Mark 7:14-15 14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”
Mark 7:17-23 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
At this point in Jesus’ public ministry He is bringing to a head the false and dangerous teaching of the Pharisees. They looked and acted in a very righteous manner. They had added all kinds of rules on top of the 613 Old Testament laws that were given to Moses many generations earlier. One of these rules related to washing your hands before you ate food. They had developed a specific manner in which you had to ceremonially wash your hands in order not to defile yourself. All of their rules and traditions related to outward actions and they were devised in such a manner as to elevate the Pharisees and scribes who were experts in these laws and the only people in the nation of Israel who still knew the Hebrew language and thus could properly interpret the Old Testament scriptures. They were the spiritual elite and everyone knew and believed that they were to be looked up to and highly regarded. But the reality was that they were corrupt at the very core of their being just as everyone else in the nation of Israel by nature. The 613 laws were to show them that they were actually unclean and not clean.
Jesus makes a statement in verse 15 that would have astonished all those who heard: “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” How could this be? There were all kinds of laws related to clean and unclean animals recorded in Leviticus 11. There were laws about leprosy which was a skin disease (Leviticus 13). There were many commands which seemed to indicate that you were defiled by what you touched or ate and the rules the Pharisees had developed related to ceremonial washing only expanded on such teaching. Was Jesus abolishing all of these commands? How confusing it must have been for the Jews to hear Jesus’ words. The Apostle Peter would later have the same struggle and confusion when he saw in a vision all kinds of animals on a sheet descending towards him and he was commanded to eat even the unclean animals (Acts 10). Peter, as a Jew, had never eaten an unclean animal.
There is always the danger that you could grow up going to church or perhaps you were forced to follow rules or commands that are supposedly in the Bible and you think that by doing them you are made holy. You think, perhaps unknowingly, that you are saved by your actions. You think that you will go to heaven when you die because you are clean on the outside. But this is a totally false belief that will only lead to eternal damnation. You are still defiled within.
Jesus, in verses 21-22, gives a synopsis of what is in the heart of every man: 21 “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.” We are all corrupt by nature. We were all born into this world with a sin nature. We are all prone to evil and active rebellion against God. Even if we know the righteous commandments of God we cannot keep them as we are. Any attempt at obedience is only a form of ceremonial washing leaving us with an outward appearance of being clean but inwardly defiled and corrupted. The Pharisees did not understand the purpose of God’s Law.
The purpose of the commandments are not to make us clean but to enable us to see our state of inward corruption and our inability to obey God’s commands perfectly. We do not compare ourselves to others who are trying to live up to God’s standard but to God Himself who gave us the commandments. There must be some other way to actually fulfill God’s commandments. There must be some way in which the inward man can have his corruption removed. If only the Pharisees and scribes had understood this they would have been looking for the Christ to save them. If only they saw their inward depravity, they would have been leading the people to follow Jesus. For only in Jesus of Nazareth was the law perfectly fulfilled because He was inwardly pure and clean. Out of His heart flowed perfect love and not evil because He was not born with a corrupt nature as we were. Jesus obeyed God’s Law perfectly because He was inwardly perfect. He came to this world to save us from our sins by dying on the cross and as we repent and turn to Him in faith and believe in Him, He regenerates our corrupt heart. We receive His perfect heart and in turn can obey God as we should. When we are born again by the Spirit of God, we are actually clean on the inside first and then this becomes evident on the outside. We don’t try to be holy. We are holy because of the amazing change that has happened within us.
But the starting point for anyone who will ever come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is to see the evil within their own heart. It is always easier to see the evil in others. The Jews believed that it was the Gentiles (the foreign nations) who were evil and not themselves. They believed they were saved by obeying the Law but rather it condemned them. Jesus knew this and so as He further expands His teaching of what change is required in the heart in order to enter into this new Kingdom of God that Jesus was establishing by next going among the Gentiles as we will see in the Book of Mark. His Kingdom would include Jews and Gentiles.
The scary thing for anyone who is self-righteous is that God will always expose the state of your heart. No matter how hard you try to hide the evil within, it is only a matter of time before God reveals it not just to yourself but to those around you. Do not fool yourself into thinking that you can be right with God apart from a new nature. No matter how hard you try to change, no matter how hard you try to deceive yourself that you are strong enough or good enough, the perfect standard of God condemns you. Your only hope is found in the Son of God who became the Son of Man. Jesus of Nazareth is the answer! Through faith in Him we are born again and the corrupt nature is removed forever! The defilement from within is replaced with the same Spirit that was in the heart of Jesus Christ! Do you know Him? Has this change happened in your heart? Do you know if the Spirit of Christ is within you?
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 7:6-13 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
What will be the end state when the leaders in a nation have become corrupt? This was the condition within the nation of Israel when Jesus and John the Baptist before Him entered on the scene of world history over two thousand years ago. Their appearance at such a time can give us hope that in spite of the great turmoil and distress in our day, God can yet make His presence known in a powerful way. The Pharisees and scribes were the only people in Israel who could read the Hebrew language. The Jews had lost their language when they returned from exile in Babylon many generations earlier. These leaders were incorrectly teaching the people of Israel. They had distorted and corrupted the Word of God- the means by which Israel could know the voice of God and be a light upon the earth. Without knowing what God revealed in the Bible how could they know God’s plan of salvation and how could they understand the righteous requirements of God’s Law? Without a proper knowledge of God, the nation of Israel would become just like all the other nations upon the earth and would be lost forever.
