection in the Lord so that he can point his finger at God and make accusation.
Either way, can you put yourself in the Devil’s position and feel his pain? I think there must have been a heavy dose of "that sinking feeling."
The term wilderness is the same term as we have already seen - desert, deserted and those other descriptive terms. Christ was alone with this creature that had been against God from his early days. There must have been a side order of fear in Christ to know the past activity of Satan and to know of his hatred for God. To be alone with such a creature must have been a trial in itself on top of the temptations that went along with it.
As with our previous study, the whole story is in the synoptics. Matthew 4:1 ff and Luke 4:1 ff both give the detail of the temptations and Matthew ends the section with the following comment. "Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him." There was a lot of time between the temptation that Mark mentions and the angels ministering.
This is normal in the gospels, the different writers leaving out portions of the actual account to bring about the account that they wanted to set down for their readers. Luke mentions in 4.13 "And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season." Often we invision this temptation as the one time event where Christ was the victor and the opponent went off sulking - not so. This was only the first of the temptations that the Lord was to endure over the course of his ministry.
Don’t be lulled into complacency. Be watchful for the Devil’s approach. You may feel you have dealt with him, but he is always lurking and watching for a chance to clobber you when you are off guard.
Years ago when pastoring a small work, there had been a lot of discussion about our church buying a Jehovah witness hall for a meeting place. I was opposed to it due to the fact that we had no finances for such a venture and second the town was very anti Jehovah Witness. Most people had signs on their front doors warning the Jehovah Witnesses that they were not welcome to knock.
I had talked to a lot of the townsfolk and found that they to a man told me to not get involved with the building if we ever wanted to grow.
The church met to discuss the issue, voted on it and unanimously decided it would be a poor decision. Having set that beast aside I thought smooth sailing was ahead. About two months later as I was relaxing at a potluck, one of the men of the church - one who did not attend the meeting on the building - sat down beside me and suggested that the church reconsider the Jehovah Witness building. He had been talking to those in the know about the cost of the building etc. and thought reconsideration was in order.
The devil hit me when I was relaxing at a potluck - he never rests even if we try to.
The temptation was followed by a time of recuperation. God sent angels to minister to the Lord. The word translated "minister" is the term that we gain deacon from. It relates to serving the needs of another. Christ had needs and God was there to meet them for Him.
There must have been enjoyment in the Lord’s mind to know that the Devil was gone for awhile and He could accept the ministrations of the angels. So, when you have had hard trials, open yourself to the ministrations of others. They are there to assist you, and it is good for you to allow them to have this ministry with you.
On the same hand, do not feel guilty about taking some time for you to recoup from hard times. Take time to refresh, to reflect and to thank the Lord for what he has done in your life.
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God
It is almost as though Christ beginning His ministry was dependent on the decline of the Baptist. Matthew 4:12 mentions "Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;"The Matthew text indicates this even further, however it would seem that Christ was in the area that John was in and when John was imprisoned, Christ left that area to go to Galilee which is north of the area attributed to John. Mark also rather indicates that Mark was in Galilee when he records, "Jesus came into Galilee."
Christ leaving upon the imprisonment does not indicate that He was afraid of trouble, but just that He knew His purpose on earth and knew that He had not finished his work. Other places in the Gospels show Christ desirous of not drawing attention to himself (Mark 7:35 ff for one) so that He would not be hindered in His work on earth.
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Again we see the thought of the right time, the appointed time and it is in the context of "the kingdom of God is at hand." Christ is preaching the kingdom at this point, not a salvation of grace based on the cross. This is terribly important in our understanding of the gospels. Christ preached the coming kingdom for a good portion of His earthly ministry, and only after the Jews had rejected this gospel did He start teaching about the church age.
Care must be taken not to mix the gospel of the kingdom message with Christ’s later message aimed at the beginning of the church age. The two are not the same and must not be taught as the same. The kingdom information is for a time when Christ will rule here on earth and is not for the church age. Be careful to note the context and time of the synoptics and the information that they contain.
The term repent is the same idea as the term used in verse four where John the Baptist was preaching repentance. To change one’s mind is the thought. To change your mind about the kingdom, about God or whatever you are considering. When you are looking at flat screen televisions and you have decided to purchase one and you check with your wife or checkbook and find that you cannot go through with the purchase, you repent or change your mind.
