Gospel Wednesday | Mark 8

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 7, where we saw Jesus directly rebuked the Pharisees for their false teaching and their misunderstanding of sin and what defiles a man. Jesus declared all foods clean and identified the heart of man as the root of our defilement. We are sinners who sin, not good people who are defiled by what we eat or what touches us.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 8 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 8:1-10 (ESV) | Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them,“How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

Once again, Jesus feeds the crowd miraculously in the wilderness. When we were working through Mark 6 we looked at how the feeding of the multitude served as a testimony of Him as the Messiah, the Son of God. On this occasion, I’d like to focus more on how this points ahead to the New Covenant, particularly communion. We see here Jesus begins by declaring His compassion on the crowd, and that they have been with Him now 3 days. Immediately what comes to mind is John 3:16-17 (ESV), “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” It was because of God’s compassion on us that He gave His Son to die on the cross, bearing the full wrath of our sin, and resurrecting on the third day that we might be saved through Him. 

I love how Jesus then says that if He sends them away without feeding them, they’ll faint on the way. In our modern-day churches, so often the gathering of the saints closes without the congregation being fed the Gospel so that they might not faint on their way home. My Lutheran readers will assume I’m speaking of not taking communion at the end of the service, but that is not all I’m speaking about. Not every Lutheran church partakes of the bread and the cup weekly. For my non-Lutheran readers, I understand that many do not immediately think of communion when I mentioned “being fed the Gospel”… but you might be wondering if I’m suggesting every service should end in an altar-call. I assure, I am not. I’m talking about preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. Our sermons have become quite law-heavy (and not always biblical Law) where our focus in preaching has somehow become fixated on the need to preach the law and give principles or advice in how to better keep the Law. Brothers, we are sinners who are incapable of keeping the Law… therefore, we need to be fed the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the answer to our sin, that we might live and not faint on our way home. The letter of the Law kills, and our sinful flesh needs to be killed by the Law… but that’s not what sustains you on your way home, throughout the week until the next opportunity to hear the Word Preached… it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that gives life, that grants faith, that sustains us in a fallen world. Matthew 4:4 (ESV) …“It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Mark 8:11-13 (ESV) | The Pharisees Demand a Sign

The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

Mark 8:14-21 (ESV) | The Leaven of the Pharisees and Herod

Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

The Pharisees demanded a sign, but it was to test Him, not to Believe in Him. They had already ignored every sign performed testifying of Him. No one seeks after God, no not one. There are no seekers of Truth among the unbelievers, they only lay traps. The disciples are confused at this point, distracted by their own works. They misunderstood Jesus’ teaching regarding the leaven of the Pharisees because they were looking for ways they could have served Christ better, maybe they should have planned ahead for more food. Entirely missing the point Jesus made in the miracle and in the warning of the Pharisees. This was all about Faith in Christ Jesus, not in the works of men. It is Christ who paid the price, Christ who defeated sin, death and the grave, and it is Christ who forgives, regenerates, and sustains the believer. Christ does the work. He does all of the work. His righteousness is imputed to us. He is the bread of Life that sustains us in the wilderness.

Mark 8:22-26 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

Mark gives us a narrative account of this particular healing. The only indicative here is the instruction gives to the man, “Do not even enter the village”. I think command was given in similar fashion to His instructions to others “tell no one of this”… only in this case Jesus is telling the man not to even enter the village.

That this account of a gradual healing is related to us between the account of Jesus feeding the crowd and the confession of Jesus as the Christ leads me (personal opinion here) to think on the human condition and our slowness to understand the things of God. Christ regenerates us, opens our ears, grants us Faith, saves us from the death of sin… but we are so slow and hard of heart to understand. We join in Christ’s death in water baptism, but we struggle to leave the flesh behind… we are tempted to feed the desires of the flesh and so sin and are in need of repentance and forgiveness, again. We gather with the saints week after week, to hear the Law of God preached as it exposes our sin and crushes us unto repentance, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ may once again heal us, soothe us, restore us, and grant us Peace. Christ is ever merciful to us, granting us healing and forgiveness… He is Faithful and Just to do so. Lord, in your Mercy, hear our prayer.

