|Jesus Teaches On The Sabbath|
|Written by production|
|Friday, 06 July 2007|
Jesus entered again into a synogogue, and was teaching. Many of the dogma bound Jews were watching Him closely to see if He would heal on the Sabbath, so they could accuse him of doing wrong. Jesus knew this. (Jews of that day would make a big deal of not even lifting something ordinary on the Sabbath because that might be 'work'. And you weren't supposed to do any work on the Sabbath. But Jesus had announced already in His ministry that He was Lord of the Sabbath and that besides, the Sabbath was for man, not man for the Sabbath.)
Jesus pointed to a man with a withered hand and asked him to stand up. Then Jesus pointed to him and asked "Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do harm? To save a life or to kill?" But they remained silent.
He looked around at them, angry at their hardness of heart. Then He said to the man "Stretch out your hand!" And when the man stretched out his hand it was whole and not withered. See Mark Chap 3: v. 1-5.
Jesus throughout his ministry had short patience for hypocrites, or legalists that didn't exhibit the love and spirit and actions of a follower. On this day, those of that sort who had been watching went away angry, the followers of the Pharisees plotting with Herod's followers about how to destroy Jesus. I imagine they had adequate evidence to know, by this point, that it was the God of Abraham that lent His power to Jesus. They should have been excited to see their Father's deeds through His Son! Excited to see the Son. But they were not. They were angry to see themselves portrayed as legalists that missed the spirit of it all, so mad that they plotted the murder of Jesus, Who's miracles they observed with their own eyes. Spiritually dark days.
Jesus taught a large crowd on the edge of the Sea of Galilee, using parables for the most part, to make them think and puzzle on the messages He taught. He would later explain to His disciples the specific meanings of the parables. He also did it so that they would not see, and hear, and turn and be saved.
This is a high mystery. They were going to reject Him. He already knew that. So He spoke to them in parables, parables which even His disciples sometimes needed to have explained to them. All I can say is that, through the Jewish rejection of the Messiah the gentiles can be saved. Maybe it is partly for the sake of the gentiles that He spoke in parables. It is a mystery to me, because I know Jesus is good, and God is good, yet the Jews were spoken to in parables and Jesus specifically tells His discples that it is so they will see and not perceive, hear and not understand, essentially because of their hardness of heart.
This is an interesting thing to stop and talk about. Jesus could have talked in more detail, perhaps not using parables, and the Jews might have understood better. More of them might have believed He really was the Messiah. After all, in a country with a few million people only a few Jews became hard core dyed in the wool followers and believers in Jesus. And He was fullfilling the signs of the promised Messiah day after day right in fromt of their eyes. But Jesus knew they were hard hearted like this. He knew that most Jews of that cynical day would never accept Him, and it saddened Him greatly. He loved them, and He wished that they would accept HIm, but He also was God, and knew that they would not. So He taught them in parables, parables that the gentiles are even today reading and understanding (to some extent) in their Bibles. But the Jews never really understood HIs parables. They were given 'ears that could hear but not understand'. And their disbelief gave opportunity for the gentiles, referred to as the wild olive branch, to be grafted into the spot where the natural branch (these disbelieving, rejecting Jews that Jesus preached to in person) was broken off and thrown away.
God does this sometimes. He can forsee who wll obey and who will not. He can even foresee when the people He actually makes the most use of will disobey. Only a few of the main personages in the Bible were faithful all of the time. Daniel seems to have been. Perhaps Ezekiel. Enoch must have pleased God greatly. Enoch was taken directly to heaven. But David, Samson, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Gideon, Adam, Noah, John the Baptist (he sent disciples to ask if Jesus was the Messiah even when he had already identified Jesus as the Lamb of God back when he first baptised Him. John was a doubter at some low point in his imprisonment, I guess. For a moment at least.)
Mary, Jesus's mother, once brought the family to where Jesus was teaching because they had let others convinced them that He must have gone mad, apparently. But when someone in the large crowd told him his family was outside wanting to talk with Him, Jesus said that those who listened and believed the words He spoke were His true family. Sarah, Abraham's wife, laughed when God's angels said that she would soon be pregnant, at 90 some years of age. Eve sinned first in all the world. Noah's wife (some writings outside the Bible say that her name was Na'amah. Could she be the sister of Tubal-Cain, the great pre-flood worker of metal who was mentioned in Genesis?) anyway, Noah's wife seems to have been one that no wrong was spoken of. Ruth was nearly sinless it seems.
But almost all of the Bible greats had their flaws. God sometimes uses these weaknesses and flaws to work for the good of the many, though the person in question may come to great harm or suffering because of the flaw. Here's some quick examples:
God didn't let the Pharoah of Moses's time repent when the plagues came. As a result, God was greatly glorified in the eyes of the fearful Egyptian captors, His people were given parting gifts of gold and silver as they left Egypt, and the surrounding nations talked about it for decades. When Rahab the Harlot hid the spies that Joshua sent to Jericho, she told them that her people had heard stories of the Red Sea parting, and Israelite victories in war, and they were terrified. Joshua 2 v. 8-11.