But the fascinating thing is that when Jesus entered into His public ministry, He did not come to save Israel but rather the whole world! His intentions were not ultimately to reestablish the throne of King David as the Israelites saw it, but rather to set up a global kingdom- the Kingdom of God where Jesus Christ would reign over individuals from every nation upon the earth. He would not rule over everyone from only a single nation but rather from those whom He has called among all the nations who will receive Him and submit to Him. But for those who reject Him (including the Israelites) they will one day in the future be cast into the lake of fire. They will one day be forever removed from the presence of Jesus Christ as the ruler of His perfect eternal kingdom when He creates a new heaven and a new earth following the final judgment.
At this point in Jesus’ ministry, He is demonstrating a formal rejection of the corrupt leadership within Israel as well as (we will see later) an opening up of the Kingdom of God to the Gentiles- to the people on the outside of the surrounding nations to whom the Jews had assumed were lost forever and that only a few of them would ever be saved and only as the were circumcised and as they rejected their national identity and became a part of the nation of Israel. To be saved was to become a Jew but this would no longer be the case as the Church was established. You did not have to forsake your nationality or all of your culture to be saved.
Here Jesus gives very specific examples as to how the Pharisees and scribes were misleading the people as He comes to the core problem in their teaching. He had already shown previously as recorded in the book of Mark that the Pharisees and scribes were teaching the people wrongly in regards to eating with sinners (Mark 2:15), fasting (Mark 2:18-22), and the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28, 3:1-6). And here in Mark 7, He condemns their traditions beginning with ceremonial washing (Mark 7:1-8). Then He exposes their tendency to place their man made laws above the law of God as given to Moses on Mount Sinai.
Jesus describes their laws regarding offerings given to God (through the Temple) in contrast with the fifth commandment. Of the Ten Commandments, the fifth commandment says: “Honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12). The Pharisees had come up with a man made law that if you devote your property as a gift to God then you do not need to to help your parents in their old age and provide for them. There were no senior centres in the nation of Israel two thousand years ago. The family was expected to support their elderly parents as part of the fifth commandment in honoring their parents. But the Pharisees and scribes taught that their spiritual authority and the needs of the Temple superseded the fifth commandment. You could effectively starve your parents if you donated to the Temple. It was a greater cause in their eyes to pour money into their pockets and in the upkeep of the Temple. But the commandments of God do not work in this way. One commandment does not trump the other but they all work together in perfect harmony as they reflect the perfect character of God. The fact that their man made law conflicted with the commandment to honor their parents showed that it was absolutely false. Their man made law had made void the Word of God. This was just one example of how they were corrupt in their hearts but disguised their desire for wealth in claiming that it was spiritual. By rejecting the fifth commandment they had rejected it all. It is all or nothing.
How often do we do the same? There is a tendency in us all to think that what we believe is the right way but often what we may think is truth contradicts the commandments of God. It is only as we really study and examine what God requires as recorded in the Bible that we will come to see His perfect righteousness. We all desire to make God’s standard less than what it actually is in order to satisfy our own wicked desires. We must submit to the commandments of God in their entirety. They are the only way by which we should live. But how many people even know what God requires of them? How many people claim to be Christians but they have never examined the Scriptures in detail to even determine how they are to live? If we love Him we will want to be obedient to Him. A rebellious child does not show love to their parents and the Pharisees were teaching the people to actively rebel against the commandments of God by claiming their authority in their man made laws was over and above the commandments of God. They had become gods and Jesus rightfully puts them in their place.
Is this how you live? Do you decide what is right and what is wrong? Is the standard by which you live your life based upon the commandments of God or by your own standard? Do you make void the Word of God by the traditions that have been passed down to you or the traditions that you establish? Or do you rejoice in the righteous requirements of God?
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 7:1-8 1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
Every family or tribe or nation has traditions that are passed down from generation to generation. Often these traditions change over time and no longer resemble what was originally practiced. It is often the elders or the elderly who are looked to in order to continue the traditions that were once practiced. Traditions can be a very good thing as they remind us of our identity as a people and they generally have significance and meaning as to why they are practiced. But how do we determine whether a tradition is acceptable to God or not?
At this point in Jesus’ public ministry He more sternly and directly condemned the teaching of the elders in Israel- the Pharisees and the scribes. Why? What was wrong with their custom of ceremonial washing? This wasn’t a matter of just washing your hands before you ate but this was a ceremonial rite that needed to be done and it was viewed as spiritual and if you did not do so you ate your food with defiled or desecrated hands.