Mark 8:27-30 (ESV) | Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

Mark 8:31-38 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Peter had been granted Faith to believe in Jesus as the Christ. Like the man who had been granted sight, Peter didn’t not yet see clearly that the Christ must suffer and die at the hands of evil men, bearing the weight of our sin, becoming sin in our place on the cross, that we might be Saved through Him. Peter’s eyes were opened, but his vision still clouded by his sinful nature. Jesus rebukes his sin, his unbelief, his lack of faith. A tough rebuke, but a necessary one. I thank God for Peter, and the account we have of his growth in the Faith.


Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Mark 7

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 6, where we saw Jesus rejected by Nazareth, we saw Him send out the Apostles to preach, we saw Christ feed the multitudes in the wilderness, and we saw Him walk on water and heal many. We saw Mark sort of close out a theme at the end of chapter 6, and we will see Mark begin another arc in his Gospel account.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 7 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 7:1-13 (ESV) | Traditions and Commandments

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 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.) 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?” 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;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 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)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

Dear fellow discerning Christian… when someone calls you a Pharisee to silence you from pointing to the Word of God to correct, reprove, rebuke, and to teach… don’t back down. Don’t be silent. Don’t let the individual get away with such sloppy attempts at playing the Pharisee card. The Pharisees were not guilty of holding to the Law of God; rather, they were guilty of passing their own commandments, their own traditions, their own law and calling it the Oral Law or the Tradition of the Elders. Later (approx 200 A.D.) this oral law (Mishnah) would be included in the Talmud, when Judaism had to completely change now that the temple was no more. What modern-day Jews practice now is nowhere near the Judaism of the Bible. The Covenant with Moses has been superseded by the New Covenant with the Messiah of God, Jesus Christ, God the Son.

Jesus calls these Pharisees out for their hypocrisy, yes, but it isn’t of the form that we usually consider today where someone says “don’t steal” while they live a secret double-life as a cat-burglar. No, this is more insidious… they teach a whole bunch of rules (that they can outwardly keep) and make the claim that they are teaching how to live lives pleasing to God and that this stems from an oral tradition that reaches all the way back to Moses and complements the Written Law. There’s the hypocrisy, the Law is a closed book to them, they don’t see Christ in the Scriptures and cannot recognize Christ standing before them as a result, yet they remain standing in the place of teachers of the law and teach their own traditions which only serve to bolster their own “righteousness”. Much like our modern-day self-appointed vision-casting leaders who teach their own dreams and impressions and read themselves into every text, completely missing Christ about whom all the Law, the Prophets, and the Apostles wrote/taught. And they teach their own traditions (while claiming they are new and innovative) hypocritically, for they do not in any way complement the Scriptures, in-fact, they contradict the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That, my friend, is a Pharisee.

Mark 7:14-23 (ESV) | What Defiles a Person

And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 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.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 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, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

The Law of Moses did have designations of things that were clean and things that were unclean, and there were strict prohibitions in the Law of things that made a person ceremonially unclean if touched (like a dead person) and there were procedures that needed to be observed for a person who had become ceremonially unclean to follow in order to be allowed back into the camp, to be made ceremonially clean. These were but type and shadow of Christ. The traditions of the elders had added to the Written Law and obscured and subverted it. Jesus, being the Son of God, the Word made flesh, cut right through the noise and made it clear that what truly defiles a person comes from within the heart, not by what the person ate. For whatever a person eats passes through the body and is expelled. I love how plainly and directly He addressed it, too. The tradition of hand washing was powerless to prevent what the Elders taught. It was meaningless. It was a vain tradition, empty of power. Furthermore, the problem of sin was not something that strict dietary laws could avoid, for the true source of sin lay not outside in the world, but in the very heart of man. No tradition or ceremony could address that. Mark didn’t give us a detailed record of what transpired after this engagement, but what he moves to next gives us an understanding that what is required is Faith in the Son of Man.

Mark 7:24-30 (ESV) | The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith

And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

This Gentile woman, heard of Jesus, and believed. She had faith because she heard of Him. And it was great faith, for she was not deterred by Jesus point-blank telling her that His primary mission was for the children of Israel, she knew that crumbs of the table were sufficient. The LORD blessed her that day, delivered her child, and granted her child rest. I find it beautiful that the story ends with her little one lying in bed, free from the demon. We find rest in Christ alone.

