Mark 4:24-25 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
Every one of us have at one point or another listened to someone speaking and pretended that we understood what they said but in reality we did not. Or we thought we understood but we didn’t. The amazing thing about speech is that we convey our thoughts through the words we speak and through our hearing we receive this information spoken by others but the words spoken may not convey the actual intent of the heart and the words heard can be completely misunderstood and misinterpreted. We often can’t tell for sure whether we are conveying our thoughts in a way that can be understood or that we are interpreting what we hear in the right manner. As Jesus is speaking in parables in Mark 4, He is intentionally hiding the truth of what He is saying from those who will not believe while at the same time the Holy Spirit was revealing His desired message to the hearts of those who were drawing near to God. All these initial parables convey the same idea that the Kingdom of God is something that cannot be seen by the naked eye just as any spoken word can be misunderstood by the hearer. It can be hidden in spite of being heard and the irony of course is that the Christ, the Saviour of the world, is the person physically present and speaking these truths to the Jewish people who were supposed to be looking for His coming and yet most who heard His message could not understand.
But what does it mean, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”? The parallel passages in Matthew and Luke bring more clarity:
Matthew 7:2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
Luke 6:37-38 37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
These passages are not saying that we are not to judge others. We judge each other all the time as we try to examine the motivations for why people say the things that they do. In our attempt to understand others we are continually judging them. What this passage is saying is that whatever your relationship is to God this will determine how you judge others- how you respond to and treat those around you. This passage is saying that the true condition of your heart of which nobody can physically see will be revealed in how you respond to others. If you have been forgiven by God through Jesus Christ’s redemptive work upon the cross you will be willing to forgive those who have sinned against you. If you know that you deserved to be condemned to an eternal suffering for the wicked deeds of your own heart acting in rebellion against God and you have become poor in spirit and mourned over your sin and have repented before God and believed in His Son Jesus Christ, you are no longer condemned but are deserving of eternal life in the presence of God through His free gift of grace. You know you are not condemned and this is revealed in how you treat others: you will not condemn them because you want the same reality to be true for them. You don’t cast aside others as utterly hopeless. You have hope for their souls no matter how evil they may be for you know how evil your heart is by nature and that God has given you a new heart through faith in His name.
The reality is that throughout our entire lives we are being put to the test. Our actions reveal what we believe about God and the true condition of our heart. We all face different trials of varying degrees of difficulty but we all are tested in one way or another by God. Do we reflect the glory of God with our lives? And in the final judgment when Jesus Christ returns to this earth our lives will be weighed in the balance. We will be measured and examined by God to the most minute detail and action. Our passage in Mark 4:24-25 is saying that if we have lived our lives out of a sincere and ever increasing love to God it will be evident in how we treat others. Whatever measure of faith we have now in God will only be increased. But for those who do not reflect the glory of God here and now in this realm of time in which we are tested before the eternal state (this period of time from our birth until our death) all the temporary pleasures that they have gained in one manner or another- either honestly or deceitfully will be taken away for all eternity. They will receive their reward: eternal suffering.
Do you see why we must pay attention to what we hear? You can hear the Word of God and yet not never understand and be saved. You can claim to be a Christian but your actions are only a show to mask and deceive others of your present reality. You can claim to know who Jesus is and yet be totally wrong in your understanding. The religious leaders and so many others heard Jesus speak but did not understand. In their arrogance they could not hear. God had blinded their understanding and this can happen to anyone who claims to know God. If we do not walk with God in all humility, we too will become blinded. Jesus had chosen the twelve disciples of which one, Judas Iscariot, never paid attention to what he heard and he was eternally condemned.
What a blessing it is to know that if we are born again not only will God increase our faith in His glorious Name but we will be with Him forever! We pay attention to the Word of God and are growing in our understanding! We seek Him with all our heart! We love Him because He first loved us:
1 John 4:10-12 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
How it grieves God when we don’t listen to Him or even try to understand Him. How it grieves God when we turn away from loving Him as we should. But the love of God abounds! He will restore us to Himself if we turn back to Him. And we will continue to show love to others out of our love to God in an ever increasing manner as our faith in Him increases. The promise is ours: Mark 4:24 ...with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 4:21-23 21 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Here in Mark 4 Jesus is teaching in parables. Parables are stories that reveal a hidden truth. Jesus could have spoken plainly with everyone but He chose not to. The secrets of God are precious and must be sought out:
Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
If you are unwilling to seek God with all your heart, don’t expect to find Him. He doesn’t make Himself known to anyone but to those who are poor in spirit. The Gospel message is available to all but not all will understand; not all will repent and believe. Another reason why He spoke in parables is that the Jewish people who had been given the Word of God in the Old Testament did not highly regard Him. They should have been able to recognize the Christ when He appeared to them but they had already rejected God for who He really is and thus they also rejected the Christ. By hiding the truth in parables Jesus was pronouncing a form of judgment upon those who would not believe in Him. There were still some who followed Jesus that believed in Him but all the Jews should have recognized Him as the Christ and especially the religious leaders who claimed to know the Scriptures so well and were leading the people into the worship of a false god.