The nonbeliever that considers the claims of Christ, and decides that Christ was who He said He was, has changed his mind, or repented of his former belief.
This is the key of the kingdom gospel. The Jews were to reconsider their view of God and have a change of mind to prepare for the kingdom. If there was no change of mind, then they were not prepared or ready for the kingdom.
The same is true of church age belief. The lost person must consider the gospel, and change their mind as to the world view and God’s view. There must be a change of mind for the person to be ready for regeneration.
Not only is there a difference of gospels, there is a difference in another area which will be seen as we go along. Much has been written about two terms that you will run into in the synoptics; the "kingdom of God" and "the kingdom of heaven." Again, don’t be quick to assume they arethe same kingdom. They are not the same, though there are many similarities.
Take time to list all of the occurrences of both terms, then read each passage and observe their individual qualities. Find the similarities and note the differences. You will find that both are quite similar, but that there is definitely a difference. (You can find a listing of both terms in my theology if you are interested in this study.)
16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
Matthew further identifies Simon as Simon Peter. We are not told whether Christ knew these two men previously or whether this was just a chance happening of circumstance. In the next verse we are told that he called them to follow Him and they responded by dropping their nets and going with Him.
This would indicate that there was some prior contact, else wise why would men that were dependent on fishing for their living just drop everything and follow Him. There must have been some reason in their minds - some thought of who he was or they would not have followed.
17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
In my mind this passage displays a basis for the call of God upon a man for ministry. This was not a call to salvation, indeed one might wonder if that had not already happened in these men’s lives. This was a call to training, a call to follow Him and a call to learn of Him.
There had to have been some decision in their minds to drop what they were doing and to respond to this call.
The "come ye" was not just an invitation, but it was an imperative, a command, or an order to action. Again, it would seem that there had been interaction before this occasion, otherwise why would two intelligent brothers follow the command of a total stranger.
The term "followed" has the thought of not only coming along behind, but that of doing so as a disciple. These men understood that they were going to be trained as fishers of men. They seemed to understand what was coming in their lives and they accepted this call upon their life.
So men and women today understand that call to minister as a setting aside of present situations and going off to follow one that will train them. One of the men of Moody’s day, indeed it may have been Moody himself said something along the lines that God doesn’t call prepared men; he prepares the men He calls.
This is important to understand. You may be trained in a certain field, but when God calls you He may have other plans for your life. He might use you in your field of training but from observation of life, He seldom does.He wants you prepared as He wants you rather than as you are. If you are reading this and God has been prodding you to consider ministry rather than the occupation you are in or might be preparing for, don’t worry about dropping your nets and following Him, He certainly knows better than you.
In my early Christian life I was a television repairman. When God started moving me toward ministry I of course checked into missionary aviation and radio. I was a good technician so God must want me fixing radios for Him. Nope, that door was slammed shut when I tried to open it.
I continued to pray and consider, and realized that He had other plans for me. It turns out He used that technician training to support us through school and many non-paying ministries. He knows MUCH better than you what He wants of you. When He calls, just drop your nets and follow. It is a simple formula.
We might add John 1:35-42 to our understanding of the call we have just covered. 35 "Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! 37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two which heard John [speak], and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."
Andrew and Peter certainly did know of the Christ before they were called by him to be disciples. Andrew had been following John and knew of the coming Messiah.
19 And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the [son] of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. 20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
Two more that were fishing called to be apostles. Humm do we see a pattern here? Four fishermen, is this a Biblical okay to go fishing fellows? Well maybe not since they left their fishing to do service for their God.
Again we don’t know what the precursors were to this call, but we might have indication in Acts 1:21 that all of the disciples were at least hearers of John the Baptist if not followers. In the context of picking a replacement for Judas one of the comments made was 21 "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection." It would seem logical to conclude that they all were at the very least knowledgeable or John. Now we should look at one more line of thought. If this is true and it seems to be, then might part of the smoothing of the way that John was to do, have been the pre-training of the twelve. John’s ministry would have brought them to purity of life and started them on their spiritual journey with the Lord even before He had appeared on the scene.