The reason why Jesus attacks the Pharisees and scribes so intensely is that they were the only ones who taught the Bible to the common people in Israel. In Israel’s history God had allowed enemies to conquer them because of their own wickedness. Assyria defeated the northern part of Israel and then later Babylon defeated the southern part of Israel including Jerusalem. After 70 years of exile in Babylon the Israelites were allowed to return home but the common people had lost their language. They no longer spoke Hebrew but Aramaic and the Old Testament teachings were written in Hebrew. The only people who could read and interpret the Scriptures in Israel were the Pharisees and the scribes. But instead of teaching the people the proper significance and meaning of the Scriptures they had formed their own traditions that completely destroyed the original intent of the traditions recorded in the Bible. As Jesus taught the people He presented to them the proper interpretation and destroyed the teaching of the Pharisees and scribes that were so dangerous as the common people had no way to know that what they were being taught was absolutely wrong and was in fact causing them to become self righteous and blind to their need of repentance before God in order to find salvation through Jesus Christ. For no one will see a need for Jesus to die for their sins if they do not first see their own depravity. The Pharisees were teaching the people that you could be spiritually clean by washing your hands in a certain manner while their heart was still as wicked at the core. Any one of us can honor God with our lips and yet our heart can be far from Him. Any one of us can believe that we are genuinely worshipping God while in reality we are only exalting ourselves before God.
Jesus entirely fulfilled the ceremonial law of the Old Testament. These were traditions related to animal sacrifice, etc. relating to offerings to God and the presence of God within the nation of Israel. These traditions are described in detail in the book of Leviticus and were instituted by God Himself for His chosen people- the nation of Israel. These traditions all pointed to Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice in dying for our sins in order that we might know the presence of God personally in our lives. But after Jesus’ death these traditions were no longer necessary to be practiced. Along with bringing to an end these old traditions Jesus also established new traditions for the Church including baptism and communion. This clearly demonstrates the authority Jesus claimed as the Christ and the Son of God. No other man can claim to fulfill or change the traditions of God as given to the nation of Israel.
But what about the traditions of all the other nations apart from Israel (among the Gentiles) and their view of god? All these traditions are the traditions of men. There may be some similarities in the traditions as all the nations have the same ancestors going back to Noah and ultimately to Adam. But the reality is that only the traditions of Israel had been established by God. This brings the question, if I become a born again Christian by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ do I need to renounce all of these traditions that I once knew? Yes and no. The problem with the ceremonial washing that the Pharisees and the scribes promoted was that it made the person think they could be made right with God by their own actions and by external works. The only way we can be made right with God is through repentance and faith in the works of Jesus Christ- looking upon our Savior who died in our place. As we are born again by the Spirit of God He cleanses us from the inside out. Any tradition or act of worship that we practice from that point forward is out of a deep and reverent love towards God and Jesus Christ because of the cross. Our hearts can love God as He intended. We love Him because He first loved us! It is possible now if we are in this new condition to practice a tradition that we once knew before in a incomplete understanding of God in a new true state of worship towards God. The tradition can be appropriated in a manner that is pleasing to God. As long as the tradition is not in contradiction with the teachings of the Bible it can still be practiced albeit in a different way than we once practiced it. But it is not necessary to continue practicing such traditions. For many they associate these traditions with their previous false worship of God and can no longer in good conscience continue to practice them. Both appropriating an existing tradition and abolishing an existing tradition is acceptable in the sight of God. But there are circumstances where if we are practicing an appropriated tradition with others among whom are unbelievers it cannot be viewed as a form of worship that is pleasing to God for they are not worshipping the same God that we are. They do not truly understand God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In turn we are attaching ourselves to their false views of God. If we appropriate a tradition we must be careful that we do so in a manner that is not an offense to God.
Can you see the challenges with traditions and why Jesus attacked the Pharisees as He did?
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 6:45-56 45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
There are many events recorded in the Bible that from an outside perspective and only looked at by themselves seem unbelievable. In spite of the fact that just before this incident, as recorded in Mark 6:30-44 Jesus had fed a crowd of around 20,000 people with only five loaves and two fish, this miracle seems harder to believe. How can anyone walk on water? The only way is if you are the Creator Himself and God in the flesh. And yet, even as Jesus performed this miracle He did not act as the Son of God with all of His power and authority that He had before He entered this world as a baby born of the virgin Mary. Rather he acted as a man equivalent to us but as a man who had been baptized with the Holy Spirit (when He was baptized by John at the beginning of His public ministry). Jesus would not act in all His authority as the Son of God until after He had risen from the dead for He had to die in our place as a man. Our sins could not be paid for in Jesus’ death upon the cross if He was not like us in every way. There had to be a like for like representation. A perfect man had to die in my place in order for my sins to be forgiven. So this was a great miracle but not beyond what any man could do. This is proven in that Peter too walked on water (Matthew 14:28-31).
But to bring us back to the point in question this seems to be a very strange miracle. What was the purpose of this miracle? Why did Jesus walk on the water? Was it just because He was looking for a shortcut to His destination? The disciples had already gone across the sea of Galilee while He was alone in prayer and maybe it was quicker for Him to catch up with them in the boat? But He was actually walking on the sea as if to pass them by. It appeared as if He was going to a different location (verse 48). He walked near them at 3 am but why were the disciples being taught in yet another storm? Mark 4:35-40 describes the incident when Jesus was asleep in the boat with the disciples when a storm arose that scared them. When Jesus awoke he rebuked the storm and it became calm. Why did the disciples face this storm now?
The key to finding the answer is in verse 52: “for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” The disciples had just been on their first mission apart from Jesus. They had gone out around Israel preaching the message of John the Baptist: “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand! Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ!” They had healed the sick and cast out demons just like Jesus but He was not physically present with them. But when they returned they naturally would have become proud and puffed up in what they had accomplished. They could not see the state of their own hearts and although they had performed great miracles which would have been new and exciting for each one of them they could only do so because of their relationship to Jesus Christ. He, through the Holy Spirit, had empowered them. They had no power in and of themselves. Jesus tells them to feed the five thousand which they knew they could not do but did not recognize the parallel incident in the wilderness where God fed the Israelites in the wilderness. Jesus would show them He is the bread of life and they were to feed on Him. He was the source of their life. But here in the storm they did not yet understand this. They still had pride in their hearts from their mission trip.