In this section, and the next parable described, the contrast with the first parable of the Sower described in Mark 4:1-8 is evident. After showing that not all who hear the Word of God will believe, Jesus declares that you don’t hide a light under a basket. This is obvious. The light of who Jesus Christ is could not be hidden. In spite of the fact that Jesus was now speaking in parables, it was obvious that Jesus is the Christ. He is the divine nature- the Son of God made flesh. Everything that He did revealed God to the people who saw Him. Every action, every word, absolutely revealed the perfection of God in a man who walked and talked and lived upon this earth. He is infinite love and mercy and goodness and truth and wisdom and justice. All the attributes of God are revealed in Him. He knows all things and will never change in all His infinite perfection and holiness. He came to save us from our sins and to reconcile us to God and there was absolutely no way that this could be stopped. The light could not be hidden.
But there was a time when the light was hidden under a basket. There can be purpose in hiding the light as Jesus’ use of parables revealed. For thirty years Jesus grew up in a family under His earthly parents Joseph and Mary. He was hidden after His birth and taken to Egypt to prevent King Herod from having Him killed. When they returned to Israel following Herod’s death, they did not return to Bethlehem which is near to Jerusalem but to Nazareth in Galilee- away from the religious elite in Jerusalem. He grew into a man in secrecy. And there was also a much greater span of time during which the light was hidden. Not only for thirty years but for thousands of years, from the very beginning of time, it was hidden who the Savior of mankind would be. How would God redeem mankind after the fall? Would the devil for all time be allowed to reign upon this earth after Adam’s rebellion? Would Satan remain victorious over God in defaming Him by overcoming mankind who was made in God’s image? The Old Testament is full of prophecies that predicted the coming of the Christ and of which were all fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. God had a purpose in this period in which the light was hidden as He raised up the nation of Israel and He decided the exact point in history at which the Christ would be revealed. God continues to progressively make more of Himself known to mankind in greater ways throughout all time and His timing and means are always perfect. There is so much to be learned about who God is progressively from the Old Testament to the New Testament and throughout the Church Age in which we now live before Jesus’ second coming.
But it would have been utter foolishness and it would have made no sense at all for God to promise a way of salvation and for it to never be fulfilled just as it makes no sense at all to bring a lamp into a dark room with the purpose of making things visible but instead covering up the lamp. Also, as in verse 22, Jesus points out there is no point in keeping anything a secret unless at some point it is to be revealed. He is speaking of a good secret like a surprise for your spouse or friend or child. There is no point in planning a surprise for them unless they receive it. (Jesus is not referring to a bad secret like the secret sins that people try to hide and hope will never be revealed).
And so in spite of the manner in which Jesus was speaking to them, He was in their very presence revealed. He was standing before them. He was proclaiming to all of mankind that He is the Christ and He would reveal this by dying on the cross in our place and rising from the dead. If anyone has ears to hear let him hear! This message is to be proclaimed everywhere and believed! And just as Jesus was revealed as the Christ, we who are born again by the Spirit of God will one day in the future be revealed to be in Christ.
Galatians 3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
Anyone who has truly repented and believed in Jesus Christ is actually a son or daughter of God here and now and brought into the family of God through faith. While we may look the same as we did before, we are new creatures in Christ and will accordingly live in a different manner than we did before. We will reflect the glory of God and obey Him out of our love to Him and His Spirit at work within us. It is impossible for us to hide our new identity in Christ as the love of God is in us and revealed to others through us. But just as Jesus was in secret for many years and just as His identity and means of providing for our salvation was hidden, so too who we really are is yet to be revealed but one day it will be when Jesus returns:
Philippians 3:20-21 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
But for those who do not know Jesus Christ, they too will be revealed for who they really are. You cannot hide who you are. It will be revealed one day, one way or another. When Jesus returns at the final judgment all their secret sins will be revealed for they have not been changed. The true state of their hearts will be revealed. Do you long for that future day when Jesus returns or do you live in fear of His coming?
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 4:1-20 1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the restrictions start to become lessened it can be easy to come to the conclusion that the restrictions are still too great. Or you may believe that the restrictions are being lessened too quickly. There is a wide variety of information that can be found of differing views of this virus that we cannot see. What should be our response? Scripture is clear: Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Even if we don’t agree with the government we are still to be obedient as long as we are not commanded to act outside of what is considered acceptable to God. While we may not understand all of the underlying truths of the pandemic, we have our direction from Scripture in how we are to respond.
Although we do not need to know the actual truth behind the current pandemic, we are expected to know the truth revealed in Scripture. When Jesus walked upon the earth He did not always speak plainly with the crowds. He often spoke in parables- in stories illustrating a main point, thus hiding the truth in plain sight. Why would He do so? He makes it clear in verse 12: to actually prevent people from coming to know Him as the Christ and turn to Him and be forgiven.
This may be surprising to you but as we have been going through the book of Mark we have already seen how most of the people in the crowds who followed Him were following Jesus for the wrong reasons and had not real interesting in turning away from their sins and surrendering their life to the Christ who had come to save them. And so it is very fitting that the first recorded parable in the book of Mark is the Parable of the Sower. This parable describes the seed (representing the Word of God) being sown by God on four different types of ground (representing different types of hearts in people) of which only the good soil produces a harvest (the heart that has humbled himself before God and is willing to repent and believe in Jesus Christ). God will only reveal Himself personally to the person who is willing to humble himself before Him and genuinely recognizes their need of salvation through Jesus Christ and seeks to find Him with all their heart.
