Tags: commentary on Mark, doubt, feeding the multitudes, Jesus Christ, leaven, Mark 8, Pharisees, Sunday School lessons on Mark, unbelief
Jesus had twice fed large groups of people by miraculously multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread. After proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that those who followed Him by faith would have their physical needs met according to His will, the Savior was experiencing grief upon being confronted by persistent disbelief.
And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.
The skepticism which caused Him to sigh was par for the course for the Pharisees, but Jesus’s concern was that their attitude would infect His disciples.
And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.
Leaven is a substance which is small and unseen, but which will quickly permeate an entire loaf of bread. Here, Jesus compares it to the false doctrines of the Pharisees and the followers of Herod. But the disciples, who were foolishly worried because somebody had forgotten to bring bread aboard the ship, thought the Lord was making an underhanded comment about their failure to pack food.
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread.
I am not sure I want to describe Jesus’s attitude as that of “frustration” here, because that, in one sense, implies a discouraged surrender to circumstances. When we, as fallen creatures, experience “frustration” because of the failure of others to live up to our expectations, we almost always, if not, in fact, always, commit the sin of unrighteous anger. Jesus never sinned. However, we can surely see His holy grief in His response:
And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?
How quickly we often forget the blessings the Lord has given us, and the miracles He has done in our midst, when we are faced with unexpected inconvenience or the possibility of bearing someone else’s blame! The warning of Christ was right on target, and we must heed it even today. If we are not careful, a little lack of faith will cause the dough of our life to rise into a big loaf of questioning God, and a burnt crusty mess of unbelief. We must beware of a little leavenly bout of heavenly doubt resulting in a satanic rout.
Tags: Biblical warnings, commentary on Mark, Jesus Christ, Jesus's miracles, leaven of the Pharisees, Mark 8, miracles of Jesus, Pharisees, Sufficiency of Scripture, Sunday School lessons on Mark
In Mark Chapter 8 we are warned of four main things that might sidetrack us from obeying the Word of God. When you see one of these: STOP… beware… and go back to your Bible.
S.igns and wonders
And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.
Why couldn’t the Pharisees who were present while Jesus was on the earth have a sign of their own, signifying Who He really was? One reason is that they already had the Old Testament. They were self-appointed experts in the Law of Moses, and the Law of Moses was one giant sign – the biggest sign ever, prior to the Cross – pointing the way to their need for a Savior. Another reason is that they also had the Old Testament prophets, who described Who Jesus would be. In fact, their forbears, whose traditions they honored, had been killing the prophets, and King Herod had just killed John the Baptist, the last and most specific of all the Old Testament prophets. Jesus knew the hearts of these Pharisees, and He knew that their request for a sign came from a place of unbelief. If you ever find yourself tempted to challenge God to let you see signs and wonders as evidence of His reality or goodness, STOP… beware… go back to the Bible. The desire to see a miraculous show is a sign that you are doubting God’s Word. Do not imagine that God is desperate for your approval. He is not impotently wishing people would believe in Him. He has not simply suggested that people should believe “in” Him – He has sovereignly commanded people to BELIEVE HIM. He’s looking for doers – participants – not gawkers and spectators. He doesn’t care how many people mindlessly chant, “Our God is an awesome God.” If you really think He’s the awesome God, you’ll be serving Him, not waiting for Him to entertain you.
S.igns and wonders
If you are antsy about ordinary, day-to-day needs, and feel like you should have to concoct your own schemes to help God meet those needs, or if you are trusting men or the government or a church, instead of God, to meet your needs, then beware: STOP… go back to your Bible.
Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and [of] the leaven of Herod. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, [It is] because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew [it], he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?
Trust God, and He will supply all your needs according to His (not your) riches in glory. He has the ability to feed and clothe you. If you are truly a Christian, then you know that He has saved you from eternal damnation and given you the very righteousness of Christ. Certainly you must also believe that He knows how to best work out where you’re going to live, what you’re going to eat, and what’s going to happen with your job.
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Beware of false teaching and false doctrine. Whenever somebody tries to “add” to the purposes of Jesus – like the Herodians did – or take away from the purposes of Jesus, and say He can’t do what He said He would do – like the Pharisees did – beware… STOP… go back to your Bible. A little false teaching can get in and leaven the whole lump of what you believe. Most heresies didn’t start out with wrong doctrine. Most heresies started when somebody just wanted to add or take away a little bit of what the Bible says.