Jesus sent them out across the sea without Him and a wind arose of which they did not have the strength to overcome. No matter how hard they tried in their own strength they were powerless. This storm was to teach them the importance of always keeping their eyes fixed upon Jesus. They were still at the beginning of learning what the Kingdom of God is like vs. the kingdom that they had previously known as being a part of the nation of Israel. Jesus walks on the water not directly to them but near them to get their attention. But they needed to return their focus upon Him as the only King in the Kingdom of God. They needed to see their complete need of Him. When Jesus entered the boat the wind ceased. The struggle to overcome the power of this world was overcome in a moment when they once again submitted to Jesus Christ. He, in a very dramatic and unbelievable way, corrected His disciples.
From Mark 6:53-56 there is a description of how Jesus completed the miracles among the Jews at the end of this first chapter of His ministry. He had shown mercy to the Jews and ample evidence that He is indeed the Christ- the Savior of mankind. But as I mentioned last week, His message now turns to correct the impure motives and false beliefs of many who followed Him. Just at the height of His ministry, Jesus goes in a direction that nobody would have expected.
When you take your eyes off of Jesus as your only hope and the only means of your salvation do you need Jesus to walk on water before you once again return your focus upon Him? How long do you keep fighting against the wind in your own strength before you once again acknowledge that you are powerless apart from Jesus Christ? Do you really understand what it means to be in the Kingdom of God or do you continue to see the world around you as before? Do you fall back into superstitions and traditions as the disciples were initially afraid and assumed that Jesus walking on the water was a ghost? Do you fall back into fear and doubt? In spite of the disciples’ error, Jesus said to them, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” The kingdom of this world brings us to a place of fear. But to be in the Kingdom of God is to know the peace that passes all understanding as we rest in knowing Jesus as our Lord and Savior!
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 6:30-44 30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
All the signs that Jesus had performed up to this point pale in comparison to the feeding of the five thousand due to the sheer number of people affected personally. Probably well over twenty thousand men, women, and children in Israel saw firsthand the Kingdom of God manifest within their midst as they ate from the five loaves and two fish that Jesus had multiplied. The mission that the disciples had been sent on by Jesus before this had obviously been quite successful. They were to preach the message that John the Baptist preached: “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” “Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ!” “Come hear Him!” And they were given authority from Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit to heal the sick and cast out demons. How exciting it must have been for them all! (Even for Judas Iscariot who would later betray Jesus.)
Due to the great success of the disciples’ mission, they had been so busy that they hadn’t had time to eat. Jesus had told them to go into an isolated place far away from all the towns and villages where they could rest. They went by boat over the Sea of Galilee but the crowds saw them leaving and ran ahead of them. Instead of dispersing the crowds so that they could rest, Jesus had compassion on them and taught them late into the day probably until it was starting to get dark. But now what should be done? The crowd in their haste to see Jesus had not come prepared to spend the whole day there. Almost no one had brought any food. Instead of just dispersing the crowds Jesus tests His disciples and tells them to feed the crowds. After all, Jesus had given them authority before to heal the sick and cast out demons manifesting the Kingdom of God. What would the disciples do? They should have known the Scriptures and realized what would happen but they only thought of solving this problem by worldly means. They estimated that it would take about 200 denarii (a denarius was a day’s wage) so about $20,000 to feed them for one meal and they would have to go buy the food elsewhere.
But how did God feed the Israelites in the wilderness in the past? Could the disciples not see that this real life situation they were in now was very similar to what had happened to Israel many generations ago? Israel had once been in bondage in Egypt. After God miraculously delivered them by sending ten plagues upon Egypt the Israelites wandered for 40 years in the wilderness before entering the promised land of Canaan and yet they did not starve to death. There were probably well over 2 million Jews that were sustained in an area where there was little food. How did they survive? Why did the disciples not recognize the same problem that Moses was faced with? In the wilderness God, the King over Israel, provided the Israelites a food called manna every morning (Exodus 16). It was a fine, flake-like food as fine as frost. And now Jesus, the King of the Kingdom of God, would provide miraculously for the crowd. The disciples should have recognized what Jesus was about to do. They had no power in themselves to feed the crowds but Jesus, as the Christ, would be able to. Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35). But Jesus does not declare this until later when he has returned to Capernaum. At this point, after Jesus performs this tremendous miracle, the crowds were going to make Him their king by force so He leaves them. Any other man would have welcomed this:
John 6:14-15 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
It would only be later when Jesus returned to Capernaum that Jesus would reveal the purpose of this miracle. It was so that He could declare:
John 6:35, 50-51 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. ... 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
To be in the Kingdom of God is to be united to Jesus Christ through faith and to be utterly and absolutely dependent upon Him for all that we are and all that we do. Because Jesus has done all for us in His death and resurrection, our life is in Him. We feed on Him and live our lives in obedience to Him and He reveals Himself to us and shows His loves to us. But this level of commitment is not what most people are looking for. The irony of Jesus performing the greatest public miracle in Israel is that it was after this point that the crowds began to no longer follow Him. Jesus’ hardest teaching immediately followed His greatest miracle:
John 6:66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
This level of commitment and dependence upon Jesus is not what most people want to hear. The unbeliever does not want to submit to Jesus Christ but is only interested in whatever benefits might come from Him. You can no longer live for yourself if you are going to follow Jesus. Every single one of us needs Jesus Christ as our Shepherd! We are absolutely lost without Him wandering our way through this world on a hopeless path to destruction! Jesus saw the crowds as sheep without a shepherd. Is this how he sees you? Do you belong to Him?