Our salvation from God is free as we come to recognize that Jesus died for our sins and there is nothing that we can do to earn our salvation apart from faith in His saving work, but for the unbeliever, the real significance of Jesus death and resurrection remains hidden and must be sought out. The truth of salvation is available to all but it is precious and God will not make it known clearly to everyone. The only people to whom He will make it clearly known and to whom He will reveal Himself personally are to those whom He intends to save! Do you understand the Gospel message or is it still hidden to you? God does not trust everyone with the truth revealed in Scripture. He trusted the disciples and would speak to them about things that He would not speak about openly with the crowds. But even among them He did not speak plainly until after Judas Iscariot left the rest of them at the Last Supper when he went to betray Jesus to death. And then, Jesus spoke more openly with the disciples after His resurrection and ultimately after His ascension up into heaven as the Spirit of Christ was poured into their hearts on the Day of Pentecost. Do you recognize the privilege it is to know God- how special it is to be a child of God? If God has revealed Himself to you and you are a born again Christian you are considered worthy of the secret oracles of God! He has chosen you and He loves you! Is it not worth it to suffer for His Name if He is willing to reveal Himself to you?
But do not think that just because you have heard the Word of God and agree with it on some level that you are automatically a Christian. For many it is like the seed sown upon the path that is trampled. The Word of God goes in one ear and out the other and doesn’t hold any significance to them. They remain deceived by Satan. For others it is like the seed sown on rocky ground. They appear to repent and believe but when persecution comes they run away from God proving that their love to Jesus Christ did not penetrate their heart such that they would be willing to give up everything for Him. For others they love what the world can offer them: temporary pleasure and entertainment. They love this more than God and are like the seed sown among thorns. They may appear to be a Christian but they love this sinful world more and what it offers them.
I believe that during this pandemic God is revealing just how much each of us really love God. Are you seeking Him with all your heart? Is He precious to you and your heart’s desire? Have you sought out the secrets revealed in the Word of God that reveal the unseen God?
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 3:20-35 20 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
Have you ever known a child very well and then for whatever reason you did not see them again for many years- perhaps not until they were an adult? Did you recognize them? Often we are surprised as they have changed so much from what we remember. But we usually can pick out mannerisms and facial features that we know about them from before. Just think about the struggle that Jesus’ brothers and sisters and mother went through after Jesus’s baptism when He was baptized with the Holy Spirit and entered into public ministry with great power. Jesus declared the Word of God with authority and performed all kinds of signs and wonders authenticating His Words proving that He is the Christ, the Son of God, who came to save mankind from their sins. For thirty years He would have appeared like any other person but then suddenly He was revealed as the Saviour of all mankind. There were hints of who He really was that He revealed as He grew into manhood but nobody understood Him- not even His own earthly family, and not even His earthly mother Mary.
The amazing reality of anyone who has been born again by the Spirit of God is that they will recognize Jesus Christ for who He really is. In spite of the fact that nobody really understood what Jesus was about to do until after He rose from the dead, the true follower of God who was waiting for the Christ to come recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ. They did not yet fully understand but they still recognized Him and followed Him. They were drawn to Jesus and they loved Him. They were waiting for Him and knew Him even though there was so much about Him that they did not yet understand.
Herein lies the parallel that Jesus brings out in comparing his earthly family to the spiritual family of God. Of anyone on this earth, we should recognize our parents and our siblings above anyone else. God designed the family so that we will be raised by our father and mother alongside our brothers and sisters. We know them best and are to love them all and to be loved by them. Sadly this is not the case in many broken families but this is God’s desire and original intent. There is no way that we should not be able to recognize anyone in our family.
But Jesus’ earthly brothers and sisters and mother wanted to seize Jesus and said, “He is out of his mind.” Why? Because they could not recognize Him. Although they were physically related to Him through His earthly mother and had spent many years growing up with Him, they were not yet born again- they were not yet in the family of God and thus could not recognize Him as the Christ. We know that at least some of His earthly family did later recognize Him as His half-brother James became an apostle and a leader of the church in Jerusalem and Jesus’ mother Mary proved to be a true follower of God.
But of all people that should have recognized the Christ it was the religious leaders among the Jews. The scribes knew the Word of God better than anyone and yet they accused Jesus of being possessed by a demon and casting out demons by the power of Satan- the very enemy of God whom Jesus was forcing back and continues to force back upon this earth. They did not recognize Jesus for who He really is and so Jesus corrects them. A kingdom divided against itself will fall apart just as a family against itself will fall apart. If you come against who you are to serve and love only destruction awaits. Everyone in a kingdom or family is to know and fulfill their own role. We can trust and recognize each other and work together towards a common goal. But if we are from a different kingdom or a different family we can’t expect this to be true and we will be divided. Jesus brings out this picture more clearly by describing someone trying to steal from a strong man’s house. There is no way that a strong man is going to let you take from him without great difficulty. The only way you could do this is to tie him up. As the ways of God are in absolute contradiction to the ways of Satan there is no way that Jesus as the Christ could be forcing back the powers of darkness by the power of Satan. Satan would not allow it.