21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. 22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
In verse 14 we saw Christ walking by the Sea of Galilee and now in verse 21 we are told he went into Capernaum which is situated at the North end of the Sea of Galilee.
He entered the synagogue which would be the normal thing to expect. He was here to fulfill the law so He would naturally do all those things that He was expected to do. Not only did He go He taught those that would listen. It is not to surprising that "they were astonished at his doctrine:" and that "he taught them as one that had authority," which is not surprising either.
Two items: Surprising doctrine and He taught as one with authority. We are not told what doctrine He was teaching but we can assume that it was related to the coming kingdom rather than the Old Testament law. He was on earth to set up His kingdom and He would not have wasted time on other information.
He had all authority since He was God, so it shouldn’t surprise us that this was the case. The interesting point is that the people realized His authoritativeness as compared to that of the Scribes. Evidently the Scribes were well known and not to be trusted in doctrine else wise why would they not appear to have authority.
It might be surmised that the Scribes are as many pastors today, preaching one thing and living another. We are continually hearing of men who have had ongoing adulterous relationships that have spanned years and years, we have men who are addicted to gambling as well as women and are stealing from their church to support their sin.
I frequent Internet forums and often there are discussions of pastors that are addicted to pornography and want to know what to do - STOP IT would be good!
The people are not stupid, even today in our churches the people know when their speakers are "without authority" and they rightly reject what they are hearing.
Pastors and teachers, when you step up to teach others be sure you are on holy ground with God and teach truth with the authority that He has given you. If you have sin in your life, be sure to get right before you dare to teach others how to live a holy life.
I recently read the account of a man who had been having an affair for over twenty years. It started before he divorced his first wife and it continued on till well after he married his second wife. No, I will call that an adulterous relationship - affair sounds so simple and nice, whileadultery is the truth. He continued on with his adultery through two wives and speaking in churches across the country. What a hypocrite and how much authority does he have now that he has been exposed. How do people who sat under his preaching sort out what was truth and what was lie as they consider his ministry to them?
23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 Saying Let [us] alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. 25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. 26 And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
The term translated synagogue does not relate to the usual thought of the American mind of a synagogue - a building where Jewish people meet. The word is like the word translated “church”
- the assembly of people rather than the building that they meet in. The church today is the building in most cases and this is indeed very sad. The Scripture is clear that the church is the assembly, the body, the people, not the bricks and mortar.
However today the church is seldom seen as the people, if it isn’t seen as the building it is seen as the organization or hierarchy of the leadership. The organization today must survive as well as the building, but don’t sweat the people, they are replaceable in most leaders minds. Many Christian organizations are in save the organization mode rather than minister to the people mode.
It is of note that Mark relates the proper context to the word by the phrase "was in their synagogue" which indicates it was the people’s assembly rather than THE assembly.
"Unclean" is usually translated thusly, but is also translated "foul" which is used of foul weather in Matthew 16:3; of a foul spirit in Mark 9:25; and of foul spirits in Revelation 18:2 "And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird."
"Cried out" has the thought of raising a cry from the depths of the throat. Not just a whimper or crying, but a cry of total desperation if not fear. This man was in a terrible situation and the Lord opened His heart to assist him in his plight.
You might notice a difference between vs. 23 and 24 in the number of spirits. One says "an unclean" while the next verse mentions us and we. Verse 23 actually does not give indication of number in the Greek. It simply states that there was a man with unclean spirit. The Luke passage follows Mark almost identically. The man had unclean spirit and the spirit identifies himself as plural. From the outward appearance singular might have been the image. Unless the spirits identified themselves to the outside world, the ravings of one possessed might well seem to be just a single spirit.
On the other hand, Christ deals with a singular spirit. It could be that he was dealing with the one that spoke and communicated with Him, but more likely he was dealing with the Devilhimself and other spirits, but Christ knew that it was the Devil that he must deal with in this situation. In verse twenty-six the emphasis shifts back to a singular which would fit the idea that it was the Devil that was under attack, even if there were other spirits involved.
Just a note of information in verse twenty six the term translated "came out" is the word that "exorcism" comes from.