Mark 7:31-37 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Deaf Man

Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Remember the Decapolis? It’s where the demoniac of the Gerasenes proclaimed what Jesus had done for him, and the people marveled (Mark 5:1-20). Jesus returned to this region once more. As a sidenote, growing up in church it really occurred to me how often Jesus went to the Gentiles in His earthly ministry. Fascinating. He came first for the Jew and then for the Gentile. Okay, back to the text, the people brought out a deaf man who had a speech impediment. I really need to learn Koine Greek but we know that this impediment is severe because later he was described as a mute who had been made to speak. Again, we see here that Jesus charged them to tell no one. They praised Jesus as a miracle worker, that He has done all things well. I take this as an indication that while they recognized the miraculous good work, they didn’t understand who Jesus is just yet.

But we do see something pretty cool here. The man was deaf and his speech was impeded. Jesus opened up his ears and loosed his tongue, so that he could speak plainly. When we are born, we are born spiritually dead. We have ears, but they are blocked by our sin and fallen state to the things of God. As such, our speech is impaired, we are muted by our own fallen natures unable to worship God, to please God, even to repent. Spiritually, we are born deaf and mute. Until the Holy Spirit opens our ears to the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Bible is a closed book to us, something we use to build our own false gods, our own means of righteousness to suit our own desires. But when the Lord opens our ears to the Word of God, granting us saving faith, we are set free to Worship the Only Living God. All praise be to the God of Mercy and Grace.


Next week we’ll be looking at another action-packed chapter in the Gospel According to Mark. Until then, I pray you make some time to study the Word of God. I pray the Holy Spirit open your eyes and ears to the Truth of God’s Word, both Law and Gospel, that by His Grace, through Faith you might enter into Christ’s rest. Preach the Word, repent, be forgiven, and forgive others their sins in Jesus’ Name.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen, Indeed.
In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Mark 6

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 5, where we saw a picture of salvation in the demoniac of Gerasenes, the Authority of Christ over the enemy, the saving of a woman by faith, and we closed with Jesus raising a girl from the dead by simply calling her. All of this points to Christ as the LORD of our Salvation.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 6 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 6:1-6 (ESV) | Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 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? 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. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.

Mark continues demonstrating the Authority of Jesus as the Christ, God the Son. Notice that over the past couple of chapters, the focus has been on the external testimony of Christ’s Authority in the signs and wonders. Here, Jesus begins to teach. Something worth noting here is that during this time the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day preached two forms of the Law, the Written Law and the Oral Law (or the Traditions of the Elders). Jesus flatly rejected their Oral Law, as should we. Now, the way that the Oral Law worked was that it was supposedly a special set of instructions that God had given to Moses that were not written down, but passed down through the Priesthood. It was special revelation regarding the Written Law (supposedly) granting special understanding to the priestly class. Could there have been some merit to some of this teachings about the Written Law? sure, but by the time of the Pharisees these traditions had supplanted the Written Law such that Jesus will be completely and openly rebuking them for doing just this.

Matthew 15:7-9 (ESV) You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

We’ll see it next week covered in Mark 7 and we’ll talk then about the Prophets Jesus is quoting in this rebuke. It’s intense. We have a trustworthy Written Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament. When the LORD went silent after Malachi, not speaking through anymore Prophets until the time of John the Baptist, the “oral law” was still being passed down and written. It is in this time period that we see the rise of the Pharisee sect. That’s why you don’t see them mentioned in the Old Testament. Anyway, the authority in their teaching relied heavily on their ability to trace back their teachers to Moses, like a sort of genealogy. Jesus clearly didn’t play ball. He taught with His own Authority, and it offended them. Notice they questioned first training, then his wisdom, and then the mighty works. Despite confessing the wisdom of His teaching and the mighty works which serve as a Testimony to Him, they reject it all because of their own metric, their own measure of worthiness, their own logic and opinions.  But it isn’t enough to just reject what He was teaching, they rejected Him and were offended by Him. Mark records that Jesus marveled because of their unbelief. Marveled. The same word used to describe the reaction of those at the Decapolis who heard the proclamation of the healed demoniac of the Gerasenes. They marveled at the Gospel (Mark 5:14-20), and now Jesus marveled at the unbelief of the men of Nazareth. Ouch. Those who insist on “proof” fail to acknowledge the fundamental basis of unbelief. Their unbelief was irrational, yet it persisted due to their sin.

