A Pair of Paradoxes

May 16, 2017 at 10:24 am | Posted in Mark | 1 Comment
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Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. The Pharisees were getting desperate. They had questioned His miracles. They had questioned His background. They couldn’t really question His teaching, but they had tried to refute it with tradition. Now they decided to try to trap Him with controversial questions.

One of the classic ways to make a Bible teacher squirm is to ask him about divorce. No matter what he says, somebody is not going to like it. There is often a temptation for the teacher to think, “I have to be careful with what I say. I don’t want to sound too harsh and alienate the students who have been divorced.” However, the faithful Bible teacher will say, “Jesus talked about divorce, and I should, too.”

And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.

Mark 10:2

The Pharisees probably also reasoned that John the Baptist had been killed for talking about marriage. However, Jesus knew just what to do when faced with a controversial question: He used the Bible.

But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Mark 10:6-9

This is the first paradox in Mark Chapter 10: Two shall be one. A paradox is something that seems contradictory, but is actually logically consistent in reality. Divorce is man tearing apart what God has – in His perfect will and in His supernatural power – joined together.

Examples of other paradox teachings in the Bible are:

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 2:10

As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

II Corinthians 10:6

The second paradox in Mark 10 has to do with adults becoming little children.

And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

Mark 10:13-16

Our modern society devalues children, as shown by the prevalence of abortion, abuse, neglect, divorce, lack of spiritual instruction, and lack of proper education. Let the LITTLE children come unto Me, said Jesus. He did not appoint the Disciples to go get some crayons and puppets and put on some entertaining children’s activities. Little children tend to respond to the offer of a warm invitation with cheerful acceptance. Unless, they have been seriously hurt in some way by someone they trusted, they do not respond with suspicion, reluctance, or a dread of the responsibility that the invitation might entail. Jesus reached out directly into the lives of others, including children. As His followers, will we get involved with people who are not as equipped to face their circumstances as we are?

Next time, we will see the second “pair” of paradoxes in Mark Chapter 10.

The Humble King

March 21, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Matthew | 2 Comments
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Matthew began showing us the humility of the King in Chapter 17 with the account of the King Who paid tribute. Jesus helped Peter to understand the practicality of glory. God’s glory, if it is to reflected in a way onto men, must be a disciplined glory which always points back to God. As Christ’s disciples we must be loyal to the One Who loves us enough and is gracious enough to shine His glory on us.

Did you know the word “shed” is used in 50 different verses in the King James Version of the Bible? Every single time up until Romans 5:5 it is used in reference to blood (except II Samuel 20:10 where it’s talking about guts). Guess what it refers to in Romans 5:5.

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Romans 5:5

After this experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the coin in the fish’s mouth, they must have really “got it,” right? After the Disciples saw their King transfigured in their midst, you would think their question would be, “Lord – King Jesus – what would You have us to do?” But that was NOT their question. Their question was, “Which one of us will get more than the others in this Kingdom?”

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

Matthew 18:1

This was not a very humble question. In fact, it appears to have been evidence of pride. Pride is thinking too much of ourselves. Humility is not thinking too little of ourselves. It’s not really even thinking realistically about ourselves. A better definition of humility would be not thinking of ourselves AT ALL. We can’t be trusted to have an opinion about how great or how little we are (Jeremiah 17:9). Our hearts are wicked and we are too biased and prejudiced to conduct a fair examination of ourselves – to see if we are humble or not.

The humblest person is the happiest person because he only sees opportunities for God’s glory. He’s not tired, not frustrated, not boastful, not depressed, not discouraged, not ashamed – because it hasn’t occurred to him to be those things – because he hasn’t thought about himself at all.

Pop psychology says that we should start exhorting people to be happy with themselves just the way they are, and it sounds good. It mixes a little truth with a little leaven – contentment mixed with self-esteem – so it even sounds kind of spiritual. “Be all that you can be.” “Get everything that God wants you to have.” “Have your best life now.” Saul of Tarsus had prestige, wealth, friends, a great career, a job he loved, room for advancement, respect. Then he met Christ – and he took his “best life now” and he threw it away to live like the scum of the earth for Christ’s sake, and for God’s glory.

Jesus wanted to show the Disciples what He thought about their argument over who would be “greatest” in the Kingdom, so He called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said:

… Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:3

This child was not spoiled. I cringe when I think what would have happened if He called one of my children to sit on His lap! Would she be laughing at her friends, sticking her tongue out? This child apparently exhibited the virtue of childlikeness, rather than the vice of childishness.

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

Mark 10:15

The quality of childlikeness that Jesus was pointing out was not playfulness, nor embarrassment, nor shyness, nor boldness. The quality that He wanted to illustrate was unselfconsciousness, which is another word for humility. Unspoiled children have a desire to please. They want to please their fathers, and others. Many times, as parents, we are guilty of causing them to lose this quality. We must not cause them to stumble.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 18:7-9

We should be stepping-stones, not stumbling-blocks. We should be blessings, not burdens.

Marriage: The Long and the Short of It

December 21, 2011 at 11:25 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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There are a couple of old cliches’ when you hit a big anniversary milestone in your marriage. “I’ve been married for 20 years,” says the husband, groaning, “but it seems like a hundred.” Or, “We’ve been married for 20 years,” says the wife with a fake smile, checking over her shoulder to see who’s listening, “but it seems like just yesterday!”