The words of the scribes revealed the great danger that they were in: they revealed that they were not only among the enemies of God but there was no way for them to recognize Jesus as the Christ by what they had declared about Jesus. They had examined Jesus and said He was of the devil. It wasn’t a matter of confusion in trying to recognize Jesus like His earthly brothers and sisters and mother. Rather they declared Him to be the very enemy of God- the very opposite of God. If our understanding of the Christ becomes so turned upside down that we see Jesus as the very enemy of God we can never be saved. This is the extreme danger that Jesus is making known here.
Do you recognize the Christ? Can you recognize your brothers and sisters who are in the spiritual family of God? Or are you confused as Jesus’ earthly brothers and sisters were? Do not become so confused as the scribes who turned the love of God upside down and there was no way for them to recognize Jesus as the Christ. Jesus Christ came to save sinners no matter what evil we have done if only we will repent and believe!
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 3:7-19 7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
The popularity of Jesus continued to increase exponentially at the beginning of His public ministry. After all, everyone enjoys a good show, and Jesus was performing all kinds of miracles so that a great number of people had been healed. How could He do this? Rumours about Jesus must have spread like wildfire so that an increasing radius of towns and cities had heard about Him. But what was the message that they were hearing? How many understood the Gospel message at this point? None would have understood yet what it meant that Jesus would die for their sins. But there was an increasing number of followers who genuinely saw their need of repentance toward God and of faith in their Lord Jesus Christ. They saw Jesus as the only means of their salvation, although they did not yet fully comprehend what this meant.
It was at this point in Jesus’ ministry that He directly chose the men through whom the Church would be established and the false convert by whom His betrayal would be fulfilled. How different Jesus’ perspective would have been from all who surrounded Him. In spite of the fact that the demons recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God even they did not know what lay ahead at the cross. None but Jesus alone knew the ramifications of the decision He now undertook in choosing these twelve ordinary men. It was at this point that the stage had been set for what was to come. Only Jesus understood this.
How foolish the wisdom of man is compared to the wisdom of God. Mankind likes to think of himself as smart. We like to follow great men and many desire to be great themselves. But we are all fools compared to the wisdom of God. How often are we oblivious to what is actually transpiring in the events that surround us? How many really understand what is going on in the midst of this current pandemic? We are absolutely limited in ability to comprehend and understand what is going on around us. But not with Jesus Christ. He knows all and He knew as revealed by the Spirit of God, even as a man, what was in the heart of those who surrounded Him. He saw the heart of those in misery because of their sin and were being drawn to Him. He saw the joy in the heart of those whom He had healed but afterward had no interest in Him. He saw the wickedness of those Pharisees and Herodians who wanted to destroy Him. And He saw the entertainment seeking and half-hearted interest of most of those who followed Him. But in spite of all this, the message that He proclaimed was made to all. Equal opportunity was given to everyone to hear the Good News as His Words were authenticated by the signs that He performed proving that His is indeed the Son of God.
As Jesus appointed the twelve they were to be sent out ahead of Him to preach and to have the authority to cast out demons. In spite of the fact that they had not yet been baptized with the Holy Spirit as would happen years later after Jesus ascended up into heaven, they were given this ability. And even the false convert and betrayer among them, Judas Iscariot, was able to cast out demons. Mankind has a natural desire for power. And yet who is the only One that has true power?: only Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The only reason why the disciples had the ability to cast out demons was because they were sent out by Jesus. We are all utterly weak and hopeless apart from Jesus Christ. But even if we have any power from God, it does not reveal the condition of our own heart. For if this was true, Judas Iscariot never should have betrayed Jesus. And as we see further on in the book of Mark and elsewhere, the rest of the eleven were not yet in any place of spiritual maturity and yet they had received this power.
Things as they appear are often not as they are. This is why we must seek the Lord. No matter what situation you find yourself in, it is only Jesus Christ who knows the true condition of what surrounds you and the state of your own heart. Are you seeking Him? Even now, in the midst of the pandemic, are you drawing nearer to God or is it being revealed that you are farther from Him? Do you depend upon Him for your wisdom and power? Do you recognize Him as the Son of God? Do you know Jesus Christ personally or do you just pretend to know Him? Do you really love Jesus Christ with all your heart or do you actually hate Him? The Good News is open to all but where do you stand with Him? Is it He who you have been looking to after these many weeks of upheaval or have you found your own way?
There is great peace in resting in the knowledge and power of Jesus Christ if we are among the children of God. But there is reason for great fear if we are not His. If you know Him, rest in Him. He is the only One who really knows you and can and will raise you up for His glory! But if you do not know Him, one day it will be revealed who you really are. At the judgment seat of Christ it will be revealed to all who reject Him the wickedness of their hearts and they will be eternally condemned for it. For if we do not glorify our Creator, we deserve to be punished for this evil. But if we come to the cross of Jesus Christ, and in our desperate need cry out Him as the only means of salvation, He will save us! He will rescue us! He will make known to us that He is the Son of God! Thanks be to God for the wisdom and power of Jesus Christ!