Jesus then went out among the villages teaching. He moved on after pronouncing judgement on them for their unbelief. Notice what happens next.

Mark 6:7-13 (ESV) | Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 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.” So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

Jesus starting sending out the twelve. Notice how He told them to respond to a place that will not receive them, they were to leave and shake off the dust as a testimony against them, against their unbelief. I think it is this example that the Apostle Paul follows in Acts:

Acts 13:45-48 (ESV) But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Awesome stuff. Let’s continue in Mark.

Mark 6:14-29 (ESV) | The Death of John the Baptist

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.” But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 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. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 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.

But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 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.” And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 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.” And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Mark gives us a background on Herod and John the Baptist, where we learn of how and why Herod had John the Baptist beheaded. Notice here that Herod was blinded by his guilt regarding John the Baptist so that he didn’t consider Jesus to be anyone but John the Baptist. Reflecting back on the Parable of the Sower, I think this is a key example of the seed falling on the path where the devil snatches it away before it can take root. Word of the Kingdom comes to Herod and he assumes it to be a particular judgement against him. Just a thought, anyway. Herod rejected the preaching of John and had him murdered, now Herod stands condemned in his sin and unbelief.

Mark 6:30-44 (ESV) | Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 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. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 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. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 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?” 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.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties.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. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

Here, we see a great report of what the Apostles had done and what they had taught. Very important what they taught, for that is what we are called to do in the Great Commission, that is our charge, to proclaim the Word of God, to preach Law and Gospel. We don’t perform signs and wonders, we proclaim what Christ has done and will do when He returns. Notice how He bids them to go to a desolate place to rest. Seems, odd, right? One doesn’t normally associate desolate places with rest. Rest isn’t the location, it’s the Person of Christ. Christ calls us to enter into His rest, of forgiveness and the Hope of Salvation. They were indeed in a desolate place, but they had their shepherd, they had their King. Notice that Mark records how Jesus took compassion on the crowds, how they were like sheep without a shepherd. In this wilderness we see a reminder of the children of Israel wandering in the desert. Christ was in the pillar and the cloud, and now Christ begins to teach them here in the desolate place. And then we see Christ feed them miraculously, as God fed the Israelites in the wilderness.

Mark 6:45-52 (ESV) | Jesus Walks on the Water

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 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, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 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.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Fascinating how Mark connects this entire event to their lack of understanding about the loaves. That miracle, as well as the walking in the water, calming of the wind, was pointing to Christ as the Messiah. Their hearts were hardened, they didn’t get it… not yet. The miraculous works of Jesus were about more than just demonstrating great power and authority, they were pointing to Jesus as the Messiah… the Son of God. Mark doesn’t leave room for us to walk away from his account thinking Jesus was just a great Prophet or Teacher… He is God the Son.

Mark 6:53-56 (ESV) | Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 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.

Mark summarizes a lot of ministry here. These people recognized Jesus, ran about the whole region proclaiming Him and bringing the sick to wherever He was and He healed them.


Jesus is LORD over all of creation, over the wind and the waves; the Gentiles and the demons, the living and the dead. He is also the bread from heaven, He is the oasis in the desert, the Savior of all mankind. By His Grace we are saved. Next week, we’ll continue working through the Gospel According to Mark, starting in chapter 7, where Mark seems to open up the next act of his Gospel Account. Until then, we will continue our expanded Discernment in Music work. It is our sincere prayer that you will devote some time to reading and studying God’s word, and researching your church’s confessions and doctrine. Know what you believe and why you believe it… where it is taught in Scripture.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen, Indeed.
In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Mark 5

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 4, where we saw Jesus teaching in parables and demonstrating His authority over the winds, over the sea, over creation.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 5 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 5:1-20 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 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. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 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.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 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.