Paul was warned by a prophet of God named Agabus not to go to Jerusalem or he would be captured and bound as a prisoner by his enemies. Acts 21: 11-14 Paul ignored the warning. But God's 'plan B' led to an imprisonment in which Paul wrote the letters to the churches, showed a bunch of sailors, Roman soldiers, and people of the Island of Malta about the power of God, and preached to governors such as Felix, King Agrippa and his Queen Bernice. And though it isn't recorded in the Bible, we could assume he spoke to the Emperor of Rome about Jesus as well. That's what he waited two years as a prisoner in Rome to do, after all. Though that talk may not have gone too well (since Paul was beheaded) we can be pretty sure that numerous important ears from the Imperial Court of Rome overheard his defense and exposition of Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah, son of God, and Savior to all men. And few speakers could deliver the case for Jesus with Paul's eloquence (though I imagine Paul would have said it was the Holy Spirit's eloquence). A seed was presumably planted in high rich soil on that day, though at a high cost.
Samson was of course another case of one greatly blessed by God who had a couple of somewhat crippling flaws, mostly regarding women, but also perhaps a certain arrogance in the dependence on his strength to get him out of trouble that his poor choices several times got him into. He was willing to stay comitted to women who had shown themselves his deadly enemy, such as Delilah. He was a Judge in Israel, acting like this with foreign women, and bad ones at that. So Samson had flaws. But when he was stripped of the strength God had once given him, he repented. God then used the last bit of Sampson's life to inflict great damage upon the enemies of the Israelites - these Philistines who occupied the land God had given to his people Israel as their heritage.
So, there are many example of God seeming to make people blind to what's going on because He seems to have grown very dissatisfied with how they used the gifts He gave them, or with choices that they made. But He often uses them for great things even as He takes them out of the picture. These Jews of Jesus's time seem to be a similar case.
Continuing on with Jesus's deeds, however:
When evening came He said to His disciples "Let's cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee." So they left the crowd, and Jesus's disciples found boats for Him and others, and they began to cross over.
While they were crossing, a fierce gale arose making waves so high that they were breaking over the edge of the boats and filling them with water. Jesus was asleep in the stern on a cushion, and the frantic disciples woke Him up! (Remember, some of Jesus's disciples were fishermen - long familiar with the Sea of Galilee. They would have known a normal storm from a terribly fierce one.) They said "Teacher, don't you care that we are perishing?"
Jesus arose and He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush! Be still!" When He said it, the wind died and it became perfectly calm. Then He said to His disciples "Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith? "
His disciples became very afraid, and said to one another "Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" See Mark Chap 4: v. 33-41
This is a powerful deed, and a Jew might easily have remembered the crossing of the Red Sea during the exodus out of Egypt. There God caused the winds to blow, and the seas to spread apart and lay piled up in heaps on both sides of the dry pathway across the sea. Here His Son caused the winds to not blow and the waters to not pile up, but rather to lay calm.
They ask "Who is this..." Seriously, how could there not be a spiritual curtain of sorts over the Jewish powers of discernment concerning all that has to do with Jesus? His own disciples didn't seem sure who He was. But perhaps that was part of God's plan too.
They finished crossing the sea to the country of the Gerasenes (some say Gadarenes.) They got out, and immediately a demon posessed man from some nearby tombs came running towards Jesus. But it was no ordinary demon posessed man. He was well known among the people of that area. He had been bound in times previous with both shackles and chains by people, but such was his demonic strength that he easily tore them apart and escaped. He was so strong no man could subdue him, so he ran free among the tombs and the mountains, crying out and gashing himself with sharp stones.
This demon posessed man ran up to Jesus and bowed down in front of Him. He then shouted "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore you by God, do not torment me. "
Jesus asked him "What is your name?"
The demon posessed man answered "My name is Legion, for we are many!"
Jesus commanded the spirits to leave the man. The demons inside the man began to implore Jesus not to send them out of the country. There was a large herd of pigs nearby, and they asked Jesus to allow them to enter the pigs.
Jesus gave them permission, and they left the man, and entered the herd. The herd began to race towards the sea, and about 2000 of them rushed over a cliff and were drowned in the sea.
The herders of the pigs rushed into town to tell everyone. They returned with townspeople, and found the man who had been posessed by the legion of demons now sitting dressed and completely in his right mind. The men became very frightened, and asked Jesus to leave their area.