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 2:23-28 23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
Mark 3:1-6 1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
The Book of Mark is the shortest Gospel account describing the Good News- the events of the life of Jesus as He walked upon this earth to provide for our salvation. Jesus is right now seated at the right hand of God in heaven and one day in the future He will return to this earth in full authority to judge the world in righteousness. Already at the end of Mark 2 and the beginning of Mark 3 we see His authority directly challenged to the point of His enemies wanting Him destroyed. The sinful nature in man is such that all of mankind who are not drawn to the cross of Jesus Christ will at some point desire to destroy the One who is Lord over all. Why? Because if God has infinite authority over all of His creation we cannot claim authority ourselves. We are all in subject to Him and we must live our lives according to His desires and not our own. But the greatness of God is that He does not force us to obey Him and to love Him. He is looking for willing subjects who love Him with all their heart. His future perfect eternal Kingdom will only include those who willingly submit themselves to Him and rejoice in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.
The leading religious authority at that time in Israel was the party of the Pharisees. The Pharisees attempted to raise the 613 laws given to Moses to even greater heights to prove their great wisdom and holiness. They added additional traditions- more rules to the Old Testament law by which their greatness could be displayed to all: fasting, long prayers, etc. They were the spiritual elite in Israel at that time and loved to display this by all the rules they followed. This set them above everyone else in the nation of Israel. And so Jesus’ spiritual authority was a direct threat to them and His teaching was very different to what they had taught the people.
The Pharisees had developed strict rules in their traditions to prevent any form of work on the Saturday to the point that plucking heads of grain in a field was a breaking of their man made laws. Their view of their relationship to God was found only in external actions: do this, don’t do that. They had elevated themselves through human effort to be above everyone else and in turn the view of their relationship with God was contingent upon others being less than they were. They did not compare themselves to the perfect standard of God but only how they perceived themselves in relation to others and what they thought God’s law required. There was no way that a “sinner” could have a relationship with God as they did. To be right with God meant that you had to be better than others. And so they challenged Jesus based on their own false beliefs.
Jesus knows the state of their hearts and so He uses an example from the life of David found in 1 Samuel 21. David, when he and his men were starving as he was fleeing King Saul, was provided the bread that only the priests were legally allowed to eat. It appeared that David had broken the law but somehow he was not condemned. How could this be? The Pharisees had a high regard for the Old Testament Scriptures but they had no answer for David’s actions. David’s actions demonstrated the true relationship of all who are in the Kingdom of God of which the Pharisees did not understand. Jesus was teaching the Pharisees what obedience looks like in the Kingdom of God as Jesus is Lord. The Christian does not obey God in order to be saved. The Christian obeys God out of the person of Christ being revealed in the Christian. All of God’s commands reflect His character. His laws exist as a revelation of who He is and what He desires just as the rules of parents within a home reveal the character of the parents. As Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, the rules related to the Sabbath were not restrictions about works but about true love and worship of God. The priests were only allowed to eat the bread of the Presence as they were set apart to bring the offerings of the people to God. But through Jesus Christ and His finished work upon the cross all who believe in His Name have access to God and can partake of the bread of the Presence. The Christian is united to Christ by His Spirit and enters into union with Christ by faith. This was foreshadowed in the life of David:
Revelation 1:5-6 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
The entire religious system that the Pharisees believed was based upon rules and not a living relationship to the person of God. By Jesus claiming that He is Lord even over the Sabbath He not only was saying that He was to be worshipped as God but that their entire religious system was flawed. They were not looking for the Christ to save them but believed that they could save themselves through their obedience to the Law. Next, to prove His point, Jesus authenticates the Words that He spoke proving that He is Lord over the Sabbath by healing a man with a withered hand in front of them all.
Do you see the beauty of Jesus being Lord even of the Sabbath or are you trying to stand based upon your own efforts to be greater than those around you? Or do you feel so low that you can never live up to what others expect of you? The greatness of God is that he can take the worst sinner and glorify Himself through them if they will only repent and believe.
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 2:18-22 18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
Everything Jesus did brought attention to Himself. He acted in a manner that was above the rest of mankind and yet He who entered into creation in the likeness of sinful flesh faced all the same temptations and weaknesses that we face. But it is fascinating that He would do things that were different from John the Baptist who was the greatest of all the Old Testament prophets. Jesus performed all kinds of miracles while John the Baptist performed none and yet the message of the Gospel that they shared was the same. But there was another difference that brought confusion: Jesus never had his disciples fast. Both the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees fasted but Jesus never required this of his disciples.
Fasting is performed when we long for something that we do not have. It is natural to lose your appetite when a terrible tragedy occurs. When you grieve the loss of a loved one you don’t have a desire to eat. The burden of grief may be so great that you don’t eat for days. You long for the one you loved and you know that you will never see them again in this lifetime.
But why did the disciples of John the Baptist fast to begin with? They fasted because of sin. The sin nature within each one of us causes us to desire evil. By nature we do not desire to love God as we should or those around us out of our love for God. We are rebels by nature and look out only for ourselves and have no desire for a relationship with the One who created us. The abuse that so many have suffered at the hands of others is a direct result of the rebellious nature that is in all of mankind.