It is of note that the Mark passage mentions the spirit "tore" the man and cried and then came out. The Luke account however mentions "he came out of him, and hurt him not." (Luke 4:35) The term torn in our language indicates the tearing as in parting of one into two. The tearing of the seat of your pants indicates the fabric is separated, while the Greek term relates to convulse or spasmodic contraction. Jerk might be a better word than torn in our particular time and culture.
The cry was a different word than in verse 23. This word relates to the cry of a raven or to croak. This wasn’t the same deep down cry but rather a voice to the finish of the possession. Not altogether quiet, but the raven is quite a different sound.
27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine [is] this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
Luke 4:36 puts it this way: "And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out."
Note that Mark uses the term "doctrine" while Luke uses the term "word" when describing Christ’s verbalization with the spirit. Mark uses the term that normally is translated doctrine while Luke uses the term "logos" or "word" to describe it. Since they were quoting observations it may have been that Mark heard one person’s comment while Luke heard another person’s comment. The two terms are not that separate, for doctrine is made up of words.
The observers were not just surprised, but they were astonished at this occurrence. They had not seen anything like this.
One might wonder at the possessed man being in the synagogue. Was this a test of the Devil for the Lord? Why would the Devil allow one he is possessing to enter a place of worship, unless to disrupt or test. The introduction of this man would seem to be nothing out of the ordinary. The text just states that this possessed man was part of the group at the synagogue
The term translated "authority" in both accounts is the same word which means authority, yet a possible translation of the term is "liberty of doing as one pleases" giving quite a picture of the Lord. This man Jesus has liberty to do anything He wants to do. No wonder they were amazed and thought he had authority and power. (Luke mentions both authority and power while Mark just mentions the authority.)Placing myself in a crowd of lost people if I saw someone come in and cast out spirits, I think I would be properly impressed, amazed and be left to wonder at the ability of this person. It is quite understandable in my mind. Add to that the fact that the others most likely knew this man who was possessed, and they now had their acquaintance back in a normal state and they could again interact with him on a normal basis. There must have been a lot of thankfulness in their minds as well, though it is not stated in the text.
Barnes makes the following statement: "He did it in his own name, and by his own authority." I would suggest that you find this in the Scripture text. He did it with authority, but it does not mention whose authority it was. I would suggest sticking to the text, rather than opinion. Barnes suggests the common teaching that Christ as God performed miracles via His own power; however this is up for much discussion.
28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.
The Lord was becoming well known from this one miracle. The word translated "fame" is the normal word for ear but is translated fame and rumor also. This would indicate that the word was spreading by word of mouth. Actually that is about the only way that news traveled in that period of time. They had no blackberry, no laptop, no pocket phones, just the old word of mouth which worked quite well without having to carry extra batteries or chargers.
Often in the Gospels you will see that Christ tried to suppress his fame by asking people not to tell anyone about what they had observed. Some feel this was a ploy to get them to go tell everyone, however that seems rather disingenuous of the Lord and I doubt that this would have been an action He would have taken.
I’m sure many in our world would give anything to be able to be involved in one occurrence and draw that sort of acclaim. This casting out of demons was a very unique occurrence otherwise the news would not have traveled as quickly as it did.
29 And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.
We see that Peter had a house and in the next verse we will see that he had a wife. I won’t make too much of a deal about the first Pope, owning property and having a wife, but he did according to the Word of God. You cannot argue with that authoritative source.
"Anon" simply means immediately or without intermission. They immediately told Christ of the sick mother.
I do not think that we should make too much of Peter not telling Christ that his mother-in-law was sick and that others had to do the informing. I would not want to imply that Peter had anything against her. Luke uses the term "they" while Matthew does not state who told Christ. Being the first day or two on the job Peter didn’t want to bug the boss with a fever.
Mark does not mention the detail of the healing, but Luke records that Christ "rebuked the fever; "indicating that there was more to it than just a touch as Matthew and Mark mention. The term "rebuked" is the same term used when Christ was dealing with the possessed man in the synagogue and it would indicate that Christ had authority over this fever as well as the demons in the man.
In two miracles we see that Christ had authority over the spirit world as well as natural disease. Rather impressive for His resume I would think. The people certainly should have been taking note of His work and ministry.
