The But Chapter: Incomprehension, Indecision, and Ignorance

October 24, 2018 at 11:12 am | Posted in Luke | 3 Comments
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There are 16 buts in Luke 9. “But” can be a cop-out word that often simply nullifies whatever we say before it. “Honey, I think you look beautiful today, BUT…” “I promise I am going to clean up the house, BUT…” However, the “buts” in Luke 9 are very instructive.

1. The But of Incomprehension

Jesus gave the disciples their instructions, and then:

And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;

Luke 9:6-7

Herod was baffled and confused. He didn’t seem to comprehend the ministry of Jesus and His disciples. Herod had ordered the beheading of John the Baptist, and it may be that he knew it was wrong, and that his conscience was bothering him.

And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.

Luke 9:8-9 (emphasis added)

Some people were speculating that Jesus might actually be Elijah or another one of the Old Testament prophets resurrected, but Herod did not comprehend who Jesus was. Is that YOUR problem, too? You can’t really be a Christian without knowing Jesus, but a DISCIPLE needs to not only KNOW Him personally (although that is of paramount importance), but also to keep knowing more and more about Him. Disciples need to know His attributes and principles and precepts. Perhaps you aren’t following Jesus like you should, and it’s a little similar to what Herod was experiencing. Something is bothering you. You know that you need to be serving Jesus in different ways and with more passion, but have you really comprehended WHO HE IS? You are wondering: Will He leave me or forsake me? Will He forget to repay my costs and my hurts? Just how trustworthy is He? What does He think about people like me? What does He think about the people around me? Jesus does not have to be incomprehensible to us. Herod desired to SEE Him. If you desire to see Him, you can.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Hebrews 2:9 (emphasis added)

First, see Him on the Cross – a Man suffering and dying for you. You will comprehend that He loves you. Then see Him seated in glory at the Father’s right hand. You will comprehend that He is victorious.

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

Hebrews 2:10-11

This promise will demolish any “but” of incomprehension that stands in your way. Jesus has suffered what you have suffered – and MORE than you have suffered – yet He is not ashamed to call you “brother” or “sister.”

2. The But of Indecision

It doesn’t always work out this way when you compare the Gospel accounts, but you can look in Luke 9 and Mark 9 and see the same incident.

And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him. And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him. And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.

Luke 9:37-40

Here was a child possessed by a violent demonic spirit, yet Jesus’s disciples could not cast the demon out. Mark gives a parallel account of the incident:

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

Mark 9:25-29 (emphasis added)

Now you can see why the disciples could not deal with this demonic spirit. They believed they had authority, BUT they were undecided about what was wrong. They had not prepared. How in the world are we going to know what to do when we face an unexpected spiritual battle if we haven’t been preparing by prayer and intense serious devotion to God? If I don’t meditate on His Word – in prayer, too – then I’m going to wind up on my “butt” when the first tough ministry opportunity knocks me right down.

And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither. And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father. And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. BUT while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,

Luke 9:41-44

Don’t get caught “wondering” in the “but of indecision” while it’s time to act. Be prepared.

3. The But of Ignorance

Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.

Luke 9:44

Jesus’s disciples knew by this time that He was referring to Himself when He used the prophetic title “Son of Man.” They also knew that “delivered into the hands of men” meant taken captive by His enemies – most likely through betrayal – for punishment, torture, and death. Why didn’t this have a bigger impact on them?

BUT they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

Luke 9:45 (emphasis added)

They were ignorant of what Jesus came to do. Is that the “but” of your problem when it’s time to serve Jesus? Are you really ignorant of exactly what Jesus came to do? Was He a good role model? Yes, but you are ignorant if you think that’s the message of Jesus’s Gospel. Was He a good example – willing to serve others even to the point of laying down His life as the ultimate example? Yes, but you are ignorant if that’s what you think His real message was and is. Was He on the right track, but He just got overcome by the evil in this world, so we honor Him for “a good try?” That’s romantic and heroic, but you are ignorant if you think that’s what the Gospel of Jesus is about.

But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

Luke 9:45 (emphasis added)

We can’t be afraid of facing what Jesus really came to do. We can’t be afraid to tell people that He suffered and died, and that it was a bloody gruesome death, and that God forsook Him on the Cross and emptied the cup of wrath on His head. We’re afraid to talk about that because of its implications. Why was the death of the Son of God so awful – so horrible – so atrociously bloody? Because you and I were so wicked, so vile, so perverse, so at enmity with God, so undeserving of the love wherewith He loved us. We can’t remain ignorant of those facts, and we can’t let others “but” their way around that Truth. We needed an awesome Savior because we were awful sinners.

Next time we will look at the “buts” of immaturity and independence.

His Glory and His Word

May 5, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Mark | 4 Comments
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It is often said that of all the Israelites who were over 20 years old when they left Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb survived the wilderness wandering and entered into Canaan. However, we might add Moses to that list, as well, for, although he did not make it there during his earthly lifetime, he does appear there in the New Testament:

And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.

Mark 9:2-4

Jesus demonstrated His glory and Deity on the mount of transfiguration. In a common Biblical formula, the demonstration of God’s glory was closely followed by the proclamation of God’s Word.

And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.

Mark 9:7

“Hear Him,” says the Father of the Son. God’s two greatest revelations of Himself are Jesus’s incarnation and His Word.