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 6:14-29 14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.
21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
These events took place after Jesus sent out the twelve disciples on a journey to the surrounding places with the message that people should repent. As then went Jesus Christ manifested the Kingdom of God in their presence apart from Himself (He enabled them to cast out demons and heal the sick even though Jesus was not physically present with them). As a result of the disciples’ actions word came to King Herod of this man named Jesus of Nazareth. King Herod was a figurehead king appointed by the Romans who ruled in parts of Israel at that time. (He was also called Herod Antipas.) He ruled over the regions of Galilee and Perea.
There is perhaps no better contrast to help you to understand this new kingdom that Jesus Christ was establishing (the Kingdom of God) than to look at the wicked life of King Herod. King Herod epitomizes the kingdom of this present world. He was married to the daughter of Aretas (the king of Arabia mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:32) but desired his brother Philip’s wife Herodias. He divorced his previous wife and married Herodias who was his niece and sister-in-law. John the Baptist had confronted Herod Antipas in his sin but he would not repent. He tried to silence John the Baptist by putting him in prison but did not kill him because he was afraid of the crowds who liked John. But his wife Herodias, who was not afraid of killing John the Baptist, tricks Herod Antipas by having her own daughter Salome seduce him through a provocative dance while he was drunk at a party. He grants her any request and it results in the death of John the Baptist. It would appear that evil had triumphed and yet later the king of Arabia attacked King Herod in battle for disowning his daughter. Herod Antipas was defeated but still remained under the protection of Rome. He eventually was forced to flee into exile as his nephew Herod Agrippa came against him and Agrippa was appointed by Rome to reign in Galilee and Perea in his place. A life of lustful desires and chaos led ultimately to despair and destruction.
Does this not describe the lives of all who live in the kingdom of this world? We convince ourselves that the way to glory is within our reach and yet if the unbeliever could see the end state of their lives apart from Jesus Christ it would be only despair and destruction. How many people really in the end are content and happy with the person that they have become? If you will not repent of your evil ways and corrupt nature and turn to Jesus there is no peace.
And yet what about John the Baptist? On the surface it looks like the end of his life was a failure. He died in prison and was beheaded. In spite of all this God was glorified in his life! This was the way to glory as he fulfilled the greatest role in the nation of Israel of all the Old Testament prophets. John the Baptist introduced Jesus Christ to the world and testified that He is indeed the savior of mankind! The manner of death was not a condemnation against the life that he lived but rather reveals that the kingdom of this world is always opposed to the Kingdom of God. No one wants to be told that they are by nature evil and that we must turn to Jesus Christ for salvation. Until we are willing to acknowledge this, there is no way that we can know the glory to be revealed in the Kingdom of God. For those who will not repent they will always come against the children of God.
And so as we come to understand the true way to glory in God’s Kingdom we must recognize that there is a cost. If we look to follow Jesus with all of our heart it will mean condemning the evil ways that the kingdom of this world promotes. To be in the Kingdom of God means opposing the kingdom of this world. It will mean suffering and hardship but it will all be worth it!
How much evil have you seen in your lifetime? How much have you been taught about the ways of wickedness just as Herodias taught her daughter Salome? Can you not see that they will only lead to despair and destruction? Repent of these evil teachings! Seek the ways of God! Turn to live a holy and righteous life under the authority and teaching of the Scriptures and you will be led into the way of glory in the Kingdom of God!
Herod Antipas lived in turmoil over the death of John the Baptist. He thought that Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead. His sins haunted him and yet he still would not repent. His heart only became more hardened to the Gospel. It’s hard to even comprehend but this is the same man who was present in Jerusalem during Jesus’ crucifixion (Luke 23:6-12). Not only had he killed John the Baptist but he would treat Jesus with contempt and mock him, adorning him in a purple robe and having a crown of thorns put upon His head. Do you see how the world mocks Jesus Christ? Is this the true state of your own soul? Or are you indeed among those who love Him and will do anything for Him because of what He has done for you?
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 6:7-13 7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry great crowds flock around Him to see what He would say and do. The crowds were amazed! Jesus selected 12 men (Mark 3:13-18) and began to teach them and others who followed Him about the Kingdom of God. Jesus was the King of a new kingdom- a perfect eternal kingdom and Jesus manifested this kingdom in their midst. His actions revealed what the future perfect Kingdom of God would be like where all those in His Kingdom obey God perfectly out of their love for Him and where peace reigns eternal. Jesus gave the disciples a basic understanding of the Kingdom of God and now He sends them out. Why? Why would Jesus send the disciples out to draw greater attention to Himself when there were already large crowds following Him and yet many of these people had no real interest in the Gospel message? Also, Jesus would have eventually reached these places without sending the disciples ahead anyway. Why didn’t the disciples just stay with Him and continue to be taught especially as they still knew so little? Jesus had a purpose in it all. I believe He sent them out two by two in order to expand their understanding of the Kingdom of God.