This recognition of this evil within the heart of man should cast a person to fast. The Bible is full of accounts of when the nation of Israel fasted over its wickedness. The city of Nineveh fasted over the judgment that Jonah proclaimed by the Word of God and God spared them from the judgment that they deserved. But to fast over our sin in itself is incomplete. It doesn’t not come to a resolution or a final answer. It is hoping for a change but not looking for how the change can actually occur in our lives. There are all kinds of monks and religious people like the Pharisees who fast and strive and try to defeat the enemy within. There are all kinds of politicians who try to improve society but never are able to create utopia. Many recognize that there is a problem within the heart of man and in the world around us but they never come to a place of peace. Their heart remains the same no matter how hard they try to change it. And for those who try to create a perfect society they will always fall short.
John the Baptist went beyond the Pharisees as he truly believed that his only hope was to be found in the Christ who was to come. The Pharisees got caught up in their religious customs and although they claimed to desire the Christ they never truly fasted over their own sinfulness but only compared themselves to the state of others. Their fasting became a work proving their own status and position as compared to others. They were justified in their own eyes. But the disciples of John the Baptist were really looking for the answer as revealed by God. It had been revealed to John the Baptist that he would recognize the Christ. When he baptized someone in water God would show a sign from heaven confirming the Christ to John. And this did occur when John baptized Jesus at the beginning of His public ministry. John taught his disciples that they were to fast not just because of their sinfulness but to long for the One who could set them free from sin- Jesus Christ.
But once Jesus Christ had been revealed there was no reason for Jesus’ or John’s disciples to fast. There was no reason to long for the One who would save mankind from their sin- He was physically present! He was walking and talking and eating with His disciples. The Saviour had come! Salvation is found in a person and it was finally and fully paid for when Jesus of Nazareth died upon the cross and rose from the dead. When Jesus died, His disciples fasted until they saw Him risen from the dead. They longed to be with Jesus. And when Jesus ascended up into heaven, His disciples fasted until the Holy Spirit was poured into their hearts.
The illustration of sewing an unshrunk cloth on an old garment and new wine in old wineskins both make the point that when the Christ had been revealed there was no going back. God had previously given the nation of Israel a covenant of works by which they could be saved. You could go to heaven if you obeyed the Ten Commandments and the 613 Laws perfectly but no one succeeded in doing so except Jesus of Nazareth. But through faith in His Name anyone could be saved. Sin was defeated when our sin nature died with Him and our new nature was formed as the Holy Spirit regenerates our heart the moment we believe.
Although we do not need to fast looking for the Christ to be revealed there are still many reasons for us as Christians to fast. We fast as we long for Jesus Christ to draw near to us in our areas of need: in overcoming persisting sin in our own lives or in the Church, in overcoming demonic powers, in overcoming evil that surrounds us, and in receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But most of all we fast for God’s plan of salvation to be fully revealed. Our physical bodies which have been polluted by sin still remain. When Jesus returns those who believe in Him will receive a glorified body like His! We will see Him face to face! We will be in union with the infinite love of God for all eternity! All of creation will be glorified! But for this to happen all who are against Him must be removed forever. They will be cast into the lake of fire where they will never fast. They will forever be separated from the love of God whom they will never desire.
Has your heart yet turned to the Lord Jesus Christ or are you still blinded by your sin? Do you rejoice in Jesus Christ or do you rejoice in yourself and your own depravity?
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 2:13-17 13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
As Jesus began His public ministry He performed all kinds of miracles that resulted in large crowds of people following Him but most were following Him for the wrong reasons. He performed the signs not to attract the crowds but to prove that He is indeed the Son of God and the Christ who came to save the world. He did not come to save us from our problems that are temporary but eternal. He came to save us from our sins and to restore a right relationship with God the Father through His sacrifice upon the cross. Continually He would correct the crowds and would surprise them by His actions. He healed a leper and yet told him to report to the priests and keep silent. The lepers actions showed that he didn’t understand the corruption within his soul and was only focused on temporal healing. A paralytic was lowered through a roof in order to be presented before Jesus. But rather than healing the man Jesus declares that his sins were forgiven. He claimed equality with God. And then He healed the man authenticating His Words revealing His power to forgive sins. And now, Jesus does something that would have turned even more heads.
The call of Levi, or Matthew which was the name given to him by Jesus, would have been a complete shock to all. No one would have expected it. Matthew was a tax collector. He was not like the paralytic or the leper who were a part of the nation of Israel but were outcasts because of sickness and disease. These were not outcasts by choice but the tax collector was. Anyone who was a tax collector was someone who was willing to betray his own people- to work for the Romans and collect the tax for Rome. They were despised by the Israelites. The lepers and the diseased were separate from the people but they weren’t hated as the tax collectors were. No one was upset when Jesus healed the sick but they would be with how he accepts Matthew as one of His disciples.
It is not likely that Matthew was a disciple of John the Baptist prior to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Matthew’s tax booth was by the Sea of Galilee- the lake where Jesus had preached in the past and Matthew must have heard Jesus and was moved in his spirit to repent and believe. But Matthew never left his tax booth. He simply sat there and listened. God had changed his heart but nobody knew it. He had been born again by the Spirit of God as he heard the words of Jesus. He would have wept over his sins and was drawn to Jesus as the only means of his salvation. But what could he do? He was a tax collector. He was hated by everyone. He couldn’t go with the crowds who followed Jesus. What could he do now?