The result of this healing was that the woman immediately ministered to the visitors. It might be of note as well that when Christ healed her the woman was completely healed and IMMEDIATELY went to serving others. Now when you hear of modern day miracles be sure to compare them to this result. It was not a partial healing; it was not a long term healing process but an immediate removal of the fever.
32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. 33 And all the city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.
In reading the synoptics you will note two items. Matthew relates this occurrence to Isaiah 53:4 where it mentions "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." Now Matthew only mentions the first half of the verse. He states, "Himself took our infirmities, and bare our diseases." The last half of the verse had not occurred yet and indeed Matthew would not have grasped the meaning of it at that point in time.
One must wonder if later in Matthew’s life if he remembered this passage and related the last half of the verse with what he saw occurring in the Savior’s life.
The second item of note is that Christ "suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him." Luke in verse 41 states "And devils also came out from many, crying out, and saying, Thou art the Son of God. And rebuking them, he suffered them not to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
Imagine Jewish leaders that might have been in the audience hearing demons tell the crowd that this was the Son of God and the Christ. In their minds they had to wonder if this was a fake show of some sort or if this was really the Messiah. (Since the whole town came out it would seem that Jewish leaders would have been present.)
One might ponder how the demons knew who Christ was. Simple answer to that one - they knew Him from the beginning of their existence. He - God - was part of their rebellion - they knewHim intimately, for they had sought to help Lucifer to usurp God. Indeed He was their creator - of course they knew Him!
Just a note about Harmony of the Gospel works. Be careful in choosing a Harmony since there are some good ones and some that are not so good. Example: The Harmony by Robertson lists this account in Matthew, Mark and Luke, but one Harmony I checked left out the Matthew account. This is obviously the same occurrence since it is specifically Peter’s mother-in-law sick with a fever.
There is a very important item that would have been missed by folks using the erroneous Harmony - the fact that Matthew related this to Isaiah 53:4.
I might mention in passing and leave the detail to another study that the Charismatic movement camp on this passage for partial basis for their belief in healing. They often quote the Isaiah passage and tell us that healing is part of the atonement made by Christ on the cross.
Uhhh LOGIC break please. Matthew relates this to the ministry of the Messiah to the Jewish people long before the cross and just one further point - this is not the church, this is Jewish and Millennial in nature.
Care must be taken when looking into the Gospels as there is material for both the millennial kingdom and information for the church age. Christ came to set up the millennium but the Jews rejected Him and His kingdom because it was not what they wanted. They wanted someone to overrun the Roman government and set them free of their heavy hand but Christ was offering them a different pattern of attack which they did not want to hear.
They were confronted with miracle after miracle but still rejected their king.
Even today lost people can see item after item that points to the Lord and yet they continue to reject Christ. Long years ago I worked with an old man in an American Missionary Fellowship church. One day we were talking of this and he shared a story from his life from long before, yet his eyes were still full of tears when recounting about his father on his deathbed. The father had been confronted many times by his son with the Gospel yet the old man continued to reject. Even after one final plea as his father was dieing the son pleaded with his father asking him to trust Christ but the father went to eternity without making that decision. He had seen his son’s life of commitment to the Lord yet he rejected everything his son loved.
Just a short note about the healing in verse 34. The Lord healed all that came to Him for healing he didn’t heal some and not others as the healers of today do. All comers were made whole, not just a few of the easy ones to fix. To heal as the Lord healed or as Paul healed you could heal everyone in the hospital, close the doors and stand outside and heal all that came for care.
35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. 36 And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. 37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All [men] seek for thee. 38 And he saidunto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. 39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.
It would seem according to Luke that the crowd was close behind the disciples "...and the multitudes sought after him and came unto him and would have stayed him...."
Both Mark and Luke mention the thought that Christ came to minister to these particular people. Luke uses the term "sent" to describe Christ’s compulsion to minister to these.
Matthew adds 4.23 "...preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness. 24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. 25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan."
Now before we go too much further let me assure you that I believe that God can perform miraculous things in our day if or when He has a mind to, however I do not believe that the kind of miracles Christ did can occur today. His ministry was to call attention to the fact that He was God and that He was the Messiah come to set up the kingdom. This is why Matthew gives such great emphasis to the miracles here.