Jesus acquiesced, and, as He got into the boat with His disciples to leave, the man he had freed from demons asked to follow Him. But Jesus told him no, but rather the man should tell everyone what great mercy God had for him, and what wonderful things God had done for him. So this man went about the region of Decapolis telling many about all that had happened, and the people there were amazed. See Mark Chap 5: v. 1 - 20
***The Decapols referred to 10 cities - 9 cities East of the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee and 1 city (Scythopolis) to the West - believed to have been peopled largely by non-Jews.***
What a deed by Jesus! Many people today feel that there are evil spirits, and that they are plagued by them. As to the existence of such spirits, they are right. But here is good advice: Get on the path Jesus taught that man should follow. Then stay on it. Be baptized and proclaim to others openly that Jesus is your Lord. Demons are not allowed to physically 'drag us off the path'. Our Lord is too powerful, and they fear Him. It's just an apparent fact that there are some sort of rules in the great spiritual war going on. God's enemies are given boundaries they are not allowed to cross - I won't pretend to fully understand it. They can tempt you off, lure you off, try to misdirect you off the path - but if you stay on the straight and narrow path they can not harm you and soon they move on to someone else. And not all wrong is due to demons - we are quite inclined to disobedience our own selves. That innate proclivity for sinful behavior probably accounts for most of the sin in most peoples lives, in fact.
In this account, we see just how superior Jesus is to them. The legion of demons run up and bow down. They do not even try to resist being expelled and they have a 2000 to 1 advantage in numbers (or maybe I should count the apostles as being on Jesus's team). This tells you just how safe you ultimately are as a follower of Jesus. He may allow you to suffer some severe trials for the glory of God and for His glory, and to prove your worth as a servant. But if you serve faithfully and steadfastly in the approved way of the Lord then what force could harm you? What if 2000 demons came at you? Could they harm you? The one proven answer is this: Not if Jesus said they could not. No Lord compares, beneath God, to Jesus.
Crossing back over the Sea of Galilee from the Gerasenes, Jesus disembarks and a crowd gathers, so He stays and teaches. While there a synogogue official, Jairus, comes and begs Jesus to come and help his dying daughter - to lay His hands on her so that she could be healed.
He went off to do so, following the man, and as He walked a large crowd pressed close all around Him. In the crowd was a woman who had suffered for 12 years from constant bleeding - apparently of a female nature. She had tried all the doctors and all the cures. She was only getting worse. She believed in her mind that if she came close and touched the hem of Jesus's robe she would be cured. She moved up close and did so.
She felt herself be cured - somehow she could actually feel it. But Jesus felt the power flow out of Him into the woman, so He stopped and asked who had touched Him. The woman, trembling, fell down in front of Him and told Him everything.
He told her "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed."
Two quick things to note: If you were a woman bleeding in this way, you were ritually unclean. She had braved some pretty harsh public censure to crowd in close and push by everyone, and to touch Jesus. The people saw that yet another type of uncleanness was of no particular concern to Jesus, just as touching the leprous man had not bothered Him.
Secondly, a '12 year issue of blood' makes me wonder if the scriptures refer by analogy to the roughly 12 centuries of blood sacrifice that had none the less never sufficed to make the Israelites whole and clean before God.
As they walked to Jairus's house, people from his house met them to say it was too late, his little girl had died. But Jesus told Jairus "Don't be afraid any longer, only believe." And they went to Jairus's house, but only Peter, James, and John of His followers were allowed to go with Him into Jairus's house.
The people were in the house mourning, but Jesus told them not to worry, she was only sleeping and not dead, at which they scoffed. But Jesus went up the stairs with the parents and His three companions to the girls room, where she lay in bed.
Taking the child by the hand, He said to her "Talitha kum!" (LIttle girl, I say to you 'Get up!) " Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, 'for she was 12 years old'. They were astounded, but He told them no one should be told, and that they should give the girl something to eat.
Yeah, good luck keeping that story quiet! This is the Gospel of Mark's first reference to Jesus raising a dead person back to life. Jesus repeatedly tells people to keep His work and miracles low profile, yet to us - the reader of the Gospels - it is plain that people would never be able to sit on so great a secret or miracle as these that Jesus does. I think He is just making it plain that He does not willingly want His name publicized at this point. I agree with the people that have surmised that He was waiting for the exact day propheseyed by Daniel, which would be the day of the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem later in His ministry, when He enters Jerusalem and allows His coming to be publicly proclaimed without objection, thus fulfilling the prophesy.
Also, why is it important to say "Immediately the girl got up and walked, for she was 12 years old."? You don't have to be 12 to walk. Age 2 on up are walkers, right? One of these two females associated with the number 12 (and a female is a potential bride, right?) is a woman who bled for 12 years in her uncleanness until she is cured by Jesus. Another female is just now old enough to be a bride, and she is reborn to life - made alive - by the spirit of God, so she is now able to become a bride. If it's OK to associate the Jewish nation with the number 12, since there are 12 sons of Israel, it's as if, in this account, he is bridging the gap between the Israelites which had to constantly deal with a flow of blood (the blood sacrifices of the Laws of Moses?) and the Jews (Jairus is a synogogue official, so he and his 12 year old daughter are Jewish) who are made alive by hearing the call of Jesus.