The disciples had begun to understand the Kingdom of God through the words and actions of Jesus but what is this kingdom like? In the Old Testament there were prophets empowered by the Spirit of God who performed great signs and wonders and proclaimed the Word of God to the people but those who believed the message in the nation of Israel did not have this same enduement of power. These Old Testament prophets were types pointing to the great anti-type to be revealed in Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. But the Kingdom of God as revealed through Jesus Christ would be different. Not just a few individuals within the nation of Israel would reveal the greatness of God but all those in the Kingdom of God throughout all the nations who would repent and believe in Jesus Christ:
Acts 2:17-18, 38-39 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. ...38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
But at this point none of the disciples had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Also, in their midst, was the one who would betray Jesus and thus would later be proven to be a false convert. He was among the twelve and yet had never been born again (Judas Iscariot).
So what was Jesus teaching His disciples at this point? They had recognized the Kingdom of God manifest through Jesus by the great signs he performed in Mark 5 but now the disciples would see the Kingdom of God was manifest through their own actions as they went out. Jesus gave them authority over the unclean spirits (even Judas Iscariot). This Kingdom was different from what they had known from being a part of the nation of Israel. Also, they did not see these things happen under John the Baptist. (Many of the twelve would have been previously disciples of John who was the last of the Old Testament prophets). This was something new and strange to them! They went out preaching a message of repentance (the same message that John the Baptist preached) and yet as followers of Jesus they witnessed the Kingdom of God manifest about them as they proclaimed this message! The Christ had come to establish His Kingdom! The greatness of God and His plan of salvation was being revealed!
The journey that Jesus sent His disciples on was not a long one. The disciples were to not take anything with them. It was a quick tour by which Jesus would draw people to Himself who were under conviction of sin and at the same time expand the disciples’ understanding of the Kingdom of God. But a significant part of their training was to understand that not all will believe. Jesus showed them how the people of Nazareth had rejected Him before sending them out (Mark 6:1-6). And as they went on this journey they would likewise see many who would reject their message. Their excitement in finding the Christ in Jesus of Nazareth would not likewise be found in everyone they met and they could not tell who would believe and who would reject the message until after it had been proclaimed. As they preached the Word of God and shared about Jesus Christ they would have been surprised as people whom they thought should believe but refused their message and others whom they assumed would not believe accepted the message. They were to shake the dust of their feet at those who rejected the message showing the judgment of God was upon them and for those who received them would be blessed. Jesus could have told them exactly which homes they should visit as He told the disciples later exactly the home to visit to prepare for the last supper before His crucifixion (Luke 22:7-13) but the disciples needed to experience firsthand that the Gospel message was for all people and yet there will always be those who receive the message and those who reject it. They needed to understand more clearly God’s plan of salvation. For the disciples would have assumed that all the Jews would believe their message as they all were supposed to be looking for the coming Christ. But God’s Kingdom is not of one nation or family or people group but rather individual souls from every nation. And more clearly they needed to understand how many of the Jews would never believe. They needed to understand that those who rejected Jesus as the Christ were of the kingdom of this world and would be cast into eternal hell even if they were a part of the nation of Israel.
Do you understand what Jesus was teaching His disciples at this point? There will always be those who will welcome the Gospel and those who refuse to hear. Do you recognize that God can manifest the Kingdom of God through you? Do you see how amazing the Kingdom of God is- this kingdom in which Jesus Christ reigns? Do you recognize the authority over darkness that Jesus Christ possesses and can reveal in your midst? Praise Him! Worship Him!
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 6:1-6 1 He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.
Up to this point in the book of Mark the crowds in Israel were amazed at everything Jesus was doing. The scribes and the Pharisees who taught the people had come against Jesus because His teachings were contrary to what they taught but the crowds on the whole were amazed at Jesus of Nazareth! They flocked to see Him and to find out what He would say and do. But were they following Him for the right reasons? Then, in Mark 3 we read how Jesus taught His disciples the significance of the Kingdom of God- this spiritual eternal kingdom in which He is the King. Jesus manifested the Kingdom of God in their presence through very challenging circumstances recorded in Mark 4 and 5. But now as Jesus returns to His hometown of Nazareth what kind of response did He get? Everyone is proud of someone from a small town who makes it to the NHL or another professional league and they install signs or plaques in their honor but this is not what happened with Jesus. Instead of honor he was treated with disgust. They took offense at Him. Why? Does this make any sense? Beginning at Jesus’ baptism the Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was being revealed to the world and He spoke with authority and performed amazing signs and yet the people from His own community still rejected Him. Why? Did He bring shame to their name? What was their problem?