And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

Mark 9:5

Peter and the Disciples could not stay on the mount of transfiguration, reveling in the glory. They needed to go down and get busy, motivated by what they had seen and heard. Have you been motivated by the revelation of God’s glory in your life? Can you give a testimony of your conversion experience and tell people why you believe what you believe? If so, does your manner of living demonstrate your testimony? If you told your acquaintances, “I believe that Jesus is God, and I know that He paid the price for my sins and has given me eternal life,” would they say, “Hmm, I sure couldn’t tell you believed that,” or would they say, “Ohhhh, that explains why you act that way – why you care for others, why you pray, why you carry a Bible, why you go to church…”?

Later on in Mark Chapter 9 we see that Jesus restored a demon-possessed child to his father. This reminds us that we, too, should have a ministry of restoring children to their fathers. The Holy Spirit probably had Mark highlight Jesus’s ministry to children in his Gospel because “child” and “servant” were the same words in Aramaic.

And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

Mark 9:36-37

The world says it is an honor to have others serving you. Jesus says it is an honor to be serving others.

And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

Mark 9:35

No one can be neutral about Jesus Christ

And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.

Mark 9:38-40

As Christians we can be purified by God’s controlled fires in this life, but those who reject
Jesus will be burned by the fire of God’s wrath forever.

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.

Mark 9:47-50

Becoming Part of the Family

November 18, 2016 at 9:53 am | Posted in Mark, The Family of Faith | 5 Comments
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You get into an earthly family by being born or by being adopted. You get into God’s family by being born again (regeneration). He also adopts born-again believers into His family (grants them the status of adult children). This is very important to remember, because, as we are trying to do good to those who are outside of our family, the best “good” we can do them is to invite and encourage them to join the family of God.

It is also important to remember, as we minister to our fellow family members in the family of God, that none of us deserve to be in this family. Babies don’t birth themselves, and you can’t adopt yourself into a family. We are only a part of this family by God’s grace – His unmerited favor – His election of us – not our impressive abilities and not our works. We can’t “earn” grace. I’m not proud to be an American because I had nothing to do with where I was born. It would be even more ludicrous for me to be proud to be a Christian, because God is the One Who made me a Christian. I did not make myself one.

This motivates me to do good especially to those who are in the family of faith because they belong to God. If you are my brother in Christ, then you are God’s son, which means God loves you. A good Father protects His children, so I’m placing myself in danger if I fail to treat you the way God wants me to treat you.

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

Mark 9:42

Christian Teachers Warned and Watched

March 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching | 3 Comments
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The job of a Bible teacher is an honorable job. Almost every Christian is called upon to teach someone something.

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

Titus 2:3-4

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

II Timothy 2:2

It is an honorable job, but it is also a dangerous job.

Teachers are warned.

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

James 3:1

The word translated as “masters” in James 3:1 is the Greek word didaskalos, meaning teachers. Why will teachers receive the greater condemnation, or, in other words, why are they exposed to a stricter judgment by God? Because teachers use words to teach, and words are dangerous things. You can read the rest of James Chapter 3 and see that the tongue is our most powerful member. It’s like a bit that controls a horse, or a rudder that steers a ship. Just as snakes have poison in their mouths, people have a much deadlier poison: the potential for hurtful and destructive words. You can’t call back an arrow once it’s been shot, and you can’t call back a hurtful word that’s headed for a child’s ears, mind, and heart, once it’s left your mouth.

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Matthew 12:36

If every “idle” word will be scrutinized, how much more will the hurtful, angry, destructive words? Especially when it comes to children.

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

Mark 9:42

Teachers are warned, and teachers are watched.

Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:

II Corinthians 3:2-3

Children will not always read the assignments, but they will always read the teacher. The old maxim that “more is caught than taught” may be truer than some Bible teachers would like to think. Students are are looking for clues as to how sincere the teacher is as a representative of Christ.

And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night. Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Joshua 4:1-6

That’s what students really want to know. Not just what the things you are teaching mean. But what they mean to you. They need to know what you know in order to grasp the material, but what they really want to know is: Are you sincere? They can sense frustration, they can sense doubt, but, even more so, they can sense hypocrisy. Make sure that your relationship with the Lord is right. Make sure the “Rock” of Ages means everything to you.

Water, Water, Everywhere…

January 26, 2011 at 9:31 am | Posted in Mark, Selected Psalms, Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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We are blessed to live in a society where some of the very basic necessities of life are relatively easy to obtain. Water is a good example. Although bottled water can be expensive at the store, and finding a water bill in the mailbox is probably not anyone’s idea of a treat, there are very few places where you will be turned down for a cup of water if you are truly thirsty.

In fact, the Lord Jesus reminded His disciples of the blessing that comes with giving water – in His name – to those who are thirsty.

For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

Mark 9:41

Imagine, for a moment, that water was not so easy to obtain. Imagine that the number-one ingredient for sustaining biological life was removed from your reach. In Psalm 42, David compares a desperate desire for drinking water to a longing for God.

[To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah.] As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

Psalm 42:1

The “hart” in this verse is a deer which has been hunted and chased. His panting, or longing, is for a cool drink of water, to keep him alive.
https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/john-dominis-lone-white-tailed-deer-drinking-water-from-banks-of-cheat-river.jpg?w=300
David experienced this feeling when he was banned from Jordan, hunted and chased by his enemies. Rather than water, however, David longed for the presence of God. Notice the play on words: The “hart” (deer) pants for water, just as David’s “heart” is dry and thirsty.

Wonderfully, though, David found that he could experience God’s presence in the wilderness, as well as in the courts of public worship. If that which we take for granted, and depend upon for life, is suddenly taken away, we appreciate it all the more when we realize that there is One Who can provide it anytime, anywhere. The panting heart is a heart that is truly blessed.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Matthew 5:6

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

John 7:37-38


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