The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 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. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 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.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

This is such a beautiful narrative passage. It is also a very difficult passage to parse. Let us begin by focusing on the primary focus of the passage, that Jesus is LORD. We see that in His charge to the man to Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you, and the man going out and proclaiming how much Jesus had done for him. Before we look into anything else going on in this passage, we need to settle this truth being conveyed by this passage as the central truth. Jesus IS LORD. Jesus didn’t need the permission of the demoniac, nor of the demons… instead what we see is them begging Jesus not to torment them and cast them out. They begged Him to allow them to enter the pigs. Jesus… IS… LORD.

Now, there are some other elements of this passage that present challenges for the reader. I encourage you, dear reader, not to treat this narrative as a primer on demonology. Instead, let me encourage you to see this as a picture of the Gospel on full display. Jesus had come across the sea to Gentile territory… we know this to be true for no Jewish town would allow thousands of pigs (unclean animals according to the Law of Moses) be farmed. We see a man tormented, alone, self-mutilating and living among the tombs. We have a picture of the sinful state of mankind since the fall. To help frame this picture, let us turn once more to Eph 2:1-10:

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Jesus arrived… He commanded the unclean spirit to leave the man… and after the frightened pig herders returned, they found the man at peace… clothed… in his right mind… Saved. And it was not of the man’s works, none of his doing… it was the gift of God. And then we see Jesus rejected by the Gentiles who remain dead in their sins and trespasses, though they think themselves sane, they are not in their right minds. They are not at peace, like the man Jesus Saved… they are filled with fear and chasing Jesus out of their country. Jesus tells the saved man, to go… and proclaim all that the LORD had done for him… to do the good works, which God prepared before hand, that he should walk in them… to proclaim the Word of the LORD, Jesus, Son of the Most High God. Amen.

Mark 5:21-43 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Woman and Jairus’s Daughter

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. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 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.” And he went with him.

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. 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. And he said to her,“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

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?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 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. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

In this portion, we get two miracles pointing to Jesus as the Christ of God. Let’s treat each one separately, beginning with the woman with an issue of blood.

We don’t know anything regarding the identity of this woman. We know that she has endured an issue of blood for twelve years. We know she had heard the reports of Jesus and that in hearing the Word of Christ, she had faith. I don’t like to present a lot of Greek background, for I have not yet personally learned Greek, but I heard a great talking point being made here and want to pass it on to you. If we look again at what Mark tells us the woman had said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well”, the word we see being translated “made well” is σῴζω (sōzō), a word defined as “to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction”. In the KJV it is translated as “save” 93 times compared to only 14 times as being healed or made whole. Now, the point being made here is that if the thought were purely limited to physical healing there is a better word for that… but this word we see both here regarding this woman and the appeal to save Jarius’ daughter from death. She is appealing to something greater than her physical infirmity… she understands that salvation is found in Jesus.

As a bit of a tangent here, that we don’t know much about her identity opens up a couple of interesting thoughts. If she is a Jewish woman, this issue of blood has made her ceremonially unclean, cut off from the temple and from her family and neighbors. It also means that in reaching out to touch Jesus, she is risking making everyone she touches in the crowd (and Jesus had He not been God) ceremonially unclean… she’s taking a huge risk.  That instead of making Him unclean, He makes her clean is awesome. But if she’s a Gentile, there is also a part of Prophecy potentially being fulfilled out of Zechariah 8:20-23:

Zechariah 8:20-23 (ESV) “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”

Now, that is just an interesting tangent here and an opportunity to reflect back on prophecy. As we said before, we don’t know who this woman is… and I don’t consider Jesus’ calling her “Daughter” a definitive proof that she was a Jew.

Now, unbelievers often manipulate Jesus’ question, “Who touched my garments?” into some sort of proof that Jesus couldn’t be God. That’s preposterous. My counter point would be to direct them to Genesis 3:8-9:

Genesis 3:8-9 (ESV) And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?

So, are we to understand that because He asked this question of Adam that God isn’t God? Of course not, that’s absurd. In Genesis it was a call for Adam to confess, and in Mark it is a call to confess as well. The woman confessed, testifying of what God the Son had done for her, and He blessed her and granted her peace, healing, and Salvation. He also made clear that it was her faith that made her well… not necessarily the act of touching His garment. God does extend Grace through ordinary means, but ordinary means do not compel God to act. We don’t see anyone else securing healing by touching the hem of His robe… because that wasn’t the point of this narrative.