It ultimately came down to the difference in who Jesus was revealed to be now vs. the Jesus that they claimed to know. The parallel account is given in Matthew 13:53-57 but Luke 4:16-30 describes Jesus’ first encounter with the people of Nazareth following His baptism and temptation in the wilderness. Jesus returns home alone after defeating the devil in the wilderness and He preached in synagogues along the way and the people glorified Him and His message but when He came to Nazareth it was a different story. In Nazareth, on the Sabbath, He reads the prophecy from Isaiah (58 and 61) and the Psalms (146) that spoke of the coming Christ and He declared that He fulfilled these Scriptures. But then Jesus went on to say that they would not believe that He is the Christ and that they would reject Him just as the prophets of old were rejected by their own people. He saw their end from the beginning and they became so angry that they tried to kill Him (Luke 4:29). So why would Jesus now return to Nazareth with His disciples only to be rejected again? The people still would not believe. Nothing had changed. Why go see them again? I believe that Jesus was teaching His disciples about the true nature of unbelief and showing His disciples through the response of the people of Nazareth what would ultimately lead to His death in Jerusalem. Israel as a nation would reject Him just as Nazareth did. This is His first teaching upon the suffering that awaited Him.
We all like to think we understand the world around us but we fail to grasp the effects that the corruption of sin has had upon all of us as a result of the fall. The more familiar we are with something the more confident we are that we know the truth in regards to it. So it was with the residents of Nazareth. In their eyes Jesus could not be the Christ because they knew Him. They knew His family. They could honestly say that they knew this carpenter and what He was like and yet they did not know Him at all. They now heard the stories of all the amazing signs that Jesus was doing in Galilee and yet they still could not believe. It was impossible to believe for they claimed to know Jesus. As the evidence grew as Jesus’ ministry continued that He was indeed the Christ the more stubborn they became in their false beliefs about Him to the point where Jesus marveled at their unbelief.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is only received by someone who is willing to re-evaluate everything that they know. Not just to learn something new but to examine everything around them with new eyes: new spiritual eyes as the Holy Spirit opens their understanding to the Truth. And the danger always is that if you become more and more familiar with the Word of God but only know it in a superficial way and it never moves you in the depths of your soul to see a need of salvation through Jesus Christ you will just like the people of Nazareth become more and more steadfast and stubborn in your unbelief. It was the Jews familiarity with the Scriptures in this manner that made them so confident in the end that Jesus could not be the Christ. Their familiarity with the Word of God which should have led them to salvation only increased their unbelief.
So be wary of what you already know or what you think you know. Jesus had performed great signs and wonders teaching His disciples about the Kingdom of God but He could not here in Nazareth. He could do no mighty work here because it was already a wasteland spiritually because of their unbelief. The same danger applies to the Church today. Our familiarity with the Scriptures should lead to our salvation and a manifestation of the Kingdom of God upon the earth. But if our understanding of Jesus Christ is nothing but a false understanding we will end up becoming the very ones who will oppose the true Gospel message and we will only become more hardened in our false views of Him.
Do you see the dangers of unbelief? Does this apply to you? Do you really know Jesus Christ or do you just think that you know Him? Don’t become steadfast and stubborn in your unbelief! Don’t let your past experiences prevent you from knowing Jesus Christ for who He really is! May Jesus be marveled at your belief instead of your unbelief! Search the Scriptures daily for the salvation that is to be found in them! Come to know the God who loves you and wants to save you! Jesus Christ died and rose again to save sinners from their sin. He is the only way that anyone can be saved! In Him alone is the way open to heaven and a life filled with joy and peace and love as we come to know Him and to love Him! May you know His presence and receive His grace!
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 5:21-43 21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
In Mark 5 Jesus continues to reveal to His disciples the secret of the kingdom of God. After crossing the sea of Galilee to set free a demon possessed man in the country of Gerasenes, He returns by boat and a large crowd again forms around Him as soon as He arrives. Jesus’ reputation had grown so that it was becoming increasingly difficult to go about because of the crowds that followed Him hoping to see some exciting new thing! But most people were following Him for the wrong reasons. But the disciples by this time were beginning to understand the reality of the Kingdom of God which was unknown by Old Testament prophets. As Jesus spoke to them and walked with them and performed miracles the Kingdom of God was manifest in their presence. Here Jesus reveals the Kingdom of God not through a terrible storm being silenced or a person possessed with about 2,000 demons set free, but through a girl who was about to die and a woman with a serious blood issue who could not be healed no matter where she looked for help. All of these incidents were situations where a great problem existed.
As Jesus was on His way to the house of Jairus, whose daughter was on her deathbed, a woman touched the garments of Jesus and she was healed. The Holy Spirit had shown her that if she even touched His garments she would be healed and she obeyed and was healed. This was a secret to everyone except Jesus and the woman who had been healed. So Jesus stops at this point to help the disciples further understand the Kingdom of God. As Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” the disciples must have been amazed to see the woman come forward. How could this be? All kinds of people were touching Him as He passed through the large crowd pressing in around Him and yet the Kingdom of God had been somehow manifest in this single touch of His garments! This Kingdom is not of this world. The secret Kingdom of God had been revealed in a large crowd through this single act.
And yet while she had been healed Jairus’ daughter had died. The joy over the healed woman turned to mourning for the dead twelve year old girl but this did not trouble Jesus. He was not done teaching them about the Kingdom of God. There is no darkness in His Kingdom. Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house and let those who were mourning know that the girl was asleep. He spoke in a spiritual sense and then heals her in secret with just a few of the disciples present and warns them not to tell anyone to attract a crowd. He performed this miracle to help them to understand the Kingdom of God- not to bring greater attention to Himself. He could have brought out the body of the young girl and healed her in the presence of all but this would not have revealed the Kingdom of God to those who saw but only a miracle. His purpose in teaching was far greater. You see the contrast in the healings. The woman with the blood issue was healed in the midst of a great crowd and yet as her issue was an internal one it was done in secret and nobody knew and yet with the young girl she was raised from the dead in private away from the crowds for the healing was external and very visible. Why is this the case? Because only the true believer will see the Kingdom of God.
