Archives
Tag Cloud
: Mothers Abandonment Abomination of Desolation Abortion Abraham’s Bosom Abuse Accounting Activism Adoption Adultery Affection Affliction Afterlife Alliances Altar America Analogy Angels Anger Anointing Apologetics Apostasy Apostles Armor of God Ascension Ashamed Atonement Authority Baal Babylon Bad Baptism Belief Betrayal Bible Bitterness Blasphemy Blessing Blessings Blindness Boasting Body of Christ Bondage Book of Life Borders Born Again Bottomless Pit Bride Bride of Christ Bridegroom Calling Capital Punishment Carnal Celebration Character Childbirth Children Children of God Chosen Christ Christian Life Christians Christmas Church Circumstances Civil Disobedience Clay Cleansing Comfort Commands Communion Community Comparison Compassion Complacency Complaining Conception Condemnation Conduct Confidence Conflict Conformity Confrontation Confusion Connection Conscience Consequences Contentment Conviction Cornerstone Correction Cost Counsel Courage Covenant Coveting Creation Creator Crisis Cross Crowns Crucifixion Culture Curse Darkness David Day of the Lord Death Deceit Deception Decisions Defense Delegation Demon Demon Possession Demons Denial Dependency Design Desolation Desperation Destruction Devil Direction Disaster Discernment Disciple Disciples Discipleship Discipline Discontentment Discouragement Disease Disgrace Disputes Distraction Diversity Divine Division Doctrine Double Fulfillment Doubt Drought Drugs Duties Duty Earth Earthly Earthquakes Easter Edom Education Elders Elect Emmaus Emotions Employment Encouragement End Times Endurance Enemies Enemy Environment Environmentalism Equality Equipped Eternal Eternal Life Eternity Evangelism Everlasting Life Evil Evolution Exaltation Exalted Exclusion Excuses Exorcism Expectations Eyes Failure Fairness Faith Faithful Faithful Servant Faithfulness False Christs False Doctrine False Gods False Prophet False Religion False Religions Family Famine Fasting Father Father’s Day Fathers Favoritism Fear Fear of the Lord Feasts Feasts of the Lord Fellowship Fig Tree Finances Fire First Coming First Resurrection Firstborn Flesh Flock Folly Foolishness Foreigner Foreknown Forgiveness Fornication Forsaken Foundation Freedom Friends Friendship Fruit Fruit of the Spirit Fruitfulness Future Gentiles Gentle George Wood Giving Glorified Body Glory God God’s Word Godliness Godly God's Will Good Good Shepherd Good Works Gospel Gospels Government Grace Gratitude Great Commission Greatness Grief Growth Guilt Hades Hardship Harvest Hate Hatred Healing Heart Heaven Heavenly Hedonism Hell Help Herod Hidden Holiness Holy Holy Spirit Home Homosexuality Honor Hope Hopelessness Humility Husband Hypocrisy Idolatry Ignorance Image Immanuel Immigration Impossibility Incarnation Individuals Indulgences Inheritance Injustice Inner Battle Instructions Insults Integrity Intercession Intermediate State Israel Jerusalem Jesus Jewish Temple John the Baptist Joy Judas Judgment Judgment Day Judgments Justice Justification Justify Key Keys Kids Kindness King Kingdom Kingdom of God Kingdom of Heaven Knowledge Lake of Fire Lamp Law Law of the Lord Lawlessness Leader Leaders Leadership Leftism Legalism Leprosy Lies Life Life-Span Light Like-minded Lord Lost Love Lowly Loyalty Lust Lusts Luxury Malachi Manipulation Marriage Martyrdom Martyrs Mary Master Materialism Maturity Meditation Men Mentoring Mercy Messiah Metaphor Millennium Mind Mind of Christ Minister Ministry Miracle Miracles Mission Mocking Money Mothers Mystery Nations Natural Natural Gifts Naturalism Nature Nazareth Near-Far Fulfillment Necessities New Covenant New Earth New Jerusalem New Man New Testament Obedience Obstacles Obstructions Offense Old Covenant Old Man Old Nature Old Testament Omnipresence Omniscience One Mind Outcast Pagan Pain Palm Sunday Parable Parables Paradise Paranormal Parenting Passion Passover Path Patience Patriotism Peace Peer Pressure Pentecost People of God Perception Perfect Persecution Perseverance Persistence Personal Testimonies Perspective Perversion Pestilence Peter Pharisees Philosophy Piety Pilate Politics Poor Position Possession Possessions Posture Power Praise Prayer Preach Preaching Preparation Pride Priority Privilege Prodigal Promise Proof Prophecy Prophet Prophets Prosperity Protection Protestant Reformation Proverbs Providence Provision Punishment Purgatory Purity Purpose Questions Racism Rapture Reason Rebellion Rebuke Reconciliation Redeemer Redemption Refuge Regeneration Rejection Rejoicing Relationship Relationships Reliability Religion Remember Remnant Renewal Repentance Reputation Resolve Rest Restoration Resurrection Revelation Revenge Revival Reward Rich Riches Ridicule Righteous Righteousness Rights Riot Risk Rivalry Robbery Roman Catholic Church Rule Sabbath Sacred Sacrifice Saint Salvation Sanctification Sarcasm Satan Savior Schemes Science Scoffers Scripture Seasons Second Coming Secret Seed Seek Self Self Control Self-centered Self-Control Selfish Ambition Self-Righteous Servant Servant-Leadership Servants Serve Service Serving Sexual Immorality Sexual Sin Sexuality Shame Share Sharing She’ol Shepherd Sickness Signs Signs and Wonders Simplicity Sin Sincerity Singing Singleness Sinners Slavery Sober Society Sojourner Sojourners Son Son of God Son of Man Sons of God Sorrow Soul Source Sovereignty Speech Spirit Spirit Realm Spirits Spiritual Spiritual Battle Spiritual Birth Spiritual Death Spiritual Gifts Spiritual Growth Spiritual Rulers Spiritual Warfare Stewardship Storms Strength Stress Strife Stumbling Block Submission Suffering Supernatural Supper Surrender Syncretism Tags: Patience Taxes Teacher Teaching Teachings Tears Technology Temple Temptation Temptations Terminal Illness Test Testimony Testing Tests Thankfulness Thanksgiving The Curse The Day of The Lord The End The Fall The Grave The Holy Spirit The Law The Way The Word The World Theology Throne Time of Visitation Times of the Gentiles Tithing Tongues Tradition Tragedy Transfiguration Transformation Traps Treachery Treasure Tree Tree of Life Trial Trials Tribulation Trifles Trinity Triumphal Triumphal Entry Trouble Trust Truth Unbelievers Uncertainty Unity Unpardonable Sin Utopia Value Victory Vigilance Vindication Virtue Virtues Visiting Ministries Voice of God Volunteer War Warning Warnings Wars Watching Water Baptism Water of Life Weary Wicked Wickedness Widows Wife Wineskins Wisdom Witness Witnesses Witnessing Women Word of God Word of the Lord Works World World View Worry Worship Worth Wrath Yahweh Yeast YHWH Yoke Zion