I don’t want to be a spoilsport, but I don’t like either one of those cliches’. Twenty years ago today, God joined my wife and I together into one flesh in a marriage relationship. Aside from Jesus rescuing me from the penalty for my sins and saving my soul, it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me. And the truth is, there are moments when 20 years seems like the blink of an eye, and there are moments when 20 years seems like 20 years.

My wife is the sweetest, most loyal, loving, holy, caring, compassionate, faithful, smartest, God-fearing, Christ-honoring, and beautiful wife in the world – and she’s only getting better every day! She’s a wonderful mother to our children, to boot!

So, while it’s true that the last 20 years do seem like they’ve gone by very fast, I am not going to minimize the blessings of 20 years of experiences and memories and trials and struggles and victories. 20 years is 20 years, to the glory of God. Jesus has blessed us in ways we didn’t expect. When we’ve been in trouble, He has rescued us. When we’ve been trapped, He has delivered us. When we’ve been hurting, He has comforted us. When we’ve rejoiced, He has rejoiced with us. When we’ve wavered and doubted, He’s been faithful and true. When we’ve been scared, He’s been our assurance and strength. When we’ve lost our way, He’s found us and brought us back. When we’ve drawn near to Him, He’s drawn nearer to us. When we have been confused, He’s been our wisdom. When we’ve been unloving and unlovely, He has loved us beyond measure. We give honor and praise and worship and thanks to His Holy Name.

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

Proverbs 5:18

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:31-33

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7

But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Mark 10:6-9

The POV of Marriage

December 12, 2011 at 10:57 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, Mark | 9 Comments
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It will be extremely helpful in our marriages to be very familiar with the very first marriage. The very first marriage is found in Genesis 2, and part of understanding it fully is understanding from whose point of view the events are being described.

This is from God’s point of view:

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:18

The next Verse is also from God’s point of view:

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

Genesis 2:19

Verse 20 is Adam’s point of view, but we know that it matches God’s point of view because of Verse 18.

And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:20

Verse 21 is back to God’s point of view:

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

Genesis 2:21

The same with the next Verse:

And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

Genesis 2:22

Now back to Adam’s point of view:

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Genesis 2:23

When we determine whose point of view we are getting in Verse 24, it will help us to see that we are getting that same point of view in the very strange Verse 25:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:24-25 (emphasis on v. 25)

Remember, marriage was invented by God. Marriage is also an illustration designed by God. It is an illustration of Christ and the Church: Christ is the Bridegroom; the Church is His Bride. At a wedding, God is not visibly present. However, He is there presiding, holding the bride and groom to their vows, and doing the joining together into “one flesh.” In the reality which marriage illustrates, He is, in a sense, operating in the same way.

And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Mark 10:2-9

Jesus taught that Genesis 2:25 was from God’s point of view. Knowing this, we realize that, when there is a marriage, God (not the wife, not the husband, not the officiator, not the parents of the spouses) is the main Actor. God is the One doing the joining together into one flesh. God did not create marriage and then decide that He would fashion the sacrificial atoning death of His Son so that it would look like marriage. No, He designed marriage for the express purpose of making a picture – an illustrated sermon – of His Son the Bridegroom winning a Bride through sacrificial love and joining her to Himself in one Spirit. The Lamb of God was slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8) What I’m trying to show is that when we read Genesis 2:24 and realize that God was already sending grace to His redeemed in advance of the Fall, then we can understand why Genesis Chapter 2 ends with the strange words: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

From this we can also know at least two things definitively about God’s perfectly designed first marriage:

1. The husband and wife were naked.

2. They were unashamed.

Why was there no shame in their nakedness? Because they themselves were innocent. God had made them that way, and everything God made was good before the Fall. This means that their bodies were objectively beautiful. It also means that their bodies were glorious and expressed something about God in their design and function and how pleasing they were to the touch, sight, smell, and even taste. The innocence and the “goodness” of Adam’s and Eve’s condition was lost when they sinned, but next time we will see how that condition can be regained.

The Happiest Slaves

February 8, 2010 at 9:31 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments
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When the Queen of Sheba came to see King Solomon, it was with no small amount of expectation. She had heard great things about his wealth and his wisdom. After traveling approximately 1500 miles, she was not disappointed.

And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.

I Kings 10:6-7

After saying these things the Queen said something even more remarkable:

Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

I Kings 10:8

Conventionally, we think of the person being served as the one who is happy. The happiness of the ones doing the serving is of little concern. However, we know from the Bible that the blessings of serving are even greater than the blessings of being served. (Matthew 20:27)

If it was a great blessing to be the servant of Solomon, consider how much greater it is to be a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only does Christ’s wisdom far exceed that of Solomon’s (Luke 11:31), but who would not want to serve a Master Who wants better things for His servants than they want for themselves, and Who has given His own life to purchase eternal life for those who serve Him?

Defining “Impossible”

April 21, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Posted in Mark, Salvation | 2 Comments
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One day, the disciples of Jesus were shocked at His teaching in a way that they could not measure. They said,

Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Mark 10:26-27

One of the great privileges of being a true Christian is letting people know that no work of man is good enough to earn entrance into Heaven. Only the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ can save someone’s soul.


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