John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
To those who belong to God, we will see His Kingdom manifest in our presence as Jesus Christ forces back the darkness here upon the earth and redeems those He intends to save. This is what occurred as Jesus taught His disciples. He will teach us in the same manner as He prepares us for His perfect future eternal Kingdom which He will reveal when He returns to this earth one day soon. To those who do not belong to God, who will not repent and believe in Jesus Christ, they will not see His Kingdom manifest in their presence even if they happen to see a miracle of God. They are blind to spiritual things and are deceived. They are lost and know nothing of the love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.
But at this point Jesus does not reveal to His disciples the suffering that awaits Him. He is revealing the Kingdom of God to them in the most basic manner. They were not yet ready to know of the sacrifice that all in His Kingdom will face before we enter into that future glory.
If only we all understood the Kingdom of God we would not fear but would believe. Do you believe and know of what I am speaking of or are you oblivious to what only God can do?
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 5:1-20 1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
In Mark 5 we see a continued progression of Jesus revealing His authority in the Kingdom of God. As Jesus began His public ministry following His baptism great crowds were drawn to His miracles. He healed the sick and cast out demons. But most people were following Him for the wrong reasons. And even the disciples who believed that He is the Christ; the Messiah; the Saviour, did not understand the Kingdom of God. Jesus began to teach them in parables about this secret Kingdom of which He is ruler and then gave illustrations in practice as He calmed the sea in the midst of a terrible storm and now casts out a legion of demons possessing a man.
But this was a much different situation as compared to the man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue in Capernaum (Mark 1:23-28). This man lived in the area of the ten cities (Decapolis Mar 5:20) across the Sea of Galilee outside of Israel among the Gentiles (non-Jews) and these people would have been considered by the Jews as unclean just because they were not of the nation of Israel. They did not live their lives based upon the Old Testament Law and the worship of Jehovah God. Jesus goes to this area just to meet this man. No crowds were there to meet Him. Jesus goes to a cemetery to meet with someone who could not be bound or subdued but had great power and brought fear to those who saw him. This was a place of great evil of which was avoided but Jesus purposely travels here to manifest the Kingdom of God.
What was Jesus’ purpose in crossing the sea of Galilee? To demonstrate His power in saving a single soul and to send him out as an evangelist among the Decapolis to share what Jesus had done for him. This man would prepare the way for the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection to be shared and believed years later. None of the disciples could have expected this! This man who was viewed as beyond hope and rejected by all was to be used by God in a great and mighty way!
When the man first talks to Jesus it is the demons who speak. Jesus asks their name to show His disciples how great a force was standing against Him. Jesus casts the demons into the pigs in order to confirm to His disciples the realities of the Kingdom of God in their eyes. Jesus had just conquered about two thousand demons in one single act (there were about two thousand pigs who were drowned in the sea (verse 13)). Can you see how Jesus was teaching His disciples? They were coming to know that Jesus Christ is the King in this Kingdom of God. He wasn’t just a miracle worker. They saw His authority over the powers of the devil who is also in this world fighting over the souls of men. They witnessed that Jesus did not come just to save Israel but all people and His ways are beyond human comprehension and expectation.
But the disciples also saw the Kingdom of God manifest in the response of the man who was demon possessed and people’s response. The herdsmen of the pigs told those in the city what had happened and they came out to see (verse 14). Just like the initial crowds that followed Jesus at the beginning of His public ministry people were curious and drawn to the excitement. But how did these people respond? They saw the man who was demon possessed in his right mind rejoicing at the feet of Jesus. They saw the pigs dead in the sea. But unlike the crowds that initially followed Jesus their response was clear and couldn’t be confused. They wanted nothing to do with Jesus Christ. They were afraid of Him (verse 15). They were not in awe of Jesus and drawn to Him as the disciples were when He calmed the sea (Mark 4:41). Rather they begged Jesus to leave them. They did not desire the Kingdom of God. They did not want to know the Truth. They preferred the chaos and darkness over the peace and light. They did not rejoice in the salvation of a single soul but only saw the loss of the pigs. They saw that to follow Jesus could mean personal sacrifice and they would rather have the pleasures of this world. This is the description of the lost sinner who couldn’t care less about Jesus Christ.
While the crowd that formed begged Jesus to leave, the man who had been demon possessed begged Jesus to let him go with Him. He would give up everything to follow Jesus. Rather than let him follow, Jesus gives him an assignment to share with his friends what the Lord had done for him and how He had mercy upon him. The born again Christian has a desire to share what Jesus Christ has done in saving them from sin and darkness to those around them for the rest of their lives! They continue to be in awe at Jesus Christ! For all eternity they will worship and adore Him in the Kingdom of God and they desire others to come to know Him! They know that He has saved them here and now and they are not hoping that He might save them. Does this describe the state of your soul or are you like the crowds that came to Jesus and begged Him to leave? Do you know anything about the Kingdom of God or do love the pleasures of this world?
Pastor Murray Hack