Jesus healed a blind man gradually in Mark 8. The fact that it happened gradually instead of all at once is unusual, at least in recorded Scripture, but it was not unusual for Him to heal in different ways. Sometimes He healed people in front of crowds, and sometimes outside the city. Sometimes He healed with one touch; sometimes with two. Sometimes He did it just by speaking a Word. We must not always expect God to do things the same way. Jesus brought me to saving faith at the front of a church, during an invitation near the end of a service. That was my precedent, but I must not expect everybody to be saved that way. Some people, at the moment of conversion, cry uncontrollably; some shout for joy. My wife was healed instantly and miraculously of a serious physical infirmity, but many others are healed by God through the use of doctors and medicine. Do not try to put a limit on how God operates, EXCEPT when someone tells you that, or you find yourself wondering if, God will act contrary to Scripture. If you say, “That can’t be right; it violates Scripture,” and someone tells you, “Don’t put God in a box,” STOP… beware… stick with the Bible.
In the Book of Mark, Jesus is portrayed as busy. He goes places “straightway.” We are following Him, so we have to move to keep up. But He’s given us stop signs to let us know when we’re following so fast that we didn’t realize He turned right, and we kept going.
Tags: commentary on Matthew, eternal life, Jesus Christ, Mark 8, materialism, Matthew 19, Sunday School lessons on Matthew, the Law of God, the rich young ruler
During Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, among the people with whom He spent most of His time, it would have been a noteworthy occasion to meet a man who was both young, rich, and, to some extent, sincere. In fact, Matthew 19 records such an occasion.
When the young man inquired about what He needed to do to receive eternal salvation, Jesus began to list some of the commandments of the Law. The young man professed that he had kept these commandments, and then asked this question:
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
As we study this passage in greater detail we see that Scripture does not support the application often given this verse by ministers today. Upon encountering someone who appears to “have it all” in society, modern evangelicals will say something like this: “Sir, I see that you have a beautiful family, a good marriage, a huge house, an expensive car, and a great job. You only ‘lack’ one thing: Jesus. If you will just add Jesus to your life, you will then be complete.”
This sounds spiritual and practical, but it is not what is taught in Scripture. Christ Jesus is not just an accessory or an accoutrement to be added to one’s list of possessions. The decision to follow Christ, and to receive Him as Savior, is a decision which stems from a Holy Ghost-revealed understanding that Christ is all that matters, and that if confessing Him costs everything else, then the price is not too high.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Tags: 2 Timothy 2, ashamed of the Gospel, ignorance, Jesus Christ, Mark 1, Mark 8, Romans 1, the Gospel, unashamed, unashamed of the Gospel
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Romans 1:16 (emphasis added)
The Apostle Paul made a point of stating that he was not ashamed of the Gospel. Why would the Holy Spirit have him say this? Why would you go out of your way to tell someone that you are not ashamed? No one says, I am not ashamed to dunk a basketball, to score a touchdown, or to hit a home run. No one would be ashamed to say that he is the most popular person in his group of friends. He might be humble about it, but he wouldn’t be ashamed. But for some reason there is a tendency to be ashamed when it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit and the Apostle Paul realized this, and they wanted us to know that it is a tendency which must be overcome.
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Here are three things which might make you ashamed of the Gospel:
1. You don’t know it.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15.
There’s a word for people who talk about things they don’t know anything about: agnostic. Agnostic is from the ancient Greek language, and it means without (a) knowledge (gnostic). When it comes to the existence of God, many people proudly proclaim themselves “agnostic,” when they would be better off using the Latin form, “ignoramus.” If you claim to be a Christian, don’t be a Gospel ignoramus. Learn it. Study it. Think about it. Live it. Then you won’t be ashamed to talk about it.
2. You don’t love it.
Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
II Timothy 2:8-10.
If I showed up at a social function with really bad breath, and someone was kind enough to give me a mint, I would try to thank them for it. I might even mention it to my wife or a friend afterwards, but I’m afraid it would raise my esteem for the person only slightly. However, if the doctor told me my heart was about to stop working, and without a new one I would die, and then someone gave me his heart so I could live, I don’t think I could stop extolling the praises of that person. Why not? Because such an act of self-sacrificial giving would make me love him.