And then Jesus passes by his booth. Jesus, the Christ of God, who sees the heart of every man knew that Matthew was a changed man. He was no longer a tax collector but a child of God! He could not go back to the life that he once lived. A man who was despised by the people was now loved by God! And so Jesus says to Levi, “Follow me.” Everything was different from Matthew from that point forward! He was taught by Jesus Himself and was among those who willingly gave up their lives for Jesus! He would end up writing the book of Matthew recorded in the New Testament. How could this be that God could use such a man for His glory who was despised by his own people? Because the grace of God can cover any sin!
Matthew’s previous friends were not among the respected people in Israel. As Matthew had been an outcast, his only friends and companions were among those who were like him. And unlike the leper who went to tell everyone about Jesus for personal gain and benefit, Matthew tells his friends of the salvation that Jesus can provide them! He had tasted first hand the love of God at the hand of Jesus and he desired that the people he knew would come to know the Christ who had saved him! Jesus would eat with them and preach to them and witness to them. He came to call sinners to Himself!
But what a contrast with the scribes and the Pharisees who were among the religious elite in Israel- respected and looked up to by all the people. They would follow the Old Testament Law (all 613 commands) to the letter (or so they thought) and would have nothing to do with these sinners. In their eyes they could not be saved. They had chosen the path to destruction.
But the Good News is that anyone can be saved! It does not matter what evils we have done or what predicament we are now in that has caused us to be hated by those around us. If we will look upon Jesus Christ, if we will hear His voice, and His call for us to turn away from our evil ways and to surrender to Him, we can be saved like Matthew! Jesus Christ has the power to wash us clean and to keep us for Himself- a holy and a pure people separate from the world! Not in the way that the scribes and the Pharisees believed by living in self righteousness but by living in the eternal Kingdom of God where Jesus Christ is King and He is the One at work in us to use us for His glory!
It is often those who are outcasts that see the love of Jesus Christ for what it truly is. The scribes and the Pharisees and most in the large crowds that followed Jesus could not see the state of their own hearts because of how they viewed each other. They were righteous in their own eyes. They did not recognize their condition before God. They were sick and in need of the Eternal Physician but could not see it. But not so with Matthew- God used his state of misery and despair to enable him to see Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ! He knew he was a sinner and his only hope was found in Jesus Christ!
Can you relate to Matthew’s condition or is the state of your heart still the same as the scribes and the Pharisees and most of those in the crowds? Jesus came to call sinners to Himself!
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 2:1-12 1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
If there was any doubt that the crowds were following Jesus for the wrong reasons this passage makes it abundantly clear. Last week we saw how the crowds had increased in size to the point that Jesus could no longer preach in the towns. A leper who had been healed did not obey the command of Jesus and spread the news of his healing everywhere. By the time this initial preaching tour came to an end in Galilee (in northern Israel), Jesus was becoming more restricted in how and where He could share the Good News because of the excitement of the crowds.
Jesus’ public ministry was in complete contrast to John the Baptist before Him. John the Baptist preached in the wilderness- in the most remote places. John the Baptist performed no miracles and it took great effort for those to be able to hear him preach. You had to go seek him out and find him. He led people to repentance and would baptize them in water symbolizing their purification from sin as they also came to believe in faith in the coming Christ- the Saviour that would come from God. When Jesus of Nazareth was revealed to John the Baptist as the Christ, from that point forward John the Baptist pointed all of his followers to go and follow Jesus instead. Jesus on the other hand was as accessible as He could be. He went to every town to share the Good News. He performed all kinds of miracles and continually made it known in different ways that He is the Christ as the Son of God. It was easy to find Jesus. He made the Good News available and accessible to all. He was absolutely approachable as the Gospel was for all people. The way of salvation appeared to be made hard by John the Baptist while on the surface it appeared easy through Jesus. But it was exactly the same message of salvation. It would take the infinite power of God to save a single soul. The crowds did not understand the reasons why Jesus’ actions were so different from John the Baptist and yet how they were in perfect harmony in the message of salvation that they both preached. In the same way the crowds did not understand the Word of God that had been revealed as recorded in the Old Testament that pointed to Jesus as the Christ.
As Jesus returned home to Simon Peter’s house in Capernaum the crowds continued to press in around him to the point that people were willing to take apart a roof to get access to Jesus! A man who was paralyzed was lowered down into the presence of Jesus. A dramatic scene was about to unfold of which no one had expected. Instead of healing the man, Jesus says to him, “Your sins are forgiven.” The paralyzed man had obviously shown signs of genuine repentance before God and faith in the Christ to whom he had been laid before. This proclamation of forgiveness is not what the people had expected. They expected Jesus to heal the man. But not this time, at least not yet. Jesus would forgive sins! Jesus was getting the reputation of a great miracle worker as well as a great preacher but now He claimed to be able to forgive sins!