There is indication in the book of Acts that Paul did many miraculous things in the early part of his ministry, but it is also clear that he could not do these things in his later ministry. In Acts 19:12 we see that he did not even have to be present for the healing to take place. "So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them." Again in Acts 28:8 we see, "And it came to pass that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. 9 So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:"
Yet in later life he could not heal his own thorn in the flesh, he could not heal Timothy, and he could not heal Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25 ff "... Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. 26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. 27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow." Nor could he heal Trophimus, 2 Timothy 4:20 b "Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick."
Based on this I have more than once requested charismatic healers to come to Salem and go with me to the Salem Hospital to heal everyone. With the power that Christ showed and the gift of healing that Paul had early in ministry we could shut down the wards, we could empty the surgical units, and empty the many other clinics and offices. There would be no need for further health insurance in our country if the Charismatic movement was right about the gift of healing. The medical profession would go extinct within days; however that is not going to happenbecause this sort of healing was for a specific purpose and a specific time - introduction and identification of the Messiah.
Some simple observations about Christ’s activities: He rose very early; he went out away from others, into a solitary place and prayed.
There seems to be a commitment to do what He needed to do, there seems to have been a plan as to how He was going to do what He was going to do, and finally He did it.
Oh how committed we are to praying, and oh how organized we are about how we are going to do it, but there often is a failure in the doing. I have found over the years that often are the times that I have committed to praying daily from a list. I specify "from a list" to denote that I often pray during the day, evening, and even at night when I wake up, but those are times of prayer that come to me as I walk through life. But to specify a time, a place and purpose to do so, has often eluded me. There have been times, even long times when this was a part of my life, but often also are the times when chaos ruled and I failed to complete this sort of commitment.
This may be true of many of us, but the point is that amid all the chaos of Christ’s life, He made it a point to pray. This should also be our goal in life. Just as a suggestion, if you have this lack of time, commitment or purpose, try different times of the day. Try different places, and you will probably find a situation that works for you. While teaching I found myself in total melt down time wise. There were times when sleep was optional, and others when eating was optional, but during that time I purposed to rise way before everyone else to spend time reading a devotional reading the word and praying. It was a terribly hard time to keep at it when I could barely stay awake, but during those times I found standing worked well.
Prayer is our communication with our Father and we need it. We need to focus in on a regular specific basis as well as all those other times when our mind is free and we can spend a moment or two with Him in prayer.
We might note that even though Christ was up very early, that He was still at times interrupted.
It was also interesting that all three Gospels mentioned that Christ was doing his ministry inside the synagogues. He was taking the message right to the ones that had need - the spiritual of the nation of Israel.
Pastor might you want to take note. Christ ministered to the spiritual in the meeting place of believers, ought you EVER do less? Churches are full of believers, with a mix of non-believers so why do so many pastors minister to the minority of those present. The church is for edification, not evangelism. We have sorely lost our purpose and direction today in the American church. We have left the building up of the saints for trying to get lost entertained people saved. If the Spirit of God cannot bring these people to God, how in the world can we ever bring them to Him with films, games, singing, and other tricks of the current trade?
Recently a friend that was trying to get an adult ministry started in his church had arranged foroff campus facilities and offered to do the teaching. The pastoral staff insisted that they did not have the facilities and that he should wait until the pastoral staff was able to get their new 1.5 million dollar facility built. The man asked how long that might be. He was told probably around two years. He replied, oh I understand you are putting off edification for the building of the edifice. They had substituted edificeication for edification.
Priorities are so terribly askew these days in so many churches.
40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth [his] hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. 42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
We see first of all the faith of the man - a belief that he could be clean. Second we see something new in the account of healings and that would be that the Lord moved via compassion, not some Messianic bestowal of a gift or a Messianic power trip but from simple compassion.
I wondered when working through some of the other healing accounts whether Christ was doing these things out of compassion or as just a sign for the people. This brings up another question to ponder. Since he was moving with compassion, had He not been compassionate of nature, would He have healed at all?
The simple answer to this of course is that compassion is part of God’s nature so it is a mute point. Add to this the fact that Christ’s ministry was set from eternity past, the compassion and the healing were built into the plan. On the simple observation side, knowing Christ’s life and manner in the Gospels aside from the healing, would indicate a compassionate man. He was a man of peace and was concerned about the people and concern normally comes from compassion.