So, I know I'm maybe reaching for an analogy that might not be there, but allowing only Peter, James and John of His disciples to go in to the little girl's room with Him is also interesting. These three are the only ones with Jesus when He was made radiant as the sun, later, on the mountain. These three kept strong associations with the Jews after Jesus's death, converting among the Jews more extensively than among others, being leaders of the Jews in Jerusalem or in the Jewish church of Rome, for instance. Is something deep being said here? I don't see it clearly, but I think its there.
Jesus summoned His 12 apostles and sent then out in pairs to different towns. He gave them authority to cast out demons and to annoint and heal. They were to take nothing much more than the clothes on their back. They were to enter the town and stay at only one house where they were welcome.
They left, going out and preaching that men should repent. Later they came back excited with accounts of how, in Jesus's power, they had healed and had authority over demons to drive them out of people.
This is the first account in Mark's gospel of Apostles being made aware that they too could could spread the good news accompanied at times by signs such as Jesus was able to do. The authority to work signs for the Gospel could be transferred from Jesus to His followers!
Jesus told His Apostles that they should come away to a secluded place and rest, and they took a boat and did so. But the crowd that nearly always was around them now saw them leaving and followed them to the place that they went. Jesus had pity on them and taught them many things until it was evening.
Eventually His disciples reminded Him that it was late and the crowd was out in this secluded place with no food available, so He should send the crowd away. Jesus told them "You give them something to eat!"
The apostles answered "Shall we take 200 denarii (a denarii was a coin considered a fair day's pay for a laborer) and go buy bread for them to eat?"
But Jesus asked how many loaves were available out here where they were? He told them to go look. They took stock and told Him 5 loaves and 2 fish were available. So Jesus told the crowd to sit down in groups on the grass in groups of hundreds and of fifties.
Then Jesus took the loaves and looked up toward heaven and blessed the food and broke it, giving it to the disciples to disperse among the crowd. And He divided the fish among them all. Soon the whole crowd had eaten enough to satisfy them.
Jesus had just fed a crowd of 5000 men, women, and children on 5 loaves of bread and two fish. Then they picked up 12 full baskets of the broken up pieces of bread and of fish - more than they had to start with.
See Mark Chapter 6: v. 31 - 44.
Now here is an amazing and wonderful miracle. It was not unheard of exactly: God had given manna from heaven to his people, the wandering Israelites under Moses and Aaron, for 40 years. And both Elija and Elisha had through God's power provided certain persons in need with food that seemed to come from nowhere and be produced miraculously (like the dough of the woman who fed Elijah and the oil for the woman and her son who helped Elisha). But in this case the food came from the hand of Jesus, though He had clearly looked up to heaven when asking to have it blessed. Was Jesus the Messiah then? Was He the Son of God. It must have seemed an inescapable conclusion to some.
What about the 5 loaves and the 2 fishes? Could it hint to the 5 Books of Moses - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. And the two fish - was this Elijah and Elisha. It is interesting to remember that the word of God was often referred to as Bread from Heaven, or the Bread of Life was a term Jesus used for His teachings and words. And I've heard that the scriptural Prophets, interestingly, were sometimes referred to as 'fish' by Jewish scholars in ancient times.
What about seating the people by 50's and by 100's to receive this bread. This is just a speculation, but Jewish years were divided into blocks of 50, with every 50th year being a year of Jubilee. The gentiles were more prone to divide time into centuries of 100 years. So, again speculating, it seems almost as if Jesus is reenacting the feeding of the people through the preceding centuries and Jubilees with the word of God from the 5 Books of Moses and from the prophets writings.
In regathering the food it was placed into 12 containers in preparation for it's next distribution, which might hint that the 12 apostles would do the work of distributing the word to the future diners - with all of them having a full measure (a full basket), yet each carrying only part of the whole (no one apostle's basket containing the entirety of the bread from heaven, just as the books written by Jesus's followers sometimes contain stories not found in the others.)
Isn't it interesting that the Apostle Paul in the book of acts is saved from a city by being lowered in a 'basket'. Acts Chap 9:24-25. Today, if we were to be lowered from a high wall, wouldn't we want the rope or whatever wrapped around us dirctly? Sure, a basket would work I guess, but I'd be wondering how strong the basket and it's handles were. I think, personally, that we're supposed to notice that this slightly unusual thing - a basket - holds an apostle, and that 12 baskets carried forward the bread from heaven from this above mentioned deed of God.
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 April 2013 )|
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