The raising of Jarius’ daughter mirrors that of Lazarus a great deal, though the Lazarus account is much more dramatic. There are those who try to strip this story of its miracle by asserting that Jesus is basically telling those present that they had misdiagnosed the girl’s death. I don’t think that is what is happening at all in this text. He is speaking of her death as though it were sleep, for He is LORD over life and death and can call to life whomever He chooses… and He can do it more easily and gently than we can wake up a child from normal sleep. Jesus charges those present not to make known what took place… this is different from what we’ve seen in this chapter, but it is a return to what we see most often in Mark’s Gospel. The people, the crowds are always following after Jesus the miracle-worker and they don’t yet understand Jesus the Messiah, so He bids them not to speak of the matter. The demoniac in Gerasenes “got it” and proclaimed Him. The woman “got it” and her faith had saved her. Jarius, one of the rulers of the synagogue, probably didn’t quite get it. Jesus knows his heart, and He took compassion on the little girl. This is speculation on my part, since we don’t have in the text “because…”


Jesus is LORD over all of creation, over the wind and the waves; the Gentiles and the demons, the living and the dead. He is Sovereign over all. And by His Grace we are saved. Next week, we’ll continue working through the Gospel According to Mark, starting in chapter 6. Until then, we will continue our expanded Discernment in Music work. It is our sincere prayer that you will devote some time to reading and studying God’s word, and researching your church’s confessions and doctrine. Know what you believe and why you believe it… where it is taught in Scripture. The Pharisees were completely wrong about the Sabbath… and they were the ones charged to serve Israel as stewards of the Law.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen, Indeed.
In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Mark 4

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 3, where we saw Jesus declare Himself Lord of the Sabbath and demonstrated His authority to forgive sin.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 4 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 4:1-9 (ESV) | The Parable of the Sower

Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Mark 4:10-20 (ESV) | The Purpose of the Parables

10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that

“they may indeed see but not perceive,
    and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

There is a bad habit in the church to boil down the question of evangelism to two responses… belief and unbelief. While those are indeed the two camps into which all mankind fall (believers and unbelievers, sheep and goats, saved and condemned), Jesus teaches that there are four responses to the Gospel, four types of soil. The Word does the work in the soil, but this parable doesn’t address how the soil is to be tilled. Soil doesn’t till itself and the work of the sower here is to sow the seed of God’s Word, both Law and Gospel. So, in the judgement that is to come, there are only 2 outcomes, but regarding mankind’s response to the Preached Word, there are 4 types of soil.

Mark 4:21-25 (ESV) | A Lamp Under a Basket

21 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

This is about faith. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom 10:17). For the one lacking faith, even what he has will be taken away. For the man of faith, more will be added to him.

Mark 4:26-29 (ESV) | The Parable of the Seed Growing

26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Mark 4:30-34 (ESV) | The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

Mark 4:35-41 (ESV) | Jesus Calms a Storm

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

This is the question that must be answered by faith. As with the parable of the seed growing, the disciples (minus one) are growing in faith. They are not yet fully mature, and still struggle understanding who Jesus is. We know that these unlikely heroes of the faith were like the mustard seed being planted in the garden… in time they grew in faith, wisdom, and knowledge of Christ, such that their branches would extend out providing a place of refuge for the birds of the air… these Apostles (minus Judas) would lay the foundation of the Church with Christ as both its Head and its Cornerstone. Their focus would become to sow the seed of the Word of the Kingdom of God to the ends of the Earth, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


Next week, we’ll continue working through the Gospel According to Mark, starting in chapter 5. Until then, we will continue our expanded Discernment in Music work. It is our sincere prayer that you will devote some time to reading and studying God’s word, and researching your church’s confessions and doctrine. Know what you believe and why you believe it… where it is taught in Scripture. The Pharisees were completely wrong about the Sabbath… and they were the ones charged to serve Israel as stewards of the Law.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen, Indeed.
In Christ Jesus,