You can see the practicality of this principle at work all the time. Nobody has to twist your arm to talk about your children or your grandchildren, or that game-winning home run you hit way back in high school, or that blockbuster movie you saw last weekend. We talk about who or what we love. It just comes naturally. We need to love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the ways to love it more is to remember the price of your forgiveness and how bad you and I needed that forgiveness. It’s the greatest story ever told, and, through it, you can have a new heart and everlasting life.
3. You don’t believe it.
This is the one that frightens me the most. I’m not saying that everyone who doesn’t evangelize the way we should is not really saved. But I am saying that if you have truly believed the Gospel unto salvation, then you have to realize that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the best thing that has ever happened. And it is true. Jesus Himself said, “…repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) If you believe it, you must tell others who need to hear it – even if it makes you (and them) uncomfortable.
Tags: Gospel, Jesus Christ, John 10, Lord, lunatic, Mark 8, salvation invitations, the big question, the Incarnation, the trilemma
As you go through life, you will be right about some things, and, because no one is perfect, you will also be wrong about a great many things. However, you must make sure that you are NOT wrong about this one thing in particular: Who do you say that Jesus is?
This is the question that Jesus asked His disciples (Mark 8:29). Some think He was a teacher; some think He was a prophet; some think He was a lunatic. However, Jesus Himself said that He was God in human flesh (John 10:30). Because Jesus Christ was Who He claimed to be, He is the One you must know in order to escape eternal damnation, and to receive eternal life.
Tags: 1 John 1, Acts 7, atheism, atheism debate, George Orwell, God's holiness, God's justice, Jesus of Nazareth, Mark 8, Matthew 11, Matthew 6, Proverbs 15, Psalm 115, Revelation 16, russell's teapot, theodicy
Professing Atheist: Super – the furher gets to make his own rules – why am I not surprised? There goes objective morality.
God is perfect and yet I can be better than him (look, I’m saving kids from burning to death… and God appears to be doing, er nothing?)
Christian: If the fuhrer had God’s power, that WOULD be horrifying, but you are having difficulty because you are too limited in your thinking. There is no danger of God being unjust like the fuhrer. I John 1:5: “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
Professing atheists have such a hard time facing reality. When God, in His absolute sovereignty, uses a human instrument or divine providence to save a child from burning to death, they complain because they believe He didn’t save them all. Once again, proving the point: Professed atheism = Willful hatred of God because He can’t be fully explained by the finite mind.
Professing Atheist: Design argument. God did it isn’t an answer, dude – it merely begs the question. It is a bit like saying “the tea pot did it.” How? “It is a magic tea pot.”
Christian: The professing atheist hates God partly because he/she wants to be a little god himself/herself. He/she says, “I’m a little teapot, short (short-sighted – Mark 8:36), and stout (stiffnecked – Acts 7:51), here is my handle (the idol of false intellect which has hands but handles not – Psalm 115:4-7), here is my spout (spouting off uselessly in unbelief – Matthew 6:7), tip me over, and pour me out (his mouth pouring out foolishness – Proverbs 15:2 – and, ultimately, unless he/she receives the gift of God’s salvation by faith, being poured upon – Revelation 16:1).
Professing Atheist: In today’s radio broadcast Big Brother assured the nation that he was indeed a paragon of goodness. He assured his audience that there was no evidence to the contrary, and that if they found any their senses were deceiving them.
Remember – have faith in the party, faith in the cause, faith in the people, and above all faith in Big Brother.
Christian: One day, Jesus of Nazareth stood up in a busy corner of the marketplaces of Capernaum. People were rushing to and fro, not in an imaginary totalitarian society, but in a real time and place where they could be put to death for speaking out against Rome.
This Jesus began to speak openly, and He said a remarkable thing. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Well over one thousand nine hundred eighty-four years later, those words still ring true.
Professing atheists would like to portray themselves as people who are being oppressed by Christians, but, in reality, they live in such freedom from persecution, that they have to actually seek out Christians who will “force” the truth of Scripture upon them.
Only the Lord knows what was truly on George Orwell’s heart when he died, but history records that his two main concerns were that he be buried near a church and that his body not be cremated. One wonders if he would have had such misplaced anxiety if he had accepted the invitation which followed Jesus’s pronouncement: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29