Weekly Word

Tuesday
Aug202019

So Send I You

Mark 6:7-13.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on Sunday, August 18, 2019.

Today, our passage involves Jesus sending his twelve disciples out on a mission.  If his words before his ascension in Matthew 28:18-20 are to be called The Great Commission then our story today should be called the Small Commission.  It involves them going out only to the towns of Israel and preaching to them.  Perhaps Jesus saw this as a trial run for the greater mission that he would give them later.

Our title for this sermon comes from John 20:21. There Jesus tells his disciples, “Peace to you!  As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (NKJV)  Everything that Jesus is doing with them throughout Israel is leading up to that point when he will go back to Heaven and the Apostles will need to take the Gospel to the nations of the world.  This would not be an easy task and it would be filled with many difficulties and trials.  Yet, it would also be filled with many joys.

There is a hymn that was published in 1954 and written by a Canadian woman named E. Margaret Clarkson.  She grew up in Toronto in the 1920’s.  In the 1930’s when she came of age, jobs were hard to come by in Toronto.  This led to her going into the far north of Ontario to become a teacher in the logging and mining camps.  Here are some quotes from her concerning her time there. 

“I experienced deep loneliness of every kind-mental, cultural, and particularly, spiritual- I found no Bible-teaching church fellowship, and only one or two isolated Christians, in those years.  Studying the Word one night and thinking of the loneliness of my situation, I came to John 20, and the words, ‘So send I you.’  Because of a physical disability, I could never go to the mission field, and this was where He had sent me.  I had written verse all my life, so it was natural for me to express my thoughts in poem.  Some years later [in 1963-after more life-experience and contact with real missionaries] I realized that the poem was really, very one-sided; it told only of the sorrows and privations of the missionary call and none of its triumphs.  I wrote another song in the same rhythm, so that verses could be used interchangeably, setting forth the glory and the hope of the missionary calling.”    (from https://propempo.com/story-behind-so-send-i-you-margaret-clarkson/)

This second version was published in 1963 as Margaret felt, if choosing between the two, the second one was the more biblical.  Here are the first stanzas of each version.

So send I you to labor unrewarded, to serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown, to bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing, to send I you, to toil for Me alone.

So send I you, by grace made strong to triumph, o’er hosts of hell, o’er darkness, death and sin, My name to bear and in that name to conquer, so send I you, My Victory to win.

Of course, singing nine verses (the first version has 5 and the second has 4) would not fly in very many churches today.  However, the words of this hymn are of great value and worth looking up.  It teaches us to count the cost and also the rewards of going forth for Jesus.

The greatest rewards for taking up the task that Jesus gives to his Church are yet to be had.  In this life, these things are bitter sweet, but once our work is done, and we have reached the end of our race, we shall enter into the full rewards of our labors on this earth.

Jesus sends The Twelve on a mission

Mark’s version of this passage, again, is very short on details.  If you read Matthew 10:1-15, you will see that Jesus limits them to going only to the towns and cities of what he calls “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  This did not include Samaria, which was an area of Israel that had mixed with Gentiles in marriage and in religion.

We are told that Jesus sends them out in pairs.  Thus, we would have 6 pairs of two disciples heading out to different parts of Israel.  This was not to keep an eye on each other, but rather because, “Two are better than one.”  Like Adam in life, it was not good for them to be alone in ministry.  They could keep each other encouraged in the difficult times and supply gifts where the other fell short.

It is interesting that this same phrase, two by two, occurs in the Noah’s Ark passage.  There the animals are brought into the ark in pairs, two by two.  That passage is unclear as to whether Noah is rounding them up, or if God’s Spirit is drawing them into the ark.  Regardless, in our passage the disciples are going out in pairs to call people to enter the ark of God, Jesus.  If comparing the ark to Jesus is a foreign concept to you then think of it in this way.  Just as Noah’s family were protected from the judgment of the ancient world by getting into the ark, so those who come inside of Jesus by putting their faith in him will be protected from the coming judgment of fire that has been promised to the whole earth.

We are also told that Jesus gives them authority over unclean spirits.  The word “authority” is sometimes translated as power.  However, the word properly means authority, and of course authority always has an involvement with power.  Regarding the unclean spirits, we have touched on this earlier.  This phrase is more of a description than a title.  Verse 13 helps us to see that the phrase is synonymous with “demons.”

It is sad to think that God’s people had become spiritually captured and plundered.  Everywhere Jesus and his disciples went in Israel, they encountered demon-possessed people.  I will remind us that people are not easily possessed.  It occurs when people dabble with false religions and the occult arts.  By listening to the teachings of demons, people give permission to those unclean, defiling spirits in their life.  You cannot surrender authority in your life without becoming a slave, and such was the case of many in Israel. 

No doubt, America has not seen as much activity in this area because of our Gospel foundation in Christ.  However, today it is becoming more and more prevalent for people to pursue the occult arts, and spiritual teachings of all sorts, which opens them up to such possession.  We will see more and more of this in our society, even though secular society will never call it demon-possession.

As a Christian, we need to recognize that such things are very real.  We must learn to stand on our own two spiritual-feet, and in the same authority that Jesus gave to his disciples then, proclaim the gospel and command unclean spirits to leave.  We need not fear any evil when we are on the side of Christ.  However, no one should approach these matters lightly and proudly.

Jesus also limits what provisions they can take with them on the journey.  They were to take only a staff, sandals, and one tunic (no bag, no food, no money, and no extra clothing).  Clearly, Jesus is putting them in a position that is more dire than it really was.  They had these things, but could not take them along.  Why?  The most logical reason homes in on the reality that Jesus is their teacher and they are the students, master and disciples.  So, at its foundation it is about them learning something by taking no extra provisions.  In such a situation, they will need to trust God to provide for them.  If God sends you on a mission then he will provide for you.  This is not just true in ministry, but in life as well.  All Christians are on a mission from God and he promises to take care of our needs, if we will put his kingdom first.  Of course, faith in God’s provision is easier said than done.  This will prepare them for times in the future when they will not be in their current state of being full of provisions. 

It is worth noting that Jesus does reverse these limitations later and allows them to take provisions.  The point is not that we should purposefully test God in this matter, but that we can trust him to help us in whatever we lack.  They are not testing God. They are responding to a command of the Lord.  Perhaps in this country of plenty our level of needing to trust in God for our provisions is very anemic.  However, Christians all around the world, both today and throughout history, have had to trust that God would provide for them.  Instead of falling into the habit of complaining and grumbling against God, they learned to pray, work hard, and trust God to provide.

The last part of the instructions of Jesus have to do with how they should conduct themselves among the towns of Israel.  This part will make more sense if you read the Matthew 10 passage.  Basically, they were to go to a town and publicly proclaim the Gospel.  If no one received them then they were to leave the town and go to the next.  Jesus tells them to shake the dust off of their feet in such a case.  This is interesting because it was the common practice of religious Jews to shake the dust off of their feet when leaving a Gentile city.  It was a symbolic way of saying that you are not going to take any part of that city with you because it is defiled.  Here they receive a bit of their own medicine.  If you are going to reject the Gospel and its ministers then the very dust of your city will become a witness, or evidence that they came and offered you grace.  In fact, Jesus says that those cities that reject his disciples with the Gospel message will have a more difficult judgment than Sodom and Gomorrah because they had a far less powerful and enlightening ministry from Lot.

If they are received positively and someone welcomes them into their home then they are to stay with them and let them care for their physical needs.  We don’t know if they were instructed to stay for a certain period, or if they had a certain amount of time to reach a particular list of cities.  Regardless, they would go from one town to the next proclaiming the Gospel.

The Twelve perform their task

In verse 12, the disciples take off to do what Jesus has instructed.  They leave Jesus behind and go in pairs to different parts of Israel.  In our passage, we are told that they preached, or proclaimed, that people should repent.  In Matthew they are told to proclaim, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  This reminds us of the message that the Bible says Jesus preached from the beginning, “Repent because the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  The kingdom did not fully arrive in the first century.  It came in spiritually, but awaits the judgment in order to come in physically and politically.  Thus, the whole world is in the same position as the first century, and we need to preach the same message. 

The word for repentance here means to “change one’s mind.”  The people of Israel were supposed to be a people who lived for God and his purposes, but they had become a people living for themselves and for their own purposes.  Their mindset led to lifestyles and bondages that were never God’s intention for them or humanity.  The biggest leverage to getting them to change their mind is the warning that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

God’s prophets had promised a time when God would send his anointed king who would heal Israel and rule over all the earth.  If Messiah (from the Hebrew word for “anointed”) the king was to be in Israel in their days then they would want to change their lives and get ready for his presence.  If I truly change my mind on a matter then it will truly change how I live.  Another term in the Bible that is used for repentance is the concept of turning.  When I am driving in the wrong direction, I need a change of mind before I am ever going to turn around and go in the right direction.  Let’s be clear.  Most people in America, and in this world, are going in the wrong direction.  Even many who claim to be Christians are simply placing a label on their life, but not really living for Christ and his purposes.  May God help us to daily change our minds and turn towards his path, rather than our own.  May he help us to turn from our tendency for the self-led life, and to embrace the Holy Spirit-led life.

As the disciples went into the cities, we are told that they cast out many demons.  The delegated authority that Jesus gave to them was recognized by these unclean spirits.  The key here is not a mantra or ritual for casting them out.  The key is that they had an authentic relationship with Jesus and he has authorized them to have authority over these spirits.  Yet, it is not just The Twelve.  Luke 10:19 is a place where Jesus talks to a larger group of disciples called The Seventy, who also are told they will have power over these unclean spirits (serpents and scorpions are metaphors for these unclean spirits).  Also, in Romans 16:20, Paul expected that God would soon crush Satan (and his operators) underneath the Christians in Rome.  Yet, we cannot merely declare authority over such spirits if we are not in true relationship with Jesus.  It is his power they fear and obey, not mine.

We are also told that the disciples anointed the sick with oil and healed them just as Jesus did.  It must have been something for Israel, who was still reeling from Jesus going everywhere healing and casting out spirits, to see his disciples doing the same all by themselves.  O, how God loves to take the weak and lowly, and lift them up to take the place of the great and mighty.

So, why did they use oil?  The purpose of the oil is to be a symbol of God’s Spirit and also an aid to faith.  In the end, people were being restored by Galilean fishermen, or a tax collector, or a zealot, etc.

You and I are not called to become Apostles of Jesus in order to lay down the faith once and for all for Christ’s Church.  However, we carry the same Gospel into whatever scope of ministry that he gives us.  Whatever sphere he gives us, as a friend, co-worker, spouse, relative, parent etc., we must be faithful to share Christ in words and deed, so that people can believe on him and have a place in his kingdom, both now and in the future.  All believers are called to be proclaimers of the Gospel, and may God help us to warn people to change their minds because the next phase of the Kingdom of God is at hand!

So Send Audio

Monday
Aug122019

His Own Did Not Receive Him

Mark 6:1-6.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on Sunday August 11, 2019.

In John 1:10-12, we are told that Jesus came into the world that he created, but the world did not know him.  It also says that he came to his own [people] and his own did not know him.  However, as many as received, to them he gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in his name.  Now, it is proper to see the story of Jesus and his Church as something that started small, but has become a large thing over time.  This may give us a misunderstanding about its popularity.  The overall testimony of Scripture is that the world has not received Jesus as a whole.  He is a rejected savior.  Even within the ranks of Christianity, there are many who will not accept Jesus as he is presented in the Scriptures.  Instead, they use him as an inspiring idea that can be a springboard for the philosophy and wisdom of man that they love.

Yes, the true story of Jesus is one of rejection.  We will see in our story today that Jesus goes to his hometown of Nazareth in order to minister there.  What he experiences there is rejection, the same rejection that God has experienced from mankind from the beginning.  Adam and Eve followed the serpent and rejected God’s wisdom, which led mankind into sin and death.  As a world, we cried out for help and a savior.  Eventually God sent Jesus, but most rejected him.  In his mercy, God has left the door of grace open for the last two millennia.  However, eventually his judgment will come.  So the question is this.  Am I ready?

Today I pray that we will all search our hearts and recognize any unbelief and resistance that we may have towards the true Jesus of the Scriptures.  I pray that we will fully embrace Jesus, the one who was rejected by men, but accepted by God the Father.

Jesus teaches in Nazareth

Though Nazareth is not stated explicitly in the text (regardless of the NLT), it is the clear intention.  Some versions say “his own country,” and others use the word “hometown.”  The word literally means “fatherland,” and can be interpreted differently depending on the scope of the context.  In this passage the scope is viewing one particular town in Israel versus all the others.  Thus, hometown would be a good interpretation.  If this word was used in the context of one nation among many then “his own country” would be a good interpretation. So, we are clearly talking about Nazareth, a village on a small hill halfway between the southern shores of the Sea of Galilee and the shores of the Mediterranean.  This is approximately 30 miles from Capernaum.

Quickly let me remind the reader that Jesus did spend most of his first two years in Bethlehem where he was born.  When King Herod sent the soldiers to kill the babies in that village, the family of Jesus escaped to Egypt and spent at most two years there and maybe only several months.  This makes Jesus somewhere between 4 years old and 2 years old when they move back to Joseph and Mary’s home in Nazareth.  Jesus grows up there and doesn’t begin his ministry until he is about 30 years old.  This gives Jesus 26-28 years of history with the people in this story, it is his hometown.

Let me also state that Luke 4:16-30 is a parallel passage (telling the same story) and it gives us much more detail about this event than Mark does.  So, I will refer to Luke’s passage quite a bit throughout this sermon.

We are told that Jesus goes to the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath.  This was the gathering day, but it is tough to say how many were there that day.  Although we do not know the population of Nazareth at this time, we do know that it was not a large city.  It was a service community for the nearby provincial capital named Sepphoris.

Mark only tells us that Jesus teaches, but does not give any detail on what he said.  Luke 4 gives us some of the details here.  Either Jesus volunteers to read or he is asked to read.  They would have heard stories and rumors of the kinds of things that Jesus had been doing over in the Galilee.  Apparently they hand him the scroll of Isaiah and he opens it to the part that we call chapter 61 and he reads the opening lines.  Here is the passage:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,”

At this point Jesus hands the scroll back and sits down.  With every eye looking at him, he then states, ““Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  It seems likely that he had taught some on the passage before he sits down because it says they were astonished at his teaching and wisdom.  Of course that last statement is the clincher.  Who does Jesus think he is?

For our purposes, it is interesting to note that Jesus cuts off his quote in mid-sentence.  The verse at the end states, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God.”  Jesus had come to offer grace to God’s people and ultimately to the whole world.  This part of the passage wasn’t being fulfilled that day.  No, this was a day of grace and Jesus had come to offer God’s peace to whosoever would take hold of it.

We should also note that Isaiah contrasts the acceptable year of the Lord (or the year of his favor) with the day of his vengeance.   All throughout Scripture, it emphasizes the grace of God lasting a long time and the wrath or vengeance of God being short.  Ultimately God is far more gracious than his is wrathful.  In fact, the wrath is proportionally very small.  The world has had almost 2,000 years of God’s grace and withholding of the judgment of the nations.  During this time, he has offered peace to all people.  We must not take God’s grace for granted.  He gives us grace because he is good and he offers it for a long time because he is good, but eventually he will judge because he is good.

The astonishment of the people is expressed in a series of questions.  Where did he get this wisdom to teach and this ability to do powerful works (healing, exorcisms, etc.)?  Isn’t this the carpenter who is the son of Mary?  (Note:  It is here that we are told that Jesus definitely learned Joseph’s trade and had practiced it until he was 30 and began to minister).  They also mention his brothers (they would be half-brothers) James, Joses, Judas, and Simon.  Plus, it mentions “sisters” plural, so we know that there are at least two of them.  To me, this passage throws a wet blanket on the idea that Jesus did miracles throughout his childhood.  They are astonished at what they hear about him.  Behind all of these questions is the idea that Jesus is just another person from Nazareth.  He seems too common to be something as great as the Messiah.

We are told that they are “offended” by Jesus (end of verse 3).  This does not mean that Jesus was being insensitive and hurt their feelings.  The word means to be made to stumble.  This is meant metaphorically.  God had sent Jesus for Israel and the whole world to embrace as the Messiah, Lord and Savior.  Yet, they are rejecting this decree because they can’t conceive of this local boy becoming something great.  They are caused to stumble by their own stubbornness and unwillingness to accept what Jesus was.  We can see this same principle when a person changes from a bad life, and yet, people continue to hold their past against them.  God has given them the thing, for which they have been praying, but it doesn’t fit their preconceived notions and so they stumble over him.  He is the stumbling stone. 

He is rejected by his hometown

In Mark we have a proverb that Jesus quotes.  However, Luke adds another proverb previous to it.  Jesus sees their incredulous looks and responds by saying, “Surely you will say this proverb to me, ‘Physician, heal yourself.  Whatever you have done in Capernaum, do here in your hometown.’”  This may sound like people were open to believing, but it is not coming from such a place.  Rather, it is coming from a skeptical, unbelieving attitude.  Instead of saying that they believe and want to be healed, it is more like “show us what you got.”

Jesus then reminds them that a prophet generally is not honored in his own town, among his relatives, and in his own home.  No doubt the brothers of Jesus were there that day.  They were probably in their 20’s and late teens.  We know that they were just as resistant to this new, older brother of theirs as the towns people were.  Luke adds some further dialogue.  Jesus reminds them that there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah the prophet, but he was sent to a widow in Zarephath of Sidon in Lebanon.  He also reminds them that there were many lepers in Israel during the days of Elisha the prophet, and yet only Namaan the Syrian general was cleansed.  Both examples beg the question.  Why were these gentiles healed and not the Israelites?  His implication is that the problem back then is the same problem now.  In the days of Elijah and Elisha, the wicked king Ahab and his wicked queen Jezebel were leading the people to worship the foreign god Baal.  People had quit believing in Yahweh, the God of Israel.    They refused to worship and serve the God of Israel and so they went after idols of their own making and the gods of the nations around them.  Nazareth was going to miss out, not because God didn’t care and didn’t provide, but because they would not believe and receive Jesus as God’s answer for them.

We are then told by Mark that Jesus was unable to do miracles, other than healing a couple of sick people because of their unbelief.  This statement is made after the fact and is a general statement, so it is unclear when Jesus healed these people.  It doesn’t seem likely that a whole bunch of sick people came forward to be healed, but when Jesus prayed for them, only two were healed.  More likely, Jesus offered to heal people and only two came forward.  The key is that they do not believe as a whole.  This unbelief is not because there is no evidence, but rather it is in the face of the evidence.  They do not believe because they will not believe.  They cannot accept Jesus as Lord and Savior because they are too familiar with him.

Others today refuse to believe in Jesus because he is too gracious, or some because he is not gracious enough.  Some do not believe because he does not stroke their ego in the way that they believe it should be.  Some resist because he came in an age that was not nearly as enlightened as our age.  There are many more besides these.  Let me challenge you today.  Unbelief is powerful, but it is also easily conquered when we see the flimsy nature of the objections that we make and the things about Jesus that cause us to stumble.  Jesus is a challenge from God, a stumbling block to our flesh.  Will I let go of my pride and believe, or will I stumble?

Mark ends the story here with Jesus leaving and going to other villages to teach, but Luke tells us more.  There we find that the people became so filled with wrath that they rose up to push Jesus out of the city and off a cliff next to the town.  They were going to kill him, but it wasn’t the time.  We are simply told that Jesus passed through the middle of them and went his own way.  Were they paralyzed by the power of God in him?  Or, did he hide himself from them by the same power?  We are not told.  It is bad enough not to believe in Jesus.  This is much worse.  They are actively rejecting him and trying to remove him from before them.  You cannot run from Jesus.  God has set him before the whole world and demands a verdict from us.  Will you embrace him and live, or will you reject him and die?  I pray that you will choose life with me!

His Own audio

Tuesday
Aug062019

Only Believe

Mark 5:35-43.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on Sunday, August 04, 2019.

In our story today, we have a little girl who has been sick and is on her death-bed.  However, Jesus was headed to her house to heal her.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that, between the crowd pressing in on Jesus and a sick woman being healed by touching him, Jesus does not get to her house soon enough to heal her before she dies.

Do you ever feel like God is taking too long to get around to your situation and your need?  Our story teaches us to trust the Lord Jesus, rather than letting fear drive us into a bitter, hard place where we ridicule those who trust God.

Jesus is going to give us the simple phrase, “Do not fear; only believe.”  This is easier said than done, but it is necessary nonetheless.  This life is filled with things that will stir up fear in our hearts and minds.  May God help us to walk with faith, trusting his heart for us and his power over what ails us.

They receive news about the sick daughter

Just as Jesus is telling the woman who had been healed of her flow of blood that she can go in peace, someone from Jairus’ house arrives and tells him the news about his daughter.  She has died.  They were too late.  You can imagine how such news hit Jairus.  No doubt, his heart sunk and fear rose up within him.  He had risked everything in going to get Jesus and it had failed.  It is a reality in life that certain events can shake us to our core.  Perhaps we need to experience such times.  It is in such times that we can learn just how much God cares about us and has humbled his self in order to save us.  God understands the heart of a father who loses a little daughter or anyone who has lost a loved one to sickness or evil in any form.  He too has experienced the pain of seeing those whom he created to enjoy him forever then falling to the lies of the devil.  Whatever your grief, know this.  God understands and experiences your pain far more than you know.

The person who brought the bad news asks, “Why trouble the teacher any further?”  His counsel is for Jairus to slink away from the group, go home, and bury his daughter.  However, we should ask a different question.  Was Jairus “troubling” Jesus?  Are we a “trouble” to God?  Sure our choices have brought a lot of trouble and pain into the relationship between us and God.  In that sense we are a trouble.  However, God has chosen to go with us through this choice.  He did not abandon us after the fall in the Garden, but pursued us with a love that paid the price for our sins and made a place for us at his side.  We can sometimes let our ideas of God, and “the holy prophet,” create a surreal world where they are too great to be bothered with our puny issues.  Nowhere in Scripture will you find God angry that the lowest people might ask him for the smallest of things.  It is quite the opposite.  Everywhere He calls to us to trust him, believe him, and bring our troubles to him.  It is we in our hurts and pains who develop such odd notions that God shouldn’t be troubled with our troubles.  It is misguided “holy men” who act like that and allow sycophants around them to push others aside.  If one thing can be said about Jesus, it is that he didn’t mind being troubled by the troubles of anyone who simply believed in him.  So, why trouble Jesus any further?  We should “trouble” him because he is the only one who understands our situation and can help us.  That’s why!

Jesus graciously steps in and gives Jairus the words that he needs to hear.  The first part is not to be afraid.  This is a very common phrase in the Bible.  We see it everywhere that God is challenging people to follow him into tough places.  Fear is very powerful in whipping up our imagination, but its worst effect is to neutralize our faith in God.  We don’t have to fear because God is with us.

The second part of what Jesus tells him is to “only believe.”  An old song within the church says it this way.

"Only believe; only believe.

All things are possible; only believe."

With man, so many things are impossible.  Even today within our modern, technologically advanced world, we find ourselves in impossible situations, but with God, all things are possible.  Why would I fear and doubt when I serve the God of the resurrection?  Even fretting and trying to make spiritual sense out of our situation can mislead us.  What I am talking about goes beyond trying to get a healing.  The little girl in this story is going to be healed, but she will go on to grow old and die.  Jesus will not show up then to keep her from dying.  Eventually we must all leave this world.  The question is not why didn’t God heal me, or keep me from growing old.  The question is, “Do I still believe, or have I let fear rob me of my faith in a God who can do anything?”  Jesus tells us not to fear and to simply believe God.  Trust him.

At this point Jesus instructs the crowd not to follow.  We are not told why, but this passage continually emphasizes faith over the top of those who don’t believe.  So, this could be in the interest of shedding the crowd that is filled with those who do not believe.  However, in verse 43, after he has healed the girl, Jesus tells them not to let people know what he has done.  Most likely, Jesus knew that this miraculous resurrection would push up the time schedule for his crucifixion.  So, he seems to be narrowing down the potential pool of witnesses.

They arrive at the house of Jairus

When they get to the house, they are met with a scene of great sorrow.  There is a loud uproar of weeping and wailing because the girl has died.  Perhaps they had been expecting Jesus to show up and heal her, and thus, were caught off guard.  We just don’t know if they were all aware of Jairus’ attempt to get Jesus.  We are told in the story that the little girl is twelve years old.  Watching a young child become sick, grow weak, and then die can be one of the hardest things to endure in this world. 

Yet, when Jesus arrives he asks why they are making such a commotion.  Even for those who know God, death is something to weep over, especially for any young person.  However, their weeping has gone into something beyond the grief and sorrow of the righteous.  As believers in God, we grieve over the fact that we will not have them in our life anymore, but we also know that this life is not all that there will be.  There is no reason for hysterical wailing and plunging into despair for the believer.

On top of this question, Jesus adds the statement that she is not dead, but sleeping.  What is Jesus actually trying to say?  I don’t thing Jesus is trying to make a literal point that they are wrong about her death and that she is actually only sleeping.  Sleep was often used as a euphemism for death, and just as we can envision a person waking from sleep, so a person can “wake” from death.  It is not the same thing, but it is a picture of what can be.  He is not trying to create a doctrine that souls actually sleep after a person dies.  Rather, he is reminding them of the biblical truth about what happens to people when they die or sleep.  They go into the grave, which Daniel had prophesied in Daniel chapter 12 that “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”  Jesus is merely going to “wake” her up from the grave. 

The wailing appears to stop at this point and it is replaced with ridicule and scorn against Jesus.  We can imagine a kind of bitter venom that we humans vent when we think another person is mocking our pain.  They clearly do not get what Jesus is saying, or do not believe that he can do anything about the girl’s death, and so they become angry at his words.

Jesus responds by restricting who goes into the room where the little girl is laying.  We are told that Jairus and his wife, the three disciples (Peter, James and John), and Jesus are the only ones who go into the room where the dead girl was.  Again, this seems to be partly about removing those who don’t believe and are caught up in the throes of unbelief.  Remember, unbelief is not a neutral absence of faith.  It is positively something that goes in the opposite direction of faith.  It produces such things as: anger, venting, raging, ridicule, scorn, persecution, and many other things.

If you are praying for God to do something in your life, you should not only challenge yourself to believe, but you will also need to get away from those who feed unbelief and its fruit into your heart and mind.  I am not saying cut off the relationship, but rather go in the direction of faith without them.  In this passage, Jesus gets alone with those that will believe and the girl who needs a miracle.

The healing scene is quite tender.  Jesus takes the girl’s hand and simply commands her to rise up.  Mark lets us know that Jesus was actually speaking Aramaic, which was the local language for the time.  There is good evidence that Jesus may have spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.  He would use one or the other depending on the context.  Here he is speaking to fellow Jews and so uses Aramaic.  “Talitha” means that you are addressing a little girl.  “Cumi” is a simple command to rise.

The power of the command of Christ does not come from him raising his voice loudly.  His simple command is enough to bring the girl back from the dead, back to life.  1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 tells us, For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”  Praise God, he will raise all the dead in the future.  It has been humorously stated that, when Jesus resurrected Lazarus, it was important that he said “Lazarus, come forth.”  Otherwise, everyone would have come out of the grave!  Clearly, this is tongue in cheek, but it states the truth.  Jesus has the power to raise the dead, in fact, all the dead.  Here he restores the girl to a mortal life, but the day is coming when all the righteous will be raised with immortal bodies and eternal life. 

This is the power of Christ and the promise of God.  He cares about us.  We are to him like little children who have contracted a deadly disease called sin.  He will heal us; he will restore us; and he will make us fully whole again, if we will only believe!

Only Believe audio

Tuesday
Jul302019

A Desperate Woman is Healed

Mark 5:21-34.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on Sunday, July 28, 2019.

Last week we were in the first part of this chapter where Jesus encountered a man possessed with many demons on the east to southwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.  That event ended with the people of the region pleading with Jesus to leave.  Thus, our passage today involves the events after they returned to the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, most likely Capernaum.

In a sense we will have one story interrupted by another story, but both of them have similarities that I will bring up in my commentary as we work through them.

The dire condition of Jairus’ daughter

When Jesus lands on the shore, it does not take long for a crowd to gather.  It is at this point that one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus (Hebrew- Yair, “God Enlightens”) approaches Jesus.  His daughter is at the point of death and her only hope is a miracle from God.  Jesus is the only prophet of that generation who evidenced the healing power of God.  We will focus on this story more next week because we are going to be interrupted by a woman who needs healed.  For now, we should recognize that the synagogue leaders generally did not like Jesus and we have no reason to believe that this man was much different.  This man is convinced that Jesus can heal his daughter. 

He also believes that Jesus needs to touch her in order for it to happen.  I mention this because, in the story of the centurion who was a dying servant, Jesus remarks that touching to heal is not a necessity.  That doesn’t mean that it is a hindrance either.  However, things like touching or putting mud on the eyes are really more of an aid to our faith.  Healing is not some kind of power that is transmitted through hands.  However, when we lay hands upon someone, it does encourage them to believe.  Thus, we can call it an “aid to faith.”

Most likely this man would not normally embrace Jesus in public.  However, he has become desperate because of the impending death of his daughter.  There are things that we would never consider or give a second thought until we become desperate.  This can work for the good and it can work for the bad.  This is one of the reasons that it is so important to share the good news about Jesus with everyone.  People may not respond immediately with any interest, or they may be hostile to the message, but some day they may find themselves in a desperate situation.  What will they turn to then?  We know that Jesus is not just one option among many.  He truly is the only option in the end for those who are desperate.  If you are in a desperate situation, now is the time to turn to Jesus with your problems and seek his help, healing, and forgiveness.

If you think that he will not help you then take note of the response of Jesus to Jairus.  Jesus begins to go with Jairus to his house in order to heal his daughter.  Of course, the multitude of people continue to follow Jesus and “throng” him (that is, to press in tight around him).

The desperate condition of a daughter of Israel

Starting in verse 25, this story takes a turn.  He is interrupted by one that he will call “daughter” in verse 34.  Now this woman is most likely at least the age of Jesus, which we will establish in a bit.  So, his reference to her as “daughter” is a reminder to her and everyone else that she is still a daughter of Israel.  She had a place and a portion among God’s people who are called Israel.  Her bleeding ailment threatened this.  Today we would use the phrase “child of God” or “daughter of God.”  Regardless the emphasis is that her condition does not make her an outcast, as she has been treated no doubt.  Through Christ we can spiritually be born again as a child of God who has a guaranteed place and portion among the people of God for each of us.  Thus, this story is thematically connected to Jairus and his dying daughter, as this woman is a dying daughter of God.

Let’s recount her physical situation.  We are told that she has a “flow of blood.”   It is not completely explained and does not seem to be immediately life threatening.  However, she has had it for 12 years and it is getting worse.  I would assume that this means the flow is greater, but it could be a reference to pain, even though pain is not mentioned.  Within the Judean society this would have been a devastating thing for her.  First of all, it means that she would be ceremonially unclean all the time.  She could never participate in any of the religious ceremonies of Israel.  Second of all, anyone that she touches would also become ceremonially defiled.  Thus, she would have been a social outcast, much like a leper.  She is not only sick, but has been unable to have a normal life for the last 12 years.

We are also told about her experience with the medical profession of her day.  She apparently comes from wealth because she has spent all that she had going to “many physicians.”  Instead of getting better from their efforts, her condition keeps getting worse.  This woman has desperately sought out any hope that the medical profession of her day could offer and found them dashed to the ground.  No doubt, each time, she would get her hopes up that a certain doctor could help her with a unique procedure, only to return home without relief.  She now has nothing left and is thus without hope, until she hears about Jesus.  What she could not buy for all the money in the world is now possible for free.  What a moment of hope this must have been for this woman.

We are told that her plan was to come up behind Jesus, while he is in the crowd, and touch his garment.  What is interesting here is that she has the same concept of the connection between touch and healing that Jairus did.  However, in this case she believes that it doesn’t even have to be a purposeful touch.  She hopes to get a healing on the sly and slip away.  Why would she do that?  Part of it may have to do with the fact that her unclean condition is well known.  For her to purposefully touch a rabbi in public, thus making him ceremonially defiled, would be considered at least a social faux pas and perhaps even an act worthy of civil punishment.  On top of this is the question.  How many people would she touch in trying to get through the multitude to Jesus?  Her only chance of getting close to Jesus would be to hide her identity and attempt to get it without anyone knowing.  To get forgiveness is easier than to get permission.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we are told that she wants to touch the “hem” of his garment.  Typically, the hem would have tassels and even, at times, designs that evidenced a person’s place and authority.  This could be the hem at the bottom of the garment or on his sleeves.  We are not told if Jesus had any such items, but this is reminiscent of Malachi 4:2 where it says, “But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings;”.  The word for “wings” can mean exactly that in the context of birds or such.  It simply means the extremity of something.  In the context of a garment this could mean the edges or hems of the garment, and in the context of the person it would be their hands and feet (extremities).  I believe that this verse in Malachi is clearly referencing the Messiah by the title “Sun of Righteousness.”  Since it is a person the image is not so much wings, but rather his hands or the edges of his garment.  Our passage today is clearly a fulfillment of this passage and so is any healing event in which Jesus laid his hands upon the person.

The woman is healed

Upon the touching of the hem of Jesus’ garment, we are told that the “fountain of her blood” was immediately healed.  Whatever the source of the bleeding was, it was instantly healed and quit bleeding.  We are also told that she could feel that something had changed in her body.  She knew in that instant that she was healed.  Now, all she had to do was slip away and go through the purification rituals.  She would no longer be ceremonially defiled and could return to a normal interaction with Judean society.

Just as the woman felt something physically happen to her, so Jesus sensed the power that had healed her.  The word for “power” her is the term “dunamis,” which points to the creative and restorative power of God.  At first, this may give the impression that the Bible is saying that healing is something that can be carried around and given to someone else by touch and even without willing it.  That is, all it takes to be healed is to touch something that his holy, and blessed by God.  Yet, there is more to it than that, which we will come back to in a moment.  Before the woman can make her exit, Jesus suddenly turns around within the crowd and says, “Who touched my clothes?”

The disciples are incredulous at the question Jesus asks.  They point out that many people in the crowd are constantly touching him.  The question might be better, “Who hasn’t touched me?”  Clearly this is not what Jesus is talking about.  He knows who he is talking about and so does the person who was healed.

The woman is afraid and trembling as she falls down before Jesus and confesses the whole story to Jesus and the surrounding crowd.  Most likely, she expects some kind of public rebuke and perhaps legal consequences.  Yet, Jesus is unconcerned with any fears of being defiled and protecting his reputation as a holy man.  He never even brings it up.  In fact, this episode begs the question.  Is Jesus now ceremonially defiled?  The most powerful evidence to the contrary is the fact of her healing.  It was not her defiling him, but him healing her.  The defilement of her condition was no match for the healing power of Jesus.  We cannot defile him, but he can heal us.  This is not just true with physical issues.

Many people do not turn to Christ because they fear that they will be rejected due to their sins.  However, our sin cannot affect Jesus.  He can handle your sins.  He went to the cross for your sins.  His power is greater than all our sin and can set us free from them, both legally and in actuality.  In no way, do I imply that it is okay to embrace sin as a follower of Jesus.

This part of the story ends with Jesus addressing her as daughter.  We talked about this earlier, but I believe it is an endearing term meant to set her at ease, and also a reminder to those around them that she is still a daughter of Israel.  She never lost her place with God because of this disease.  The pharisaical position on such people would be that they are cursed by God, no doubt due to sin, and thus a sub-citizen of sorts.  She would not be seen as a true daughter of Israel, at least until she is healed.

His statement following this address is that her faith has made her well.  Jesus does not mean that faith by itself is enough to be healed.  It is not a faith that just keeps saying, “I am healed; I am healed.”  This would be faith in faith itself.  However, Jesus said “her faith.”  What exactly was her faith?  Her faith was not centered in positivism or a mantra.  It was solidly placed upon the person of Jesus.  She believed that Jesus could heal her if she just touched his garment.  This is the plain teaching of Scripture.  God has provided for healing through faith in Jesus.  No, it is not guaranteed that all people will be healed in this life because God has a purpose that goes beyond this life.  As Jesus told the Apostle Paul, “My grace is enough for you.”  Yet, this story is an amazing revelation nonetheless.  Many simply will not believe that healing in the name of Jesus is possible at all, and thus they miss out on the possibility that God would heal them.  Others believe that Jesus heals, but blame all situation where there is no healing upon the faith of the person or their loved ones.  We must be careful in this area and ask for healing and yet trust God no matter what his answer.

Jesus tells her to go in peace and enjoy her healing from this plague.  Not all that plagues humanity is physical.  However, in Jesus we have the One who is able to make us every bit whole.  Will you put your faith in him for both your body and soul?  We can touch Jesus through our prayers of faith in him.

Woman Healed audio