The Direction of True Faith

March 1, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Mark | 3 Comments
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If you are familiar with modern television or movie tropes, then you might call this passage in Mark 6 a “flashback sequence” where we learn what happened to John the Baptist.

For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

Mark 6:20

Herod feared John the Baptist, but not enough to repent and “believe” his message. He had John the Baptist killed for his wife’s sake.

And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.

Mark 6:26

Herod feared God a little, but he feared men more. He loved God’s messenger a little, but he loved himself more. This is unbelief, and this was the first step on the way to the unpardonable sin, which the Jewish leaders committed, and into which they led many of their people. They rejected God (John the Baptist, His prophet). They rejected Jesus, God’s Son (consenting to, and helping to instigate, His Crucifixion). And they blasphemed (rejected, always resisting) the Holy Ghost – God’s final witness – when they stoned Stephen.

Even the Disciples – Jesus’s closest followers – had trouble with unbelief.

And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.

Mark 6:34-36

Jesus was moved with compassion for people. Do we, as followers of Jesus, have genuine compassion? If we do, we will move toward, not away from, people who are suffering. The Disciples saw only the problem. Seeing only the problem is a symptom of unbelief. Jesus saw the potential. Seeing the potential is evidence of faith. False faith sees only problems for God to solve; true faith sees opportunities to minister IN problems. False faith sees only obstacles to be removed, and calls on God only to move us over, past, or around the obstacles without having to deal with them; true faith sees opportunities to stand on the obstacles and get close to God. True faith calls us to stand on the obstacles and proclaim His worth to others.

And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.

Mark 6:45

Jesus did not send away people who were needy; He sent away people who were greedy. For His Disciples’ sake, He also He sent them away to help them avoid a false “spiritual high.” We often want the excitement of religion. We call it God “moving” or we say we are “experiencing the presence of God” when things tend to get hyped up and emotional during a corporate worship service, but sometimes the best place to experience the presence of God is alone in a quiet place AFTER serving Him publicly, and with the intention of going back to serve Him again.

And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.

Mark 6:46

Jesus, the Divine Servant, came to serve men – but only as He served God. We must never forget why we’re serving others. It’s because we serve HIM.

The Unwanted Peace, the Unfruitful Tree, and the Underdressed Guest

June 2, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Matthew, parables | 6 Comments
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Lord, please help me to be humble. Help me to recognize my lack of knowledge concerning Your Word. Please grant me wisdom and a clear mind ready to be renewed in Your Word. Help us to see Your glory in the Bible’s portrait of Your Son. In His name I pray. Amen.

Jesus is not an accessory or an adornment. If you have Him, you have everything that matters. If you do not have Him, you have nothing.

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

I John 5:12

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:25-28

The Kingdom of King Jesus is not like the kingdoms of this world. There are no worldly leaders in His Kingdom – just servants – servant movers – because the servant’s job in Christ’s Kingdom is to get people moving. Serving in this Kingdom is a commitment which produces character which produces conduct.

In Matthew Chapter 21 another phase of the King’s plan goes into motion. He starts a triumphal parade that would ultimately lead to His Crucifixion. This parade, this “triumph,” would have seemed like a joke to the Romans. An observing Roman centurion would have seen garments on the ground, a donkey, palm branches, and thought, “What victory could they possibly be celebrating? Give me a break! The Roman standard still stands! Pathetic!”

This was the first time Jesus had allowed a public demonstration like this in His honor.

And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

Matthew 21:9

Hosanna meant “save now.” The people were rejoicing because they believed the promised Son of David had finally come to bring a military victory, and to throw off the yoke of Roman bondage. This parade would have been a big disappointment to even Jesus’s Jewish followers if they had understood what Jesus’s entry into the city really meant. But it pleased the Father, and it fulfilled prophecy, so it was done according to Christ’s will.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Zechariah 9:9

The King declared peace, but Jerusalem declared war.

When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:

Deuteronomy 21:10-12

But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

Luke 19:14

Not only did the Jewish rulers reject their King, but the citizens did, too.

Jesus came into the city and judged the Temple. The Temple was thought to be glorious, but there was no real glory in the Temple until the King entered it.

First He judged the Temple, then He judged the nation.

And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

Matthew 21:19

This tree had leaves – a superficial show of health – but it had no fruit. It was a picture of the nation of Israel.

Matthew 22 starts off with the parable of the king’s son’s wedding banquet.

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

Matthew 22:1-10

This was a prophetic parable. It refers to a time after the Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The same leaders that allowed John the Baptist to be killed asked for Jesus to be killed, and killed Stephen themselves. The King whose invitation had been rejected sent armies to destroy those who rejected His Kingship, and to destroy their city. Then he invited others (gentiles) to come to His feast.

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Acts 7:51

And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.

Matthew 22:11-14

The father/king gave the guests wedding garments – one for each individual – because eternal salvation is personal for each believer. In the Kingdom of Christ there are no “poor” and “rich,” because our standing is not in what we bring, but in Him Whom we have trusted.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the Cross I cling

Augustus Toplady, “Rock of Ages”

One of the ones invited to the feast didn’t want to wear the garment given by the king. We see this illustrated today in those who are welcome at church, but don’t want to be saved. We sometimes have trouble distinguishing between true converts and false professors, and only the King can recognize the ones who aren’t wearing a garment of Christ’s imputed righteousness. The king in the parable used His servants to “bind” the one without a garment – to discipline and remove him. The servants aren’t the ones who made the decision to throw him into torment. It was the king’s decree. The servants merely “bound” what had already been bound by the King’s sovereign will.


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