Many people tend to trivialize sins in our day. Our evil actions and our rebellion against the God who formed us is not seen as a great evil. Many people think that they can wipe away their own sins by doing something good. But there is no way that any one of us can truly have a single sin washed away apart from the work of Jesus Christ. And the scribes, who knew the Scriptures well, were right in saying, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” They knew that Jesus’ words were a claim of equality with God Himself. This was a greater sign than all the acts of healing that Jesus had performed thus far and yet nothing physical had occurred. The paralyzed man was still paralyzed. This is what the healed leper did not understand as we discussed last week from Mark 1:40-45. He had been healed physically but his sins had not been forgiven. Here was a paralyzed man forgiven by the Christ and yet his physical ailments remained. It would have been infinitely better for him to live the rest of his life as a paralyzed man with his sins forgiven than a healed man with his sins remaining. Do we comprehend the need for our souls to be healed? Do we genuinely desire a relationship with God through Jesus Christ or are we just looking for a Christ who will ease our suffering?
To authenticate His own words, Jesus heals the man. He says in Mark 2:10-11 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”
He showed everyone present that He is the Christ, the Son of God. The act of healing proved the authority of the Word that Jesus spoke. And we know that His Words were confirmed and completed in Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was on the cross that this paralyzed man’s sins were paid for.
Are you beginning to see more and more how different this Kingdom of God is than our present world? In the midst of this pandemic are you consumed with what is going on in the world around you or are you more and more focused on the presence of God and the Kingdom of God recognizing the King whose authority is above all? Do you know if your sins are forgiven? Are you amazed and do you glorify God that this is true of you? How can it be that any of us could be forgiven by so great a Saviour? Praise be to God!
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 1:29-45 29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
As Jesus began His public ministry and demonstrated His authority as the Son of God and the Christ who came to save mankind from sin, He quickly drew the attention of all the people in Galilee in the northern part of Israel. Crowds very quickly were forming wherever He went. But what was their motivation in following Jesus? In seasons of revival and spiritual awakening all kinds of people who had no interest in God before all of a sudden begin to attend churches and show interest in the things of God. But do they all remain? As many churches in our day are not able to attract a large crowd there would be great excitement if this happened in our day. But crowds do not necessarily mean converts and Jesus knew this better than anyone. The crowds that so quickly followed Jesus at the beginning of His ministry would abandon Him at the end. The purpose of the great signs that Jesus performed in healing the sick and casting out demons was to authenticate the Word of God that He spoke, proving that He is God in the flesh and confirming the words that would be recorded in the New Testament that we have today.
Simon Peter and the disciples didn’t understand this and got caught up in the excitement at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry especially with the signs and wonders that Jesus performed. Jesus’ ministry began very differently from John the Baptist who performed no miracles. It would have been very natural for Simon Peter and the disciples who had previously followed John the Baptist to get caught up in this for this was something new and exciting from what they had seen before. When Jesus disappeared from Capernaum to a desolate place, Simon Peter couldn’t understand why Jesus was in hiding. After all, everyone was looking for Him. Why would the Christ not be reveling in this attention from man? Because the attention of God the Father was far more important. Jesus’ goal was to preach the Word of God in all these places- not just to perform signs and wonders. He didn’t come to perform healings that would be temporary. Those who were healed would still taste physical death in their future. Jesus came to proclaim the Good News of what He was about to do upon the cross. He came to perform eternal healing of the root problem of sin in the soul of man.
We then read the account of Jesus healing a man from leprosy- a terrible disease. A leper was required to live outside the camp and cry out “unclean, unclean” when any other person was near them. Imagine if someone today with corona virus was required to say this? The corona virus is very contagious while leprosy is not. But the disease of leprosy was a picture of sin for the people. Leprosy was "the outward and visible sign of the inner spiritual corruption; a picture of its small beginnings, its gradual spread, its internal disfigurement, its destruction little by little of the whole body, of that which corrupts, degrades, and defiles man's inner nature, and makes him unfit to enter the presence of a pure and holy God" (Maclear's Handbook O.T).
Jesus shows this man compassion, touching him and making him clean. But it is what Jesus says next that is so fascinating. He sternly charges him in verse 43 to not tell anyone but to show himself to the priest and to offer a sacrifice as commanded by Moses. Jesus spoke to him in a stern voice. It was very important for the man to obey what Jesus said. Leviticus 14:1-32 describes the laws for cleansing leprosy. But, even though this man was a Jew, he had no regard for the Word of God in carrying out what was commanded in the Law of God as emphasized by Jesus or in not telling others of what Jesus had done. Rather he ended up preventing Jesus from being able to share the Word of God in the towns because the crowds were now too great as the healed leper spread the news about what Jesus had done for him.
On the surface it seemed as the healed leper had done the right thing in telling everyone about what Jesus had done. But did this man understand that his leprosy was a picture of his sin? Did he see that the man who healed him of his leprosy could also heal him of his sin? Did he see any need for this? Did he understand why he was supposed to show himself to the priest and to offer a sacrifice as commanded by Moses? He had been healed but his sin nature remained. He had been touched by Jesus and was made clean but his soul was still stained by sin. The cross of Jesus Christ was still a mystery to him.
What a contrast with the healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of her fever. When she was healed she immediately began to serve Jesus in humility. But for so many who were healed by Jesus they had no genuine regard for the Word of God. Rather than a desire to serve Jesus and to obey the Word of God they only wanted this miracle worker to serve them- to remove what was troubling them. Is this your desire for the things of God in the midst of this pandemic or are you seeking Jesus Christ for the right reasons? Has Jesus cleansed your soul? Have you been thoroughly made clean by His finished work upon the cross or are you as this leper?
Pastor Murray Hack