Now back to the faith of the man for a moment. He came to Christ knowing that healing was possible, he came knowing it was up to Christ whether it would happen or not and third he came with a worshipful attitude when he kneeled before the Lord.
I thought it interesting that Christ responded specifically and verbally to the request ("I will") as well as physically by healing him. I don’t know if that is important or not, but seems rather important in the situation. He could have just done it and walked away, yet he uttered a verbal response to the man’s request. Indeed all three gospels that record this occurrence state the "I will" in their account.
Luke gives us a little more information in that Luke states that the man was "full" of leprosy. He was in full blown condition - a very sorry case to be sure, and yet Christ, according to the same three gospels, Christ reached forth and touched the man. That is a lot of compassion one might observe.
The three writers record the man’s posture differently. Mark mentions "kneeling" while Matthewmentions "worshipped him" while Luke records "he fell on his face, and besought him" all different aspects to what they observed. The term besought may be a little strong in the translation. The Greek word means simply something requested or desired.
43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; 44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 45 But he went out, and began to publish [it] much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.
Some items to consider: The man was healed and told to keep his mouth shut about it yet he went blabbing forth. Not all that hard to understand and it is sure that the Lord understood the man’s thankfulness.
Of note is the fact that Christ told him to go and do as Moses commanded. Offerings are not a part of the church age, another indication that the Jewish people were the Lord’s focus at this particular time.
Also of note is that Christ wanted it to be "a testimony" unto them - the priests. Christ wanted this man to openly testify of his healing to the Jewish leadership. Another indication that is quite clear that the healing ministry of the Lord was a sign unto Israel.
He could not go into the city, He had to stay out in the wilderness yet they still located Him and came to Him. Now, relate that to the charismatic challenge I have given. If healing were as Christ and Paul practiced, as in Biblical healing, you could not stay in town if you were really the healer that many claim to be.
The charge that Christ gave seems to be something that was quite firm. The Greek word comes from a word meaning "to snort with anger" and one of the definitions in the lexicon is "to sternly charge." Now to my rather sheepish personality that sort of an admonition would leave me a little chilled especially in light of having been completely healed of one of the most dread diseases in the world. I might well have gone away quietly myself.
Luke uses a different word, but it also is a strong word which can be translated "give command" which is a little more than the word that Matthew uses which simply means to say.
All three gospels relate that the man was not only charged to be quiet, but all three also mention that he was to go to the priest as a testimony and to do that which Moses commanded. Lev.
13.49-14.32 is the passage that Christ and the gospel writers most likely had in mind.
Now, it seems that this guy just did not go out telling people, he was out there preaching. This is the normal word for preaching in the New Testament. He was really blabbing it around to anyone that would listen. The man was thrilled with what had been done and wanted all to know of the occurrence. Might we consider this in our own lives - Christ has done something quite wonderful in our lives but just how much do we publish the fact? In fact this man went to "spread abroad the matter" which could be translated to spread abroad one’s fame. This guy was Christ’s best ad man. He was out to make Christ the man of the year on Time magazine’s cover of the year. He was out there telling of the wonders of what Christ had done for him.
Again, just how much publishing have you done lately?
Luke adds that Christ had withdrawn to the wilderness for prayer, but Mark relates that they came to him there as well. He was sorely pressed by the people wanting healing and to hear this new message of His. A new message would be anything that was counter to the teaching of the Jews at the time.
Specifically the sequence seems to be that he could not go into the city so was going from place to place in the wilderness as the people followed Him. The Luke passage might indicate that after that He withdrew for prayer. Verse 16 "But he withdrew himself in the deserts, and prayed."
At any rate pastors, teachers, and missionaries, even when you are burdened down with ministry and responsibilities, there MUST be time for prayer. Take that time no matter how hard it is. Be it late at night or early in the morning. When teaching I found that the campus for the most part awoke about six A.M. and that if I was in my office, I was busy with people or preparation. It was soon clear that if I was going to meet with the Lord that I was going to have to be in the office by five and that was my practice even though bedtime was often two or three A.M.
He is the one that you minister for, He is the one that has your directions, and He is the only real strength that you have so you had better spend time with Him.
Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Mark 1". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany