The Gospel of Jesus Christ


Table of Contents

Title Page

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

Whosoever Will Come After Me…





Russell M. Stendal


Ransom Press International



The Gospel of Jesus Christ – Russell M. Stendal
Copyright © 2017, 2019
Second edition published 2019

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced,
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otherwise, without written permission from the publisher.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Jubilee Bible, copyright ©
2000, 2001, 2010, 2013 by Russell M. Stendal. All rights reserved.
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10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


Ch. 1: The Beginning.
Ch. 2: Conflict with Religion.
Ch. 3: My Mother and My Brethren.
Ch. 4: Sowing Seed.
Ch. 5: Go Home to Thy Friends.
Ch. 6: Is This Not the Carpenter?.
Ch. 7: Eating with Unwashed Hands.
Ch. 8: Thou Art the Christ!.
Ch. 9: One Hundred Fold, Now in This Time.
Ch. 10: The Search for Good Fruit.
Ch. 11: But Take Ye Heed.
Ch. 12: The Way of the Cross.
Ch. 13: Death and Resurrection.
Meet the Author.
Connect with Russell’s Ministry.


Some believers place the center of their theology in the law of Moses, and indeed, Scripture states that God’s law is the truth and his commandments are eternal (Psalm 119:98, 142). However, the only one who could fulfill that law is the Lord Jesus Christ. If you or I, in our own strength, attempt to fulfill what only Jesus can, we will find that we end up with legalism, for the letter kills and only the Spirit of God brings forth life (2 Corinthians 3:6).

Other believers center on the Pauline epistles of the New Testament, with their message of God’s grace. People who focus on grace instead of on the law, however, sometimes tend to limit their definition of grace to “unmerited favor.” When this is taken to extremes, such people may find that instead of centering on Jesus Christ, they’re preaching a cheap grace that can be taken as a permit for licentiousness by those who think that God’s law no longer applies. Since they’ve prayed a “sinner’s prayer,” believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, congregate in a church, and pay their tithes, they think that grace will cover them no matter what they do.

The truth is that unmerited favor is only a secondary definition of grace. The primary definition is that grace is the power of God to change and transform us, and it is linked to the presence of God. Those who are led by the Spirit of God are not under the law (Galatians 5:18).

The center of the Scriptures, the center of the plan of God, the center of everything is the Lord Jesus. If we speak of the law, we must do so in the context of who Jesus really is, what he has done, and what he will do for us. If we speak of grace, we must not attempt to separate it from Jesus the Christ. “Jesus” means “savior” (the author of salvation), and “Christ” means “anointing” or “the anointed one.” He is indeed the anointed one who is the author of our salvation.

Isaiah 10:27 refers to an anointing that will take the yoke from our necks, an anointing that breaks and dissolves and consumes the heavy yoke of religion.1 Jesus, the Anointed One, is the only one who has the power of that anointing. No one else has ever been able to live a life that is wholly pleasing to the Father. Jesus the Christ not only came to redeem us, but he overcame death itself and then sent us the Holy Spirit so that we can walk in his victory.

More than a thousand years ago, there was a huge controversy in the church over whether the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father or from the Father and the Son. The answer, of course, is that he came from them both, because the Father and the Son are of one accord, and their joint desire is to send the Holy Spirit to each of us. This is the bond that we can have with them. The Lord Jesus, as the only mediator of the new covenant, sends us his Spirit with the goal that we will be cleansed by the power of God and come to know the Father. My prayer is that you, the reader, will achieve that goal and know the joy of that bond.

1 Note that the yoke mentioned is in the context of the Assyrian, from Asshur, (the graceful or mighty one), who is symbolic of Satan and linked to false religion.

Chap 1. The Beginning.

Mark 1

1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus, the Christ, Son of God.

Many today are preaching a gospel (which they define as “good news”) that is very different from what is written here. The gospel of Mark speaks of the Son of God and of a kingdom that differs greatly from the kingdoms of men’s religion. When Jesus entered the scene, the word “gospel” was already being used on special occasions in the Roman Empire to announce a change of kings or kingdoms. “King” and “kingdom” derive from the same root word in Greek. The kingdom is everything that falls under the authority of the king, including persons and territory.

When a new king came on the scene (after the former king died or was killed or deposed), he brought with him a change in government, and the “gospel” was the new king’s proclamation of this important change. Since humans are corrupted by power, the former king had likely become very corrupt and even tyrannical, so it was usually “good news” to the people when they learned that the king had been replaced. Today, most countries have elections every few years, but in ancient times, when the psalmist declared that the days of our years are seventy, and of the most valiant eighty years (Psalm 90:10), it could take thirty, forty, or even fifty years before a new king took the throne. Imagine having to wait that long for a change in government!

When the Caesar was at last dead or deposed, heralds were sent forth under armed escort into every corner of the empire to blow their trumpets and proclaim the good news of the advent of a new king.

The early Christians likewise had good news. The greeting among them was “Jesus is Lord,” and the reply was “Yes, he is Lord indeed!” These words were part of the beginning of the gospel, the good news that the Lord Jesus is our new king. We may accept him or reject him, but he is still sovereign. The word “gospel” doesn’t just mean “good news,” but it refers to the specific good news that we have a new king. No longer do we have to serve Satan, the old despot.

The Romans, on the other hand, believed that Caesar was God, and when the “good news” of the new Caesar was proclaimed, everyone was expected to kneel, swear allegiance to him as their lord and king, and henceforward worship him. The Roman soldiers dealt swiftly with any who dared to refuse, a stand which led to the deaths of many Christians who had given themselves to the Lord Jesus and rejected any demand to worship Caesar.

The gospel we’re going to look at in this book was written down by John Mark, who was a young disciple at the time of the events. You will recall that on the night Jesus was betrayed, prior to the crucifixion, the disciples abandoned him and fled the garden of Gethsemane. Amongst their number was a young lad clothed only in a sheet. When the Roman soldiers grabbed the sheet, the boy fled, naked (Mark 14:50-52). John Mark may have been that boy.

Peter called Mark his son (1 Peter 5:13), and it is very likely that this book of the Gospels was written down by Mark with input from Peter, who was an uneducated and probably illiterate fisherman when Jesus called him. When the early church fathers were establishing the canon of the sixty-six books of the Bible and separating them from spurious books, one of the key criteria was that the true books of the New Testament had to have been written, dictated, or authorized by one of the apostles who had received his commission directly from the Lord Jesus. The fact that a book written by Mark was accepted into the canon, even though he is never mentioned as an apostle like Peter or Paul or John, gives credence to the theory that Peter played some part in its writing. After he denied the Lord three times before the rooster crowed twice, the chastened Peter became very humble (Mark 14:72; John 21:15-19), and he may have not wanted to sign his name to this work, preferring God to get all the glory.

1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus, the Christ, Son of God,

Imagine Simon Peter dictating this and young John Mark writing it down. Jesus was known to love children and young people, and John Mark may have tagged along with him and the disciples and witnessed many events. The Gospels are composed of eyewitness accounts.

1:2 as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.

1:3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.

Here the writer is referring to Isaiah. The passage in Isaiah reads:

The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places made plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be manifested, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it. The voice that said, Cry. And I said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the mercy thereof is as the open flower of the field: The grass withers, the flower fades because the spirit of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people is grass. The grass withers, the open flower fades; but the word of our God shall stand for ever. (Isaiah 40:3-8)

What does this mean?

When we live here on earth in the flesh, our lifespan is like that of grass, which lasts for a very short time. Even when we’re born the second time and blossom with gifts from God, and the Holy Spirit flourishes in our being, our state is very transitory. Its purpose is to produce the fruit of righteousness, the mature character of God in our being, for this fruit of the Holy Spirit will endure forever.

Peter quotes Isaiah in 1 Peter 1:23-25, when he refers to man being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

We see that Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, had a concept of the gospel that is very different from the one endorsed by much of our present church of modern-day lukewarm Laodiceans.

1:4 John baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance for remission of sins.

The Greek literally says “baptism into repentance.”

Under the law, if someone became unclean, the person had to be washed with water. There were many ways for a person to become unclean, but John was preaching that the entire nation was unclean. Those who sought him out for baptism were publicly recognizing that they were unclean and therefore not acceptable to God.

Repentance is different from the crocodile tears we may see on public display. Repentance means making a full course reversal of a hundred and eighty degrees. If we’re heading downhill, we have to turn around and make our way back up the slope. If we’re heading south, we must turn and head north. If we’re going our own way and seeking to satisfy our own desires, we need to turn and go God’s way and seek to satisfy his desires. God can offer us a time and place to repent, but if we fail to respond, there’s no guarantee that we’ll be given another opportunity later.

John’s ministry of baptizing the Jewish people into repentance began about six months before Jesus came upon the scene. John was commissioned to immerse these sinners into repentance, and he used water as a symbol. Later, in the gospel of Luke, it’s implied that those who received baptism at John’s hands “justified God” and were able to understand his plan and purpose in Jesus Christ, whereas those who refused John’s baptism rejected the counsel of God against themselves (Luke 7:29-30).

Those who refused to repent were subsequently unable to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. They remained clueless. They wanted a Messiah who would implement a grand kingdom and restore their nation to a glory even greater than that of Solomon’s. When Jesus said that his kingdom was not of this world, some were very disillusioned. They did not understand that Jesus came to announce a very different kingdom, which he started by planting an incorruptible word. Scripture states that the word comes forth we know not how, first the blade, then the flower, and finally the fullness of the fruit (Mark 4:27-28). Of this whole process, however, it is only the fruit that will remain.

John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, and he did this by preaching repentance and baptizing into repentance those who responded to his message. Later, when Jesus was about to leave this world, he told his disciples that they were clean, not because of the baptism of John, but because of the word that he had given them (John 15:3). True cleanness comes from hearkening to the word of the Lord and hearing his voice. When we receive his word by faith, he provides the grace to bring forth his word in us as obedient reality.

1:5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judea and those of Jerusalem and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

These people desired a new beginning with God so that he would blot out their past and allow them to start over. “Jordan” means “to flow down,” and in our natural state all of us are flowing downwards, headed for death and decay. John submerged the penitents in water as a symbol of death to all their own sins and ambitions so that they could begin new lives seeking the kingdom of God.

1:6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he ate locusts and wild honey

1:7 and preached, saying, There comes one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.

1:8 I indeed have baptized you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

The most that human ministry can accomplish is to baptize someone in water, and the water is only a symbol. Only as we operate in union with Jesus can someone be submerged into the Holy Spirit. Many who are baptized come up out of the water as corrupt as they were before, with no miraculous change. They come out of the water wet, and possibly a bit cleaner on the surface, but if the Lord Jesus doesn’t effect a work deep within the person and bring him (or her) to genuine repentance and baptize (immerse) him into the Holy Spirit, that person will not enter the kingdom of heaven. This is why the only hope for all of us is to trust our Lord.

John came in the spirit and power of Elijah (see Malachi 4:5; Luke 1:17), in at least a partial fulfillment of Malachi 4. At his first coming, not too many Jews were really reconciled to God, and the land was completely destroyed by AD 70. Back then, however, most were not aware that the Lord would come twice.

There exists another ministry like the ministries of John the Baptist and Elijah. It’s a ministry that is calling everyone to repentance, prior to the second coming of the Lord, and this time it is not just a single individual who is doing the calling. God is raising up many people in many lands to blow the trumpet and announce this gospel of the kingdom that shall be preached to the ends of the earth, after which the end will come (Matthew 24:14). God is sending his messengers to prepare the way for the second coming.

1:6a John was clothed with camel’s hair

The camel was an unclean animal, and its skin was not fit for a priest’s clothing, but John was no ordinary priest. Although he was a descendant of Aaron, born of Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, and although his father, Zechariah, had executed the priest’s office before God (Luke 1:8), John did not dress like a priest, nor did he minister in the temple like his father. Instead, he dressed like Elijah and ministered in the desert. The skin of a camel symbolized a creature that could handle the desert and go for long periods without food or drink.

God promises to prepare his people in the desert. This can be either a literal desert or a spiritual desert, but in order to qualify for the fullness of the kingdom of God, we must go through a desert place in one form or another. God also places ministry in the desert (or wilderness), and those who carry out this desert ministry are like the prophets. Even in the New Testament, God raised up ministry to feed the “woman” in the wilderness (see Revelation 12:6).

The prophets wore a mantle of camel’s hair as one of the signs that God’s way isn’t an easy one. It is hard on the flesh, for the path to follow the will of God may lie in the midst of great difficulty. Although John the Baptist didn’t deal in signs and wonders, he had a powerful message, and the people left the comfort of the towns and cities to go out to the desert and see what was going on with him at the Jordan River.

John, and later Jesus, led multitudes in the desert where there was nothing, not even any food. If John had sought his own comfort, he could have been a priest back at the temple, perhaps even the high priest, but here he was dressed in camel’s hair in the desert.

1:6b and with a girdle of skin about his loins

Do you imagine this girdle as some sort of belt? No, it was his underwear! And over the top of it, he wore his mantle of camel’s hair. John was a rustic-looking individual.

The history of the girdle of skin (or leather) goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. After they got into trouble and knew they were naked, God was not impressed with their improvised clothing made of fig leaves (this covering made of fig leaves appears to have been man’s first attempt at religion). Instead, he covered their nakedness with leather girdles, which meant that something had to die, since blood must be shed before leather can be obtained. Later, the Israelites were not allowed to kill an animal whenever, wherever, or however they pleased. The act had to be part of the blood covenant with God and carried out according to his orders. Scripture states that the life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11) and that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). This background was designed to point to the supreme sacrifice that would be made by Jesus Christ, whom John described as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

John had his intimate parts covered with a girdle of skin as a reminder that he was in a blood covenant with God. The law (that is, the old covenant) requires an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life (Exodus 21:23-24). Under the new covenant, however, Jesus is not only our redeemer, but also our avenger, and we are not to take the law into our own hands, for Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord (Romans 12:19). We must see things from the Lord’s perspective and yield to his authority, but the rewards of doing so are great. The psalmist David summed it up like this: For with thee is the fountain of life; in thy light shall we see light (Psalm 36:9).

John demonstrated understanding of the covenant. We must do God’s will and not our own. We are to live his life and not our own. We are to decrease and he is to increase. The city of the religion of men is not a proper starting place for a relationship with God. The covering of men was not the covering of John the Baptist, nor was he covered by an ordination certificate from the priests at Jerusalem. He had no certificate declaring that he was the son of the high priest, nor did he wear a priest’s robe. His camel’s hair covering was unclean in the eyes of religious men, but he was covered directly by God.

When John arrived on the scene, Israel had been some four hundred years without a prophetic voice from God. Then came John, emulating the prophet Elijah, who had last been seen many hundreds of years before.

1:6c and he ate locusts and wild honey

Those who lived in ancient Israel might face a number of serious problems that could have arisen during their lifetimes. One was a foreign army coming through and trashing everything, but another was locusts showing up. There could be clouds of them, made up of millions of locusts, and they would eat any green thing they found. Sometimes the resulting famine would last for years or even decades. It could even be of such magnitude that the people would have to leave the land. Abraham experienced this, as did Jacob and his sons (Genesis 12:10; 45:16-28). Many times God’s people had a worse time with the locusts than with two-legged enemies who wielded swords. It was because of famine that Naomi and her family went to the land of Moab, where one of her sons later married Ruth (Ruth 1:1-4).

In Revelation 9, the locusts are a symbol of demonic enemy forces. When the fifth trumpet sounds, a horde of locusts comes out of the pit to attack and sting all men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

The locusts that were the terror of Israel, however, were lunch for John the Baptist. Everyone else feared the arrival of locusts because the locusts ate every green thing in sight, but for John it was the other way around: he ate the eaters. For him, the locusts were a blessing!

Those who live to feed their flesh on the “grass” of the word of God, as if they were cattle in a pasture, fear the coming of locusts. That is, they are afraid that enemy forces will take away all their earthly goods. But those like John the Baptist, who live under a different type of covering; who aren’t trying to please their flesh; who seek to please the Lord and serve the people of God; such people know that unto those who love God, all things help them unto good, to those who according to the purpose are called to be saints (Romans 8:28). For these people, when the demons show up, they only serve to further the purposes of God that are hidden to the natural man.

Brethren, this is extremely important to understand. The devil is not our most serious problem. Why do you think the Lord has allowed all these devils to roam loose for such a long time? Why hasn’t he put them on ice or even back in the pit? Fear not. He will do so at the proper time. For now, however, they fulfill a useful purpose.

What purpose is that?

At least part of God’s purpose for them is to make sure that anyone who wants to live according to their own desires, do their own thing, and indulge their own selfishness and arrogance will have to reckon with the possibility of “locusts.” To fall into the hands of the devil is serious business. Here in Colombia, it is relatively easy to fall into the hands of bandits or guerrillas or corrupt officials and get stung by the locusts, who take from you the earthly money and possessions that you’ve stored up. This is the way of the devil. And even after the devil has been locked up for a thousand years, God still plans to let him loose again for a short time (Revelation 20:7).

John the Baptist came to prepare the way for those who desire to serve the Lord. This is the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; and for those in it there shall be someone to go with them, in such a manner that the foolish shall not err therein (Isaiah 35:8). Could this anonymous someone be a prophetic reference to the Holy Spirit? The Way of Holiness is a highway where no demon can prosper. It’s a way where we don’t lose our hard-earned savings to the enemy, because we’ve learned to invest in heavenly treasure that is completely beyond his reach. This is a way where the tables get turned, and instead of us being the food and prey of the enemy, the enemy becomes our food and our prey!

This is the gospel according to John the Baptist and according to Jesus from God’s perspective.

It’s rather like the wedding supper described by the Lord. The invited guests, for the most part, didn’t show up. They were busy inspecting land with which to enlarge their private kingdoms, and they were trying out new yokes of oxen to see how much they could “evangelize” in the flesh. They had no time to go to the great feast of the Lord (Luke 14:18-24).

In another parable, the servants were to go to the highways and gather everyone, bad or good, and bring them to the wedding feast. One person was thrown out of the wedding, however, not because of his goodness or badness, but because he wasn’t wearing the proper attire or covering (Matthew 22:1-14).

What is the Lord saying?

If we submit to his authority and agree to do his will, then we come under his covering.

What covering is this?

In Revelation 19:8, the white robes of fine linen, clean and bright, are the righteousness of the saints. Covered by these robes, all we have to do is to eat the clean food that God provides, for we shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

Revelation 19:9 states: And he said unto me, Write, Blessed are those who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said unto me, These are the true words of God.

This is a call to feed upon the true words of God. If we receive the covering that he provides, and if we eat the food that he supplies, he’ll take care of everything else. Wearing these robes and eating this food, we can walk through hordes of demons and they won’t be able to cause us any eternal damage. They can only destroy the things of this world, and the kingdom of God is not of this world (John 18:36)!

There has been some confusion here because the word translated as “world” is “cosmos” in the Greek. This refers primarily to the system and the manner of doing things. Remember, the meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). In other words, God is going to put his government upon the earth. But he won’t do it by taking over the White House or the Palace of Nariño or the Vatican or the World Court or the United Nations. No, the Bible is very clear: all of the kingdoms of this world are going to come tumbling down (Daniel 2:31-45; Revelation 11:15).

God’s kingdom, however, begins with another way of doing things: his way, as he transforms hearts one by one. It will all be revealed at the proper time.

And when he was asked of the Pharisees when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God does not come with observation; neither shall they say, Behold it here! or, Behold it there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. And he said unto the disciples, The days will come when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, Behold it here, or Behold it there; do not go, nor follow them. For as the lightning, which shines from the region under heaven, shines in that which is under heaven; so also shall the Son of man be in his day. (Luke 17:20-24)

In what day?

In the day of the Lord, which is even now at our very door.

Over the long history of the church, many have made and are still making tragic mistakes as they attempt to take over the kingdoms of this world in the name of God. They forget that John the Baptist didn’t attempt to take over the government of the temple in Jerusalem, even though he could have been a very important priest. Instead, he chose to live in the desert and eat locusts and wild honey.

The honey he ate wasn’t processed, so it retained all its natural ingredients. Honey is a symbol of the Word of God. There are warnings in the Old Testament about eating too much honey (Proverbs 25:16), because under law and without the Spirit of God, the natural man cannot digest very much of the Word of God without getting spiritual indigestion. John the Baptist, however, could live on “honey,” and so can the people of God who have learned to walk in the desert. Such people can absorb great quantities of the unadulterated Word of God, flowing and flowing and flowing, but it must be a Word of God that has not been processed by theologians or denominations or Bible institutes. The “honey” must be administered directly by God. This was the diet of John the Baptist as he also munched on a few locusts from time to time. As Mark says:

1:6c he ate locusts and wild honey

1:7 and preached, saying, There comes one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.

In the desert, shoes are a symbol of preparation. It’s impossible to travel over hot sand and razor-sharp rocks without shoes. People in those days could go barefoot in the farms and towns and villages, but if they had to venture into the desert, they prepared by having appropriate protection for their feet. Moses had to take off his shoes at the burning bush (Exodus 3:5) because the preparation for life that he had been taught at the house of Pharaoh had to be left behind. He had to forget what he learned there in order to be able to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and towards the Promised Land. Joshua, too, had to remove his shoes when he met with the prince of the LORD’s host (Joshua 5:15). Even the years of preparation in the wilderness by Joshua’s great mentor, Moses, had to be left behind when he entered the Promised Land and came into the direct presence of the prince of the LORD’s host.

Jesus, however, had experienced a different preparation. He had shoes that even John the Baptist was not worthy to stoop down and unloose. In other words, John wasn’t qualified to touch Jesus’ shoes, even from an attitude of humility and worship. The Lord Jesus had a very special preparation and formation for his ministry. Who are we to modify this and say that we can do things in a different manner? Jesus was ordained by God and approved by God. He had no human credentials, no certificates from Herod or the Sanhedrin or the high priest, and he gave no written diplomas to his apostles. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receives whomsoever I send receives me, and he that receives me receives him that sent me (John 13:20).

When Saul of Tarsus was persecuting the believers, he went forth with letters of authorization from the high priest and from the “authorities” in Jerusalem. After the Lord Jesus captured him, his letter of recommendation was his life and the lives of the people who had been transformed by the power of God under his ministry (2 Corinthians 3:1-3). According to Mark, John the Baptist described the difference between his ministry and the ministry of Jesus in these words: I indeed have baptized you with [Greek: into] water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8).

To baptize is to immerse. John immersed people in water, but made it clear to them that Jesus would immerse them into the Holy Spirit, into a new life, into a new nature with new desires. However, the baptized person had to take that next step and seek Jesus. Some, it seems, didn’t grasp this important message, because years later the apostle Paul encountered people who had received the baptism of John but claimed they hadn’t even heard of the Holy Spirit (Acts 18:24-19:7).

1:9 And it came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth a city of Galilee and was baptized of John in the Jordan.

1:10 And as soon as he was come out of the water, John saw the heavens opened and the Spirit like a dove descending and resting upon him;

1:11 and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my dear Son, in whom I delight.

We see that Jesus’ Father was delighted with him even before he began his ministry, and immediately upon Jesus being baptized, the Holy Spirit came down from heaven to fill him. Paul writes about the earnest (that is, the down payment or deposit) of the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14), which even a child can receive in measure. What Jesus received at the Jordan River, however, was not the earnest; it was the fullness of the Spirit without measure. God doesn’t give this type of anointing to those who are still seeking to promote their own lives and their own kingdoms. He will not give this anointing to anyone whom he does not expressly send (John 3:34).

Jesus could have been an excellent Messiah at age twelve, but he would not have saved us. In order to save us, he had to fulfill every detail of the plan of God, and part of God’s plan is that no one can have a ministry in fullness without coming to maturity. For the Jews, this happened at age thirty. The boy Jesus, who confounded the wise among the priests and scribes at the temple, had to humble himself and go home with Joseph and Mary and wait another eighteen years, even though he already knew that he must be about his real Father’s business (Luke 2:49-52).

Jesus Christ is the one who is perfect and mature. We can never achieve this on our own. Yet if we trust him, his life and his words can flow forth, even from little children.

When Jesus came into the fullness of the inheritance from his Father, the fullness of the Holy Spirit, he immediately encountered some tremendous trials.

1:12 And immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness.

1:13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days and forty nights and was tempted of Satan and was with the wild beasts, and the angels ministered unto him.

When we receive new things, when new avenues open up, when we receive new gifts, when we come into money or other forms of prosperity, there will always be new temptations.

What will we do with this prosperity? What will we make of it and of ourselves?

There are people who have done well with the Lord while they were in prison or even in a concentration camp. After many years, however, when they were able to escape or were released and found their way to North America, some of them promptly went down the drain in the land of prosperity and plenty.


When the rain (of blessing) falls, it waters all the seeds in the garden. When fertilizer is applied, it will fertilize everything that is growing in the field. If there are thorns and briers as well as fragrant flowers (that could develop into good fruit) in our heart, prosperity will cause them to prosper. Everything will come up together.

This is why the Lord starts us out in a desert (spiritual or otherwise). He wants to make sure that there are no weeds left in our hearts. Each time we receive something new and excellent from God, it will be accompanied by a test. We don’t simply receive a new gift or talent or capacity from God; we will be tested on how we are going to use it. We can use it according to his will and for his kingdom and the good of others, or we can use it to achieve personal gain and to augment our own pride and arrogance.

I know of many sad stories here in Colombia of people who began to cultivate drugs and then got involved in the drug trade, thinking about all the good that they were going to do with the money they made. Instead, not only were they ultimately destroyed by their own avarice, but they caused major damage to those around them and to society in general.

1:14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God

John was put in prison for preaching the truth to King Herod. Later, they chopped off his head. After John was beheaded, Jesus sent forth his disciples with authority and power, and they became known as his apostles. No religious commissioning service is recorded (Mark 6:7-30). The typology here is very interesting. According to Scripture, there was none born of women greater than John the Baptist, yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he (Matthew 11:11).

What did Jesus mean by this?

In our human condition, even with gifts and callings and ministries from God, the most that we can expect to attain is to reach the same level as John the Baptist. However, if we truly desire to enter the kingdom of God, we must understand that it is a different realm. To enter it, we must lose our own headship and come under Jesus Christ. John had the revelation that he was to decrease so that Christ could increase (John 3:30). We must be prepared to do the same.

Paul wrote that he was a prisoner of the Lord (Ephesians 4:1). Jesus desires to take us prisoner so that we can no longer implement our own will. This is the same as the way of the cross. The cross is not an instantaneous death. It is not a bullet to the head of the old, carnal man. It is a long, slow, agonizing death to the old man as, drop by drop, he loses his lifeblood of the nature of Adam. However, if we are nailed to the cross with Jesus, we will not be able to accomplish our own will, and the old man will no longer rule us as he dies.

1:14 Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God

1:15 and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye and believe the gospel.

Notice that Jesus took up John’s message of repentance and added another step. Not just repent, but repent and believe! Believe the gospel. Trust the new king and depend upon him. You don’t have to continue under Satan’s kingdom of darkness.

The time is fulfilled! Now, today, if you will hear his voice and have faith in him, he will grant you sufficient grace and mercy to accomplish his will. The gospel of Jesus Christ involves repentance and faith which, even if we are willing, can only be accomplished in us by his grace and power.

1:16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea, for they were fishers.

1:17 And Jesus said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

1:18 And straightway they forsook their nets and followed him.

Jesus didn’t say, “Follow me and I will make you hunters of men. I will give you sharp arrows and you will shoot men with the truth.” No, he told them that he would teach them to fish for men. This is an activity that requires patience.

My father was a good fisherman. He had more patience than I do. He was fond of telling me that his secret was very simple. In order to be a good fisherman, you must be smarter than the fish! You must have what they desire, know where they are, and be prepared to spend a great deal of time luring them in. Hunting can be different, in that if the hunter stalks his prey, the prey have no choice.

True disciples must leave everything if they are to become fishers of men, but there are many would-be evangelists today who are not prepared to do this. They want to be in the ministry, but they are not willing to leave their pride and arrogance behind. They cling to their own criteria and refuse to discard the doctrines of men. They continue to augment their own kingdoms and insist on retaining their boats and nets and equipment. The Lord, however, may not need them to retain any of these possessions.

1:19 And when he had gone a little further from there, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.

1:20 And straightway he called them; and leaving their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, they went after him.

1:21 And they entered into Capernaum, and straightway on the sabbath days he entered into the synagogue and taught.

“Capernaum” means “city of Nahum.” (“Nahum” means “consolation.”)

1:22 And they marvelled at his learning, for he taught them as one that had power with him, and not as the scribes.

1:23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out,

Jesus did a great deal of ministry in their synagogues. He went to the places where the leaders, in their religiosity, had added thousands of conditions and additions to the Word of God. The law of Moses doesn’t mention synagogues, yet Moses’ descendants had them, and it was in “their” synagogue that the man with the unclean spirit was found. It took a clean word from God to reveal, silence, and cast out the unclean spirit.

When men stir up religion for their own purposes, they attract unclean spirits instead of the Holy Spirit. These spirits may seem like the Holy Spirit to those who lack discernment. Look at what this spirit said and consider whether these are the sentiments a demon might express.

1:24 saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

This demon spoke the way many preachers do today: “The Holy One of God, Jesus of Nazareth, comes to destroy all the ungodly. . . .” How often do we hear this message preached? This message was coming from a demon, and Jesus didn’t respond by saying, “Very well, there’s no harm in him, and I must be tolerant. He’s preparing the way for my message, he identified me correctly, and he knows who I am.”

No, this is what the Lord said:

1:25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be silent, and come out of him.

1:26 And the unclean spirit tore him and cried with a loud voice and came out of him.

1:27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this?

The person with the unclean spirit may have been one of the most eloquent doctors of the law in the city. The leaders at these synagogues were teaching that the Messiah would come and destroy their enemies with fire and impose a golden age for Israel, and the demon started off along these lines. But this wasn’t the line that Jesus took. It wasn’t what he had come to preach when he opened his mouth to announce the gospel. He didn’t say that he had come to destroy, but rather that he had come to save. It’s true, however, that the result of the rulers not receiving him or his message was ultimately destruction.

Jesus didn’t come fulminating with condemnation. Instead, he said Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens (Matthew 5:3).

Jesus’ message was positive, not negative. He came to encourage people and lift them up and cause them to understand. The poor in spirit (in Greek) are really the poor or destitute regarding pride. Jesus was asking them to allow God to deal with their pride so that he might become their king. He said this in a manner that was perfectly comprehensible to those who had been baptized by John, yet completely unintelligible to arrogant religious persons. And they marvelled at his learning, for he taught them as one that had power with him, and not as the scribes (Mark 1:22).

Notice this progression: First came the encounter at the Jordan River when Jesus submitted to a baptism that John didn’t think was necessary; Jesus chose to identify with death from the very beginning. Then came trials and testing in the wilderness. After this, his clean word in their synagogue was able to confront, silence, and cast out the religious spirit that they had mistaken for God. Then miracles began to flow, as shown in the succeeding verses.

1:27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? for he commands the unclean spirits with power, and they obey him.

1:28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.

1:29 And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

1:30 But Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick of a fever, and soon they told him of her.

1:31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up; and the fever left her by and by, and she ministered unto them.

1:32 In the evening, when the sun was down, they brought unto him all that were diseased and those that were possessed with devils.

1:33 And all the city was gathered together at the door.

1:34 And he healed many that were sick of diverse diseases and cast out many devils and suffered not the devils to speak because they knew him.

1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out and departed into a solitary place and prayed there.

This is completely backward to what many current religious “healers” do. Today, they start by advertising that people can expect to see a multitude of miracles in the great meetings they’re holding at the stadium that they’ve rented. They sell tickets and encourage the people to prepare their offerings in exchange for blessings. The contrast between Jesus’ approach and theirs is very striking.

Jesus spent his first twelve years under the law of his father and mother. Then he voluntarily spent another eighteen years at home, out of the limelight, while according to Scripture he grew in grace and in favor before God and before men, until he reached the point where God approved of him in the waters of the Jordan, when he publicly demonstrated that he was willing to lay down his life. John declared that Jesus was the Lamb of God who had come to take away the sin of the world. At this time, Jesus received the fullness of the inheritance of his heavenly Father, the inheritance being the Spirit without measure (John 3:34).

Then the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Satan showed him all the kingdoms of the world, but Jesus turned down his offer.

How did the devil show Jesus all those kingdoms? Well, the devil, too, can give visions. He showed Jesus all these things and supernaturally took him to the pinnacle of the temple to see if he could get Jesus to show off in front of the crowd. These were tremendous experiences (Matthew 4:1-11). Many who go through this type of testing come out of it saying that they’ve received great things from God, when in reality, their visions and experiences have come from the devil, the prince of this world!

Jesus rejected all of the devil’s temptations. Then he was able to go to “their synagogue” and uncover, silence, and evict their religious spirit with a word. The unclean demonic spirit had been preaching what appeared to be great things, but the words it spoke didn’t convey the message of the Lord or the gospel of his kingdom. What the unclean religious spirit had been preaching was not good news for anyone, and Jesus put a stop to it.

Today we still have churches and synagogues full of demons, where leaders are preaching messages that many believe are from God, yet which in reality are not our Father’s word. The most dangerous lies are those that have the highest content of truth. Rat poison is only one percent poison and ninety-nine percent rat food. If it were the other way around, no rat would be so stupid as to eat it. Are we less discerning than a rat?

Demons inspire people to preach what appears to be the word of God, but there is a problem. They try to get us to focus on our own lives and on how to use God to get what we want, whereas God wants us to leave our own lives behind so that we can enter into his. The devil tells people that God wants to see them destroyed (unless they jump through all the hoops of religion), but God wants us to leave the old life behind so that we may be blessed in his new life.

It is not just the message; it is not just about the truth; this also has to do with the way in which things are presented. Only the Lord has the anointing that breaks the yoke. After Jesus silenced the unclean spirit that had taken over their synagogue, miracles began to take place. This spate of miracles gathered force not in the synagogue, but in the house of Peter and Andrew. Then, after the entire town had been blessed and enthused, Jesus got up very early and disappeared.

What well-known preacher of today, after winning a huge battle with demonic spirits, after performing many miracles, after congregating the entire city, would simply walk away from it all and disappear in the middle of the night? Many modern preachers continue to fill stadiums, take offerings, proselytize the people, and have the attendees fill out “decision” cards so that the preachers can continue to augment their churches and organizations as long as it’s possible for them to do so.

1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out and departed into a solitary place and prayed there.

1:36 And Simon and those that were with him followed after him.

1:37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.

Lord, you don’t understand. Lord, look what you started – we have to consolidate this. We have to make sure that all those new people get inducted into the synagogue so that all the local scribes and Pharisees can follow up.

1:38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns that I may preach there also, for truly I came forth for that purpose.

1:39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee and cast out devils.

“Their synagogues” were scattered throughout Galilee, and there were many devils to be found in them. Notice that Jesus cast the devils out of Galilee from the very start. Later on, when Jesus was rejected by the people, it couldn’t be blamed on the demons, because he had cleaned them all out. In fact, he was rejected because the people did not wish to surrender to the true king. If Jesus were to reign, it would mean the end of their lives the way they currently lived them, the end of their synagogues, and the end of their religion. Even so, Jesus continued to preach the gospel during the allotted time.

1:40 And a leper came to him, beseeching him and kneeling down to him and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

1:41 And Jesus, having mercy on him, put forth his hand and touched him and said unto him, I will; be thou clean.

1:42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was clean.

1:43 And he straitly charged him and forthwith sent him away

1:44 and said unto him, See thou say nothing to any man, but go, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

1:45 But he went out and began to publish it much and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places; and they came to him from every quarter.

Leprosy can be a symbol of terminal sin. Yet it doesn’t matter how advanced the leprosy, how bad the sin, how serious the problem that we are in; if the Lord gives the order for us to become clean, we shall become clean. If the Lord decides to touch us in our unclean state, he doesn’t become unclean like us, but rather we become clean like him.

Notice that Jesus did not desire the credit for his miracles. There are many preachers today, even some whom I highly esteem, who don’t pass this test. If a blind person or a leper or someone who is crippled is healed under their ministry, they are incapable of instructing that person not to tell anyone. Instead, they start another crusade! They publicize their ministry according to the ways of the world, to attract attention and manage the crowd.

Jesus, who is the model for all of us, did not come to attract attention to himself. He came to glorify his Father in heaven.

Despite Jesus’ specific instructions, however, the former leper was unable to keep his mouth shut, and Jesus became even more famous. Note that this all happens in the first chapter of Mark’s account of the gospel.

Why did Jesus no longer openly enter into the city?

Because he was announcing and seeking a kingdom that was not of this world. Later on, he told Pilate that if his kingdom had been of this world, then his followers would have fought (with earthly weapons). He also told Pilate that all those who love and seek the truth are really seeking him (that is, Jesus). But Pilate didn’t even know what the truth was. He asked, “What is truth?” yet the Truth in person was standing right in front of him (John 18:36-38).

The anointing that destroys the yoke of sin, of leprosy, of sickness, of demons, of “their synagogues,” only comes with the person of Jesus Christ, and he has other criteria for his kingdom. His kingdom is different, for it is not of this world, and his true ministers do not seek their own glory. This is the witness of the true followers of Christ.2

2 For further reading, see Uncovering What Religion Has to Hide: The Witness of Simon Peter, by Russell M. Stendal.

Let us pray.

Lord, we ask that we may be able to see with greater clarity. We desire that your life and your kingdom may be seen in us and that there may be a great company of those like Elijah and John the Baptist to prepare the way for what you are planning to do next. May we do your will, under your headship and authority. May we receive your covering and feed exclusively on your Word. Amen.

Chap 2. Conflict with Religion.

Mark 2

2:1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that he was in the house.

2:2 And soon many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door; and he preached the word unto them.

John 1:1 makes it clear that Jesus is the living Word of God: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and the Word was God.

2:3 And they came unto him, bringing a paralytic, carried by four men.

2:4 And when they could not come near unto him for the crowd, they uncovered the roof of the house where he was; and when they had broken it open, they let down the bed in which the paralytic lay.

2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the paralytic, Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.

Many, if not most, of the people present undoubtedly thought that this man’s main problem was physical, so much so that four men had to carry him. The main problem from Jesus’ perspective, however, was spiritual and related to sin. Therefore, when Jesus saw their faith (the faith of the paralytic and of the four men who were carrying him), he decided to forgive. The faith that impressed him wasn’t based on knowledge of historical facts or doctrine. Rather, it arose from their profound conviction and desire to find Jesus and to depend entirely upon him.

So Jesus decided to fix first things first and to use the incident to make an important statement to the skeptical scribes, as well as to everyone else present. What good would it do in the long run to heal the man physically so that he could run and dance, if he continued to be spiritually dead in trespasses and sin, headed for eternal perdition?

2:6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there and thinking in their hearts,

2:7 Why does this fellow so blaspheme? Who can forgive sins but God only?

2:8 And Jesus, knowing afterward in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, said unto them, Why think ye these things in your hearts?

Jesus knew what the paralytic and his four friends were thinking, and he also knew what was in the hearts of the scribes. In this regard, his healing ministry was different from anything that had ever been seen before or since. Only God can forgive sins, and only God knows what goes on in the depths of the human heart.

According to most religious doctrine, in order for sins to be forgiven, the person must comply with certain requirements such as repentance, contrition, confession, sacrifice, restitution, or at least the recitation of a “sinner’s prayer.” Jesus forgave the man his sins based on the condition of his heart and on the fact that the immobile, helpless paralytic had managed to convince four friends to take him to Jesus no matter what. There is no religious sect, member of the clergy, or gifted human healer who can duplicate this, because none of them have the power to forgive sins.

Jesus continued:

2:9 What is easier to say to the paralytic, Thy sins are forgiven thee, or to say, Arise and take up thy bed and walk?

2:10 But that ye may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins (he spoke to the sick of the palsy),

2:11 I say unto thee, Arise and take up thy bed and go to thy house.

2:12 And by and by he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw anything like unto this.

They were all amazed and glorified God, including those among the scribes who had been skeptical. Contrast this with other situations when religious leaders asked for signs or miracles and Jesus refused because he and his Father saw that their hearts and minds were already determinedly set against him.

2:13 And he went again unto the sea; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.

Jesus preached and taught the word, and the signs and miracles followed. This was also the case when he sent forth his apostles. Today, unfortunately, there are many who attempt to do this backwards, by promising miracles in order to attract a crowd.

2:14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.

“Levi” means “joined to” or “united.” Levi is the name of the tribe of Israel that belonged totally to God and did not have an inheritance among their brethren (for God is their inheritance). The Levites were to be dedicated (or sanctified) to the exclusive service of the Lord. They were to be dedicated to the spiritual needs of all Israel.

Where did the Lord find Levi?

Jesus found Levi, the son of Alphaeus (meaning “successor”) sitting at the receipt of custom (together with the publicans – Jews working for government tax officials) collecting taxes for the Romans, who were the oppressors of the people of God. Needless to say, the tax collectors or publicans were greatly despised in Israel. It seems that some were also linked to usury. (Of note, a parallel passage in Matthew 9:9 describes what appears to be the same scene as the call of Matthew, who is apparently the same person as Levi.)

2:15 And it came to pass, that as Jesus sat at the table in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also at the table together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many and they had followed him.

2:16 And the scribes and Pharisees, seeing him eat with publicans and sinners, said unto his disciples, How is it that he eats and drinks with publicans and sinners?

2:17 When Jesus heard it, he said unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance.

Jesus continues to call sinners to repentance.

Where are many of the modern-day Levites, or ministers of the Lord?

They’re sitting at the receipt of custom taking tribute in the form of tithes and offerings from the people of God. Some of them seem to think that they have the concession on collecting the money that belongs to God and the kingdom of heaven. Conversely, throughout the course of the New Testament, there is no evidence of Jesus or any of the apostles ever asking for tithe money, or indeed for any money. There are, however, numerous examples of people being moved by the Holy Spirit to give generously. Many gave everything, including their lives.

Levi got up and left all the money and accounts to follow the Lord, and apparently many other publicans and sinners came along. Then they all sat down to eat and drink with Jesus over at Levi’s house. Unsurprisingly, the scribes and Pharisees, who would never even have thought of eating with anyone they considered unclean, found this behavior distasteful. It didn’t dawn on them that Jesus’ words and presence created a clean atmosphere wherever he went. Anyone who wholeheartedly followed Jesus and embraced his words with faith was cleansed of their previous sin and hypocrisy, but this phenomenon was outside the experience of any of the scribes and Pharisees, and they failed to understand or even recognize it.

Jesus’ ministry was radically different from anything that had ever been seen before. Most anyone else who hung out with the publicans and sinners would have become unclean and contaminated by them. Instead, Jesus can make publicans and sinners clean, like him.

The controversy surrounding Jesus didn’t just materialize at the end of his ministry. It was there from the very beginning.

2:18 And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees did fast and therefore came and said unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?

Fasting played a central part of the religion of the Jews. Every Sabbath day, they were not allowed to so much as light a fire in their kitchens, nor were they permitted to eat anything until sundown. Yet the prophets had foretold that the desire of the heart of God regarding true fasting is much deeper: Is not rather the fast that I have chosen, to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the ties of oppression, to release into freedom those who are broken, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to share thy bread with the hungry and that thou bring the poor that are cast out into thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou not hide thyself from thy brother? (Isaiah 58:6-7).

God wants us to understand that true fasting means denying ourselves by not feeding our own selfish ego. Instead, we are to reach out to help others and deliver others in the name of the Lord and the power of the Spirit. For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17), sweet liberty to do the will of the Lord.

The disciples of both John the Baptist and the Pharisees were concerned that the disciples of Jesus weren’t learning how to fast in the traditional way. Perhaps they felt that there was a lack of discipline among his followers.

2:19 And Jesus said unto them, Can those who are in a wedding fast while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

2:20 But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast in those days.

What did he mean?

Weddings always include a meal or supper, a symbol of the nourishment that the Lord has for us as we are in communion with him. While the Lord was here in person, speaking to the disciples directly and expounding on the Scriptures, it was wise for them to rejoice and dwell on every word he spoke. It was natural for them to enjoy every minute of his presence and every opportunity to eat and drink and fellowship with him.

Understanding about fasting is even more important after the bridegroom, that is, Jesus, has been taken away. This is the time to be very careful about what we feed on (particularly in the spiritual sense), and above all to abstain from feeding our own ego. This is when we need to understand that true fasting consists of resting from doing our own will so that we may do his will instead. When the Lord does not seem to be directly present, our discipline (or lack thereof) will be critical.

2:21 No one mends an old garment with a new piece of cloth, or else the new piece that filled it up tears away from the old, and the rent is made worse.

The Lord Jesus wasn’t sent to mend the old system of religious covering by applying a new patch. He didn’t come simply to repair the Old Testament system of animal sacrifices, intermediary priests, synagogues, external law, and innumerable manmade traditions. In Christ, all things are made new, not just patched up. His goal is to bring all of us into a direct, personal relationship with the Father.

2:22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, and the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are lost; but new wine must be poured into new wineskins.

Wine is a symbol of life. There is the old life of Adam that we are all born with, and the new life of Jesus Christ that we can only receive by being born again by the Spirit. The old wineskins represent the Old Testament religious order of those who attempted to keep the laws and decrees of God in their own strength. The new wineskins symbolize the many-membered body of the new man in Christ, led by the Spirit. If, by the Spirit, we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we shall live and become part of what the new wineskins represent, and we will be filled with the new wine of the life of Christ.

2:23 And it came to pass that as he went through the planted fields again on the sabbath day, his disciples began, as they walked, to pluck the ears of grain.

Jesus (who was still a young man, only thirty years old) hadn’t chosen his disciples from the ranks of the religious. At this point, he had named five disciples, starting with four fishermen and a publican tax collector named Levi (probably another name for Matthew). As Jesus walked through the fields on the Sabbath day with these uncouth disciples, the eyes of the religious were upon them (as is commonly the case where religious people are concerned).

2:24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?

The Pharisees assumed that it wasn’t lawful for anyone to do any work on the Sabbath, including something as trivial as plucking up ears of grain and eating them. However, they forgot something very important: God worked on the seventh day to finish creation before he rested (Genesis 2:2). Jesus didn’t come to do his own will or his own work; he came to do the will of his Father in heaven. Jesus had called these five disciples to follow him, and they had left everything (boats, nets, family, friends, money tables, business deals, etc.) for his sake. Now all six of them were walking according to the will of the Father. The Pharisees, however, regarded Jesus not as the Lord from heaven, but rather as a young rabbi wannabe.

2:25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did when he had need and was hungry, he and those that were with him?

2:26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to those who were with him?

David did this when he was much younger than Jesus was at the time, and the Pharisees had to have known that any comparison to David was connected with prophecy regarding the Messiah, whom all Israel expected.

2:27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath;

2:28 therefore the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath.

Calling himself the Son of Man was another red flag to any person who had studied the Old Testament, as it linked Jesus to the messianic prophecies of Ezekiel. The Messiah was to be prophet, priest, and king. What Jesus did and said now was linking him to all three realms.

The original phrase in Ezekiel translated Son of man includes a direct article and literally says Son of the man. So who is this man whose son Jesus claims to be?

He is referring to the man who received the promises of God, beginning with Abraham and going down the line, as the promises involved Isaac and Israel and all the way to David. Jesus is the prophesied son of David, while at the same time he is the lord of David and heir to all the promises of Scripture. Those promises include the one given to the seed of the woman who will crush the head of the serpent, the seed of Abraham who will inherit the world, and the seed of David who will reign over heaven and earth in an everlasting kingdom. Each time it occurs in these prophecies, the word seed is singular. Therefore, the only way for us to participate in these promises is through one person, Jesus Christ. The word Christ, meaning “anointed” in Greek, is the same as the word Messiah in Hebrew.

When Jesus clinched his case and said, Therefore the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath, it was the end of the discussion.

Let us pray.

Lord, we thank you for your Word. We ask that it may flow in fullness in our days. We ask that your Word will go forth and fulfill all your purposes and that your Word will effect health and salvation. Amen.

Chap 3. My Mother and My Brethren.

The kingdom of God as implemented by the Lord Jesus Christ is completely different from any leadership scheme ever implemented by men. Jesus made his decisions without consulting external sources, and in most cases, without even any visible or audible prayer to his Father. Jesus is clearly the model set forth in Scripture for all of us to follow. Once he was mature and in ministry (described by Mark as the beginning of the gospel of Jesus, the Christ, Son of God), he didn’t seek guidance or confirmation from prophets, parents, elders, or the clergy, from principles and values, or from any other external source. His heart was joined to the heart of his Father. He was the temple of his Father, and Jesus and the Father were in constant unbroken communion. This was the sole source of his guidance.

Two chapters into the gospel of Mark, Jesus is in clear conflict with the religious people and system of his day. He is not compatible with either the way the system operates or its goals and purposes. In fact, he has now become a serious threat to the system.

Mark 3

3:1 And he entered again into the synagogue, and there was a man there who had a withered hand.

The hand is a symbol of power and authority. On a previous visit to a synagogue, Jesus had delivered a man with an unclean spirit. On this present visit, he encountered a man with a withered hand. According to the law of Moses, no one with a serious physical defect such as this could exercise the priesthood. It should be remembered, however, that synagogues are not mentioned or even contemplated in Scripture. Similarly, the law stipulates that the seventh day is to be a day of rest, but no meetings or religious ceremonies are mentioned other than the annual feasts described in Leviticus 23.

A spiritual point for us to take note of is that nowadays, in what is presently the priesthood of all believers, it is impossible for us to represent the Lord in ministry properly if our spiritual hand is withered and we are thus unable to be a conduit for his power and authority.

3:2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day, that they might accuse him.

Instead of being anxious to see this man restored to fullness of service for God, they watched him so that they could accuse Jesus.3

3 The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, but the high feast days were also Sabbaths no matter what day they happened to fall on, according to the Jewish lunar-based calendar (Leviticus 23:3).

3:3 So he said unto the man who had the withered hand, Stand forth.

3:4 And he said unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days or to do evil? to save the person or to kill them? But they were silent.

Over the centuries, many religious people have been involved with killing others on “Sabbath” days. Even in Jesus’ day, history was filled with accounts of the carnage wrought by the Jews upon their own prophets. The history of the church has been much worse.

In the religion of men, the concept of God soon becomes twisted. Many religious people conceive of a God who is looking for people to judge, to kill, and to sink, instead of a God who seeks to heal and to save.

The religion of men does not know the heart of God.

3:5 And looking round about on them with anger, being grieved for the blindness of their hearts, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out and his hand was restored whole as the other.

If we know how to do good yet fail to do it, we sin (James 4:17).

Jesus decided not to wait another day. His decisions were all in accord with his Father, and this was the heavenly Father’s will. The vast majority of Jesus’ recorded miracles were done on the Sabbath day. The reader may know that we are now entering into the seventh millennium, which is the seventh prophetic day, and it is now, after six thousand years of the predominance of the religion of men, that we look forward to the direct intervention of God in our congregations. May unclean spirits be confronted and vanquished, even as our withered hands are restored.

What was going on in that synagogue did not reflect the heart of God. In fact, the spiritual leaders were misrepresenting him. They preferred to adhere to their unbending principles rather than let Jesus help someone in need. They had conceived a God who was seemingly impossible to please and who must be appeased by intermediaries like themselves, who pretended to broker order and discipline. In this way, they maintained their own religious kingdom according to the preconceived dogmas that they had defined and embellished with human intellect, even while moving further and further from the reality of the heart of God. Not only did they deny the power of God, but they attempted to isolate their people from any direct contact with him. As a result, their synagogues, and even the temple, became filled with and dominated by God’s enemies.

The Bible mentions the coming wrath of God. One of the few times in Scripture when Jesus reacted with anger was in response to the narrow-minded religious attitude of many in that synagogue when he and the Father decided to heal the man. Jesus was grieved at the blindness of their hearts and angered by their distorted priorities, but his anger was not primarily destructive. It brought forth the healing and restoration of someone who had been incapacitated and helpless for quite some time, even though it also resulted in a serious confrontation with the authorities.

3:6 And as the Pharisees went forth, they took counsel with the Herodians against him, to kill him.

Now the religious authorities began to consult with secular authorities (Herod was the puppet king set up by the Romans) to kill Jesus. It seems almost incredible that this was the reaction of these so-called religious persons to the demonstration of the glory of God.

Why would they react this way?

There is, unfortunately, a certain type of elitist mentality, both then and now, that reacts with great violence to any perceived threat to their power. The misdirected authority of the religious leaders in Jesus’ time now entered into a direct conflict with the authority of God, because the leaders did not want to lose control of the people. The Lord himself had visited them with a clear and powerful word that freed those bound by unclean spirits and healed those whom their defective and corrupt ministry had never been able to help, but this made no difference in their attitude. He was a threat to their power, and as such, he must be eliminated.

3:7 But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea

3:8 and from Jerusalem and from Idumaea and from beyond Jordan. And those who dwell around Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, hearing what great things he did, came unto him.

Jesus withdrew to the sea. In prophetic Scripture, the sea rep[1]resents lost humanity that is not in covenant with God. The fact that a great many people living near Tyre (“rock”) and Sidon (“fishing”) came to him means that the sea mentioned here wasn’t necessarily the Sea of Galilee, but could possibly have been the Mediterranean instead. Idumaea is the land of Edom (“red” or “having to do with Esau”), and the fact that the crowds included people from beyond Jordan is an indicator that people from outside the borders of Israel were now flocking to Jesus. If Jesus was operating outside the borders of Judaea up on the Mediterranean coast, this would have put him outside the judicial reach of both the temple leaders of Jerusalem and the Herodians.

3:9 And he spoke to his disciples that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him.

3:10 For he had healed many, insomuch that as many as had plagues pressed upon him to touch him.

Jesus had decided to touch and heal many. Now the people pressed in on him, hoping to touch him.

3:11 And the unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him and cried out, saying, Thou art the Son of God.

3:12 And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.

The unclean spirits knew Jesus and started telling the truth, yet the scribes sent from Jerusalem soon started saying that he had Beelzebub and that he cast out devils not by his own power, but by allying himself with the prince of the devils (Mark 3:22). The unclean spirits tried to appear as benign heralds of the truth, while simultaneously the scribes were attempting to tarnish Jesus by linking him to the devil. Satan does some of his most convincing work when he takes statements that are technically true but that allow him to present himself and his demons as angels of light, and he uses those statements in a way that does not line up with the will or the ways of God. He and his cohorts can operate in the supernatural, but they can never produce the godly character that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

When we seek something from God in our own lives, when we come to him in an attempt to get something for ourselves so that we can prosper as we go our own way, the devil doesn’t mind at all. In fact, he may even encourage us with flattery. It is only when people enter the real way of God and are willing to give up their own lives in order to do God´s will that the demons panic.

When we persist in the way of the Lord, the demons will become manifest, but they will have to leave off their disguise as angels of light and attack us head-on with every underhanded tactic they can devise. This is what the scribes and Pharisees soon decided to do regarding Jesus, even while the unclean spirits continued to attempt to deceive the multitudes.

3:13 And he went up to the mountain and called unto himself whom he would, and they came unto him.

3:14 And he established twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach

3:15 and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out devils:

Jesus called many unto himself, and they all came to him. For the work of the kingdom, however, he chose, or established, twelve, for many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). Many elect to follow the Lord, yet he chooses only a handful to represent him and to wield authority in his name.

Here are the twelve he selected:

3:16 Simon, whom he gave the name Peter;

3:17 and James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, whom he surnamed them Boanerges, which is The sons of thunder;

Note that the three disciples in his inner circle were given surnames, or what we might call nicknames, that relate to their personality or nature. “Simon” means “to hearken” (to hear and obey) and “Peter” means a “small rock” or “stone.” “James” is the English equivalent of “Jacob” (“heel-catcher” or“supplanter”). The name of the father of James and John, “Zebedee,” means “the LORD is a gift.”

3:18 and Andrew and Philip and Bartholomew and Matthew and Thomas and James the son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus and Simon the Canaanite

3:19 and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him; and they came home.

After traveling with Jesus for an undetermined length of time, probably several months, they came home to Nazareth in Galilee, where Jesus’ family home was located.

If we compare this with the other gospels, we find that the return to Nazareth occurred about the time that John the Baptist was beheaded (Luke 9:1-9). This was a sad day for Jesus, as he lost not only a cousin whom he loved, but an ally who had done great work in preparing the people for his advent.

Not long before learning of John the Baptist’s death, Jesus had said, Among those that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he (Matthew 11:11).

What did he mean?

The first half of the sentence is easy to understand. John the Baptist represents the best that we can aspire to in our own lives, with the aid of anointing and gifting from God. The second half is more difficult, because at first it sounds like a disparagement of John. However, even the least in the kingdom of the heavens will be operating out of the fullness of God´s life. Prior to Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, this was virtually impossible. John was one of the greatest born of women, but Jesus would open the way for us to be born again by the Holy Spirit so that we might come to maturity in Christ.

John was soon to lose his head, and if we are to represent the Lord in his kingdom with his power and authority (as the apostles did), it is necessary for us, too, to lose our heads (spiritually speaking), because there is only one head of the body of Christ, and that head is Jesus. The head is a symbol representing government, and we must come under the government of the Lord Jesus, not our own wishes and desires. Of course, many martyrs throughout history, like John the Baptist, were literally beheaded.

Under our own headship (or under the headship of some leader other than Jesus), we may be successful in many aspects of ministry and may even be blessed by God (as was John the Baptist). Nevertheless, we need to understand the revelation that John received prior to being imprisoned and beheaded, a revelation that caused him to say of his cousin Jesus, It is expedient unto him to increase, but unto me, to decrease (John 3:30).

If the Lord is to increase, then we must decrease. He must become our head so that we may function as members of his body. When this happens and we are truly committed to him, the consequences we may face in the natural world may be either negative or positive. There are, for example, prophetic hints at the negative consequences we may encounter (spiritually and/ or literally) in verses such as Revelation 6:9 and 20:4. On the positive side, however, when the chosen disciples went forth to preach under the headship of Jesus, having been granted power to heal sicknesses and cast out devils, the kingdom of God increased.

3:20 And the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.

3:21 And when his friends and family heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him; for they said, He is beside himself.

The multitude came together again in Nazareth. Here lived Jesus’ friends and family, who had seen him and been with him as he grew up in the small town and, perhaps not altogether surprisingly, could not conceive of him actually being the Christ. They thought he had gone insane and needed to be restrained.

3:22 But the scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said that he had Beelzebub and that by the prince of the devils he cast out devils.

Why did the scribes come down from Jerusalem as soon as they knew that Jesus was back in Nazareth? Because those who were increasingly concerned that the people would follow Jesus instead of the elite had sent the scribes to try to get things back under their control. The high priest and the Sanhedrin back in Jerusalem were the ones who were really “beside themselves.”

3:23 And he called them unto him and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?

3:24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot remain.

3:25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot remain.

3:26 And if Satan rises up against himself and is divided, he cannot remain, but has an end.

The venerable scribes, or doctors of the law, had now diagnosed the situation and had concluded that Jesus was operating under the direct control and power of Satan – or at least that is what they wanted the people to believe. The truth was precisely the opposite: the authorities were the ones who were working for the devil. In such a situation, it is not surprising that even Jesus’ childhood friends and family were confused.

Jesus used this occasion to call these scribes in to meet with him, and then he used parables to fire a prophetic shot over the bow of Satan, who was the real cause of the problem. In a previous encounter out in the wilderness, Satan had shown Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and had promised to give them to Jesus if he would bow down and worship him. The fact that all the kingdoms of the world belong to the devil explains why these kingdoms have never been able to get along: Satan’s kingdoms don’t operate on love and trust. Never having experienced true friendship among themselves, his minions view it with profound suspicion, and thus a high degree of strife and contention between the kingdoms is inevitable. Satan has been able to maintain control of the kingdoms of this world by fomenting division. Jesus prophesied to Satan’s messengers, the scribes, that on account of this internal division, the kingdoms of this world cannot remain, but will eventually have an end.

3:27 No man can enter into a strong man’s house and spoil his goods except he will first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house.

Who is the strong man referred to in this parable? Again, Jesus takes a direct shot at the corrupt rulers in Jerusalem and at Satan, who was ultimately behind them. Jesus was roaming loose inside the devil’s house and was spoiling his goods (that is, freeing the people whom Satan had been holding in bondage) by preaching the gospel, casting out unclean spirits, and healing those who were sick.

3:28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men and whatever blasphemies with which they shall blaspheme,

3:29 but whosoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit shall never have forgiveness but is obligated to eternal judgment,

3:30 because they said, He has an unclean spirit.

Most of the Jewish doctors of the law and religious theologians were teaching that the Messiah would come and put down the Roman conquerors with a massive army and overwhelming physical force. When Jesus came and put the focus on unclean spirits who had enslaved the people of God by operating inside the religious authorities, it was the Enemy who was soon beside himself. Jesus and the Father were willing to forgive all blasphemies by those who were deceived, confused, and misled. However, discernment is according to the fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). Those who observe the good work of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ (and in and through the body of Christ) and nevertheless blaspheme against the Holy Spirit are no longer deceived by the Enemy; on the contrary, they have joined him with their eyes wide open.

3:31 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.

3:32 The multitude was sitting all around him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brothers and sisters seek thee without.

When news spread of Jesus’ arrival at his hometown of Nazareth, his family and friends went out to lay hold of him because they said he was beside himself. Now, he seems to have actually arrived at the house where he lived as a child, which quickly became filled with a multitude. His mother and brothers and sisters, unable to get back inside their own home, sent word from outside that they wanted to have a discreet word with him.

It seems safe to deduce from all of the above that Jesus didn’t gradually ease himself into ministry. After John baptized him in the Jordan River, everything took off so quickly that now, only a few months later (probably six months at most), his mother and his siblings were having a very hard time assimilating the change.

3:33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother or my brethren?

3:34 And looking round about on those who sat about him, he said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

It was so packed inside the house that Jesus and his disciples had no privacy or room to even sit down and eat bread, yet the word of God was flowing as never before. In fact, in the highest sense, in the new covenant, we are the house. We are the temple of God, and Jesus desires to dwell inside of us and minister to us by the Holy Spirit.

3:35 For whosoever doeth the will of God, the same is my brother and my sister and my mother.

Those who were pressing in to hear Jesus were receiving the word and, being touched by his miracles, were doing the will of God. A centerpiece of the revolutionary message that Jesus shared was that it was part of his Father’s plan to incorporate people like you and me into the very family of God.

Jesus’ natural mother and brothers and sisters found themselves outside in the street, stunned and confused, because the kingdom that Jesus was preaching about was so radically different from the kingdoms of this world.

If Jesus had raised an army, if he had overthrown the garrison of Herod at Nazareth, if he were gathering forces for a march on Jerusalem to capture the city of David, perhaps their attitude would have been different. They might have understood that type of behavior, because it would have been typical of that time and place, whereas it seems that most of his natural friends and family didn’t understand what he was doing until after his death and resurrection.

Jesus was preaching about a kingdom that is not of this world, but that will eventually make itself visible here upon this earth. When the Bible mentions the “world” using the Greek word cosmos, it refers to what is primarily a system or manner of doing things that was started by Satan when he deceived Eve, triggered Adam’s rebellion against God, and thus introduced death and brought about the fall of creation. The world in this sense is quite different from the heavens and the earth that were created by God, even though the rebellion that began in the garden of Eden had far-reaching implications.

Jesus came to impose God’s way of doing things, and his kingdom begins in the invisible depths of the heart. He had neither the need nor the desire to raise an earthly army and attempt to take over the kingdoms of this world.

So after only three short chapters, this gospel account is filled with ever-increasing controversy. In order for the Lord to have faithful people in our day and faithful ministry that will represent him as he really is, this controversy must continue not only today, but into the future. Those who preach a gospel that is watered down or doctored up according to the religious systems of this world will be received with joy by at least some of those who are of this world. But anyone who preaches the true gospel of the kingdom of God will soon encounter the same type of diabolical resistance and defamation that Jesus faced from the very beginning of his ministry, emanating from the religious leaders of what was supposed to be the temple of God upon the earth. Two chapters and six verses into the gospel of Mark, they were already making plans to kill him.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father:

We ask that you might open the understanding of our hearts and minds so that we may understand the Scriptures, so that we may understand concerning the foundation of your kingdom, so that we may understand how to become part of your family. We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Chap 4. Sowing Seed.

Mark 4

4:1 And he began again to teach by the sea side, and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship and sat in the sea, and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.

4:2a And he taught them many things by parables

In the Scriptures, the sea can symbolize lost humanity; that is, those who are not converted and are not in covenant with God. Abraham was promised two types of descendants (Genesis 22:17): those like the sand of the seashore (natural descendants) and those like the stars of the heavens (spiritual descendants by faith). The beach or shore defines the limits of the sea and keeps it in check. This symbolizes what God did by giving the Law (the Pentateuch) to the Jews. It is fitting, therefore, that the multitude who were listening to the Lord were situated on the beach.

The Jews who attempt to keep the law in their own strength are the natural descendants of Abraham, like the sand of the seashore, and many legalistic Christians are in the same category. The shore forms the boundary between the land and the sea. Planting, cultivating, and harvesting are impossible in the sea and on the shore. They can only be carried out upon the dry land that lies beyond the seashore. This dry land is symbolic of our inheritance in Christ.

In these verses, the Lord is sitting in a ship upon the sea, offering God’s plan of redemption.

4:2b and said unto them in his doctrine,

4:3a Hearken;

To hearken means to hear and obey. As mentioned earlier, the name “Simon” means “hearkening.”

When the Lord speaks and we hearken, we can comply with what he says to us if we embrace his words with faith. The problem with Israel is that sometimes as individuals and repeatedly as a nation, they refused to hear the voice of the Lord. At Mount Sinai, they became fearful that they would die if they continued to hear God’s voice, and they sent Moses up the mountain to hear from God and report his message to them. This is how they got the law of God on tables of stone instead of having his word written on the tables of their hearts.

Under the Law (as laid out in the Pentateuch), the person, family, tribe, or nation that fails to keep even one point or commandment is guilty of breaking the entire law. This, of course, always led them to failure instead of blessing. They had been doing this for fifteen hundred years when Jesus came on the scene.

Jesus came to teach them (and us) that without faith, it is impossible to please God. The only one able to fulfill the law is Jesus Christ, because he is the only one who is perfect. By faith we may embrace his life, and his word will then penetrate our hearts and will grow and produce good fruit. Faith, of course, comes by hearing, and the ear to hear comes by the word of God (Romans 10:17).

4:3b Behold, the sower went out to sow;

Here Jesus is sowing the word in the form of a parable that requires wisdom from God if we are to understand its meaning.

4:4 and it came to pass as he sowed some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

4:5 And some fell on stony ground where it had not much earth, and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth;

4:6 but when the sun was up, it was scorched, and because it had no root, it withered away.

4:7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

4:8 And other fell on good ground and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased and brought forth: some thirty and some sixty and some a hundred.

4:9 And he said unto them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

There is a great deal of truth packed into these few verses, but ears to hear are required if we are truly to be able to hearken (hear and obey).

4:10 And when he was alone, those that were close to him with the twelve asked of him the parable.

4:11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto those that are without, all these things are done in parables,

Observe that there is a mystery of the kingdom of God, and that it is given to some to know the mystery, while others are without; that is, they are outside.

Outside of what?

Outside of the kingdom of God.

4:11b unto those that are without, all these things are done in parables,

What things?

All the truths that are hidden in the parables.

4:12 that seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand, lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

This isn’t even close to what many modern evangelists are preaching. Many seem clueless regarding the way of the cross (Matthew 10:38). They cherry-pick verses that they like (such as John 3:16) and shy away from others (such as 1 John 3:16). They fail to understand that the old man representing the old nature must die so that all things may become new in Christ, and that this may only be accomplished by the grace (power) of God. And here comes the real corker:

4:13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? How then will ye understand all the parables?

Why do I call this a corker? Because the words Jesus used should surely have been familiar to his listeners, since they refer to a well-known event in Scripture. The words form part of the description of what happened after the prophet Isaiah had a face-to-face encounter with the glory of God that was so intense that he said afterwards that it was as if he had been dead:

After this, I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I answered, Here am I; send me. Then he said, Go and tell this people, Hear indeed, but do not understand; and see indeed, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people fat and make their ears heavy and blind their eyes that they not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their heart, nor convert and there be healing for him. (Isaiah 6:8-10)

Why would God say such a thing to Isaiah and then have Jesus bring it up again hundreds of years later with the twelve who were so close to him?

Because God is warning all of us that he will not multiply that which is spiritually defective or unclean. If we truly desire to see God multiply his people, then we must be willing to divest ourselves individually and corporately of anything that he does not approve of.

Isaiah’s description continues:

And I said, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities are wasted without inhabitant and not a man in the houses, and the land is turned into desert, until the LORD has removed men far away, and there is great solitude in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall remain a tenth, and it shall return and shall be razed; as the teil tree and as the oak, of which the stump remains alive when they are cut down, likewise in these his stump shall remain holy seed. (Isaiah 6:11-13)

Isaiah, meaning “salvation of the LORD,” was a type and shadow of the Lord Jesus. Some time after Isaiah’s ministry, Israel was cut off and went into captivity in Babylon, from which only a tenth, or tithe (and under the law, the tithe belongs to the Lord), returned. Yet the prophecy states that even those who returned would be razed until all that remained was holy seed. After Jesus was killed by the Jews (as Isaiah and many other prophets had been killed), this prophecy by both Isaiah and Jesus was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem about AD 70. The only thing that remained out of all of this was holy seed – the body of Christ.

Jesus was the grain of seed that fell into the ground and died to produce a harvest in kind. Almost all of those who were close to him ended up giving their lives for him. Some, like John, died a natural death but went down in God’s book as martyrs because they willingly and repeatedly put their lives on the line for the cause of Jesus Christ and the gospel. A refrain of the early church was that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. For those who have given up their own way and put their lives on the line for the Lord Jesus Christ, it doesn’t matter to them whether they live or die. Paul wrote that for him to live was Christ and to die was gain (Philippians 1:21). He also said that someone could make a grand gesture by giving his body to be burned, but if he didn’t have the love of God, it would all be in vain (1 Corinthians 13:3).

Many in our modern Laodicean church seem to be clueless about this mystery of the kingdom of God and about the significance of the following parable, which Jesus said was so important that if we don’t understand it, it is doubtful that we would be able to understand any of the others. Let’s take another look:

4:11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto those that are without, all these things are done in parables,

4:12 that seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand, lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

4:13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this par[1]able? How then will ye understand all the parables?

Who is the “them” that are being addressed?

They are those who are close to Jesus, those who are his disciples and apostles, who are willing to follow him no matter what.

4:14 The sower is he who sows the word.

4:15 And these are those by the way side, in whom the word is sown, but when they have heard, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.

4:16 And likewise these are those who are sown on stony ground, who when they have heard the word immediately receive it with gladness

4:17 but have no root in themselves and are temporal; afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

Temporal is the opposite of eternal. Those who are temporal are short-sighted and seek the things and comforts of this world instead of eternal treasure. Many who seek God do so only to help them get what they want, rather than being willing to lay down their own lives and do what God wants.

4:18 And these are those who are sown among thorns, such as hear the word,

4:19 and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts of other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

4:20 And these are those who are sown in good ground, such as hear the word and receive it and bring forth fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.

The problems and obstacles to the spread of the gospel, described here as the impervious wayside, the stony ground, and the thorns, all have something in common; namely, that in one way or another, they relate to the curse (Genesis 3:14-19).

The only ground or earth where thorns and briers do not grow is the ground where there is no curse, and here upon the earth, the only place where there is no curse is in Christ. If we attempt to apply the principles and values of the gospel to the confines of our own life, the best result we can expect is that the seed will grow in the midst of thorns and briers, and these will eventually choke the word so that it becomes unfruitful. This will make us spiritually sterile because, as any farmer knows, the seed is in the fruit.

But God doesn’t want us to be sterile. He fervently desires for us to bear good fruit and to multiply thirty, sixty, or a hundred fold for the kingdom of God. (Thirty is symbolic of maturity, sixty is a double portion, and one hundred is the fullness of the plan of God.) If we cling to the life of Adam, however, to carnal life in the flesh, this will never happen. Only as we yield to the Spirit of God will the life of Christ grow and dominate our being. In Christ, we’ll be the seed that was sown in good ground. In him, we will be under the blessing of God instead of under the curse.

In fact, as we have seen, the explanation and the significance of all Jesus’ parables are veiled from those who are not his serious disciples (or followers).

4:21 And he also said unto them, Is the lamp brought to be put under the bushel or under the bed? and not to be set in the lampstand?

Lampstands are significant in Scripture. Each golden lamp[1]stand in the temple had seven lamps of fire, and Solomon’s temple had ten such lampstands in the Holy Place. In the book of Revelation, the lampstand is a symbol of the Word of God (Jesus Christ), who is the light of the world. It is in the light of Jesus that we may understand the mysteries of God.

The Holy Place of the Jewish temple was veiled off from the ark of the presence of God and from the common people. Only the Levitical priests could minister there. Until the arrival of Jesus, the lampstand (representing the Word) had been hidden away in the Holy Place, and the priests had been doing a poor job of ministering a secondhand word to the people. The scribes and priests had, in effect, placed this precious light under a bushel. Jesus came to put his light into us and make possible the priesthood of all believers (Matthew 5:14-16; Revelation 1:20).

4:22 For there is nothing hid which shall not be manifested; nor secret which shall not be exposed.

In the temple, the lampstand was hidden, and the ark of the presence of God under the covering wings of the cherubim was secret. Jesus was to bring about the manifestation of the light of the Word of God in a body of many members, and he would open the way for the members of the body of Christ to know the secret of the Father. There would be a new priesthood after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:3-4).

Ultimately, the fullness of the presence of the resurrected Jesus Christ and of the Father will judge and cleanse the earth.

4:23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.

Remember, faith comes by hearing and the ear to hear by the word of God (Romans 10:17).

4:24 And he also said unto them, Take heed what ye hear; with the measure ye measure by, ye shall be measured by others, and unto you that hear shall more be added.

We can measure what we hear either by man’s criteria or by God’s, and if we truly tune in to hear and obey the voice of God, more shall be added.

Bear in mind that Jesus is expounding all this to a multitude, while the religious leaders are claiming that his power comes from the prince of the demons, and while his own family has expressed doubts about whether he is in his right mind and has been willing to physically restrain him.

Jesus is saying that we must measure what we hear from the spiritual realm and discern what is from God. Moreover, the measure of discernment (or lack thereof) that we demonstrate will be taken into account by others.

4:25 For he that has, to him shall be given; and he that has not, from him shall be taken even that which he has.

He that has what?

Discernment to hear the voice of God.

Those who have acquired an ear to hear the word (voice) of God shall be given more faith, for faith comes by hearing.

4:26 He also said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground

4:27 and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring forth and grow up, he knows not how.

4:28 For the earth brings forth fruit of herself: first the blade, then the ear, after that the full grain in the ear.

The word planted in our hearts is compared to a seed of wheat that springs forth from the ground and grows. We can’t see it grow before our eyes, but we can observe that over the course of nights and days, it goes through three stages of maturity.

First comes the blade, or green grass – the easily digested nourishment that can feed and nurture even those who are carnal, as they take in historical facts, laws, and spiritual principles. This is like cattle being fattened in a pasture.

Second is the ear, or the flower. This may be compared to gifts and ministries (spiritual or natural). The flower, however, is of relatively short duration and is not an end in itself. God is looking for the full grain in the ear. We know that the grass withers, the open flower fades; but the word of our God shall stand for ever (Isaiah 40:8).

4:29 But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he puts in the sickle because the harvest is come.

Remember that it is the mature fruit of the word of God that shall stand forever, and the seed is in the fruit. However, that seed may be corruptible or incorruptible, depending on whether the word that is preached comes from man or from God. The apostle Peter tells us:

Love one another with a pure heart fervently, being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. (1 Peter 1:22b-25)

Mark continues:

4:30 He also said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we compare it?

4:31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that are in the earth;

4:32 but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs and shoots out great branches, so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.

Our entrance and participation in the kingdom of God is linked to our faith. Although our faith may start out small, with the right nourishment it can grow and grow until we are completely victorious. Jesus said, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove from here to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matthew 17:20).

What is faith?

Faith is confidence in the Lord instead of in ourselves. Faith is believing what he says instead of what everyone else may tell us. Even a small measure of faith can grow and shoot out great branches to provide welcoming shade.

When the sower sowed the seed by the wayside, the fowls of the air came and devoured it. Jesus said that this was the work of Satan. In these verses, however, he also tells us that anyone with faith, even faith as tiny as a grain of mustard seed (one of the smallest seeds), may see that faith (and the effects of the faith) grow to such an extent that birds can rest in its shadow. Think about the spiritual implications! This means that our faith, when demonstrated to the world, may neutralize the effects of the Evil One until those who used to work for the devil come under the covering provided by God.

4:33 And with many such parables he spoke the word unto them as they were able to hear it.

4:34 But without a parable he did not speak unto them; and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.

Those who read and study the Scriptures (the written Word of God) without the light and insight of the Holy Spirit will only find the realm of the grass that withers and the flower that fades and falls away. If we are to understand, we must have intimate fellowship in the realm of faith with Jesus and the Father, by the Holy Spirit.

4:35 And that same day, when evening was come, he said unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.

4:36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

4:37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

4:38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow; and they awoke him and said unto him, Master, dost thou not care that we perish?

4:39 And as he arose, he rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

4:40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?

4:41 And they feared exceedingly and said one to another, Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

The wind typifies the spiritual realm (including angels as well as demons), and the sea represents the sea of lost humanity. When Jesus gives the order, everyone – even the demons – must obey him.

So, as the storms of life rage around us, why is it that Jesus so often seems to us to be asleep? Why doesn’t he intervene immediately instead of waiting until the storm is at its peak and our boat is about to sink? In the midst of extreme difficulties, our prayer is like that of the disciples: Master, dost thou not care that we perish?

We must understand that God has his reasons for allowing the effects of the wills of the creatures that he has created to run their course and demonstrate their ultimate consequences. This present world is heading into a grand finale of hopelessness and despair in which everyone will soon perish unless Jesus intervenes and rebukes the “wind” and the “sea.”

Jesus’ word to his shaken disciples (including us) is Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father:

We ask that we may not only have spiritual ears to hear your word, but also spiritual eyes to see things from your perspective. We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Chap 5. Go Home to Thy Friends.

Mark 5

5:1 And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.

Gadarenes are descendants or residues of the tribe of Gad, which means “seer” (in a manner linked to inheritance or good fortune). Gad can also mean a “troop” or “army.”

As Jesus and his disciples sailed to the coast of the country of the Gadarenes, a traumatic and terrible storm had just made a lasting impression on the disciples, because they still didn’t have enough faith to see things from God’s perspective.

Now they came to an entire country inhabited by people who had lost their spiritual ability to see, and they were overrun by the enemy until virtually everything in the region had become spiritually dead and unclean.

5:2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him a man of the tombs, with an unclean spirit,

5:3 who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, no, not with chains,

5:4 because many times he had been bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been broken in pieces by him, and the fetters shattered; neither could anyone tame him.

5:5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and hurting himself with stones.

A man of the tombs has to do with dead religion. A “man” can symbolize a certain ministry or authority, and the two men (described in another gospel account) would be symbolic of a corporate authority (Matthew 8:28). Fetters and chains made of iron and brass are symbols of law and judgment that could not tame this unclean power that was backed up by a legion of demons.

Always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs (this man was in the strongholds of power and in dead religion) crying out and hurting himself with stones. Stones have to do with the dead letter and ritual that kills (the unbelieving children of Israel, for example, received the law inscribed on two stones). Under the law, serious infractors were sentenced to be stoned to death.

Is there a spiritual application of any of this today? Are there any modern countries where unclean power and authority is running rampant and everyone is terrorized?

5:6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him.

The power of all the demons combined could not prevent the man from coming to Jesus.

5:7 Crying out with a loud voice, he said, What hast thou with me, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.

5:8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.

5:9 And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion, for we are many.

Even though the man was physically able to come and throw himself at Jesus’ feet, when Jesus spoke to him, it was a demon that answered.

This is the only time, when dealing with unclean spirits, that Jesus asked them their name. Every other time he silenced them and ordered them to come out. One reason Jesus asked this question was undoubtedly to show us that one person can be possessed by many demons. This isn’t necessarily an endorsement for us to ask every demon that we encounter to tell us its name, however.

5:10 And he besought him much that he would not send him away out of that country.

From this and other passages of Scripture, we can deduce that some demons are territorial.

5:11 Now near unto the mountains there was a great herd of swine feeding,

5:12 and all those devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.

In Scripture, swine are considered unclean animals and they represent those who not only are unclean, but who enjoy being that way. Jesus told us not to cast our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). He doesn’t offer precious pearls of truth to those who insist on remaining unclean. This is why he spoke in parables that require spiritual discernment if they are to be fully understood. The precious things that we have learned with pain and great difficulty are not to be given to pigs.

5:13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out and entered into the swine, and the herd fell over a cliff into the sea (they were about two thousand) and were choked in the sea.

The unclean demonic spirits took the entire herd of pigs over the cliff to their destruction and ruin. The number two thousand is symbolically linked to the Gentiles (in this context, to those whose hearts are not clean) and to the age of the Gentiles. At the end of this age, the wicked will be removed from among the righteous, and according to prophecy, the demons will play a role in this. In the end, evil will turn upon itself.

5:14 And those that fed the swine fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people went out to see what it was that had happened.

Here we have two groups of people: those who fed the swine and those who went out to see what had happened. These two groups are still prevalent today. There are those who feed natural, unclean people an unclean message of what they want to hear (about how to prosper in the things of this world), and there are those whose curiosity impels them to see what has happened every time they hear a report of a tragedy on the news. Unfortunately, most look at the news with their natural eyes and fail to see things from God’s perspective. Jesus said, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8). Those whose hearts aren’t clean will never have eyes to see what God is really doing, and therefore will not perceive God as he really is.

5:15 And they come to Jesus and see him that was tormented by the demon and had the legion sitting and clothed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.

5:16 And those that saw it told them what happened to him that had the demon and also concerning the swine.

5:17 And they began to plead with him to depart out of their borders.

Apparently, even in the face of such an astounding testimony of the grace and mercy of God, the consensus of the people who lived in that country was that Jesus should be asked to leave so that they could continue to feed and profit from unclean swine (incidentally, the consumption of pork was against the law practiced by the Jews). The devil promotes division, and it doesn’t matter to him whether he succeeds in trapping people in legalism (like the scribes and Pharisees) or in licentiousness (which was prevalent among the Gadarenes). The unclean spirits love to operate in either realm. 5:18 And as he was entering into the ship, he that had been troubled by the demon besought him that he might be with him.

5:19 But Jesus suffered him not but said unto him, Go home to thy friends and family and tell them what great things the Lord has done with thee and how he has had mercy on thee.

Even though Jesus was asked to leave the country, he decided that it would be best if the man who had been troubled by the demons went home, as a witness to his friends and family of the power and mercy of God. Something like this is unlikely to happen among most religious groups today. Even if someone were delivered of a legion of demons, that person would be placed in rehab and then thoroughly indoctrinated at a Bible school or discipleship program, after which the person might possibly be sent out as a missionary. There are, however, only two basic requirements for ministry: to be clean and to have been sent by Jesus.

5:20 And he went and began to publish in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done with him, and everyone marveled.

There is no more powerful gospel message than a personal testimony of deliverance and a transformed life. I find it very interesting that when Jesus came back through the same region some time later, he was well received (Mark 7:31-8:9). In fact, the feeding of the four thousand seems to have been in that area.

5:21 And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, a great multitude gathered unto him, and he was near the sea.

5:22 And one of the princes of the synagogue came, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet

5:23 and besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lies at the point of death; come and lay thy hands on her that she may be saved, and she shall live.

“Jairus” means “the LORD enlightens.” His world had become very dark with the impending death of his little daughter, so he lived up to his name and sought the Lord for light and salvation.

5:24 And Jesus went with him; and a great multitude followed him and thronged him.

5:25 And a certain woman, who had an issue of blood twelve years

5:26 and had suffered many things of many physicians and had spent all that she had and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse;

5:27 when she heard of Jesus, came from behind among the multitude and touched his garment.

Here are two women. One has had an issue of blood that has rendered her unclean for twelve years, and the other is a young girl, twelve years old, who grew so sick that she died. Twelve is a number that is linked to childhood and immaturity, but also to divine order; a “woman” can represent a congregation or even the entire people of God. This account symbolizes the concept that the Jewish nation under law would never live long enough to leave spiritual childhood, and that for the entire time of the nation under law (fifteen hundred years for the nation and twelve years for this woman), the people had been unclean. None of the physicians or doctors of the law had been able to remedy this life-threatening situation, for even though the “woman” had spent all that she had, she was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.

Scripture states that our own righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), and the Hebrew word translated as “filthy rags” literally refers to menstruation, which rendered a woman ritually unclean. Under the law, if an unclean person touches someone else, then that person becomes unclean also. There were rites for purification, but these are somewhat complicated (see the book of Leviticus).

5:28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be saved.

5:29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

Instead of Jesus becoming unclean when the contaminated woman touched his clothes, she was instantly healed. The woman immediately knew what had happened, and so did Jesus. This was not a delayed reaction.

5:30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned to the crowd and said, Who touched my clothes?

Jesus’ clothes were his physical covering, but his spiritual covering was his heavenly Father. By faith, the unclean woman had just made contact with the power and presence of God, and she would never be the same.

5:31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee and sayest thou, Who touched me?

As the disciples were attempting to protect Jesus and muscle him through the boisterous crowd while he was being jostled on all sides, something very special had happened, but they were unaware of its significance.

5:32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.

5:33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him and told him all the truth.

5:34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith has made thee saved; go in peace and remain whole of thy plague.

This woman didn’t recite a prayer, raise her hand when no one was looking, or go forward in an altar call. She pressed though the immense crowd with great determination until she was able to touch Jesus’ clothes, which triggered her immediate healing, and then Jesus pronounced her salvation. There were many who were pushing and shoving and bumping Jesus, but only this woman received direct confirmation of her salvation from the mouth of the Lord. Many teachers tell us that we must receive the Lord, and this is true; but it is even more important for him to receive and acknowledge us when he approves of the status of our hearts.

5:35 While he yet spoke, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain who said, Thy daughter is dead; why troublest thou the Master any further?

5:36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he said unto the prince of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.

Believing in Jesus means placing our complete trust and confidence in him. Fear runs directly counter to belief. The fearful and unbelieving are first on the list of those who shall perish and never be allowed into the holy city of God (Revelation 21:8).

5:37 And he suffered no one to follow him, except Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.

5:38 And they came to the house of the prince of the synagogue and saw the tumult and those that wept and wailed greatly.

5:39 And when he was come in, he said unto them, Why make ye this ado and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleeps.

5:40 And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he took the father and the mother of the damsel and those that were with him and entered in where the damsel was lying.

Jesus kept speaking encouraging words to Jairus, who continued to follow him step by step until he and his wife, together with Jesus and his three disciples, entered in where their dead daughter was lying.

5:41 And taking the damsel by the hand, he said unto her, Talitha cumi, which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.

5:42 And straightway the damsel arose and walked, for she was twelve years old. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.

5:43 And he charged them straitly that no one should know it and commanded that something should be given her to eat.

At Jesus’ command, straightway the damsel arose and walked, for she was twelve years old. Why was it important to mention her age?

In those days, twelve years of age was known as the age of accountability or decision. Jesus, for example, was twelve when he went to the temple and stated that he must be about his Father’s business. The entire Jewish nation (after fifteen hundred years of law) was now at the age of accountability, when they must choose the blessing or the curse. The people, like the little girl, were dead in trespasses and sin when Jesus arrived on the scene. They now had the opportunity to either recognize him as their Messiah or dismiss him as delusional.

Many of them made the wrong choice.

Some, like Jairus and his wife, made the decision to seek Jesus, and they did so desperately. A remnant began to walk with him and listen to his words that encouraged them not to fear, but only to believe. They paid no attention to those who, with human logic, told them, Thy daughter is dead; why troublest thou the Master any further? They made it past the tumult of those who professionally wept and wailed greatly even while they laughed him to scorn, because they didn’t really believe that he was the promised Messiah who could resurrect the people of God.

Those who believed were raised up from their deathbed of doomed religion, and like the young girl, they began to “walk” and to “eat” according to the word of the Lord.

At the time of his miracle with Jairus’ daughter, Jesus charged them straitly that no one should know it, because it was not yet the right time. Only five witnesses saw what really happened. Now, at the end of the age of the church, Jesus will soon put on display his mature bride, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.

Let us pray.

Lord, we ask that we may have ears to hear and obey your word so that our faith may increase until we have eyes to see the fullness of your plan and purpose for us. May we turn our back on fear and believe you so that we may walk with you by faith and eat only what you prescribe. Amen.

Chap 6. Is This Not the Carpenter?.

Mark 6

6:1 And he went out from there and came into his own country, and his disciples followed him.

We are now at the beginning of the seventh millennium, the prophetical Sabbath day, for with God, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years are as a day (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8). Jesus will soon return and come again into his own country to gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth unto the uttermost part of the heaven (Mark 13:27). And the question remains, when the Son of Man returns, will he find people of faith upon the earth (Luke 18:8)? At his first coming, he was rather disappointed.

6:2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue; and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From where has this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him and such mighty works that are wrought by his hands?

6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joses and of Juda and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

Up until the age of thirty, Jesus was known as a carpenter. After the death of his stepfather, Joseph, it is likely that Jesus helped to form his four natural brothers as carpenters. And after his own death and resurrection, Jesus called all of his faithful disciples his brothers. Even though his half-brothers and half-sisters initially had trouble believing him, this all changed in the end. This prophecy from Zechariah 1:20 may shed some light: And the LORD showed me four carpenters. (Jesus had four earthly half-brothers, but the number four also has heavenly significance, being associated with the fourth day of creation, when God created the sun, moon, and stars.)

Then I said, What do these come to do? And he spoke, saying, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no one lifted up his head, but these are come to cause them to tremble, to cut down the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it. (Zechariah 1:21)

Horns symbolize power. Many Jews were offended with Jesus, and therefore stumbled, because they thought that the Messiah should raise an army and deliver their nation from the heavy hand of the Roman Gentiles. Jesus, however, raised up a brother hood of spiritual carpenters who, ever since, have been cutting off the real source of power of unconverted Gentiles by dealing with the issues of the heart.

As Mark shows us, though, in the early days, Jesus encountered skepticism, even in his own hometown.

6:4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not dishonoured except in his own country and among his own kin and in his own house.

When Jesus returned to the house of his earthly father, Joseph, in Nazareth, at first the other family members thought he was crazy and needed to be locked up. And when he came to his heavenly Father’s house, the temple at Jerusalem, the reaction was even worse.

6:5 And he could do no mighty work there except that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk and healed them.

How is it possible that Jesus (who is almighty God) could do no mighty work there?

Jesus chose to respect the will of these people and decided not to force himself on them. This attitude was obviously in agreement with the will of the Father. In Jesus’ ministry, he preached the word, and the signs and wonders followed to confirm the word in the hearts of those who believed – not the other way around.

Jesus wasn’t interested in showing off to impress carnal followers who were looking for a bread-and-butter king who would give them the things of this world. This is why he spoke to the multitudes in parables, that seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand, lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them (Mark 4:12).

The vast majority of Jesus’ miracles were done in response to someone who demonstrated extraordinary faith.

6:6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went through the villages round about, teaching.

In his own country he went about teaching, and very few believed. Jesus marveled at few things, but the lack of faith among his own countrymen was one of them.

6:7 And he called unto him the twelve and began to send them forth by two and two and gave them power over the unclean spirits

6:8 and commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey except a staff only: no provision bag, no bread, no money in their purse;

6:9 but be shod with sandals and not put on two coats.

We cannot obtain power over unclean spirits simply by examining the Scriptures closely and looking for a magic formula. Unclean spirits are not afraid of us. They are, however, terribly afraid of Jesus. We can have power over unclean spirits only if Jesus gives it to us on an individual basis.

What is an unclean spirit in this context?

The first thought that comes to mind is that it could be a demon, and this is true; but each of us has a spirit given to us by our Creator, and our spirit may be clean or contaminated. Those who have an unclean spirit will always resist, oppose, and attempt to sabotage what God is doing through those who have a clean spirit. Our spirit will only be clean when we yield to the Holy Spirit and allow the fire of the presence of God to cleanse us.

When our heart and spirit are clean, God can use us. If he chooses to send us, we need no other provision. The sandals represent the preparation and on-the-job training that Jesus gave his disciples as they walked with him in ministry. The staff represents his upright authority. Having no bag of provisions, no bread, and no money in our purse means that we are not to go forth on our own resources or with some preconceived human strategy, because man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3). The fact that there is to be no money in our personal purse does not mean that there is no money in God’s purse. As we walk in his authority and feed on what he says, he will provide our need, and everything that we have will really be his. When Jesus sends us into ministry, we are not to put on two coats. We must be under his exclusive authority or covering.

6:10 And he said unto them, In whatever place ye enter into a house, there abide until ye depart from that place.

Those sent out by Jesus are not to jump around from house to house within a certain locality. If we stay in the same house with the same family, not only do we have a base of operations, but the family that we stay with is discipled and will continue to be a light to the community after we leave.

6:11 And whosoever shall not receive you nor hear you, when ye depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet in testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment than for that city.

When Jesus sends us forth, if we are received, then Jesus is received; and if Jesus is received, then his Father is received. Those who receive Jesus’ messengers also receive great blessing and reward. There is a flip side to this, however. Those who reject the messengers and the message go on record as rejecting the Lord. This means that there will be extremely serious consequences for them on the day of judgment.

Remember that there are many who have gone forth to evangelize without the staff of Jesus’ righteousness and authority (and therefore without any real power over unclean spirits). They carry a huge bag (a burden) of “provisions” in the form of religious paraphernalia and “bread” that is leavened with the slant of their particular doctrinal persuasion. Having money in their purse (rather than relying on God’s purse) is a big deal to them. Jesus described such people as compassing sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, they make him twofold more a son of hell than themselves (Matthew 23:15). It is therefore essential that the wrong messengers, the ones who have not been sent by Jesus, be rejected.

6:12 And they went out and preached that men should repent.

6:13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many that were sick, and they were healed.

I find it interesting that the New Testament does not mention any instance of Jesus anointing the sick with oil (the name “Christ” or “Messiah” means “anointed one”) even though this was standard practice among his disciples and apostles. It was also something that had been practiced by the prophets of old. However, this may simply mean that Jesus was operating in the fullness of the reality of the kingdom of God, beyond the symbols associated with the age of the law or the age of grace.

6:14 And king Herod heard of him (for his name was spread abroad), and he said, John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and therefore virtues operate in him.

6:15 Others said, It is Elijah. And others said, It is the prophet or one of the prophets.

6:16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, This is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.

“Herod” means “hero” or “heroic,” or bigger than life. Herod was a Jewish puppet king set up by the Romans, and they retained the ultimate power and control. The concept of what the Greek name “Herod” represents in Hebrew goes all the way back to antediluvian times: There were giants in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore sons to them, the same became mighty men who were of old, men of renown (Genesis 6:4).

Adam was known as a son of God (Luke 3:38). On the other hand, to the ancients, Eve (who was taken out of Adam) and women in general were known as daughters of men. Under God’s government, he creates a special woman for every man. Things went rapidly downhill after the fall, when the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair, and they took for themselves wives of all whom they chose (Genesis 6:2). This made it impossible for rebellious human generations and bloodlines to progress according to the will of God. Remember that Satan was now paranoid about trying to stop the seed of the woman whom God had prophesied would bruise the head of the serpent, Satan (Genesis 3:14-15).

As things went from bad to worse, with the ancient men of renown (the Herods) taking whatever women they chose, GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5).

King Herod and his wicked wife, Herodias (feminine form of Herod in Greek), continued in exactly the same type of wickedness and evil that triggered the judgment of the flood upon the ancient world while the giant men of renown were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark (Matthew 24:38).

As Mark describes it:

6:17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife, for he had married her.

6:18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.

6:19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him and would have killed him, but she could not;

6:20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and respected him; and when he heard him, he did many things and heard him gladly.

Herod might not have been quite so evil if not for Herodias. At least he still had a conscience and thought that Jesus must be the resurrection of John the Baptist, whom he felt guilty about having killed.

6:21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his princes and tribunes and to the principal people of Galilee;

6:22 and when the daughter of Herodias came in and danced and pleased Herod and those that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it unto thee.

6:23 And he swore unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it unto thee, unto the half of my kingdom.

Herod was celebrating his own life on his birthday, showing off in front of all his friends and subjects, and he made a terrible mistake that would haunt him for the rest of his life.

6:24 And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.

What a way to ruin a birthday party!

6:25 And she came in with haste unto the king and asked, saying, I will that thou give me immediately in a platter the head of John the Baptist.

6:26 And the king was exceeding sorry, yet for his oath’s sake and for the sakes of those who sat with him, he would not reject her.

The spirit of Herod and Herodias has been at work since time immemorial. The desire of the individual (Herod) to be a hero, to be larger than life, has inspired many would-be kings, dictators, and politicians. Even though they pride themselves on their good judgment and principles, they are very susceptible to the groupthink represented by Herodias and her daughter. I have known many people who could normally be counted on to do the right thing individually, and yet these same seemingly conscientious individuals, when operating as part of a secular government, political party, non-governmental organization, or ecclesiastical organization, consistently yield to “Herodias” and do the politically correct, yet morally wrong, thing as part of the performance they’re putting on for the general public. Their knee-jerk reaction, always, is to consult with the peers of their group rather than follow their individual conscience.

In this example, Herod (representing the individual) has a conscience; Herodias (representing the group, government, or organization) does not.

6:27 And straightway the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought, and he went and beheaded him in the prison

6:28 and brought his head in a platter and gave it to the damsel, and the damsel gave it to her mother.

6:29 And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse and laid it in a tomb.

John the Baptist knew that he must decrease so that the Lord Jesus could increase. Interestingly, about the time that John the Baptist literally had his head chopped off, the disciples were sent forth in ministry under the headship of Jesus with wonderful results. From this time on, they were called apostles. Again I would remind you that if we are to reign and rule with Christ (Revelation 20:4), it is absolutely essential for us to come out from under our own headship and completely submit to Jesus as our head. 6:30 And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus and told him everything they had done and what they had taught. results. From this time on, they were called apostles. Again I would remind you that if we are to reign and rule with Christ (Revelation 20:4), it is absolutely essential for us to come out from under our own headship and completely submit to Jesus as our head.

6:30 And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus and told him everything they had done and what they had taught.

How many modern-day Christian workers take some time off on a regular basis to find a quiet place and tell Jesus everything they’ve done and taught? There are times when we need to go over every detail with him about what we’ve said and done, in order to make sure that he is well pleased.

6:31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest a while; for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

Jesus is no slave driver. Even though there are times when, by the Holy Spirit, he will compel us to do something with great urgency, he also desires for us to have sweet times of rest and relaxation in his company.

6:32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.

6:33 And many saw them departing and knew him and ran there afoot out of the cities and arrived before them and came together unto him.

6:34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw a great multitude and had mercy on them because they were as sheep not having a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.

Even though Jesus had planned a time of rest for himself and for his disciples, he decided to have mercy on the shepherdless multitude.

6:35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed;

6:36 send them away that they may go into the country round about and into the villages and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat.

6:37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said unto him, Shall we go and buy bread for two hundred denarius and give them to eat?

Jesus himself was the bread of life that descended from heaven. Never, in over four thousand years of human history, had such nourishing spiritual food been seen or even heard of. Still, people who had come to hear him needed physical nourishment as well, and the disciples were worried that since it was late in the day and they were in a desert place, there was no place nearby where the people could buy food. They considered themselves to be Jesus’ “handlers” and felt that it was their job to inform him of all the practical details that he had apparently overlooked.

Jesus must have had a grin on his face when he ordered his disciples, Give ye them to eat. The disciples had been given power and authority, yet they still lacked vision (don’t we all?), and without prophetic vision, the people shall perish (Proverbs 29:18). The disciples thought it would take two hundred denarius (two hundred days’ wages) to buy enough bread to feed all the people.

6:38 He said unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they said, Five, and two fishes.

6:39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.

6:40 And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties.

Five is a number that can symbolize God’s mercy and grace. Two has to do with a corporate body, or a remnant of faithful Jews that Jesus wanted to multiply. God was pouring out his mercy and grace upon those whom he was fishing into his kingdom. The people were commanded to sit down upon the grass (symbolic of how the Word comes forth) in ranks like an army, with companies of fifty (symbolic of Pentecost and the coming church age) and a hundred (symbolic of the plan of God).

6:41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to his disciples to set before them, and the two fishes he divided among them all.

6:42 And they all ate and were filled.

6:43 And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments and of the fishes.

6:44 And those that ate were five thousand men.

The twelve baskets that were left over symbolize divine order, and five thousand men is symbolic of the perfection of God’s mercy and grace upon humanity. On another occasion, Jesus said, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). When God provides, there is enough and more than enough.

6:45 And straightway he told his disciples to get quickly into the ship and to go to the other side before him unto Bethsaida while he dispatched the people.

“Bethsaida” means “house of fishing” or “house of nets.” Jesus had promised to make his disciples fishers of men. Now their nets were overflowing.

6:46 And when he had dispatched them, he departed into the mountain to pray.

Jesus personally dispatched the people. This is not the practice in some religious places today, where the important minister goes out the back door and leaves his underlings to close the event.

Another very interesting point: here we are nearing the end of the sixth chapter of this gospel account, and this is only the second time that prayer is mentioned. Yes, Jesus pronounced a public blessing on an occasion or two, but he wasn’t prone to public prayer. Praying is something that he mostly did alone, and he encouraged his disciples to pray when they were alone, as well (Matthew 6:5-7). Jesus gives us no example of repetitious prayer by rote; on the contrary, we are strongly admonished not to do this (Matthew 6:7).

Scripture does exhort us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), but the word used is not the one used for petitionary requests, but describes an unbroken communion or relationship rather than a religious exercise. Jesus lived in continuous communion with his Father, even as he fellowshipped with those around him.

6:47 And when night was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land.

6:48 And he saw them toiling in rowing, for the wind was contrary unto them; and about the fourth watch of the night he came unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.

The night and the headwind and the waves against them had quite an effect on the disciples who were toiling at the oars. This is the status of many in ministry who do not have the indwelling presence of Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Jesus, on the other hand, must have been enjoying himself. The fourth watch, incidentally, is the last watch of the night, as the day begins to dawn.

6:49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a ghost and cried out,

The disciples still believed in ghosts.

6:50 For they all saw him and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them and said unto them, Be of good cheer; I AM; be not afraid.

6:51 And he went up unto them into the ship, and the wind ceased; and they were sore amazed in them[1]selves beyond measure and wondered.

6:52 For they had not yet derived understanding in the loaves, for their hearts were blind.

Walking on the water and pretending to pass by them in the early dawn had the disciples crying out with fear, but it was Jesus’ words that really floored them. I AM is the sacred name of God, used close to seven thousand times in the Old Testament (rendered LORD in caps in the Jubilee Bible). So sacred was this name, that no one was allowed to pronounce it, on pain of death for blasphemy. When reading the Scriptures, they always said “Lord” when they came to the sacred name. It was their belief that since only God has eternal existence, only he could pronounce his name (or inspire a prophet to do so in his name). And yet here Jesus is applying the sacred name of God to himself! The hearts of the disciples were blind, and therefore they had failed to understand that Jesus really is the bread sent from heaven, the promised Messiah, the Son of God.

6:53 And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret and drew to the shore.

“Gennesaret” means “harp-shaped.”

6:54 And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him

6:55 and ran through that whole region round about and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was.

6:56 And wherever he entered, into villages or cities or fields, they laid the sick in the streets and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment, and as many as touched him were saved.

When the Lord brought his people out of the slavery and bondage of Egypt, he made them this promise:

If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God and wilt do that which is right in his sight and wilt give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD thy Healer. (Exodus 15:26)

Something had evidently gone seriously wrong in Israel, for Jesus found multitudes of sick people and legions of unclean spirits. Fifteen hundred years of so many people refusing to hear the voice of the Lord speaking to them personally can have quite an effect.

When the people who were sick or troubled by an unclean spirit touched Jesus, however, they were not only healed, but they were saved!

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father:

We do not want to continue to have blindness in our hearts. Please intervene in our lives until we can see things clearly and from your perspective. We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Chap 7. Eating with Unwashed Hands.

Mark 7

7:1 Then came together unto him the Pharisees and some of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem,

7:2 who upon seeing some of his disciples eat bread with common, that is to say, with unwashed, hands, they condemned them.

7:3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews, unless they wash their hands often, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.

7:4 And when they come from the market, unless they wash, they eat not. And there are many other things which they took upon themselves to hold such as the washing of cups and pots, brasen vessels and of tables.)

7:5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why do thy disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders but eat bread with unwashed hands?

Something strange and powerful was happening. Large numbers of people were reportedly being healed of virtually every disease, and unclean spirits were fleeing. What’s more, the people were not only being healed, but were being saved. Naturally, an official religious commission came from Jerusalem to see what was going on.

Instead of being elated at confirming miracles that had never happened before in human history, the Pharisees and some of the scribes from Jerusalem went into a hissy fit because Jesus’ disciples didn’t always comply with some of their human traditions. Instead of giving glory to God for the many healings being done in his name, they searched for a reason to condemn the disciples and confront Jesus, and it wasn’t long before they found one.

Why did the disciples eat bread without first washing their hands?

The simple answer is that they were undoubtedly following the example of Jesus, whose hands were already clean and capable of healing, delivering, or saving anyone he touched without having to symbolically wash them in water on each and every occasion. Instead of explaining and apologizing, however, Jesus promptly told these authorities what he thought of their attitude.

7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well has Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

7:7 Howbeit in vain do they honour me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men as the washing of pots and cups, and many other such like things ye do.

“Esaias” is the Greek form of “Isaiah,” and Isaiah’s words read:

For the LORD has extended upon you the spirit of deep sleep and has closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, he has covered the seers with sleep. And every vision is unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which if it were delivered to one that knows how to read, saying, Read this, I pray thee: he shall say, I cannot; for it is sealed: And if the book were delivered to him that does not know how to read, saying, Read this, I pray thee: he shall say, I do not know how to read. (Isaiah 29:10-12)

Not only were these nosy authorities unable to interpret the Scriptures properly, but in a spiritual sense they didn’t even know how to read. Jesus, the living Word of God, was standing right in front of them, yet they were unable to perceive who he was or grasp the importance of what he was saying. Even rejoicing in the miraculous healing that relieved untold suffering, or understanding the significance of what was happening with the unclean spirits, was beyond them.

The words of Isaiah continue:

Therefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people sacrifice unto me and honour me with their lips, but have removed their heart far from me, and their worship with which they honour me was taught by the commandment of men (Isaiah 29:13).

According to Isaiah, the Israelites had a certain religious form similar to that of many contemporary worshipers, who observe certain things and learn to speak with a certain vocabulary, act in a certain manner, and dress in a certain style, while all the time their heart lies in a place far removed from God.

How much of what is presented as worship today has really been taught by the commandment of men?

Isaiah goes on quoting the words of the Lord:

Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvellous work among this people with a fearful miracle: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the prudence of their prudent men shall fade away (Isaiah 29:14).

What was the “fearful miracle” that Isaiah prophesied?

Could he be referring to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, followed two thousand years later by the first resurrection of those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God (Revelation 20:4)?

What will happen to the modern Pharisees and scribes when the “fearful miracle” takes place? We’re told that when that happens, the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the prudence of their prudent men shall fade away.

After his first response to the authorities from Jerusalem, did Jesus become conciliatory? Far from it!

7:9 And he also said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

7:10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother, and, Whosoever curses father or mother shall most definitely die.

7:11 But ye say, It is enough if a man shall say to his father or mother, It is all Corban, (that is to say, my gift to God) whatever with which thou mightest be profited by me.

7:12 And ye suffer him to do no more for his father or for his mother,

7:13 invalidating the word of God with your tradition, which ye have given; and many such like things do ye.

Jesus makes it very clear that his interpretation of the commandment to honour thy father and thy mother goes far beyond simply being cordial and respectful. To truly honor them means to be willing to provide for them and care for them in their old age.

If religious people have replaced God’s commandment to honor our parents with (unclean) traditions of men, what about some of the other commandments? (Near the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth, incidentally, even Pontius Pilate attempted to wash his hands of the responsibility for the consequences of the religion of death that was practiced by the priests and scribes and Pharisees.)

7:14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you and understand;

Jesus called all the people and ordered them to listen attentively: Hearken unto me every one of you and understand.

When the children of Israel received the commandments secondhand via Moses, they lacked the grace to comply. If we are in direct contact with Jesus, however, we will have the grace to hear and obey (hearken unto) his voice and to understand what the commandments of God really mean.

Listen to exactly what Jesus wants us to understand:

7:15 there is nothing from outside the man that entering into him can defile him, but the things which come out of him, those are what defile the man.

7:16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.

Remember: Faith comes by hearing, and the ear to hear by the word of God (Romans 10:17).

7:17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.

What parable?

Had I been there and heard what the Lord just said, I think I would have taken his words at face value and not considered them to be a parable. The disciples, however, along with pretty much everyone else, were confounded by this radical teaching. The implications racing through the minds of the religious Jews must have upset them terribly.

The parable or enigma that set the stage for this entire dis[1]course was the quote from Isaiah: Well has Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Jesus just admonished the people that paying lip service to our parents is not enough; our words must be followed up with generous actions from a good heart. Then he completed the parable by saying that there is nothing from outside the man that entering into him can defile him. Merely giving lip service to Father God and performing external religious acts such as washing hands and pots and cups will never please him, for he requires us to be cleansed from the inside out if we are to live in his presence.

7:18 And he said unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not understand that anything from outside that enters into the man cannot defile him?

7:19 Because it enters not into his heart, but into the belly, and the man goes out to the privy and purges all foods.

7:20 For he had said that it is what comes out of the man that defiles the man.

This totally upended the theology of most of the Jews living under the law. They were very careful that what they ate was kosher. They refused to eat without washing virtually everything. They declined to eat with Gentiles or anyone else whom they considered unclean. The lack of ceremony in the feeding of the five thousand in the wilderness must have horrified them. Yet Jesus told them in no uncertain terms that the state and attitude of the heart trumps everything else.

7:21 For from within, out of the heart of men, come forth the evil thoughts, the adulteries, the fornications, the murders,

7:22 the thefts, the covetousness, the wickedness, the deceit, the lasciviousness, the evil eye, the slander, the pride, the unwiseness:

7:23 all these evil things come out from within and defile the man.

According to Jesus, even unwiseness is evil and comes from within the wicked heart of man and defiles him. Note that the primary source of our problem is our heart. It is from within ourselves, out of our hearts, that evil thoughts come forth. Our problem is not primarily intellectual.

Even for someone as close to the Lord Jesus as Simon Peter, this truth took quite a while to sink in. It wasn’t until Peter was given a vision and sent to the house of the Gentile centurion that he really began to understand (Acts 10). And even after that, the apostle Paul felt compelled to admonish Peter for his inconsistent behavior in regard to the Gentile believers (Galatians 2:11-14). Peter eventually came into close agreement with Paul amid unmistakable signs that the Jewish order was over. The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was the final nail in the coffin.

It is highly probable that this gospel account recorded by John Mark (with input from Peter and other apostles) was written after the events with regard to the Jews were well defined, and after both Peter and Paul were clear on the fact that outward religious acts, ceremonies, and traditions cannot cleanse the wicked heart of man. Only Jesus can do it, by immersing us into the Holy Spirit. This is the only washing or baptism that will make a difference and truly transform our lives (1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Peter 3:21).

7:24 And from there he arose and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entering into a house, desired that no man know of it; but he could not be hid.

7:25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him and came and fell at his feet;

7:26 the woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation, and she besought him that he would cast forth the demon out of her daughter.

Greek is, of course, the language of Greece (meaning “effervescing,” i.e., hot and active). “Syrophenician” means the woman was a Phoenician living in Syria. “Phoenicia” means “land of palms” (the palm tree is a symbol of righteousness).

7:27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and to cast it unto the dogs.

The woman was a Gentile, and Jesus’ mission was to the lost sheep of Israel.

7:28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.

7:29 And he said unto her, For this word go; the demon has gone out of thy daughter.

7:30 And when she came to her house, she found that the demon had gone out, and the daughter lay upon the bed.

Jesus didn’t even formally cast out the demon. He told the woman that the cause of the deliverance was the word that she had spoken to him. She called him Lord and gave him an answer inspired by profound and unwavering faith. This woman had parental authority over her young daughter; Jesus had authority over the demon, which fled at the demonstration of the woman’s faith in the Lord.

What’s more, Jesus took care of this situation without washing or baptizing the woman or her daughter in water, as the religious Jews would have required.

Figuratively speaking, this woman could represent untold numbers of Gentiles who, over the ages, in their ignorance and despair, have actively followed their consciences and sought the truth. After all, in the highest sense, Jesus is the truth. As he said on another occasion, Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32).

7:31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre, he came by Sidon unto the sea of Galilee through the midst of the borders of Decapolis.

7:32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.

The last time Jesus was near Decapolis, when he delivered the man who lived among the tombs and who was possessed by a legion of demons, the people of that region had pleaded with him to leave their borders. Jesus had not allowed the man who was delivered to accompany him; instead, the man was sent home to testify to his family and friends of the power and glory of God. It appears that this testimony had quite an effect, as the people of the area now welcomed Jesus and besought him to put his hand on someone who was deaf and unable to speak properly.

7:33 And taking him aside from the multitude, he put his fingers into the man’s ears; and spitting, he touched the man’s tongue with the saliva;

7:34 and looking up to heaven, he cried out, and said, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.

Under the law, if you were to spit on someone, that person would become unclean; but Jesus’ saliva upon the man’s tongue had the opposite effect.

7:35 And straightway his ears were opened, and that which bound his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly.

How many people today continue to be unable to hear spiritually and continue to have an impediment in their “speech” so that they are unable to properly announce or communicate the things of God because the heavens are closed unto them, because they lack a touch and a word from Jesus?

In this case, a key factor behind the miracle was that the people of that country had reversed their previous rejection of Jesus; they now welcomed him and brought to him the man who was in trouble.

7:36 And he charged them that they should tell no one; but the more he commanded them, so much more and more they published it

7:37 and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He has done all things well: he makes both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak.

The people had begun to realize that Jesus was fulfilling key prophecies regarding the Messiah.

Mark 8

8:1 In those days, as before, there was a great multitude, and they had nothing to eat; Jesus called his disciples unto him and said unto them,

8:2 I have mercy on the multitude because they have now been with me three days and have nothing to eat;

In Scripture, there are many prophetic references to “three days” that are linked to the second coming of Jesus Christ. For God, a day can be as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. There have now been two one-thousand-year prophetic days since Jesus was born, and we are at the dawn of the third such day.

When Jesus came, he was (and still is) the bread of life. As a result of his ministry on earth and the apostles he designated, we have the New Testament, of which the feeding of the five thousand may be symbolic. Jesus began with five loaves (as dis[1]cussed previously, the number five symbolizes God’s message of grace and mercy) and two fishes (symbolic of a godly remnant among the Jews who received his message and were fished for the kingdom). He ended up with twelve basketfuls left over (a number representing divine order for the new covenant in the ministry of the apostles).

At another point in his ministry, Jesus mused, When the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8). The earth symbolizes the people of God (Israel and the church). When Jesus returns, how many of the people of God will be like the scribes and Pharisees, bogged down in the traditions of men and without true faith?

Jesus has been gone for quite a while, and in many places on earth, it seems that the twelve baskets are now empty and we are rapidly approaching a set time in which he will once again have mercy on the multitude with the bread of an end-time word, to gather in the fullness of harvest. There is a godly remnant in the church today that is much larger than the remnant that Jesus found two thousand years ago among the Jews. Yet in the midst of much fluff and hoopla among many church people, there really has been a hunger – indeed, a famine – for hearing the words of the Lord. Jesus is also concerned today for those who have been faithfully following him and still have nothing to eat.

8:3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way, for some of them came from afar.

The end-time move of God is among those who have left their own houses of religion to follow Jesus. This is a prerequisite for the great Feast of Tabernacles that symbolizes the end of the age.

8:4 And his disciples answered him, From where can anyone satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

The wilderness is symbolic of the church age, and we are now nearing the end of our wilderness journey.

8:5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven.

8:6 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves and having given thanks, he broke them and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude.

8:7 And they also had a few small fishes; and he blessed them and commanded to set them also before them.

At the feeding of the five thousand, the multitude sat by companies in ranks of fifty and a hundred upon the grass (symbolizing the beginning of the growing season as the word goes forth). Here, despite the group numbering about four thousand, there is no mention of companies or ranks, and the multitude apparently sat on the bare ground (a symbol of the field after harvest). Jesus gave thanks for the seven loaves and broke them. He blessed the few fishes. The first time there were five loaves (representing grace and mercy); now there are seven (representing fullness). The first time there were two fishes (representing a small remnant); now there are a few fishes (more than two but not as many as desired).

8:8 So they ate and were filled; and they took up of the broken food that was left seven baskets.

8:9 And those that had eaten were about four thou[1]sand; and he dispatched them.

Five thousand symbolizes the perfection of the grace and mercy of God. Four thousand is symbolic of the perfection of his love. At the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus said to his disciples, Give ye them to eat. At the feeding of the four thousand, he said, I have mercy on the multitude. At the first feeding, there were twelve baskets left over (divine order for the new covenant); the second time, there were seven baskets (the fullness of God’s kingdom).

8:10 And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.

Dalmanutha is a site or region in Galilee. After the first miraculous feeding, Jesus sent his disciples away in the ship unto Bethsaida (“house of fishing”) while he dispatched the multitude. The second time, he dispatched the four thousand and then left in the ship with his disciples and returned to Galilee (a complete circle or circuit).

8:11 And the Pharisees came forth and began to argue with him, demanding of him a sign from heaven, tempting him.

After the feeding of the five thousand, the scribes and Pharisees condemned Jesus’ disciples for eating with unwashed hands. After the feeding of the four thousand, the Pharisees tempted Jesus, demanding a sign from heaven.

8:12 And crying out in his spirit, he said, Why does this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall be no sign given unto this generation.

What is the generation that seeks after a sign and shall not be given one? The outwardly religious, but inwardly unbelieving generation.

8:13 And he left them and, entering into the ship again, departed to the other side.

Jesus kept going back and forth across the Sea of Galilee in a ship. On the one side were the legalistic scribes and Pharisees, and on the other side were those more given to licentiousness, like those in the country of the Gadarenes, where apparently raising swine had been a mainstay of the economy.

On which side do you think Jesus’ ministry was more successful?

8:14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.

But they had Jesus, the bread that came down from heaven, right there with them in the boat.

8:15 And he commanded them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the leaven of Herod.

Jesus also remarked that a little leaven can leaven the whole lump, be it the self-righteous attitude of the Pharisees or the kingdom building obsession of Herod.

8:16 And they argued among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread.

8:17 And as Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why argue ye because ye have no bread? Do ye not consider nor understand? is your heart yet blind?

8:18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?

Even though they had one loaf on board, none of them understood yet that Jesus’ mission was and is to multiply the bread, and that he is the bread of life.

8:19 When I broke the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They said unto him, Twelve.

8:20 And when the seven loaves among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven.

Jesus went back over the entire lesson, making it as simple as possible, and still they didn’t get it. How patient he was with them!

8:21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not yet understand?

Even having the physical presence of Jesus right there in the boat beside them would prove to be less effective than having his presence inside them by the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father:

We ask that you might open our understanding and our eyes and our ears, that we might not miss out when your Holy Spirit is poured out in fullness. We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Chap 8. Thou Art the Christ!.

Scripture states that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Jesus fed the five thousand and then the four thousand with food for their bodies to meet their immediate need, but he also did it to remind all of us about the real source of our sustenance and how it fits into God’s prophetic plan.

The religious leaders in Jerusalem kept sending commissions out to see what was going on, but Jesus didn’t let them interrupt his work. He was busy with signs and wonders on what they considered to be the wrong side of the Sea of Galilee, among people they considered to be heretics and infidels. If he performed a miracle in one of their synagogues, it was likely to be on the Sabbath day, when they thought that not even God should be allowed to work. In their eyes, his behavior was nothing short of scandalous.

Jesus did exactly the opposite of what many ministries do today. He never asked for tithe money or took up an offering. His teaching sessions were spontaneous, and he didn’t seem to adhere to any specific order of service. There is almost no mention of music in the Gospels, and virtually no prayer meetings. There were no altar calls. People were not asked to raise their hands in allegiance to Jesus, while everyone else had their heads bowed and their eyes closed. No formal classroom training was organized for the disciples. In short, he did not expect his disciples or his followers to jump through religious hoops. He just wanted them to have true communication with God.

Returning to the events depicted in Mark 8:

8:22 And he came to Bethsaida, and they bring a blind man unto him and beseech him to touch him.

8:23 So, taking the blind man by the hand, he led him out of the town; and spitting into his eyes and putting his hands upon them, he asked him if he saw anything.

8:24 And looking, he said, I see men; I see that they walk as trees.

8:25 After that, he put his hands again upon his eyes and caused him to see; and he was whole and saw everyone, far away and clearly.

8:26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.

Bethsaida was a religious city whose inhabitants were not interested in giving God the glory for what Jesus was saying and doing. Even today, many continue to be physically and spiritually blind in the city of religion. They seek in vain to be healed in “Bethsaida” (“house of fishing” or “house of nets”) as they go from the spread-out nets of one evangelistic crusade, televangelist, or faith healer to another. In order to heal them, Jesus may have to take them by the hand and lead them out of that entire realm, just as he did with this particular blind man. Jesus personally took him by the hand and led him out of the city in order to restore his sight, which he did in two stages.

Unconventional as always, Jesus began by spitting into the man’s eyes. That is hardly the sort of medical therapy that any of us would volunteer for, and among the Jews in particular, this was a great offense, as it was considered to render unclean the person who had been spat on. Even viewed from a spiritual perspective, it could be a very traumatic experience for any self-righteous religious person if Jesus were to “spit in their eye” and demonstrate that their entire world view is unclean. The blind man, however, felt nothing but gratitude, for after that first touch from Jesus, his vision began to return and he saw men who walked as trees. When Jesus first opens the eyes of those who are spiritually blind, the same thing tends to happen, inasmuch as the first reaction of many is to elevate man (to see men as tall as trees) and look up to those who are gifted and in ministry. It took a second touch from the Master to complete the healing to the point where the man was whole and could see everyone, far away and clearly. So, too, with fully recovering our spiritual sight.

Then Jesus sent the man home and specifically warned him not to go back into town or tell it to any in the town.


Several good reasons come to mind. First, the town or city of religion loves to use good testimonies for their own benefit; that is, they use them for the benefit of the private kingdoms they’ve raised up in the name of God. Second, Jesus sets the example for all of us that if God ever uses us to heal someone (spiritually, emotionally, or physically), our best course is not to take any credit ourselves, but to give God all the glory. Third, Jesus had already decided that he would not give a sign to the religious unbelieving generation that had repeatedly refused to give glory to the Father for the ministry of his Son.

I once heard a friend preach a message about how the tree of the field is man’s life (Deuteronomy 20:19). He mentioned the different kinds and classes of trees and compared them to men. And yes, there is a certain spiritual message there, but it’s not perfectly clear. It is true that human history commences with the mention of some trees in the garden of Eden, such as the tree of the knowledge of good and of evil, the tree of life, and the fig tree. However, I don’t think that Jesus wants us to become exactly like certain trees, because people like that tend to become tall and arrogant in their own life and devices, like the cedars of Lebanon, and at the time of the judgment, the Lord might decide to cut them down.

Those who desire to be like a tree that bears good fruit need to understand that the tree that is truly good, the tree of life, is the life of the Lord (not the life of the natural man). The fruit of this tree is for our health and salvation, and even the leaves are for the healing of the Gentiles (Revelation 22:2).

In another example, the Lord is represented as the good olive tree. If we are not part of him, he is capable of grafting us onto his being as part of the body of Christ (Romans 11). In another place, he is the vine and we are the branches, and without him, we can never bear good fruit (John 15).

Those who lack a second touch from the Master and whose spiritual sight may therefore still be slightly out of focus may complicate or confuse the verses about trees and the life of man. Some seem to think that their ministry or organization or race is the vine or the good olive tree, and therefore they require everyone to be grafted onto them. As a result, they have all kinds of branches subordinate to them or to some human hierarchy they’ve invented, and these branches generate income (which the leaders see as fruit) and pass it up the line.

In order to see clearly, we all need that second and continued touch from the Master. If we are to retain our healing, we need to strictly obey Jesus’ command to neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.

Many Christians who have been spiritually blind (that is, their hearts have been blind) and have then had an initial encounter with the Lord are still unable to see everyone, and they don’t see far away, nor do they see clearly. In other words, they lack discernment and prophetic vision. This contributes to the unwiseness that Jesus lists among the things that are evil and come forth out of the heart and defile the man (Mark 7:18-23).

The Lord is infinite and desires to lead us from glory to glory until we are formed into his image, until the fullness of his glory comes forth in the body of Christ. Many Christians have received a touch of God’s grace or of God’s blessing and have remained there without realizing the importance of continuing their walk with him.

8:27a And Jesus and his disciples went out into the towns of Caesarea Philippi;

Caesarea was named after the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar, and the name “Philippi” comes from “Philip” (meaning “lover of horses”), who was the tetrarch (ruler over the fourth part of the kingdom). Caesarea was part of the Roman puppet kingdom under the rule of Herod’s brother.

8:27b and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Who do men say that I am?

8:28 And they answered, John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, One of the prophets.

John the Baptist was prophesied to come in the spirit and power of Elijah, and there is a prophecy linking Elijah to the coming of the Messiah, the Christ (Malachi 4:4-6).

8:29 Then he said unto them, But who say ye that I am? And Peter answered and said unto him, Thou art the Christ!

8:30 And he commanded them that they should tell no one of this regarding him.

We are approximately halfway through the gospel of Mark, and yet this is the first time in this account that one of Jesus’ disciples, by revelation from God, declares who Jesus really is.

8:31 And he began to teach them that it was convenient that the Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected of the elders and of the princes of the priests and of the scribes, and be killed and after three days rise again.

8:32 And he spoke this word clearly. Then Peter took him and began to rebuke him.

This was certainly not the message that Peter and the other disciples had been expecting. The way of the cross was entirely foreign to them (as it is to any of us who are still reasoning according to the natural man). The disciples were happily thinking that since Jesus was the Messiah (the Christ), he would soon set about conquering a kingdom much larger and better than that of King David’s. They were thinking about the important positions they would have in this new kingdom, and they even spent some of their time fighting over which disciple would be the greatest.

8:33 And he, turning about and looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter, saying, Get thyself from me, Satan, for thou knowest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.

Notice that immediately after God moved and gave Peter that revelation of the Christ, Jesus clearly explained the way of suffering, rejection, death, and resurrection that lay ahead. Then Satan pounced and used Peter to tempt Jesus.

8:34 And calling the multitude unto him with his disciples, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

The Greek word staros, translated “cross,” literally means a large stake or beam.

8:35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.

8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?

8:37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

The revelation of the Christ that Peter got from God was soon distorted by input from the devil, and Peter did not have the discernment to tell the difference. His heart was set on having an important position in a messianic kingdom of this world. None of this confusion was completely cleared up for Peter and the other disciples until after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The first one to gain the whole world and lose his own soul was the devil, who has many minions and followers camouflaged inside religion.

8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

This is the first clear mention of Jesus’ second coming. Over the years, many seemingly brilliant theologians and preachers have changed the clear words of Jesus into a gospel where it is not necessary for us to lose our own lives, not necessary to go the way of the cross, and not necessary to be rejected by men. On the contrary, their goal seems to be to gain as much as possible of this world, with heaven to boot. No matter how they attempt to explain dispensations, church tradition, or their own theology, one thing is certain: Jesus’ words will stand. He will return in the glory of his Father with the holy angels and will be ashamed of those who have been ashamed of him and of his words.

Mark 9

9:1 He also said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there are some of those who are here who shall not taste of death until they have seen the kingdom of God which comes with power.

9:2 And six days afterwards Jesus took Peter and James and John, and separated them apart by themselves unto a high mountain; and he was transfigured before them.

Six days afterwards, if we count the first day, means the seventh day. It is on the seventh prophetic day, the seventh millennium from the fall of Adam, that the fullness of the kingdom will be manifest with power.

9:3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them.

Jesus’ raiment is his covering. In the highest sense, his covering is his Father. The transfiguration depicts the way Jesus is covered by the Spirit of God proceeding from the Father. What’s more, the Father and the Son want to extend the fullness of the covering of the Spirit of God to the entire body of Christ. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have the same nature, and there is no essential discrepancy between their wills, even though they have different personalities. As there is unity between the Father and the Son by the Spirit, so also is it the desire of Jesus for us to be one with him as he is one with the Father.

9:4 And there appeared unto them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus.

Elijah and Moses both had important things in common. Both left this world in unique circumstances, and neither was trapped in Hades, where almost every other soul, including those of the patriarchs, was held hostage prior to the work of redemption by Jesus Christ.

Moses was prohibited from entering the Promised Land in his own life, but when he turned 120 years old, God gave him the order to climb a mountain and die. Moses died obeying the word of the Lord, and Satan was unable to claim his body (Jude 9). Now here Moses is inside the Promised Land at last (participating in the life of God), prior to Jesus’ death, and thus prior to his redemptive descent into Hades, where he recovered the keys of death and of Hades and led captivity captive.

Elijah, on the other hand, was ordered to cross the Jordan River (symbolic of death), whereupon he parted the raging waters with his mantle and walked across on dry land. Then he was separated from Elisha (who received the mantle and a double portion of the Spirit) by a chariot of fire and was caught up to heaven in a whirlwind (symbolic of judgment). For those who are in Christ, the judgment will mean reward and will elevate them into a higher realm, into the very presence of God.

9:5 Then Peter answering, said unto Jesus, Master, it shall be good for us to remain here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for thee, and another for Moses, and another for Elijah.

9:6 For he knew not what he was saying, for he was beside himself.

9:7 And a cloud came that overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son; hear ye him.

It is an error common to man to want to enshrine the latest supernatural manifestation of God and remain here instead of continuing on the journey by hearing and obeying the voice of Jesus.

9:8 And suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one any more, except Jesus only with themselves.

9:9 And as they came down from the mountain, he commanded them that they should tell no one what things they had seen until the Son of man was risen from the dead.

9:10 And they kept the word within themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should be.

Peter, James, and John still did not understand the way of the cross. They still had no clue as to how God was about to effect our redemption. Fortunately, the devil didn’t understand the plan, either. This is hardly surprising, considering that God’s plan was not only unprecedented, but was also entirely foreign to the natural way of thinking.

9:11 And they asked him, saying, Why do the scribes say that Elijah must first come?

9:12 And he answered and told them, Elijah verily shall come first and restore all things and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things and be esteemed as nothing.

9:13 But I say unto you, That Elijah has indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they wished, as it is written of him.

The name “Elijah” is a play on words in Hebrew that means “The LORD is God,” or “God Himself.” When Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal and God sent fire from heaven, the people began to shout, The LORD, he is the God (1 Kings 18:39). It sounded as though they were crying out the word “Elijah.”4

4 For more about this, see Section IV of “The Elijah Who is to Come,” in the book, What About the Church? by Russell M. Stendal.

While John the Baptist was still in his mother’s womb, he was touched by the Spirit of God when Mary, the mother of Jesus, visited John’s mother, Elizabeth (Mary’s cousin), who was about six months pregnant. This visit took place right after the angel Gabriel was sent to Mary. Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit when Mary greeted her, and her baby (John) leaped in her womb (Luke 1:41). As an adult, John was sent to go before Jesus in the spirit and power of Elijah and prepare the way for his first coming by preparing the people’s hearts for the Lord (Luke 1:17, 76-80).

John did not, however, completely fulfill the prophecy of the coming of Elijah, who would prepare the way for the Messiah and restore all things. The first coming of Jesus did not fulfill all of the prophecies, either, and there are a number of things remaining that will be fulfilled immediately prior to or at his second coming, which is imminent.

9:14 And as he came to the disciples, he saw a great multitude about them and scribes that disputed with them.

9:15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him.

Why were all the people amazed when they beheld him? Did some residue of the power and glory of the Mount of Transfiguration remain upon Jesus or upon his clothing? Was there something else about his physical appearance that amazed them?

9:16 And he asked the scribes, What dispute ye with them?

9:17 And one of the multitude answering, said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, who has a dumb spirit;

9:18 and wherever he takes him, he tears him, and he foams and gnashes with his teeth and pines away; and I spoke to thy disciples that they should cast him out, and they could not.

The scribes were apparently disputing with the nine remaining disciples about what to do with the boy, who was possessed by a very aggressive mute spirit.

9:19 Answering, he said unto him, O unfaithful generation, how long shall I be with you? How long must I suffer you? Bring him unto me.

How is it possible for a demon to do so much damage among those who are supposed to be the people of God? Why are they not protected? Jesus’ answer gives us a clue, as he lamented having to deal with such an unfaithful generation of those who insisted on depending upon their own self-righteousness instead of trusting in God.

Descending from such a demonstration of the fullness of the power and glory of the kingdom of God on the mountain to the situation his beleaguered disciples were facing at its base was literally and emotionally a letdown.

9:20 And they brought him unto him; and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tore him; and he fell on the ground and wallowed foaming.

9:21 And Jesus asked his father, How long ago is it since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.

The unfaithfulness of the parents can open the door for the devil to attack the children.

9:22 And ofttimes it has cast him into the fire and into the waters to kill him, but if thou canst do any thing, help us, having mercy on us.

The desperate father nevertheless put Jesus into the same category as the failed scribes and disciples, saying, “If thou canst do any thing. . . .”

9:23 And Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe this, all things are possible to him that believes.

Jesus turned the man’s words around and threw the if back at him: “If thou canst believe. . . .”

9:24 And straightway the father of the child crying out with tears, said, Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.

Believing, in this sense, is not about recognizing historical facts or even about believing the written words of the Scriptures. To believe is to place our complete confidence and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ instead of in our own selves, our doctrine, or any other person or entity.

9:25 When Jesus saw that the multitude concurred, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I command thee, come out of him and enter no more into him.

There was something special about this multitude who, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. They respected Jesus and his authority and concurred with what he told the boy’s father. Moreover, the father is identified as being a member of the multitude, and not one of the scribes.

The spirit that possessed the boy did not talk to Jesus, as it had camouflaged itself as both deaf and mute. However, when Jesus gave it a direct order, it heard, and although it was forced to comply, it attempted to inflict as much damage as possible on the way out. This demonic spirit was a very poor loser.

9:26 Then the spirit, crying out and rending him sore, came out; and he remained as one dead, insomuch that many said that he was dead.

According to the father, this malevolent spirit had attempted many times to kill the boy by burning or drowning him. It wanted to leave the boy dead.

9:27 But Jesus, taking him by the hand, straightened him up; and he arose.

Those who have been delivered from unclean spirits still may need a helping hand from Jesus to straighten themselves up.

9:28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could we not cast him out?

9:29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

Jesus’ way of life was such that he didn’t have to stop what he was doing in ministry to fast and pray until the boy was delivered. Jesus lived a lifestyle of not feeding the carnal ego of his flesh. Instead, he was in constant communion with his Father. This is the true fast described in Isaiah 58 – to pray without ceasing. The prayer and fasting referred to by Jesus were not simply a religious exercise, but an integral part of his life.

9:30 And having left there, they walked together through Galilee; and he did not wish that anyone should know of it.

9:31 For he went on teaching his disciples and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after he is dead, he shall rise the third day.

9:32 But they did not understand this word and were afraid to ask him.

Again we have a reference to the “third day,” which describes Jesus’ physical death and resurrection, but may also have prophetic bearing regarding not only his second coming, but also the first resurrection, which will take place almost simultaneously on the third prophetic day. Two thousand-year days have passed, and we are now into the third prophetic day since Jesus’ first coming, as well as entering the seventh prophetic day since the fall of Adam. It is on the third prophetic day that the entire body of Christ shall rise. As described in the book of Revelation:

And I saw thrones, and those who sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of those that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God and who had not worshipped the beast neither its image neither had received its mark upon their foreheads or in their hands; and they shall live and reign with Christ the thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection; on such the second death has no authority, but they shall be priests of God and of the Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)

There are a number of prerequisites in order to qualify for the first resurrection and to live and reign with Christ for the thousand years.

The first is that the person must have been beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God. This could have taken place literally, as with John the Baptist, but there is a spiritual component that forms the essence of this requirement. John the Baptist summed it up nicely when he said, It is expedient unto him to increase, but unto me, to decrease (John 3:30).

We must come out from under our own headship and come under the headship of Christ. Paul wrote that even if people give their body to be burned, their sacrifice will profit them nothing if they do not have the love of God within them (1 Corinthians 13:3).

The second prerequisite is that the person must not have worshipped the beast (which is the natural man) or received its mark either on their foreheads (symbolizing the way of thinking of the natural, unregenerate man) or in their hands (this refers to the natural man’s way of doing things). The fact that this is a requirement that must be fulfilled by all those who have died over the past six thousand years, if they are to qualify for the first resurrection, means that this passage cannot be referring only to an end-time antichrist, if or when that plays out.

Returning to Mark’s words:

9:33 And he came to Capernaum; and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves on the way?

9:34 But they were silent; for on the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

The disciples were still dominated by their own carnal natural life. However, they were beginning to be ashamed of themselves and to come under conviction.

9:35 Then, sitting down, he called the twelve and said unto them, If anyone desires to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant of all.

9:36 And taking a child, he set him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said unto them,

9:37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receives me; and whosoever shall receive me, receives not me, but him that sent me.

Jesus dealt with the rivalry among his disciples in a very practical manner. He knew from their manner that in their vulnerability, they didn’t even want to own up to the subject of the rather embarrassing dispute they’d had among themselves about who should be the greatest. So he didn’t lay a religious guilt trip on them, nor did he have a prayer meeting. Eschewing a “religious” approach, Jesus gave them some down-to-earth advice encouraging a fundamental change in behavior. The way to ascend in the kingdom of heaven, he told them, is to be last of all and servant of all. Instead of demanding a religious commitment from them, Jesus explained that anyone who receives even a little child in his name receives him, and whoever receives him really receives the Father who sent him.

9:38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out demons in thy name and he does not follow us; and we forbade him because he does not follow us.

9:39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not, for there is no one who does a miracle in my name that can then speak evil of me.

9:40 For he that is not against us is for us.

Jesus didn’t want his disciples and apostles to control or exclude others who might be using his name in good faith. True ministry will serve everyone and will do everything possible to encourage those who demonstrate faith and to join such people to God.

Jesus’ conversation with his disciples reminds me of the time when Moses called those who were selected for ministry to a meeting at the tabernacle. While these elders were gathered together there, the Spirit of God came upon them, and they prophesied and did not cease (Numbers 11:25). Meanwhile two men, Eldad (“God is a friend”) and Medad (“loving”), who were also on the list but had not yet gone to the meeting, started prophesying down in the camp, because the Spirit of God had likewise come upon them. To prophesy is to speak the words of God instead of our own words, and it can only be done under the influence of the Spirit of God. Young Joshua, like John, felt that because these two men were not part of the “authorized” group, they ought to be prohibited from prophesying, and he asked Moses to forbid them. But Moses refused, commenting, It would be good that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them (Numbers 11:29). In the events described by Mark in his gospel, Jesus was about to make Moses’ desire come true.

9:41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name because ye are of the Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

Anyone who makes even the slightest sincere move towards receiving and helping the Lord will be encouraged and rewarded.

9:42 And whosoever shall be a stumbling block to one of these little ones that believe in me, it would be better for him if a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

On the other hand, anyone who causes even one of the little ones who believe in Jesus to stumble will be in serious trouble. What will happen to people such as pedophile clergy when Jesus returns or when it falls time for their judgment?

The metaphor of the stumbling block could be taken literally, but it may also mean that instead of remaining in ministry and causing Jesus’ little ones to stumble, it would be better to be irrevocably cast back into the sea of lost humanity.

9:43 And if thy hand causes thee to fall, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into life maimed than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that can never be quenched,

9:44 where their worm does not die, and the fire is never quenched.

Jesus wasn’t a fire and brimstone preacher, and he wasn’t threatening the multitudes with hell. He started out with, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens (Matthew 5:3). Jesus eventually brought up the subject of hell in the context of those who acted as a stumbling block to others, particularly when their acts affected one of his little ones (this could be “little ones” in regard to age or in regard to faith). This verse is the first place in Mark’s gospel where Jesus mentions hell.

9:45 And if thy foot causes thee to fall, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter halt into life than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that can never be quenched,

9:46 where their worm does not die, and the fire is never quenched.

9:47 And if thine eye causes thee to fall, pluck it out; it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than having two eyes to be cast into hell,

9:48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is never quenched.

In this passage, Jesus mentions hell three times, that its fire is never quenched five times, and that it is where their worm does not die three times. This level of repetition means that his warning is to be taken very seriously. When Jesus mentions hell, he’s not talking about Hades/Sheol, which represents the first death (or death of the physical body), and is where the souls of those who do not belong to Jesus are held pending the general resurrection and final judgment. No, Jesus is talking about the real hell, which is the second death (the lake of fire) from which there can be no recovery. Many English Bible translations mix up this terminology, but there is a significant difference. For example, when Satan began his rebellion, he knowingly became a stumbling block to Adam and Eve, and since that time, he, his fallen angels (now demons), and anyone else who has joined him have been purposely causing harm to others. This is why God has prepared a place for him and his followers called the lake of fire, or hell, where they will all be cast after final judgment. According to Scripture, no one has yet been sent there. However, there is no doubt that the time will come when the lake of fire will be put to use (Revelation 20:11-15).

Some might say that these strong words of Jesus shouldn’t be taken literally. I agree that there is definitely a spiritual interpretation, but nevertheless, the words of Jesus are literally true; all of his parables are literally true. Jesus operated by the Spirit of God, and the Holy Spirit cannot lie.

Our hand (verse 43) has to do with our way of doing things. Our foot (verse 45) has to do with our walk. Our eye (verse 47) has to do with our insight and goals. If one or more of these things is out of whack and causing us to fall, we had better heed Jesus’ warning and cut it out.

The worm that does not die means that under these conditions, the flesh (and its corrupt insatiable appetite) is never dealt with, and the sinner is always tormented by the unfulfilled carnal desires.

9:49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

9:50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltness, with what will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.

To be salted with fire means that our faith will be tried as by fire. Only gold, silver, and precious stones can survive the metaphorical fire of persecution and tribulation. Gold symbolizes the nature of God, silver is a symbol of redemption, and precious stones represent the fruit of the Spirit, which is the work of God in and through us.

Salt is a preservative, but it is also an important ingredient to enhance the taste of virtually all cooked food. Salt is symbolic of the dealings and discipline of God upon our lives. Every sacrifice must be in accord with his wishes; that is, it must be salted with our obedience to his desires. No sacrifice will be received without this salt, for obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). The religious world is filled with those whose sacrifices have no salt, and the fire will burn up their self-righteous good works because they haven’t been accomplished according to the will of God.

If we attempt to “salt” our sacrifice with salt that has lost its saltiness, our offering will have no savor, and God will reject it. Having “salt” in ourselves is a key to having peace with one another. If there are differences and disagreements among Christians, it is because one or both sides are not close enough to the Lord. In the highest sense, we are to become living sacrifices. If our sacrifice is acceptable to God, we will become light and salt to a dying world around us, to those who live in spiritual darkness where nothing has a healthy savor, for in our love and obedience, we will reflect the light and the savor of Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:13-16).

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father:

We ask to remain under your authority and discipline so that we may become light and salt unto those around us who are lost in spiritual darkness and have no hope. We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Chap 9. One Hundred Fold, Now in This Time.

Mark 10

10:1 And he left there and came into the borders of Judaea and behind the Jordan; and the multitude joined him again, and he taught them again as was his custom.

10:2 And the Pharisees came to him and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.

What were they tempting Jesus to do?

If nothing else, they were hoping to trip him up. They did not ask him what to do in case of a crime or other serious transgression committed by a marriage partner, and their question obviously doesn’t cover what happens if one of the partners (husband or wife) is unfaithful in marriage. There are other Bible verses that deal with that (Matthew 5:32, for example). No, they asked him if it was lawful for a man to “put away” his wife, which could be for any superficial reason.

10:3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?

10:4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorce and to put her away.

Under the old covenant, a man could “put away” his wife on a whim, even if she had been faithful to him and had done nothing seriously wrong. The mere displeasure of her husband, no matter how unjustified, could make him decide to put her away, and if this happened, she had no legal recourse. If it comes to pass that she finds no favour in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her; then let him write her a bill of divorce and give it in her hand and send her out of his house (Deuteronomy 24:1; also see verses 2-4). A woman, on the other hand, could not put away her husband; under the law, she was bound to him for as long as he lived (Romans 7:2).

10:5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this commandment.

10:6 But at the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

10:7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall join to his wife;

10:8 and they that were two shall be made one flesh, so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.

10:9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.

God made the first man, and then he made a special woman as a helpmate for that particular man, and so on. As we mentioned earlier, the antediluvian men of renown, or giants, messed up God’s plans and purpose for them by taking any woman they chose (or indeed, as many women as they chose) instead of seeking God’s choice. This was one of the main offenses that triggered the judgment of the flood (Genesis 6:1-7).

Jesus’ remarks here are made in the context of what God has joined together. Tragically, even among many of those calling themselves the people of God, numerous marriages continue to be motivated by lust or convenience (like the marriages of the old men of renown) where, regardless of whether the couple was married in a religious ceremony or by a judge, it is not at all clear that God has joined them together.

10:10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.

10:11 And he said unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another commits adultery against her.

10:12 And if the woman shall put away her husband and be married to another, she commits adultery.

This is Jesus’ teaching regarding the new covenant. If a man shall put away his wife and marry another, Jesus considers this to be adultery. And in Christ, there is no difference between male or female (Galatians 3:26-29), so if the woman shall put away her husband and marry someone else, she commits adultery. Adultery is extremely serious and can definitely separate what God has joined together.

All of this, of course, has spiritual implications. In Scripture, Jesus is compared to a bridegroom, and the corporate body of Christ is compared to a bride without spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Ephesians 5:27). Jesus wants us to know that once we’re married to him, he will never put us away on a whim, and he expects reciprocal behavior from us.

10:13 And they brought young children to him that he should touch them, and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

This happened soon after Jesus had told his disciples that anyone who received even one such child in his name received him (Mark 9:37). The legalistic religious culture and conditioning of the disciples was very hard to break through, and it would not be until after Jesus’ death and resurrection, at the coming of the Holy Spirit, that radical change would take place. Jesus has a very special place in his heart for children, and it is his fervent desire for us to have the same.

10:14 And Jesus seeing it, became angry and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me and hinder them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.

10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

10:16 And taking them up in his arms and putting his hands upon them, he blessed them.

There are times when Jesus became angry, and this is one of them. The younger a person is when making a decision to follow Jesus, the more likely that decision is to stick, and little ones who come to Jesus can and should look forward to much blessing. Jesus let his disciples know in no uncertain terms that they were not to interfere with anyone bringing little children unto him. In fact, he turned it around and said that everyone else must receive the kingdom of God as a little child, or else they won’t enter at all!

How does a little child receive the kingdom of God?

With total confidence and trust. A little child doesn’t complicate or manipulate the matter.

10:17 And as he was leaving to continue his way, there came one running, who kneeled before him and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

Great question!

This energetic young man knew that eternal life must be inherited. (An inheritance normally involves a will or testament which does not go into effect until the death of the one who signed it. This is the case with the New Testament.)

10:18 And Jesus said unto him, Why dost thou call me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

Interesting, thought-provoking answer. Apart from God, none of us is good.

10:19 Thou knowest the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

10:20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these I have observed from my youth.

10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go, sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me taking up thy stake (if thy desire is to be perfect).

Jesus’ heart went out to this young man. His words were not intended as a threat, because any decision to take up the cross must be voluntary, just as Jesus’ decision to die for us was voluntary. However, in answer to the question as to how to inherit eternal life, Jesus brought up the fact that he was going to die on the cross, and he invited this man to take up the cross and follow him.

This rich man did not fully appreciate the magnitude of Jesus’ offer.

In order for any of us to be able to leave everything and follow Jesus, we must have a direct word from him. Those who attempt to do this in their own power or by following someone else’s example will either be soundly defeated or else end up manipulating others (to obtain funds, resources, or favor) in order to survive. We can’t make up our own word of faith. It must come from God specifically, because this is the only way by which the grace to comply with his words will be made available to us.

Doing our best to keep the commandments of God isn’t sufficient if we desire to be perfect (perfect is the same word in Hebrew and in Greek as mature).

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven. The way of the cross (and each of us has a cross to bear if we are to follow Jesus) is an instrument that will bring about the death of the old carnal man who is at enmity with God, so that we may inherit eternal life in the new man in Christ. Only in Christ may we be perfect, and the first part of us that God desires to perfect is our heart. He desires to place his heart within us so that we will love what he loves and hate what he hates. Then we will love the lost and hate sin; the things of this world will have no hold on us as we seek heavenly treasure, instead.

10:22 But he, saddened by this word, went away grieved, for he had great possessions.

10:23 Then Jesus, looking around, said unto his disciples, How hardly shall those that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

The problem wasn’t just that the young man had great possessions; it was that Jesus perceived that he was trusting in earthly riches. (It is also possible that the young man’s wealth was ill-gotten, either through his own actions or through the actions of the person(s) from whom he inherited it.) Therefore, Jesus told him to sell all that he had and give to the poor (so that he would have treasure in heaven). Then he would be free to take up the way of the cross, following Jesus. You’ll notice that Jesus did not ask for a donation to “Jesus of Nazareth Ministries” or offer him a tax receipt.

Before we generalize and attempt to apply this word in a legalistic sense to anyone with great possessions, we must understand that the new covenant operates under grace by the Spirit, not merely under law. The New Testament is filled with examples of what God decided to do, under various unique situations and circumstances, with the people who presented themselves to him or to the dealings of the Holy Spirit.

10:24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answered again and said unto them, Children, how hard is it for those that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

10:25 It is easier to pass a cable5 through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

10:26 But they were astonished even more, saying in themselves, Who then can save himself?

5 This is the rendition given in the Spanish translation of the early reformers (who learned Hebrew from Jews in Spain while it was still a living language, before the Inquisition prevailed against anyone speaking Hebrew). The word used refers to a thick rope or cable, sometimes made of or containing camel hair and popularly called a “camel.” The interpretation of modern scholars, who think that there was a gate in Jerusalem called the Eye of the Needle that was so narrow that camels had to be unloaded in order to pass through it, still leaves the idea that this is something man can accomplish (there is only hypothetical evidence to support this case, and all the gates mentioned in Scripture have entirely different names). On the other hand, passing a cable through the eye of a needle is humanly impossible, and this idea caused great consternation among the disciples.

The answer to this is “no one.” No human being can save himself. Salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and faith without works is dead (James 2:14-18, 26). If Jesus tells us to do something and we move in obedience to his word, embracing it by faith, we will have the grace to accomplish his will, and the work that he does in and through us will be accounted unto us as righteousness. Therefore, the root of the problem for the young man, the thing that caused him to go away grieved, was lack of faith. Otherwise, he would have gladly sold all that he possessed, taken up his cross, and followed Jesus, knowing that he would be rich in heavenly treasure and would inherit eternal life.

10:27 Then Jesus looking upon them said, For men it is impossible, but not for God because all things are possible for God.

10:28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Behold, we have left all and have followed thee.

Peter didn’t say, “We have faithfully given our tithes and offerings and have attended the synagogue at least once a week after having prayed a ‘sinner’s prayer,’ and now we have left our fishing business in order to accompany you on your missionary journeys.” He said simply, Behold, we have left all and have followed thee.

10:29 And answering him, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, There is no one that has left house or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my sake and the gospel’s

10:30 who shall not receive one hundredfold now in this time: houses and brethren and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the world to come eternal life.


Leaving someone or something behind for the sake of Jesus and the gospel is an ironclad guarantee of receiving eternal life, because it proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus is working in and through us in that we really have responded in faith to his call upon our life.

Another very interesting detail here is the fact that the person who meets these conditions is guaranteed now in this time (that is, in our flesh-and-blood life here upon the earth) to receive one hundredfold of houses, brethren, sisters, mothers, children, and lands (albeit with persecutions), but there is no mention of fathers. This is because when we leave persons, things, or possessions behind to follow Jesus, we only have one Father, our heavenly Father. We are under his authority and discipline. Period.

Jesus also did not mention wives when speaking of the hundredfold reward. Under the new covenant, we may have one wife (or husband), and spiritually this also has to do with our ministry in Christ.

“One hundred” can be taken literally, but it can also represent the fullness of the plan of God.

Jesus left his Father in heaven to come to earth and become a man. Later, he had to leave his mother and half-brothers and half-sisters and the house he had been raised in, along with whatever lands his earthly stepfather, Joseph, had left. God, however, provided him with hundreds of mothers, brothers, and sisters of faith who had houses and lands where he could stay as he traveled in ministry with his disciples and as hundreds of children of faith of all ages rallied to him, according to the plan of God.

Jesus has graciously extended this promise to us, and it has been true throughout the church age, even though those who have been willing to leave everything behind to follow Jesus have been relatively few. There have been more who have been willing to leave at least something behind, and Jesus’ promise seems to imply that whatever it was that was left behind (if it coincides with what was named in this promise) may be multiplied (along with the persecutions of the way of the cross).

10:31 But many of the first shall be last; and of the last first.

10:32a And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went before them; and they were amazed, and they followed him with fear.

By now, most, if not all, of the disciples were scared to death, but they continued to follow him.

10:32b Then, taking the twelve aside again, he began to tell them what things would happen unto him,

10:33 saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the princes of the priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death and shall deliver him to the Gentiles,

10:34 and they shall mock him and shall scourge him and shall spit upon him and shall kill him; but the third day he shall rise again.

Here is another reference to the “third day.”

10:35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou should do for us whatever we shall ask.

10:36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?

10:37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one at thy right hand and the other at thy left hand in thy glory.

Remember that Jesus had named them the sons of thunder. They undoubtedly had a lot of talent and drive. Yet it appears that almost nothing of what Jesus had been telling them was sinking in. They remained absolutely clueless regarding the way of the cross, even after Jesus had just finished clearly explaining what was about to happen to him in Jerusalem. Instead, they seized the moment to attempt to get Jesus to promise what they had desired for quite some time. Their mother was also involved, urging them on as if this were a political campaign (Matthew 20:20-21).

10:38 Then Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask; can ye drink the cup that I drink? Or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

The cup that Jesus drank is nothing less than death to the carnal, natural man so that resurrection life may come forth.

John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the water of the Jordan River at the beginning of his ministry, yet here Jesus uses the word baptism to refer to something that will happen in the future. Water baptism is a beautiful symbol of death and resurrection, but it is not the reality of death to the flesh. It was a symbol of the way of the cross, but not the reality. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, he would be able to send the comforter, who is the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus would be able to offer the reality of baptism into the Holy Spirit and fire, so that by the Spirit we can put to death the deeds of the flesh and live (Romans 8:13).

10:39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink the cup that I drink, and of the baptism that I am baptized with ye shall be baptized;

10:40 but to sit at my right hand and at my left hand is not mine to give, but it shall be given to those for whom it is prepared.

Even though Jesus dealt with them kindly, James and John were still ignorant of just about everything. The right hand is symbolic of power and authority, and the left hand is symbolic of judgment and condemnation. When Jesus sits in judgment to separate the sheep from the goats, the sheep will be at his right hand and the goats at his left. The sheep will enter into eternal life and the goats will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. This is why Jesus said that the position to his left and the one to his right shall be given to those for whom it is prepared.

10:41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be angry against James and John.

10:42 But Jesus, calling unto them, said unto them, Ye know that those who are seen to be princes among the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those that are great among them wield power over them.

10:43 But it shall not be like this among you, for whosoever desires to make himself great among you shall be your servant;

10:44 and whosoever of you that desires to be first shall be slave of all.

10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to serve and to give his life in ransom for many.

This is perfectly clear, yet they could not fully comprehend or even believe what the Lord was saying.


Because their own dreams and ambitions were in the way: they were thinking and desiring one thing, and Jesus was talking about something else that wasn’t even on their radar. This continues to happen in many religious groups and denominations. There are brethren who apparently hear the word and read the Scriptures, but they don’t really believe what they hear and see. They go on doing religion according to the ways of man, with an abundance of symbolic ritual, as they continue to manufacture laws, principles, and traditions that are tainted by man or even by demons masquerading as angels of light.

10:46 And so they came to Jericho, and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.

10:47 And hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

10:48 And many told him to be silent, but he cried even more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

“Jericho” means “her own moon.” The moon has to do with a woman (it has a 28-day cycle) and reflects the light of the natural sun. A woman can also represent a congregation. The true people of God are supposed to reflect the light of Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness. Her own moon, however, symbolizes a congregation that reflects the light of this world. “Timaeus” means “unclean.” Thus, Bartimaeus is symbolic of the sons of the religion of man who, by nature, continue to be unclean. In this unclean state, their hearts are blind, and they must beg for donations in order to sustain their religious enterprise.

10:49 Then Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Have confidence, rise; he calls thee.

10:50 He, therefore, casting away his garment, rose and came to Jesus.

It is one thing for us to cry out to Jesus, but quite another for him to call us.

Unclean Bartimaeus had to cast away his garment, or covering, in order to come under the authority of Jesus instead of continuing in his own self-righteousness, which is called filthy rags in Scripture.

10:51 And Jesus, answering, said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? And the blind man said unto him, Master, that I might receive my sight.

The blind man had now made it clear that he considered Jesus to be the promised Son of David (the Messiah). He called him Master and didn’t beg him for money. Above all else, he wanted his sight.

10:52 And Jesus said unto him, Go; thy faith has saved thee. And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus in the way.

In a blink of an eye, he was saved and was able to see so clearly (spiritually, as well as physically) that he followed Jesus in the way.

What way was Jesus going?

The way of the cross.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father:

May we be delivered from trusting in the riches of this world. May our spiritual eyes be opened so that we may understand and follow the way of the cross. We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Chap 10. The Search for Good Fruit.

Mark 11

11:1 And when they came near to Jerusalem unto Bethphage and Bethany at the mount of Olives, he sends forth two of his disciples.

“Bethphage” means “house of unripe figs.” “Bethany” means “house of dates.”

11:2 and said unto them, Go to the place which is before you; and as soon as ye are entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, upon which no man ever sat; loose him and bring him.

This colt, the foal of an ass or donkey, is symbolic of man in his natural, carnal state. No one had ever ridden him or brought him under control. The “colt” was tied and couldn’t change his condition without help.

11:3 And if anyone says unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord has need of him, and straightway he will send him here.

11:4 And they went and found the colt tied by the door outside between two ways, and they loosed him.

The colt was tied between two ways. The natural man also starts out tied between two ways –between the desires of his flesh and what he knows is right in his conscience.

11:5 And some of those that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?

11:6 Then they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded, and they let them go.

When we seek our own pleasure and enrichment, there are few, if any, strangers who will freely give us the use of what they own, even if we pay tithes and go to church. But when we are 100 percent committed to Jesus and are seeking his pleasure and the enrichment of his kingdom, we frequently encounter those who, though total strangers to us, are willing to share whatever they have for the cause of Christ, should he so ordain.

11:7 They brought the colt to Jesus and cast their garments on him, and he sat upon him.

11:8 And many spread their garments in the way, and others cut down leaves off the trees and spread them in the way.

The colt that had never been ridden was under perfect control while Jesus sat on him. There was no saddle, only garments. The people had taken off their outer garments, or coverings, to place them upon the colt or in the way. The covering represents the authority or allegiance that they were under. Those who cast off their garments were indicating that they recognized Jesus as their new king. The garments that Jesus sat on instead of a saddle indicated that he would reign over the previous (or present) authorities. The garments that were spread in the way meant that all previous authority (or covering) was under his feet.

The palm leaves or branches that the people cut down and spread in the way linked Jesus to the prophecy in Isaiah about being the branch or new shoot that will bring about a new thing that God is doing (Isaiah 11:1). This also ties in with the meaning of the name of his hometown, Nazareth (“branch” or “shoot”).

In addition to all this, the crowd affirmed Jesus as the Messiah with what they were saying. None of this was lost upon the Jewish religious authorities, who were already quite jealous and upset. They had been seething and simmering with the desire to kill Jesus, and now his triumphal entry into Jerusalem quickly brought things to a head.

11:9 And those that went before and those that followed cried out, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord;

11:10 blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

Even so, most of the crowd didn’t really understand the nature of the kingdom that Jesus represented, and in a few days, when it became clear that he wasn’t going to give them what they wanted, many of them turned on him.

11:11 And the Lord entered into Jerusalem and into the temple; and when he had looked around upon all things, and it being now late, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.

“Bethany,” or “house of dates,” is symbolic of a storehouse for the fruit of righteousness. The date comes from the palm tree, which is a symbol of righteousness.

Jesus had now been formally received by his people as the Messiah, the anointed king of righteousness of the seed of David. The first thing he looked for, however, was the fruit of righteousness. He didn’t find it in Bethphage (the house of unripe figs) on his way into Jerusalem, and after entering into the temple and looking around upon all things, he left and went to Bethany.

11:12 And the next day when they left Bethany, he was hungry,

It appears that the fruit of righteousness was in very short supply.

11:13 and seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing upon her; but when he came to her, he found nothing but leaves, for the time of figs was not yet.

The fig tree can represent the people of God under law.

11:14 Then Jesus, answering, said to the fig tree, Never again shall anyone eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

Who was Jesus answering?

Was he using the fig tree as a stand-in for the unfruitful religious Jewish people who, after fifteen hundred years of law, had utterly failed to produce the corporate fruit of righteousness?

11:15 And they come to Jerusalem, and Jesus, entering into the temple, began to cast out those that sold and bought in the temple and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those that sold doves

11:16 and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

The people had received Jesus as their promised Messiah, the Christ, and now he began to reign by restoring order at the temple, which was supposed to be his Father’s house.

We understand more or less why Jesus would shut down the buyers and sellers in the temple, but why wouldn’t he allow any man to carry any vessel through it? According to tradition, the triumphal entry was on Palm Sunday, which means that the day of the visit to the temple would be Monday. Is it possible, however, that the triumphal entry was on Friday and that the events in the temple therefore took place on Saturday, the Sabbath? Jesus considered that in the temple (and now we, his people, are the temple), man is to rest at all times and not carry his own vessels or burdens. Now we are to rest in doing God’s will instead of our own, every day of the week. To achieve this, we must be cleansed so that God can work in and through us.

11:17 And he taught them, saying, Is it not written that my house shall be called house of prayer by all the nations? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

11:18 And the scribes and the princes of the priests heard it and sought how they might kill him, for they feared him because all the multitude was astonished at his doctrine.

11:19 But when evening was come, Jesus went out of the city.

Jesus got through his first day on the job and made it out of the city.

11:20 And passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.

11:21 Then Peter, remembering, said unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou didst curse is withered away.

This first mention of a fig tree in Scripture is when Adam and Eve, during their fall, attempted to cover their nakedness with tunics made of fig leaves. God, instead, insisted in covering them with leather girdles, which meant that in order for them to be clothed, something had to die. That was the beginning of the concept of animal sacrifices representing a blood covenant, which would ultimately require the blood of Jesus Christ as a once-and-for-all sacrifice to redeem us.

The religion of men, like the leaves of the fig tree, can only try to hide our problem instead of deal with it. God’s people under law will never bear good fruit. When Jesus cursed the “fig tree,” it dried up from the roots, and within a few short decades, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. No one has been able to rebuild that temple or restore animal sacrifices since then.

If you are distressed with the unfruitful legalistic or licentious religion of man that continues to surround us, here is Jesus’ answer:

11:22 And Jesus, answering, said unto them, Have faith in God.

11:23 For verily I say unto you that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Remove thyself and cast thyself into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart but shall believe that what he says shall be done whatsoever he says shall be done unto him.

Jesus didn’t talk about some generic mountain. He specified this mountain.

So what mountain is he talking about?

The fig tree was near the base of the Mount of Olives. The olive tree is an example of the people of God under grace. The root of the good olive tree is Christ, and thus it cannot be cursed or dry up. Soon, however, many of its unbelieving Jewish branches would be pruned off and replaced with those of believing Gentiles. On the other hand, the fig tree, or the people of God under law, was cursed and dried up from the roots. It will never produce fruit, then or now.

If we have faith in God and total dependence on him, instead of trying to make religion work according to external laws and principles, we’ll be able to tell this mountain, which is the whole religious fortress and mess that continues even among many in the church, as represented by the Mount of Olives, to cast itself into the sea, and it shall be done.

Today the literal Mount of Olives is covered with tombs and sepulchers of misguided religious persons who thought that by being buried there, somehow they would be first in line for resurrection when Jesus returns there as prophesied:

And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, making a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north and half of it toward the south. (Zechariah 14:4)

At the second coming of Jesus Christ, this prophecy will be fulfilled in a very spectacular way that will affect both the natural and the spiritual realms. Yet Jesus also leaves open the possibility that if any of us have faith and do not doubt God, we will be able to command huge religious fortresses and similar obstacles to cast themselves back into the sea (of lost humanity), and it will be done.

To repeat:

11:22 And Jesus, answering, said unto them, Have faith in God.

11:23 For verily I say unto you that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Remove thyself and cast thyself into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart but shall believe that what he says shall be done whatsoever he says shall be done unto him.

11:24 Therefore I say unto you that everything that ye ask for, praying, believe that ye receive it, and it shall come upon you.

In this gospel account, Jesus has already defined prayer as a life-style of complete dependence upon God, an intimate personal relationship with him. He has made it clear that prayer is not a religious or public exercise in which we invoke God, state a list of things that we desire, tack Jesus’ name at the end, and say Amen. In Mark’s gospel account, the word prayer has been used sparingly and is carefully defined by its usage.

11:25 And when ye are praying, forgive if ye have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in the heavens will also forgive you your trespasses.

11:26 For if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in the heavens forgive your trespasses.

If we expect our heavenly Father to forgive us, we are absolutely required to forgive (release) others for anything that we might have against them. However, for us to ask others for forgiveness is an entirely different matter, and one that requires great discernment. If we have wronged someone or even unintentionally caused them trouble, we definitely owe them an apology, and possibly even restitution. On the other hand, if we have upset others by giving them a true word from the Lord, no apology is in order; otherwise, in our attempt to achieve a false peace, we will undermine God’s Word. Jesus clearly forgave all of his enemies right up to the end, but he never asked the scribes, Pharisees, or priests to forgive him or his disciples for anything they said or did.

11:27 And they returned to Jerusalem, and as he was walking in the temple, the princes of the priests and the scribes and the elders came

11:28 and said unto him, By what faculty doest thou these things? and who gave thee this faculty to do these things?

They were most likely referring to the fact that Jesus had basically taken over the temple and stopped the buying and selling, refusing even to allow anyone to carry a vessel through the temple, while carrying out daily teaching to the multitude and possibly performing some miracles.

By what faculty did Jesus come in there and turn everything upside down? What power or authority was behind him?

11:29 Then Jesus, answering, said unto them, I will also ask of you one word, and respond unto me, and I will tell you with what faculty I do these things.

11:30 The baptism of John, was it of heaven or of men? Respond unto me.

These were the big guys, the religious heavyweights who had been sending out all those commissions of scribes and Pharisees to confront and question Jesus. Now Jesus turned the conversation around and gave them a direct order, a challenge: Respond unto me.

11:31 Then they thought inside themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven, he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?

11:32 But if we shall say, Of men, we fear the people, for everyone judged regarding John that he truly was a prophet.

11:33 And answering, they said unto Jesus, We do not know. And Jesus, answering, said unto them, Neither shall I tell you with what faculty I do these things.

Mark 12

12:1 And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard and set a hedge about it and dug a place for the winefat and built a tower and let it out to husbandmen and went far away.

Who is the certain man? In this case, it’s obviously God the Father, but to those who listened but had no ears to hear, it could have been anyone.

Who are the husbandmen? They are workers or servants who are under contract to carefully work and manage the vineyard.

What is the vineyard? The people of God: at first Israel, and now the church. In many prophecies, God’s people are also symbolized as the earth.

What is a winefat, and why did he install one? What was the purpose of the tower that he built, and why did he put a hedge around the vineyard?

“Winefat” is an obscure word, and this is the only place in Scripture where it appears According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the word properly denotes the trough or lake (lacus), as it was called by the Romans, into which the juice of the grapes ran from the trough above it. In this particular case, however, it is intended to refer to the whole apparatus. The winefat is thus the means for the wine of the “certain man’s” life to flow. Wine is a symbol of life, but there are two kinds of life – the corrupt life of Adam or the incorruptible life of God.

The tower is for vigilance and protection, of course, while the hedge around the vineyard means that the people of God are set apart and that God is the ultimate source of protection and authority. If anything evil gets inside the vineyard, the husbandmen are responsible, for this can only happen if they open the gate and allow it to enter. The Jewish leaders had opened the gate to the devil and his minions, and they were now inside the vineyard, controlling virtually everything.

Who was the original husbandman? Adam and the race of Adam. Who were the original husbandmen for Israel? The Levites and the priests, and this is where the scribes, Pharisees, priests, and princes of the priests came from.

12:2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a slave that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.

12:3 And taking him, they beat him and sent him away empty.

12:4 And again he sent unto them another slave, and casting stones at him, they wounded him in the head and sent him away shamefully handled.

12:5 And again he sent another, and him they killed and many others, beating some and killing some.

The Jews mistreated or killed the vast majority of the prophets God sent them. Numerous Christians have also been killed by the “church.”

12:6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.

12:7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the place shall be ours.

12:8 And taking hold of him, they killed him and cast him out of the vineyard.

Here Jesus is directly prophesying to the religious leaders in the temple, showing them that he is aware of what they are planning to do to him and indirectly telling them what some of the consequences of their proposed action will be. Satan knew that if he could manage to kill Jesus, the legal heir, and hold his soul hostage in Hades (the way he was holding virtually everyone, even those considered righteous), then everything would be his.

12:9 What, therefore, shall the lord of the vineyard do? He shall come and destroy those husbandmen and shall give his vineyard unto others.

Under the law, if someone killed a member of your immediate family, your servant, or your relative, then the eldest male, who was responsible for the family, was required to kill the killer(s) whenever he saw them. This person is referred to as the avenger of blood, although the same Hebrew word is also translated as redeemer. In cases involving such an avenger, no legal trial was required before the penalty was carried out. Only if the killer was able to flee to a designated city of refuge would there be a trial to ascertain if the murder was an accident or not. If the death was judged to have been deliberate, the guilty party would be turned over to the avenger of blood for execution. If it was held to have been unintentional, those who had inadvertently or accidentally caused the death were required to live in the city of refuge until whoever was high priest at the time died, after which they would be allowed to return home (Numbers 35:6-34).

12:10 And have ye not read this scripture: The stone which the builders rejected is placed as the head of the corner;

12:11 This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

Jesus is quoting from Psalm 118, which relates to a promised royal priesthood. The builders referred to here are similar to the husbandmen in the previous parable. As to the rejected stone becoming the head cornerstone, Jesus’ fulfilment of this prophecy is marvelous in our eyes, but in the eyes of the scribes and Pharisees and princes of the priests, it definitely was not.

12:12 And they sought to lay hold on him but feared the multitude, for they understood that he had spoken the parable against them, and leaving him, they went away.

12:13 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians to catch him in his words.

And so it has been, over many long centuries, as corrupt and unclean religious authorities have allied with secular authorities against those who speak the truth from God.

12:14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art a man of truth who regards no man; for thou dost not look upon the appearance of men, but dost with truth teach the way of God; is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?

They asked him this question within earshot of the Herodians, who were in charge of collecting the taxes for the Romans. This was a clear attempt to get Jesus into major trouble with Herod and with Rome.

12:15 Shall we give or shall we not give? Then he, understanding their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Bring me the coin that I may see it.

12:16 And they brought it. And he said unto them, Of whom is this image and inscription? And they said unto him, Of Caesar.

12:17 And Jesus, answering, said unto them, Render that which is of Caesar unto Caesar, and that which is of God unto God. And they marvelled at this.

They marveled because it was ingrained into every Jew that each individual is created in the image of God. If the money bears the image of Caesar, then render it unto Caesar, but if we bear the image of God, then why do we not render ourselves completely unto God? This reply to their gotcha question completely floored them.

12:18 Then come unto him the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,

This is the first mention of the Sadducees, a religious intellectual sect whose name means “those who make themselves righteous” (i.e., the self-righteous). Because they believed (according to the historian Josephus) that the soul died with the body, the hypothesis they proceeded to present to Jesus could only have been a set-up.

12:19 Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother dies and leaves his wife behind him and leaves no children, that his brother should take his wife and raise up seed unto his brother.

12:20 Now there were seven brethren, and the first took a wife and dying left no seed.

12:21 And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed; and the third likewise.

12:22 And the seven had her and left no seed; last of all the woman died also.

12:23 In the resurrection, therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.

Their argument seems to begin with the premise that poor old Moses wasn’t as intellectually astute as they are and that they had found some mistakes or oversights in his work which they now intended to demonstrate with their hypothetical question to Jesus. They were definitely not willing to accept that all Scripture is inspired of God.

12:24 Then Jesus, answering, said unto them, Do ye not therefore err because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?

In their self-righteousness, the Sadducees were completely ignorant of the fact that they were speaking with none other than the living Word of God, the real author who inspired the Scriptures.

12:25 For when they shall rise from the dead, neither shall they marry nor husbands take women nor women, husbands; but are as the angels who are in the heavens.

12:26 And regarding the dead who are to rise, have ye not read in the book of Moses how in the bush God spoke unto him, saying, I Am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?

12:27 He is not God of the dead, but God of the living; ye therefore do greatly err.

Jesus didn’t argue with them on their level or on their terms (such arguments with religious people are seldom either wise or fruitful). Instead, with one quick stroke of the sword of truth, he decapitated their argument, and with a second stroke, he cut their feet out from under them.

That the angels in the heavens do not marry also under-cuts the arguments of those who speculate about fallen angels and humans mating and having offspring and thus causing the destruction of the ancient world, despite the fact that the Scriptures clearly state that it was destroyed because GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). This continual wickedness is why flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God and why we must come forth in resurrection in the life of Jesus Christ if we are to inherit all things.

In his reply, Jesus even pronounced the sacred name of God – I AM – an act that was prohibited by the Jews on pain of death. When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush saying, I Am [note the present tense] the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, he did so after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were already dead, thereby proving that from his perspective, they still existed and were awaiting resurrection.

In order to continue to deny that there will be a resurrection of the dead, the Sadducees would now have to deny the very existence, power, and word of God.

Since their hypothetical gotcha question that attempted to undermine both Moses and Jesus was important enough to be recorded in Scripture, let’s analyze it.

Who were the seven brothers and the woman who all remained sterile and couldn’t leave any seed?

“Seven brethren” means all the brethren in a line of generations. In this scenario, they were married one after another to a woman, who represents the congregation of the people of God under law attempting to please God in their own strength and capacity. This is similar to the incident with the fig tree. Jesus is the godly heir who came forth by the grace and power of God, rather than as a result of the Jewish apostasy which, at this point, had degenerated into human intellectuality to such an extent that some no longer even believed in the heavenly, supernatural realm or in resurrection unto final judgment. These men had absolutely no fear of the LORD. Modern Sadducees, unfortunately, continue to abound.6

6 Of the modern intellectual “Sadducees,” Dr. James Strong (1822-1894) has had quite an influence on evangelical theology. His popular concordance containing a humanly brilliant numbering system to identify each Hebrew or Greek word defines angels such as cherubim as “imaginary figures” (Strong’s #3742), and he doesn’t appear to believe in a literal devil or a literal hell. Almost a third of his definitions of proper names in Scripture lead the reader around in circles, are 180 degrees reversed from their true meaning (which is easy to do in Hebrew, especially with names that are used only once or twice), or do not agree with Dr. Young’s concordance or Webster’s dictionary, to cite just two other well-known sources that don’t make wild guesses and pass them off as scholarship. Dr. Strong is also one of a great number of modern theologians who tend to define the Greek terminology of the New Testament in the light of pagan Greek roots, rather than tracing key words through the Hebrew of the Old Testament and letting them be defined by the way they are introduced and used by God throughout Scripture. As this type of “modern” intellectual thinking permeates Bible schools and theological seminaries, it has a penchant for removing the fear of the Lord from among Christian leaders in this Laodicean hour. Left unchecked, this type of human thinking will undermine the literal truth of the Scriptures until its proponents no longer even believe in the literal existence of God.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father:

We ask that our fear and respect for you may never diminish, but always continue to grow. We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Chap 11. But Take Ye Heed.

Jesus continued to teach in the temple:

Mark 12

12:28 And one of the scribes came, having heard their dispute and knowing that he had given a good response unto them, asked him, Which is the principal commandment of all?

At last someone asks Jesus a legitimate question that is not designed as a trap!

12:29 And Jesus responded unto him, The principal of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one;

12:30 and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy thought and with all thy strength: this is the principal commandment.

12:31 And the second is like it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

12:32 Then the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth, that God is one, and there is none other outside of him;

12:33 and to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the soul and with all the strength and to love his neighbor as himself is more than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.

This scribe had a genuine heart for God. Fortunately, a godly remnant of people like him is still scattered throughout Christendom today. Religious sacrifices in the form of masses, services, prayer vigils, seminars, etc., also continue to exist, but Jesus says that having a heart that is all out for God and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves trumps everything else. After the scribe with a heart for God provided a second witness to the wisdom of Jesus’ words and the depth of his understanding, no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions, for according to the law, every judgment regarding life or death must stand on the word of two or three witnesses, and (even without counting his disciples) Jesus now had at least two witnesses on his side (Deuteronomy 19:15; 2 Corinthians 13:1).

12:34 Then Jesus, seeing that he responded wisely, said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that dared ask him any question.

12:35 And answering, Jesus said, while he taught in the temple, How do the scribes say that the Christ is Son of David?

Who was Jesus answering?

He was answering the scribe who had responded wisely, of course, but he was also answering the silence of everyone else.

12:36 For David himself said by the Holy Spirit, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

12:37a David therefore himself calls him Lord, and where then is he his son?

This is a quote from the opening line of Psalm 110, a messianic psalm of David. The LORD is the sacred name for God the Father, literally I AM, and my Lord refers to Jesus Christ.

Jesus asked them how the Messiah (who in human terms is a descendant of David) can also be respectfully addressed as Lord by David. The people loved this challenging question, while the scribes, Pharisees, and princes of the priests cowered and dared not respond.

12:37b And the many people heard him gladly.

12:38 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, who love to go in long clothing and love the salutations in the marketplaces

12:39 and the first chairs in the synagogues and the first seats at the suppers,

12:40 which devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater judgment.

Can anyone say that we don’t continue to have big sharks like this cruising through Christendom, devouring and absorbing all the little widows’ “houses” (or small defenseless congregations) as they consolidate their megachurches?

12:41 And with Jesus sitting in front of the ark of the offering, he beheld how the people cast money into the ark and many that were rich cast in much.

12:42 And as there came a certain poor widow, she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

12:43 Then calling his disciples, he said unto them, Verily I say unto you that this poor widow has cast more in than all those who have cast into the treasury,

12:44 for they all did cast in of their abundance, but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Mark 13

13:1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples said unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!

The temple was considered one of the wonders of the ancient world, and the disciples were understandably impressed by it. It was the pride of the Jewish nation, and people came from all over the world to worship there. The act of creating so beautiful a place of worship was a sublime effort by man with the stated purpose of glorifying God.

13:2 And Jesus, answering, said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.

When Jesus told them that it was all going to be turned into rubble, he really got their attention. They had assumed that since Jesus was the Messiah, he would commence his reign from the temple. The past couple of days had seemed to them like a great start on this mission. Now this.

13:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,

13:4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all things are to be finished?

The disciples unwittingly mixed two different things in their double question. When shall these things be? was a question raised by Jesus’ startling description of what the temple complex would look like as the age of the law (the Jewish age) came to its abrupt and imminent end, but it could also figuratively refer to the end of the age of grace (also known as the church age). What shall be the sign when all things are to be finished? seems to refer more to the end of the church age, but it could also apply to the end of the Jewish age.

Throughout prophecy in Scripture, and particularly in the Gospels, almost invariably there is both a near and a far interpretation of each parable and prophecy. Jesus’ answer to their question is a prime example of this dichotomy.

13:5 And Jesus, answering them, began to say, Take heed that no one deceive you,

13:6 for many shall come in my name, saying, I Am Christ, and shall deceive many.

Jesus prefaced his answer by warning them (and us) against the deception that has been and will continue to be prevalent. Many have come in the name of God, drawing attention to themselves and claiming to be anointed (“Christ” means “anointed one”). They subject the people under themselves (and try to make themselves indispensable) instead of under God. Deceivers refuse to join the people directly to God.

13:7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled, for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.

13:8 For people shall rise against people and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be earthquakes in each place, and there shall be famines and troubles: these shall be the beginnings of sorrows.

The word translated as “people” comes from the word “Gentiles” (nations, groups, families, or individuals who are not in covenant with God and whose hearts are not circumcised). The people belonging to this world (which is run by the devil) will always be at each other’s throats. Although the kingdom of darkness will work against the kingdom of light, it will always be divided against itself. The devil will never be able to consolidate his kingdom, because it will always be in conflict with itself and with the kingdom of God. This is good news, because Jesus said that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:24).

The same prophetic message was presented in the dream that God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar, which Daniel subsequently interpreted. The image that the king saw, which represented all the world empires up until the time of the end, stood on feet and toes made of iron (the law) mixed with clay (the people). These two substances can never be amalgamated, because unregenerate man can never keep the law. In the king’s dream, a stone that had been supernaturally cut (without the use of hands) then struck the feet (the image’s weak point, being half one substance and half another) of this mighty image, breaking them in pieces. The image thereupon crumbled and became like chaff that was carried away by the wind. Then the stone (representing the kingdom of God) grew into a great mountain that filled the earth and that shall stand forever (Daniel 2).

The earthquakes in each place have been taking place in the natural realm, of course, but they are also symbolic of spiritual earthquakes or revivals that have shaken the earth and the realm of the people of God (Israel and the church). These upheavals will continue until some out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation are redeemed. The saints will then be made kings and priests unto our God, and we shall reign on the earth (Revelation 5:9-10).

In those days, there shall be famines, not only of food, but of hearing the words of the LORD (Amos 8:11), along with troubles of persecution toward all true believers. These shall be the beginnings of sorrows, the start of the birth pangs that will usher in the new thing that God will consolidate on the day of the Lord, as referred to by virtually all the prophets.

13:9 But take heed to yourselves, for they shall deliver you up in the councils, and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten; and ye shall be called before rulers and kings for my sake for a testimony unto them.

13:10 And the gospel needs to be preached unto all the Gentiles first.

This was certainly the case in the lives of apostles like Peter and Paul, yet their experience was only a partial or shadow fulfillment of Jesus’ words at the end of the age of law. The complete fulfillment is yet to come, as the age of grace comes to an end. Peter and Paul and the other apostles preached to the Gentiles, but they and the others of the early church didn’t preach to all the Gentiles. The true people of God of the end times will finish this important task.

13:11 But when they shall bring you to deliver you up, do not premeditate beforehand what ye shall speak, neither think ye regarding it, but whatever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye, for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Spirit.

We do not have to worry about defending ourselves if our hearts are right with God, because in those circumstances the Holy Spirit will put appropriate words in our mouths at the proper time.

13:12 Now the brother shall deliver the brother unto death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents and shall kill them.

13:13 And ye shall be hated by everyone for my name, but he that shall persevere unto the end, the same shall be saved.

He that shall persevere unto the end of what?

Unto the end of our natural life here on earth in the flesh, or unto the return of Jesus.

13:14a But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation (spoken of by Daniel the prophet) standing where it ought not, he that reads, let him understand,

The gospel according to Matthew, which may have been written earlier than the gospel that bears Mark’s name, states that the abomination shall stand in the holy place and adds, somewhat cryptically, whosoever reads, let him understand (Matthew 24:15). The Jewish historian Josephus records that prior to the siege of Jerusalem, there were competing false messiahs, and one of them, Simon Bar Jesus, entered the Holy Place of the temple. This sacrilegious act triggered a war among the religious factions that left profane dead bodies and blood inside that holy spot. In addition, a fire burned up most of the grain reserves stored in the temple, destroying food that could have sustained the people during the three-and-a-half-year siege that ended in disaster for the Jews.7 The Roman armies then pried all the stones of the temple apart, seeking the gold that joined one key stone to another.

7 The Jewish Wars, Josephus.

If Mark’s gospel was written after that event, the writer, acting under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, purposely did not mention the Holy Place directly, but simply wrote that the abomination would be standing where it ought not. This is obviously now also referring to the end of the church age, at which time there will be a second and complete fulfillment of this prophecy that will not necessarily transpire in the Holy Place of a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, but in the church at large, of which the Holy Place was a symbol.

In the words of Daniel:

And he said, Go thy way, Daniel, for these words are closed up and sealed until the time of the fulfillment. Many shall be purified and made white and purged, but the wicked shall get worse; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away until the abomination of desolation, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days (Daniel 12:9-11).

The daily sacrifice was known as the sacrifice of praise (“Judah” means “praise” and “Judea” means “land of Judah”). When it dawned on the Jewish religious leaders that the timeline for the Messiah as prophesied by Daniel (i.e., seventy weeks of years) and others was now overdue, each faction began to promote its own candidate. This stopped the daily sacrifice and started a countdown to the siege and total destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. When the early Christians saw the abomination and realized that the Roman armies were about to compass Jerusalem (Luke 21:20), they fled to the mountains and were saved. Many had undoubtedly been led by the Spirit to leave earlier.8

8 For further explanation of the prophetic days and how they fit into history and into the end times, see The Book of Daniel, by Russell Stendal.

13:14a But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation (spoken of by Daniel the prophet) standing where it ought not, he that reads, let him understand,

The Holy Place is also symbolic of the priesthood of all believers (and therefore linked to the church and the church age). Only priests born of the tribe of Levi into the family of the descendants of Aaron could minister in the Holy Place. Today, each born-again believer in Christ has access to the “showbread” (the nurture of the persecuted body of Christ that was broken for us) in the light of the “lampstand” that contains sixty-six features of beaten gold (symbolizing the sixty-six books of the Bible), in the light of the Holy Spirit. We also have access to the “golden altar of incense” that symbolizes the prayers of those who are clean and who enter into the presence of God. Under the new covenant, God declares that he will no longer dwell in temples made of hands, and that now, we who are his people are also his temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16). Individually and corporately, we contain a Holy Place reserved for the exclusive presence of God by the Holy Spirit.

If, however, due to apostasy, the Holy Place represented by the church is overrun by a religious spirit that is actually an unclean demon presenting itself as an angel of light, this is the end-time fulfillment of the abomination of desolation. There are hints in Scripture that at the time of the end, Satan himself may orchestrate this. Even now, he is greatly stressed and knows full well that his time is short.

13:14b then let those that are in Judea flee to the mountains;

If we are born again into the life of Jesus by the Holy Spirit, then we are the people of praise who spiritually live in the land of “Judea,” and we must flee to the mountains when we observe the abomination of desolation. The “mountains” aren’t necessarily a physical place; they are also a spiritual place in the stronghold of God.

13:15 and let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein to take any thing out of his house;

If the abomination overruns a spiritual “house” or congregation (which will cause God to withdraw his presence), we are not to go back into the house or take anything out of it.

13:16 and let him that is in the field not turn back again even to take up his garment.

If we are in the field (of service unto the Lord), we are not to turn back again, even to take up the garment (or covering) we left behind.

13:17 But woe to those that are with child and to those that give suck in those days!

This is speaking of the time of the end, the time of the harvest when winter is near. Those who are out of touch with God’s timetable and have not come to maturity in Christ, or those who are maintaining others in immaturity with spiritual milk instead of with bread and strong meat, will have a difficult time. But remember, in Jesus Christ there is no danger. Even the smallest child who trusts him completely will be safe, because Jesus is the only one who is mature (that is, perfect). For circumstances where there are those too young to be accountable, it will suffice if a parent is safely hidden in Christ.

13:18 Pray, therefore, that your flight not be in winter.

In AD 66 or 67, prior to the siege of Jerusalem, those who were spiritually immature waited until the last minute to flee, lingering until they witnessed the human blood spilled in the temple and the massive Roman armies approaching. Thus, they may have had to flee in the beginning of winter and with scanty provisions. Others who were more sensitive to the leading of the Spirit were able to get out in plenty of time.

At present, it is better to break with the house of unclean religion as soon as the Holy Spirit prompts us to do so, and not return into the “house” for unclean provision or covering. In the spiritual journey ahead of us into the “mountains,” we must be fed and clothed with what God provides.

13:19 For those days shall be of affliction such as never was from the beginning of the creation of the things which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

The events of AD 66 to 70, though profoundly ugly and gruesome, were not the complete fulfillment of this prophecy. That was (and still is) yet to come.

13:20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved, but for the elect’s sake, whom he has chosen, he has shortened those days.

If the elect were to be secretly raptured off to heaven before things get rough, this would have been a good place to tell us about it. Jesus does promise, however, that he has shortened those days.

What days?

Jesus said that if we follow him (in the way of the cross), then everyone in the world will hate us for his sake and for the sake of the gospel. In the highest sense, Jesus is referring to the two prophetic days (two thousand years) that the age of grace would last. All through this period, which is also known as the times of the Gentiles, his true followers would be persecuted and would experience great tribulation. We see a parallel scene in Revelation:

And one of the elders responded and asked me, Who are these who are arrayed in long white robes? and where did they come from? And I said unto him, lord, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are those who came out of great tribulation and have washed their long robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:13-14).

Please note that this scene takes place before the seven trumpets sound and before the seven vials are poured out – the time that many theologians call the great tribulation.

Scripture is also clear that we now know that unto those who love God, all things help them unto good, to those who according to the purpose are called to be saints (Romans 8:28). The purpose of the way of the cross is to perfect the saints and to eliminate every residue of the carnal, natural man. God won’t allow us to be persecuted or tortured unnecessarily, however. The devil has done everything in his power to come against those who truly believe in Jesus, and he has manipulated those who belong to the world into doing the same. He has thrown every adverse circumstance in our way for the past two prophetic days, including lack of finances, debilitating sickness, and deadly disease, along with rejection and betrayal on all sides. When we pass the test victoriously in Christ, God has, throughout this long and extremely adverse period of history, shortened the days. He will allow nothing to happen to us that will not help us unto good.

Looking at this from an end-time perspective, the age of grace may also be shortened. This was not the case with the age of law. The fifteen hundred years of law that were prefigured in many prophetic patterns should have ended earlier, and it appears that God actually extended those years to give the Jews more time to repent. He did not physically lower the boom until AD 66 to 70, and then, according to Josephus, no flesh was saved. Jerusalem, the temple, and all the rebellious Jews inside were utterly destroyed.

Returning to Jesus’ warning words in Mark:

13:21 And then if anyone should say to you, Behold, here is the Christ, or, Behold, he is there, do not believe him;

13:22 for false Christs and false prophets shall rise and shall show signs and wonders to seduce, if possible, even the elect.

13:23 But take ye heed; behold, I have told you everything beforehand.

If what Jesus said here doesn’t apply to the entirety of the two prophetic days since he was here in the flesh, how could he then say, Behold, I have told you everything beforehand?

13:24 But in those days after that affliction, the sun shall darken, and the moon shall not give her light,

13:25 and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken.

In what days after that affliction?

Right at the end of the days of the church age, the day of the Lord is about to begin, amidst great darkness upon the face of the earth (Isaiah 60:1-5).

The sun represents the kingdoms and pleasures and attractions of the light of this world. We’re told that this light will darken. Look around the world today. Is the sun beginning to go dark? Governments are shaking, world order is coming apart at the seams, and huge financial institutions are trembling.

The moon, representing God’s people under law, (whether in Israel or in the church) has been reflecting the light of the sun of this world and shall no longer give out any light.

The stars are falling from heaven. Gifted individuals are no longer able to adequately manage the nations, world and national institutions, or religious entities. In the spiritual arena, Satan and his angels are about to be cast down from heaven to the earth. I know that they only make up a third of the heavenly host, but when they fall, the heavenly armies loyal to the Lord will descend to earth after them. The end-time battle that will be fought here upon the earth at that time will shake the powers that are in heaven. The realm of the heavens and the realm of the earth will then be joined once again. This theme is apparent in other Scripture passages, as well. For example:

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath; for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and those that dwell therein shall perish in like manner; but my saving health shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall never perish. (Isaiah 51:6)

And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth and the princes and the rich and the captains and the strong and every slave and every free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains and said to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of him that is seated upon the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand before him? (Revelation 6:14-17)

If we have made God our habitation, then our citizenship is of heaven, even if we still walk upon this earth. If we are hidden in Christ, we will have nothing to fear, while those who name the name of God but continue to vie for the things of this world will find that their covering is useless.

The description of that time continues in Mark’s gospel:

13:26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

13:27 And then shall he send his angels and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth unto the uttermost part of the heaven.

At his coming, which will happen suddenly, but which everyone will see, we will be caught up to meet him in the air and will accompany him as he returns in victory.9

In conjunction with Jesus’ return, the trumpets of Revelation will sound in close succession. The first resurrection is at the last trump (1 Corinthians 15:52). Likewise, the seven vials will be poured out after his return, as he judges the world.10

9 For a more detailed look at this, see Preparing for the End of the World: Writings from the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians Regarding the End Times, by Russell M. Stendal.

10 See Revelation Unveiled: Understanding the Heart of Jesus in the Imminent Day of the Lord, by Russell M. Stendal.

13:28 Learn the similitude from the fig tree: When her branch is yet tender and puts forth leaves, ye know that summer is near;

13:29 so ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is near, even at the doors.

The fig tree has definitely been putting forth leaves, inasmuch as the nation of Israel is back in its natural land, and spiritually, many religious people are attempting to convince Christians to return to dead Jewish ritual or to other legalisms. Their efforts are not meeting with success, however, for as Jesus said, the fig tree will put forth leaves but will never bear good fruit.

What Jesus called “these things” are now coming to pass. The abomination of desolation is well advanced in many places inside Israel and the church. Since we, his people, are now the temple of God and he no longer dwells in temples made by hands, there is no need for Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt in order for the Lord to return.

The signs in the sun, moon, and stars are also well advanced. There have been natural events, to be sure, but the most important events are the spiritual ones.

13:30 Verily I say unto you that this generation shall not pass until all these things are done.

What generation?

Jesus was speaking in private to Peter, James, John, and Andrew, who were all of his own generation. Indeed, most of the members of Jesus’ generation were alive when the destruction came upon Jerusalem. However, it is the generation of the body of Christ that will not pass until all these things are done. When Jesus returns, may he find many faithful who are alive and remain.

13:31 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

When our loved ones pass away, we don’t believe that they have utterly ceased to exist, but rather, that there has been an irrevocable change and their soul has passed on to another realm. So it will be with heaven and earth. The transformation when the curse is lifted will be hard to believe (Revelation 21:1). All things will be made new, and the word of our God shall stand for ever (Isaiah 40:8).

13:32 But of that day and that hour no one knows, no, not even the angels who are in the heaven, neither the Son, but only the Father.

The Father is preparing the bride. When she is complete and has made herself ready, it will be time.

13:33 Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time shall be.

13:34 As the man who, taking a far journey, left his house and gave his estate to his slaves and to each one his responsibility and commanded the porter to watch.

13:35 Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the Lord of the house comes: at evening or at midnight or at the cockcrowing or in the morning,

13:36 lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

13:37 And what I say unto you, I say unto all: Watch.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father:

We ask that we may be found watchful and spiritually awake when Jesus returns. Amen.

Chap 12. The Way of the Cross.

Mark 14

14:1 Two days after was the Passover and the days of unleavened bread; and the princes of the priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, that they might kill him.

‘Jesus’ enemies, moved by the devil, decided that now was the time to act. And they did.

Two prophetic days after Jesus died would be very close to the present time. Many enemies of the people of God still desire the death of the godly remnant. This is the same cruel and wicked spirit that manifested itself when King Herod had all the babies in Bethlehem murdered except Jesus, whom God hid. There have been times throughout history when the devil has done everything possible to murder Christians and Jews, and we have been living through another of those times. Christians and Jews in the Middle East especially have been slaughtered without mercy. The devil knows more about Bible prophecy than many Jews or Christians do; he knows for a certainty that his time is very short, and he wants to cause as much carnage and destruction as he can in the time remaining to him.

He has spent most of his limited resources over the centuries opposing, persecuting, and killing or attempting to kill those who are on fire for Jesus and who truly understand the way of the cross. During that time, for the most part, he has ignored those who are lukewarm. There was no need for him to take action against them when he could simply let them meander down the wide way that leads to destruction, while they infect others with their lackadaisical attitude en route. He has, however, spent serious time and resources trying to wipe out the Jews in an all-out attempt to prevent Bible prophecies from being fulfilled.

But now, as we silently enter the day of the Lord, the rules of engagement are changing. Those who are totally committed to God and who have, by the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the flesh (in the midst of constant persecution and tribulation) will live. Satan, in his blind rage and fury, will turn on anyone who bears any connection to the name of the Lord. Those who are lukewarm yet still call themselves Christians (or Jews) have a strong enough association to the things of God to render them prime targets, while at the same time they are not in a secure position with the Lord, and thus will not be protected in the shadow of the Almighty when the end-time storm breaks loose.

The vile events perpetrated by people such as Haman and Hitler were only practice runs for what the devil is planning to execute shortly. He desperately wants to make it so that at least some of the Word of God will not transpire, thereby proving (in his mind and the minds of his followers) that God is not real and true. This is his only hope and his last chance. When he feels himself cornered, we can expect Satan to be an extremely poor loser who will attempt to destroy anyone within reach, even including many of his own people, in a last-ditch stand. The world chessboard is now being accommodated and set up for his final moves. Watch the Middle East.

God is about to turn the tables and make it so Satan wipes out those who are using the Lord’s name, but are not true to him. When speaking of Jezebel, the prophetess who tried to kill God’s prophets and contaminate Israel with Baal worship (the worship of the god of the prosperity of this world), Jesus said in his letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira, Behold, I will cast her into a bed and those that commit adultery with her into great tribulation unless they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death (Revelation 2:22-23).

The princes of the priests and the scribes also had death on their minds, as Mark describes.

14:2 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.

They were rapidly approaching the Feast of the Passover, and they feared the people. We, too, are rapidly approaching a feast: the end-time Feast of Tabernacles. The devil knows that when that day arrives, he will have run out of time. Before that day, he has work to do, because his goal is to make sure that when Jesus returns, he will find no faith left upon the earth. Satan wants to make a mockery out of Jesus’ words that this generation (the generation of Christ) shall not pass until all these things are done (Mark 13:30).

14:3 And he being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, sitting at the table, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and breaking the alabaster, she poured it over his head.

Jesus is headquartered now in Bethany, the “house of dates,” because he loves the fruit of righteousness that the date represents. He is in the house of Simon the leper because he came to save sinners, and leprosy represents terminal sin. He is at the table because he has a table prepared for us in the presence of our enemies (Psalm 23:5). The woman with the alabaster box (this was a sealed vial, like the golden vials of Revelation, but carved out of translucent white alabaster) represents a faithful remnant. Ointment of spikenard is a costly perfume distilled from the lily, and it represents the gifts and ministries that Jesus has bestowed upon his people who understand the way of the cross. The woman represents all those throughout history who have been willing to lay down everything for the Lord, even the precious gifts that he has given us. She poured the precious ointment over Jesus’ head in a deeply symbolic act, for he is the head of the universal body of Christ, and the powerful anointing that this act symbolizes continues to flow downward from the head and over the body of Christ to anoint us to follow in his footsteps (Psalm 133).

14:4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?

14:5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarius and given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

Three hundred denarius was about a year’s salary. One of those who spoke out against the supposed waste was Judas, who carried Jesus’ purse and had been dipping into it for personal gain from time to time (John 12:4-6). This is the first clear public evidence that there was something wrong with Judas, although the Lord knew his heart all the time.

14:6 But Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She has wrought a good work on me.

On our own, none of us has even the remotest possibility of doing a truly good work. This woman, in order to qualify in Jesus’ eyes as having done a good work, was clearly motivated and led by God.

14:7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whenever ye will, ye may do them good; but me ye have not always.

14:8 She has done what she could, for she has anticipated anointing my body for the burial.

Other women went to anoint Jesus’ body after he was dead. This was the only woman who anticipated that anointing. (Remember that a woman can represent an entire group or congregation.) If we are members of the body of Christ, then we are part of his body that was anointed for burial. This means that if we are willing to completely lay down our own lives and lose them, we will gain the fullness of his life. This is the way of the cross.

14:9 Verily I say unto you, Wherever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she has done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

I know that this account is in the Bible and has been published worldwide. However, there are many places and ministries that evangelize, yet never seem to speak of this woman’s actions. Could it be that the message of such ministries is not really this gospel? Many people have sold or attempted to sell their anointing for personal gain, but few are willing to break their “alabaster box” and pour out everything that is precious to them upon the head and body of Christ.

14:10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, came unto the princes of the priests to deliver him unto them.

“Iscariot” means “of Kerioth” (of the city, or of the world). Judas’ heart had never been true. He had been camouflaged among the twelve disciples all this time.

14:11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.

There continue to be many who, like Judas Iscariot, are camouflaged among the people of God today and are willing to betray the true body of Christ for personal gain. God knows who they are, even though it is extremely difficult for us to identify them until they show their true colors.

14:12 And the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou may eat the passover?

14:13 And he sends forth two of his disciples and said unto them, Go into the city, and a man shall meet you bearing a pitcher of water; follow him.

In their culture at that time, it wasn’t customary for a man to bear water, and the man that Jesus mentioned was likely the only one doing this on that day. He was performing the service that was normally done by a woman, or possibly by a slave. This nameless man is an example of the humble people whom Jesus wants us to follow; they are the ones who are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

14:14 And wherever he shall go in, say to the husband of the house, The Master says, Where is the guestchamber where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?

14:15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us.

Could this possibly be the same upper room mentioned in the second chapter of Acts, in conjunction with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

14:16 And his disciples went forth and came into the city and found as he had said unto them, and they made ready the passover.

14:17 And in the evening he went with the twelve.

14:18 And when they sat at the table and ate, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you who eats with me shall betray me.

Jesus didn’t beat about the bush, but got straight to the point.

14:19 And they began to be sorrowful and to say unto him one by one, shall it be I? and another said, shall it be I?

Judas was sitting there all the while, right in the middle of the Last Supper, with the thirty pieces of silver in his possession that he had received from the princes of the priests to betray Jesus. Over the past years of ministry, Judas had given no overt indication that he would be a traitor. He had served Jesus, he had been sent out to cast out demons and heal the sick, and he had apparently paid close attention to Jesus’ miracles and teaching. If there had been any noticeable difference, the rest of the disciples would not have been saying to Jesus, one by one, Shall it be I?

How many people who appear to be genuine are betraying Christ today?

14:20 And he, answering, said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dips with me in the dish.

14:21 The Son of man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.

Why would it have been better if Judas had never been born?

When we are born into this world of the race of Adam, we soon realize that we’ve been born into a race of slaves to the flesh (and ultimately to sin), into a kingdom of spiritual darkness. However, we have the opportunity to respond to the light of the truth by heeding our conscience, and we can respond to the gospel by receiving the ministry and message sent by God. On the other hand, someone who joins Satan willingly, as Judas did when he decided to betray the Lord, is in a much worse predicament than someone who was simply born into this evil world. Such a person will deserve essentially the same punishment that Satan does.

Jesus set the stage for Judas to be revealed as a traitor, while giving him every opportunity to repent before it was too late; but Judas was set on his course. Jesus referred to him as the son of perdition (John 17:12). Judas also prefigures another man who must be revealed prior to the second coming. We are not told this man’s name, but he is referred to as the man of sin and the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3) and he, like wicked Haman in the book of Esther, will attempt to betray and murder all the true people of God. The fact that Haman had a wife and ten sons who were all part of his plot against the Jews also bears scrutiny.

Many commentators believe that this coming man of sin will be a single individual or “antichrist” (one who is like Christ, but false) possessed by the devil, as Judas was. There are hints in Scripture, however, that the man of sin may also include a corporate company of those who are of their father the devil and have infiltrated the people of God. They are referred to in twenty-eight Scripture references as sons or daughters of Belial. Jesus referred to the scribes, Pharisees, and princes of the priests (who later conspired with Judas to kill him) as sons of their father the devil (John 8:38-45). Those belonging to the man of sin have operated throughout church history with the spirit of antichrist. The apostle John warned: Little children, it is the last hour, and as ye have heard that the antichrist comes, likewise there are also beginning to be many antichrists, by which we know that it is the last time (1 John 2:18).

The seven-headed beast of the book of Revelation, depicting all the heads and all the groups and entities belonging to the devil’s hopelessly divided kingdom, is also linked to perdition (Revelation 17:7-8).

14:22 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and, blessing it, broke it and gave to them and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

14:23 And taking the cup, having given thanks, he gave it to them; and they all drank of it.

14:24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

The wonderful communion of the Last Supper undoubtedly made a lasting positive impact on eleven of the twelve disciples. It had the exact opposite effect, however, on Judas. When Jesus gave him a sop of bread with wine, Satan entered into him (John 13:27).

Judas had been with the Lord for close to three and a half years, and even after all of that, he still went out and betrayed him. This isn’t a situation where Jesus could have said, “Look, Judas, let me tell you another parable or show you one more miracle so that I can convince you that I really am the Messiah and that you shouldn’t betray me.”


Judas, like Satan, entered the road to perdition with his eyes wide open, knowing full well what he was doing. This is a man who had actually been sent out by Jesus to preach the gospel, with the power and authority to conduct miracles of healing and deliverance. He knew Jesus intimately, yet he sold him for only thirty pieces of silver after getting in a huff about the woman with the box of alabaster ointment.

14:25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

Wine is a symbol of life (or death). The life of Adam is really death. Jesus began his ministry by changing water (a symbol of the Word of God) into new wine (a symbol of Jesus’ life). The master of the ceremony commented that the new wine was much better than the old. The fullness of the new wine is associated with the kingdom of God, which the Jews declined. Their refusal, however, did not end God’s plan. Instead, as a result of their rejection, God instituted the times of the Gentiles (also known as the age of grace), to be followed by the day of the Lord, in which the fullness of the kingdom will be made manifest here upon the earth at the second coming of Jesus. When Jesus returns at the first resurrection, those who qualify can look forward to enjoying the fruit of the vine personally with him. In the meantime, we can continue to have intimate communion with him and with the Father by the Spirit.

14:26 And when they had sung the hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

The hymn was likely a prophetic Psalm. This is the only incident in this gospel of Jesus singing, and for him and the others, it wasn’t a very joyous occasion, but song isn’t always an indicator of happiness. Sometimes familiar songs can give us comfort and strength in trying circumstances.

The Mount of Olives appears frequently in the latter part of all the gospel accounts. This is where Bethany, the house of dates (representing the fruit of righteousness), was located; yet after spending a night there, Jesus was unsatisfied and quite hungry, and he looked for something to eat, only to find that the fig tree at the base of the mount had no figs.

The garden of Gethsemane is also on the Mount of Olives.

14:27 Then Jesus said unto them, All ye shall be scandalized in me this night; for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.

14:28 But after I have risen, I will go before you into Galilee.

After Jesus was risen, his plan was not to go back to the Mount of Olives, but rather to go on before the disciples into Galilee.

Why not return to the Mount of Olives? It represents a semi-religious environment outside of the religious city of Jerusalem where Jesus sought good fruit and solace, but failed to find satisfactory versions of either. The olive tree didn’t present the same problem as that symbolized by the fig tree, but nevertheless, the unbelieving, unfruitful Jewish branches had to be cut off and replaced with believing Gentiles. There were, however, some believing Jews who Jesus declared were not far from the kingdom of God, such as the scribe who gave Jesus a wise answer, and these would remain attached to the good olive tree.

Why go to Galilee? It was Jesus’ practice, during his ministry, to travel out of Galilee and then return there after each tour or circuit. Accordingly, this was what he did after his resurrection.

14:29 Then Peter said unto him, Although all be scandalized, yet I will not.

14:30 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crows twice, thou shalt deny me three times.

14:31 But he spoke the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said the others.

Peter and the others continued to be very sure of themselves. This attitude of self-confidence, however, is not compatible with complete faith in Jesus. All of them were about to receive their last practical lesson.

14:32 And they come to the place which is named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, Sit ye here while I pray.

“Gethsemane” means “wine and oil press.” This is the spiritual place of total commitment to the way of the cross, total commitment to lay down our own lives for the sake of God and of the gospel, from which unlimited life and anointing flow. All true disciples of Jesus will find, during the course of their lives and ministry here on earth, that Gethsemane is not necessarily a one-time event.

14:33 And he takes with him Peter and James and John and began to be alarmed and to be anguished

14:34 and said unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death; tarry ye here, and watch.

14:35 And he went forward a little and fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.

Jesus liked to pray alone. This is what he taught and practiced (Matthew 6:6). I don’t believe that it was just the thought of physical pain, torture, and death that caused him to be alarmed and anguished, although from a human perspective this was going to be a horrific experience. Jesus was and is very human, but he is also the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature; for by him were all things created, that are in the heavens and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they are thrones or dominions or principalities or powers: all things were created by him and in him (Colossians 1:15-16). He was and is the commander of the armies of heaven. He could have called a halt at any time to the grisly events that lay ahead of him.

I believe that his distress was also caused by the thought of such a significant part of his creation rebelling, and by the fact that even his beloved nation of Israel was rejecting him. The negative consequences that the Jewish nation would experience as a result of this travesty of justice added to his alarm and anguish. He wanted to be accepted by his chosen people, not rejected, tortured, and killed. This is why he asked the Father if there might not be some other way.

14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me; nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Jesus could have followed his own will and evaded the horror of the coming events. Instead, he submitted to the will of his Father because of their joint desire to save us all.

14:37 And he came and found them sleeping and said unto Peter: Simon, sleepest thou? Could thou not watch one hour?

14:38 Watch ye and pray; enter not into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is sick.

14:39 And again he went away and prayed and spoke the same words.

14:40 And when he returned, he found them asleep again (for their eyes were heavy), nor did they know what to answer him.

Since Jesus prayed alone and since Peter, James, and John, who were close by, were asleep, no one heard the words he prayed to his Father. They must therefore have been directly revealed to the writer of this account, unless young John Mark (or someone else who may have been present that night) was hovering in the background and overheard Jesus’ prayer.

14:41 And he came the third time and said unto them, Sleep on now and rest; it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of the sinners.

It wasn’t just that Jesus was about to face something both agonizing and humiliating. The entire future of the Jewish nation was at stake, and the disciples were sunk deep in sleep, unaware of the consequences of what was about to happen (as was almost everyone else). Jesus wasn’t primarily referring to their physical sleep, because his next immediate words were:

14:42 Rise up, let us go; behold, he that betrays me is at hand.

Eight of the disciples were asleep in one place, but Jesus didn’t bother to disturb them or confront them. He did wake up and confront Peter, James, and John three times, but they remained clueless as to what was about to transpire.

14:43 And immediately, while he yet spoke, Judas came, who was one of the twelve, and with him a multitude with swords and staves from the princes of the priests and of the scribes and of the elders.

All of the elements of authority of the Jewish nation were united against Jesus.

14:44 And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him and lead him away securely.

14:45 And as soon as he was come, he went straightway to him and said, Master, Master, and kissed him.

Judas, the son of perdition, a representation of all those who have dealings with the man of sin in whom operates the spirit of antichrist, betrayed Jesus with a kiss. We need to understand that this spirit loves to operate inside what we consider to be the people of God and to get as close as possible to the true sons of God. Psalm 109 explains in detail what will happen to those who follow the bad example of Judas, who, like his father, the devil, falsely accused and betrayed the body of Christ.

14:46 And they laid their hands on him and took him.

14:47 And one of them that stood by drew a sword and smote the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear.

In this account, it is not of prime importance to know who drew the sword. The servant of the high priest symbolizes all the ministry of the princes of the priests and of the scribes and of the elders who, along with Judas, were loyal to the corrupt and wicked high priest instead of placing their faith and trust in Jesus. Faith comes by hearing, and the ear to hear comes by the word of God (Romans 10:17). These people obviously did not have an ear to hear Jesus or his word. Now, their time of opportunity would be irrevocably cut short, severed as the sword severed the slave’s ear.

This isn’t primarily about the natural ear of the high priest’s servant. We know from another account that Jesus did one last miracle and healed the man (Luke 22:49-51).

14:48 And Jesus, answering, said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?

14:49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not, but it is this way that the scriptures might be fulfilled.

Even as the devil was using Judas and the princes of the priests and the scribes and the elders to spring what he thought was a masterpiece of a trap to kill Jesus, in reality all of them were unwittingly fulfilling Scripture. If any of them had understood what was really about to happen, they would have never done what they did. The disciples may have been asleep and confused, but Jesus’ enemies were so blind with hatred that they did themselves in.

14:50 And they all forsook him and fled.

When the disciples woke up to the fact that Jesus was not going to put up a physical fight, they forsook him and fled.

14:51 And there followed him a certain young man having a linen cloth cast about his naked body, and the young men laid hold on him,

14:52 and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.

Young men are immature by nature, and the disciples, although not necessarily all still young in years, were all still very immature. Linen is a symbol of righteousness. The righteous acts of the saints, performed in obedience to the Lord and by the grace of God, are compared to fine linen (Revelation 19:8). While the immature disciples were with Jesus, obeying his commands, he was their spiritual covering. When they forsook him and fled, they were spiritually naked. The one who ended up literally naked could have been young John Mark.

14:53 And they brought Jesus to the high priest, and with him were assembled all the princes of the priests and the elders and the scribes.

14:54 But Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest, and he was seated with the servants and warming himself at the fire.

Peter was warming himself at the fire, but he did not want to go through the fire of persecution along with Jesus.

14:55 And the princes of the priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death and found none.

14:56 For many bore false witness against him, but their witness did not agree together.

14:57 And there arose some that bore false witness against him, saying,

14:58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.

14:59 But neither so did their witness agree together.

They were giving conflicting versions of what Jesus had said, and none of them could even quote him straight. He had actually said to them, Dissolve this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (John 2:18-21). Jesus was referring to the temple that was his human body and forewarning them that if they killed him, he would come forth in resurrection within three days. There is, however, a prophetic and far-reaching side to all of this, in that the temple made with hands at Jerusalem would indeed be destroyed, and within three prophetic days Jesus would build another temple of living stones without the use of hands.

14:60 So the high priest, standing up in the midst, asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing to what these witness against thee?

14:61 But he was silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?

14:62 And Jesus said unto him, I AM, and ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of the power of God and coming in the clouds of the heaven.

Since they could not seem to get two or three false witnesses to agree, Jesus had to help them out in order to be condemned to death so that he could die for us. When Jesus said I AM, that did it. I AM was the sacred name of God that the Jews believed was unlawful to pronounce. It occurs close to seven thousand times in Scripture, and they read it as “Adonai,” or Lord. No one was allowed to pronounce that name, on pain of death, because they believed that since only God had eternal existence, only he could truly declare that I AM. When Jesus, being a man, equated himself with God by pronouncing the sacred name, the high priest and his cronies needed no more witnesses, since they themselves had all heard what he said. Now they could charge him with blasphemy, which carried the death penalty. The only remaining problem for them was that since the country was occupied by Rome, they had to get the death sentence approved by the Roman governor, and Roman soldiers had to carry it out.

14:63 Then the high priest rent his clothes and said, What need have we any more for witnesses?

14:64 Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.

No one present at the council stood up for Jesus or defended him in any way. And yes, they condemned him to death, but in doing so they unknowingly condemned themselves to destruction, along with their nation, their city, their temple, and their entire blind legalistic way of doing things. Out of the entire Jewish nation, only a relatively small remnant would be saved and sent out to evangelize the Gentiles.

14:65 And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to buffet him and to say unto him, Prophesy. And the servants struck him with the palms of their hands.

In contrast, Jesus had used his hands and saliva to heal, to restore, and to save.

14:66 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there came one of the maids of the high priest;

14:67 and when she saw Peter warming himself, looking upon him, said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.

Peter was still warming himself.

14:68 But he denied, saying, I know him not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.

Peter was so caught up in saving his own life that when the cock crowed the first time, he hardly noticed and did not even immediately recall what the Lord had told him a few hours earlier. He did, however, with some small part of his mind, hear the cock crow.

14:69 And the maid seeing him again began to say to those that stood by, This is one of them.

14:70 But he denied it again. And a little after, those that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them, for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agrees unto it.

14:71 And he began to curse and to swear, saying, I do not know this man of whom ye speak.

14:72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the words that Jesus had said unto him, Before the cock crows twice, thou shalt deny me three times. And thinking on this, he wept.

The cock crow heralds a new day and begins well before dawn. The physical day that was about to dawn would bring redemption and victory on a grand and unprecedented scale. Before the day was over, Jesus would be down in Hades preaching to the souls of the dead, taking the keys of death and Hades from the hand of Satan, leading captivity captive, and preparing gifts for all men, poised to ascend far above all the heavens that he might fulfill all things (Ephesians 4:8-10). In a few hours, he would be at work blotting out the bill of the decrees that was against us, which was contrary to us and [taking] it out of the way, nailing it to his cross, and having spoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it (Colossians 2:14-15).

The day of the Lord is now close at hand, and the cock is again beginning to crow. Those who continue to deny the Lord in any way will do well to take notice and repent before Jesus returns and it is too late. Fortunately for him, Peter began to think about what he had done, and he wept with shame and remorse.

The fire of God destroys that which is corrupt and unclean. God chastens or disciplines his sons, whom he loves. If we desire to be in the center of the love of God, we must not shy away from the fire of his dealings if it turns out to be his will for us to suffer persecution and rejection because of him. This is the way of the cross; it is the only way for us to become pure and clean. The reason that Jesus suffered and died was not so we will be spared from suffering and dying. He died to save us and to show us the way of perfect obedience. Jesus is the example for all of us; if he learned obedience by the things which he suffered (Hebrews 5:8), is not the same thing true for us?

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father:

We ask that you may grant us the strength and the courage to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and be willing to face trials, tribulations, persecution, defamation, and rejection without denying you. We ask that you will keep your hand upon us and bring us forth pure and clean, in perfect obedience to your will. We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Chap 13. Death and Resurrection.

Mark 15

15:1 And straightway in the morning the princes of the priests having held a consultation with the elders and with the scribes and with the whole council, took Jesus away bound and delivered him to Pilate.

The name of Pilate, the Roman governor, possibly means “armed with a javelin or spear.”

15:2 And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he, answering, said unto him, Thou sayest it.

15:3 And the princes of the priests accused him of many things.

15:4 And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they accuse thee of.

15:5 But Jesus yet answered nothing, so that Pilate marvelled.

Jesus knew that complete and total victory was very near. Now all he had to do was keep quiet and let Pilate make up his mind. Pilate had never seen anyone or anything like this before.

15:6 Now at that feast it was customary that he release unto them one prisoner, whoever they desired.

15:7 And there was one named Barabbas, who lay bound with those that had made insurrection with him, who committed murder in the insurrection.

Barabbas means “son of Abba” (father). Barabbas started out as a natural, carnal, fallen man descended from our common father, Adam. Then he got involved in rebellion and committed murder. Scripture states that Satan was a murderer from the beginning (of his rebellion when he compromised Adam and Eve in a way that would lead to their death), and Barabbas seems to have been following in his footsteps. In Jewish terminology, he could have been described as a son of Belial (worthless, lawless). In short, he was a wicked man.

15:8 And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had always done unto them.

15:9 And Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

15:10 For he knew that the princes of the priests had delivered him for envy.

15:11 But the princes of the priests moved the multitude that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.

How many people in the watching multitude had heard Jesus teach? How many had received a miracle healing or deliverance or had known someone who did? After all that had transpired over the past three and a half years, virtually no one in the entire area was ignorant of his works and his words, yet not one of them stood up for him.

15:12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?

15:13 And they cried out again, crucify him.

15:14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil has he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, crucify him.

Not only the princes of the priests, but all the demons that Satan could mobilize were bearing down on the crowd. Satan, feeling that his grand strategy to defeat God was about to succeed at last, now saw as his only obstacle that pesky Pilate, who was clearly having second thoughts about condemning Jesus. Satan put everything into a last great hurrah to sweep Pilate into pleasing the people instead of staying true to his conscience, which had obviously pricked him.

Here the people decided between Jesus and Barabbas. There had never been such a public contest between God and Satan in such a religious environment in the history of Jerusalem. Satan was so proud, arrogant, and elated, that the extraordinary magnitude of what this would mean for him and for his kingdom did not even begin to dawn on him until it was too late.

15:15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.

Pilate, like many politicians today, was more than willing to violate his conscience if it meant pleasing the people. He even had Jesus scourged, which seems to have been a standard practice for the Romans when they interrogated someone so that they could find out whatever information the prisoner may have been holding back (Acts 22:24).

15:16 And the soldiers led him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they call together the whole band.

15:17 And they clothed him with purple and platted a crown of thorns and put it about his head

15:18 and began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!

15:19 And they smote him on the head with a reed and spit upon him and bowing their knees worshipped him.

15:20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him and put his own clothes on him and led him out to crucify him.

15:21 And they compel one Simon, a Cyrenian, who passed by coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

This man, Simon, was a Cyrenian from northern Africa, and was likely a black man. “Alexander” means “he who defends man,” and “Rufus” means “red.” Simon was just passing by, coming out of the country, when he was called upon to bear Jesus’ cross.

15:22 And they brought him unto the place of Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.

15:23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh, but he received it not.

Jesus had said at the Last Supper that he would drink no more of the fruit of the vine until the day that he would drink it new in the kingdom of God (Mark 14:25).

15:24 And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.

This was prophesied by King David a thousand years earlier (Psalm 22:18).

15:25 And it was the third hour when they crucified him.

It was the third hour since the sun had come up on the new day of redemption.

15:26 And the inscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

15:27 And with him they crucified two thieves: the one on his right hand and the other on his left.

15:28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which says, And he was numbered with the transgressors.

Below is the full quote of that Bible verse, written almost seven hundred years earlier:

Who shall believe our report? and upon whom shall the arm of the LORD be manifested? (Isaiah 53:1)

Those who believe the eyewitness report of the gospel shall have the arm or grace (power) of the LORD manifested upon them.

With all this he shall grow up before him as a tender sprout and as a root out of a dry ground. There is no outward appearance in him, nor beauty. We shall see him, yet nothing attractive about him that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:2)

Jesus was from Nazareth (meaning “sprout” or “branch”). His outward appearance was not handsome or even particularly attractive, and perhaps this was why many, like the multitude near Caesarea Philippi, having heard so much about him and his power to attract people, were amazed when they saw him (Mark 9:15).

He is despised and rejected among men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with weakness; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our sicknesses and suffered our pain: and we considered him stricken, smitten of God, and cast down. But he was wounded for our rebellions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his stripes healing was provided for us. (Isaiah 53:3-5)

Even the stripes of the scourging ordered by Pilate were foretold as being something that would help to provide healing for us.

All we like sheep have become lost; we have turned each one to his own way; and the LORD transposed in him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:6-7)

He didn’t defend himself when brought before Pilate in the midst of a hail of false accusations by the princes of the priests.

He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall count his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living; for the rebellion of my people he was smitten. (Isaiah 53:8)

Jesus was cut off without having any physical offspring, yet the spiritual generation of the body of Christ continues, and it shall not pass away until all things are fulfilled.

And he made his grave with the wicked, and his death with the rich; even though he had never done evil, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:9)

Jesus was buried in the tomb of a rich man and went down to the grave (Sheol or Hades) where Satan was holding the souls of virtually everyone who had ever died up until that point. The only exceptions mentioned in Scripture are Enoch, Moses, and Elijah.

With all this the LORD chose to bruise him; subjecting him to grief. When he shall have offered his soul for atonement, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the will of the LORD shall be prospered in his hand. (Isaiah 53:10)

“Soul” is the equivalent of “life” or even of a “person” in Hebrew. Jesus didn’t just offer the flesh of his body for us; he offered his soul. For the soul (or life) of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you to reconcile your persons (or souls) upon the altar; therefore the same blood reconciles the person (Leviticus 17:11).

Even though Jesus had no physical offspring, he shall see his seed (in us, in the body of Christ) and he shall prolong his days (through resurrection), and the will of the LORD (of God the Father) shall be prospered in his hand.

He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. And by his knowledge shall my righteous slave justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11)

His knowledge is firsthand experience with death and resurrection. Here Jesus’ Father calls him my righteous slave. Servants are hirelings who can quit, but slaves have an owner. Jesus belongs to his Father.

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil unto the strong because he has poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the rebellious, having borne the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)

A portion is a share of something, similar to an inheritance. Having despoiled the principalities and powers, Jesus can divide that spoil among the strong. In Christ, we are strong.

Let’s continue with Mark 15.

15:29 And those that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads and saying, Ah, thou that would destroy the temple of God and build it in three days,

15:30 save thyself and come down from the cross.

15:31 Likewise also the princes of the priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.

15:32 Let the Christ, King of Israel, descend now from the stake that we may see and believe. And those that were crucified with him reviled him.

All of this took place exactly as foretold, although we know from another account that one of the thieves changed his tune and called upon the Lord as he witnessed all that was happening.

15:33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.

This was from about noon until three in the afternoon.

15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

15:35 And some of those that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calls Elijah.

15:36 And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar and put it on a reed and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.

As stated previously, a possible translation for the name Elijah is “God himself.” So when Jesus cried Eloi, Eloi, some thought he was calling on Elijah.

15:37 But Jesus, giving a great cry, expired.

15:38 Then the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom.

You may remember that on the veil were embroidered the cherubim and the flaming sword that God had placed at the east of the garden of Eden to keep the way of the tree of life after he drove man out (Genesis 3:24). The veil was a symbol that man, living according to the flesh, could not return to the presence of God (symbolized by the Holy of Holies) in his own life. Jesus’ death, however, opened the way for man to return to God in the life of Christ. This justification in Christ is clearly pegged to Jesus’ physical death.

15:39 And when the centurion, who stood in front of him, saw that he so cried out and expired, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

When Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, it sounded to the onlookers like a cry of defeat, but this was not the case. Jesus was quoting the beginning of a very important prophetic Bible passage. Part of it had now been fulfilled on this side of the veil, and the other part would soon be fulfilled on the other side. His words are found in the Psalms.

Psalm 22

To the Overcomer upon Aijeleth Shahar
[the Morning Star], A Psalm of David

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1a)

As he was dying, Jesus cried out the opening line of this psalm dedicated to the Overcomer, yet he himself is the only Overcomer (that is, if we are to overcome, we do so in and through him). In this psalm, the Overcomer is upon the morning star. Jesus has promised the morning star to those who overcome (Revelation 2:26-28), and he also states that he is the bright and morning star (Revelation 22:16). If we follow Jesus along the way of the cross and overcome, we will belong to him and he will belong to us.

Why art thou so far from helping me and from the words of my cry? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. (Psalm 22:1b-2)

Everyone who travels the way of the cross will feel like this at times. It happened to David, and Jesus experienced this so that he could save us and be of special help to us in time of need. He bore all our afflictions and all our sorrows, and in doing so, he experienced the full spectrum of human emotion, and he understands us in all our frailty.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest in the midst of the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee and were delivered: they trusted in thee and were not confounded. (Psalm 22:3-5)

Jesus’ final cry to his Father as he died upon the cross caused even the pagan Roman centurion to exclaim, Truly this man was the Son of God (Mark 15:39).

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men and despised of the people. All those that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, Turn him over to the LORD, let him deliver him, let him save him, seeing he delighted in him. (Psalm 22:6-8)

This had been happening to Jesus and intensifying ever since Judas had betrayed him in the garden the night before.

But thou art he that took me out of the womb; thou hast made me wait upon thee since I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb; thou art my God from my mother’s belly. (Psalm 22:9-10)

God was and is Jesus’ true Father. God’s hand was upon him from the time of conception through the time of his crucifixion.

Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is no one to help. Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round about. They opened their mouth upon me as a ravening and a roaring lion. (Psalm 22:11-13)

The region of Bashan has rich, fertile soil that produces lush grass to fatten cattle. It was part of the inheritance of the two and a half tribes that desired the land on the wrong side of the Jordan River, symbolizing those among the people of God who seek earthly instead of heavenly treasure. They feed upon the rich grass of the Word, yet they strengthen and even worship the flesh. These are the religious bulls of Bashan that beset Jesus round about.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. (Psalm 22:14-16)

This is what happens on the way of the cross. The “dogs” refer to the Romans who took over from the religious Jews and actually carried out the crucifixion.

I may count all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them and cast lots upon my vesture. (Psalm 22:17-18)

This all literally happened while Jesus was on the cross.

But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my life from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth and from the horns of the unicorns. (Psalm 22:19-21)

Jesus completely trusted his heavenly Father until the end, and even past the end. As soon as he died, he headed straight for Hades, the prison run by the devil, who had the keys to death. The Roman “dogs” were nothing compared to Satan and his “dogs.” Satan thought that he could wield the sword in judgment, that his word would prevail, and that he would be able to hold Jesus’ soul prisoner just as he had done with almost everyone else. Daniel in the lion’s den was only an example and a symbol of the real lion’s den into which Jesus was descending. In Scripture, the unicorn is the rhinoceros and is another symbol applicable to the devil and his demons.

Jesus did not descend into hell. That is a mistranslation in many Bibles. Hell is the lake of fire, known as the second death, that can destroy both soul and body. Hades (in Greek) or Sheol (in Hebrew) is the first death, which cannot kill the soul (Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:4-5; Revelation 20:13-15). Hades is where death was holding prisoner even the souls who had died in faith. The place had two compartments, with a great gulf between them, although it was possible to converse between the two sides (remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-25). Abraham and the patriarchs were in the compartment reserved for the righteous, held by death and awaiting redemption. Jesus went down there, and Scripture states that he even preached to the imprisoned spirits that in the time past were disobedient (1 Peter 3:19-20).

I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee. (Psalm 22:22)

Jesus descended into Hades and declared the name (nature) of God in the midst of a congregation that included men like Abel, Noah, Abraham, Daniel, David, and all the rest who had died in hope and were awaiting redemption. What a praise service that must have been! Then he captured the keys of death and Hades from Satan and led captivity captive as he took those who were his with him and ascended on high, far above all heavens (Ephesians 4:8-10).

Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. (Psalm 22:23)

“Israel” means “God prevails,” or “he who prevails with God.”

For he has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the poor in spirit; neither has he hid his face from him, but when he cried unto him, he heard. (Psalm 22:24)

When Jesus said Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens (Matthew 5:3), it turned out that he was to be the first in line!

God never turned his back on Jesus as he hung there on the cross, for when he cried unto him, he heard, and he will hear us, too, when we are in similar straits.

My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation; I will pay my vows before those that fear him. (Psalm 22:25)

Jesus came through for us and paid his vows, fulfilling all the prophecies relating to his Father’s plan for redemption of those who fear God.

The poor shall eat and be satisfied: those that seek him shall praise the LORD; your heart shall live for ever. (Psalm 22:26)

Jesus confirmed and enabled this wonderful promise that lets us share his eternal life.

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the LORD; and all the families of the Gentiles shall worship before thee. (Psalm 22:27)

As a direct result of Jesus’ sacrifice, from every nation and kindred and people and tongue there shall be some that will stand before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with long white robes and bearing palms in their hands (Revelation 7:9).

For the kingdom is the LORD’s, and he shall have dominion over the Gentiles. (Psalm 22:28)

As a result of Jesus’ obedience unto death, God shall have the kingdom, with dominion over all the Gentiles (that is, over all those who are not converted and are not in covenant with God).

All those that are fat upon the earth shall eat and worship; all those that go down to the dust shall bow before him; and no one can keep his own soul alive. (Psalm 22:29)

In every sacrifice, the fat belongs to the LORD. Those that are fat upon the earth (upon or among the people of God) belong to him (Leviticus 3:16). They shall eat their fill of righteousness and worship. All those who go down to the dust (all those who die) shall bow before him. No one can keep his own soul alive; only Jesus Christ can provide eternal life. There is no other way.

A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. (Psalm 22:30)

The holy seed that shall serve him and shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation is the body of Christ.

They shall come and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he has done this. (Psalm 22:31)

A new nation shall be born in a day, a godly nation based on a demonstration of the Lord’s righteousness in a body of many members (Isaiah 66:7-8).

Meanwhile back on earth, in the gospel of Mark:

15:40 There were also some women looking on afar off, among whom was Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James the lesser and of Joses, and Salome

James the lesser and Joses were natural brothers of Jesus.

Why don’t the Scriptures simply state that this Mary was the mother of Jesus?

Several thoughts come to mind. The gospel accounts do not make it easy for someone to develop a cult of worship centered around Mary, or around anyone other than Jesus, for that matter. Earlier, when Jesus went home with his disciples and, in the midst of a huge multitude, received the news that his mother and brothers and sisters were outside requesting a word with him, he answered:

Who is my mother or my brethren? And looking round about on those who sat about him, he said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever doeth the will of God, the same is my brother and my sister and my mother. (Mark 3:33-35)

Jesus’ supreme sacrifice opened the way for us to become part of the family of God. We understand about being his brothers and sisters in Christ, but we must also become his “mother,” for the life of Christ is to be birthed in every one of us.

Therefore, Mary is described here as the mother of James the lesser, which is the Greek form of Jacob (“heel catcher” or “supplanter”). You may remember that from the very start, God loved Jacob, the second born, but Jacob had to go through a crisis and become converted (symbolic of being born again in a second spiritual birth) in order to have his name (nature) changed to Israel (“God prevails,” or “he who prevails with God”). This is very similar to what happened with Jesus’ natural brother, James the lesser, and is symbolic of God’s dealings with many of us. James the lesser did not really believe in Jesus until after Jesus’ death and resurrection. This had to have been very traumatic for him, similar to Jacob’s time of trouble when he struggled with the angel of the LORD at Peniel (Genesis 32:24-30).

Mary is also described as the mother of Joses, a short, endeared form of Joseph, meaning “he shall add” or “let God add.” If we do the will of God and become Jesus’ mother, then as we come to maturity in Christ, he (God) shall add, and we will produce good fruit.

You will remember what happened on another occasion when a certain woman lifted up her voice and said unto Jesus, Blessed is the womb that bare thee and the breasts which thou hast sucked. But he said, Rather, blessed are those that hear the word of God and keep it (Luke 11:27-28).

Mary kept the special word and knowledge that she received from God deep in her heart; yet, like the disciples, there were undoubtedly many things that she did not fully understand until after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

15:40 There were also some women looking on afar off, among whom was Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James the lesser and of Joses, and Salome

The women were looking on (at the crucifixion) afar off, according to Mark. Mary, however, eventually made it to the foot of the cross, according to the account of John. Jesus honored his natural mother and provided for her while on the cross by placing her under the care of the apostle John, whom he loved. John was apparently the only disciple to make it to the foot of the cross (John 19:26-27). Mary was with Salome.

15:41 (who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him and ministered unto him), and many other women who came up with him unto Jerusalem.

“Salome,” meaning “perfection” or “maturity,” had followed Jesus when he was in Galilee, and is representative of those who followed him in perfection (perfection in the Scriptures is primarily a state of the heart). As a young lad, David was chosen because of the state of his heart, and this was also the case with the men who made him king over all Israel (1 Chronicles 12:38), prefiguring Jesus and those who would follow him with perfect hearts.

15:42 And now when the evening was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,11

15:43 Joseph of Arimathaea, a noble senator, who also waited for the kingdom of God, came and went in boldly unto Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

15:44 And Pilate marvelled that he was already dead; and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead.

11 The Jewish months are on a lunar calendar, with the first day of each month being the day of the new moon. The Passover was on the fourteenth of the first month between the two evenings, and each day began at sundown (Leviticus 23:4-5). Therefore the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, was the thirteenth day of the first month. Jesus ate the Last Supper in the evening at the beginning of this day (it would have been the evening of the day before, by our reckoning), and by about three o’clock in the afternoon, he was dead. The Passover was known as a Great Sabbath and could fall on any day of the week, according to the lunar calendar that established the first day of each month according to each new moon.

Pilate, the local governor of Satan’s Roman kingdom, was trying to make sure that Jesus was indeed dead. He was totally oblivious to what had really happened and what was continuing to happen on the other side of the veil. When Pilate thought that Jesus was securely nailed to the cross, Jesus was really blotting out the bill of the decrees that was against us, which was contrary to us and [taking] it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; [and now Jesus was despoiling] the principalities and the powers, [making] a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it (Colossians 2:14-15) as he led captivity captive and was about to ascend far above all heavens with those who were his and had been held hostage by death. These were the spoils that Jesus took from the principalities and the powers of darkness.

15:45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.

15:46 And he brought fine linen and took him down and wrapped him in the linen and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.

15:47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.

Mark 16

16:1a And when the Sabbath of the great feast of the passover was past,

The Sabbath of the great feast of the Passover was the fourteenth day of the first month (each month began at the new moon, which could occur on any day of the week).12

16:1b Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome had brought sweet spices that they might come and anoint him.

16:2 And very early in the morning the first of the sabbaths, they come unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

What was the first of the sabbaths?13

On the fourteenth of the first month between the two evenings is the LORD’s passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD; seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. The first day ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work therein. And ye shall offer an offering on fire unto the LORD seven days; the seventh day shall be a holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work therein. (Leviticus 23:5-8)

12 In this case, it appears that the fourteenth day began on what would have been Wednesday evening at sundown for us and Thursday for the Jews; probably not Friday.

13 This is a direct literal translation of the Greek Received Text (such as was published by Erasmus) and was translated like this in many early Reformation Bibles. Even the Latin Vulgate has a very similar rendition. This was one of many reasons the church prelates refused to authorize translations of the Scriptures into the language of the common people, because they feared that it would confuse the people and undermine the church calendar for events such as Easter and Sunday worship. Eventually, however, someone came up with the idea of translating “first of the sabbaths” as “the first day of the week,” and this gained widespread approval as soon as the fire of reformation died down and Bible translations had to be approved by the church and/or the state. In making the decision to return to a literal rendition of the text, I am not pretending to advocate worship on a given day of the week as a magic formula for success. Rather, I’m aiming to return to the unadulterated truth and to let the Holy Spirit lead us in every detail of our personal walk and corporate worship. Truly, we are to worship in spirit and in truth every day and rest from our own work that He may work in and through us.

The feast of unleavened bread began on the fifteenth day and lasted seven days. The first day (the fifteenth) was a special sabbath, and so was the seventh.

Therefore, the fifteenth day of the month was the first of the sabbaths. Due to the lunar calendar, these sabbaths could fall on any day of the week (each year would be different).14

14 In order for the dates to work out so that Jesus died on Friday, was in the tomb all day Saturday, and rose early Sunday morning, the days would have to align in a way that would have happened only once every seven years. So it is possible, even probable, that church tradition is mistaken. What we know for certain, according to Scripture, is that Jesus died on the afternoon of the 13th day of the first month and was resurrected in the early morning of the 15th day. The 13th was the day of preparation, the 14th was the Great Sabbath of the Passover, and the 15th was the first of the sabbaths (the feast of unleavened bread).

And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the sons of Israel and say unto them, When ye have entered into the land which I give unto you and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest; and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD that ye shall be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. (Leviticus 23:9-11)

The sheaf of the firstfruits of the harvest that the priest shall wave before the LORD is a symbol of Jesus Christ coming forth in resurrection. Jesus was resurrected on the first of the sabbaths of the feast of unleavened bread, and he appeared to his disciples in Galilee at about the same time as the priest was waving the sheaf of firstfruits before the LORD back at

the temple. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled with God by the death of his Son, much more, now reconciled, we shall be saved by his life (Romans 5:10).

Returning to the events of Mark 16:

16:3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

16:4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away, for it was very great.

16:5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting to the right hand side, covered in a long white garment; and they were frightened.

16:6 But he said unto them, Do not be frightened; Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified; he is risen; he is not here; behold the place where they laid him.

16:7 But go tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him as he said unto you.

In his special message to the disciples, the only one whom Jesus named was Peter, who obviously had a very special place in his heart. Just as Peter denied the Lord three times, Jesus would later give him the opportunity to affirm his love for his Master three times (John 21:15-17). Jesus is not obligated to give us another opportunity if we fail, but he knew Peter’s heart, and he extended grace. On the other hand, Judas, who arrived at the Last Supper with thirty pieces of silver in his possession, did not get another chance after his betrayal. Even though he attempted to return the money, Judas committed suicide before Jesus came forth in resurrection.

16:8 And they went out quickly and fled from the sepulchre, for they trembled and were amazed; neither said they any thing to anyone, for they were afraid.

These women (and remember that in Scripture, women can symbolize entire groups or congregations) had been about to do whatever religious people do under such circumstances. Apparently it was common practice at the time to anoint dead bodies with sweet spices, and in one form or another, this is still common religious practice today. The “women” continue to attempt to apply “sweet spices” in order to cover the stench of the dead religious bodies (or congregations).

These women, however, ran into a serious problem when they went to anoint Jesus’ dead body: it wasn’t there! The only woman who managed to anoint Jesus’ body was the one who anticipated what would happen and broke her alabaster box and poured the costly spikenard ointment on his head, prior to his death.

16:9 Now as Jesus rose early the first of the sabbaths, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

16:10 And she went and told those that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

16:11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive and had been seen of her, did not believe.

Of all the people that he could have chosen, why did Jesus appear first to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection?

Jesus had cast seven devils out of her (this means that she had been completely possessed by devils). He had also said that the person who had been forgiven the most would love him the most (Luke 7:36-50). It was the sinners, the women of ill repute, and the publicans who loved Jesus the most after they were delivered and saved. Mary Magdalene is a symbol of the congregation of those who love Jesus the most. Therefore, it was unto her that he appeared first.

16:12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked and went into the country.

16:13 And they went and told it unto the others, yet they did not believe them.

When Mary Magdalene first encountered Jesus after his resurrection, she didn’t recognize him, thinking him to be the gardener (and he is indeed the gardener of our hearts and souls). The transformation of the resurrection had apparently rendered him physically unrecognizable, and in any case he was now able to appear in another form, as he did to the two men on the road to Emmaus. Mary recognized him when he spoke, however, for as Jesus said, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27). Similarly, when Jesus appeared in another form unto two of them as they walked along the road to Emmaus (“hot springs”), the two men didn’t recognize him until he took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them (Luke 24:30-31). One of these men was named Cleopas15 (meaning “all glory”), but we are not told the name of the other.

15 Cleopas could have been Jesus’ natural uncle (John 19:25). In some old Spanish manuscripts, the Cleopas of Luke 24:18 and the Cleophas of John 19:25 are both spelled the same (Cleofas). In some Greek manuscripts, there is a one-letter difference (Kleopas vs. Klopas).

After Jesus had now spoken with three eyewitnesses, and after the disciples had been with Jesus for three and a half years witnessing innumerable miracles, including the resurrection of Lazarus, why did the disciples find his resurrection so hard to believe?

Jesus appeared first to the so-called “little people” – to those who loved him the most and who were seeking his glory above all else. This continues to be the case; and yes, he will also appear to those whom he has called and chosen, even unto those who continue to struggle with unbelief and hardness of heart. But Jesus is the Morning Star, and we need him to illuminate our hearts, because only then will anyone be able to perceive the new day dawning (Proverbs 4:18; 2 Peter 1:19).

16:14 Finally he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at the table and upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they did not believe those who had seen him after he was risen.

Their problem, as is the case with most of us, was unbelief that was linked to hardness of heart.

Eleven is a number linked to Christ in Scripture, and the apostles were all seated at the same table. However, we don’t need to have eleven people in a group before he’ll reveal himself to us. Jesus said that wherever two or three are gathered in his name (and “name” has to do with “nature”), he will be in their midst (Matthew 18:20).

Additionally, Jesus may now appear in another form, for the great mystery of the ages has been revealed, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

In order to preach the gospel with power and authority, we must be called and commissioned directly by Jesus. It is not enough just to read the letter of this and other Scriptures and attempt to fulfill the Great Commission in our own strength. It takes the living Word of Jesus, directly, to change the hardness of our hearts so that we may move forward in a life of faith, depending directly upon God.

What did Jesus mean by preach the gospel to every creature?

We’ll never fully understand that unless we receive our revelation directly from him.

16:16 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believes not shall be condemned.

Here again, Jesus must give the revelation. What baptism is he talking about? To be baptized is to be immersed, but into what? Into water? Into the Holy Spirit? Scripture clearly states that there is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Ephesians 4:5).

16:17 And these signs shall follow those that believe: In my name they shall cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues;

16:18 they shall take away serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands upon the sick, and they shall be healed.

It is very hard to see how simple water baptism, in the style of John the Baptist, will produce these results (even though such a baptism can be perceived as a beautiful symbol). It takes the reality of immersion into the Holy Spirit, into the very nature of God, to make such a change in us. It is in Jesus’ name (nature) that we shall cast out demons and speak with new tongues (starting with the universal language of the love of God). Only through baptism into the Spirit of God will we be able to take away serpents and not be harmed if we should drink any deadly thing.

Adam was given dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air and over the beasts and over all the earth and over every serpent that moves upon the earth (Genesis 1:26). Yet when the serpent showed up to beguile Eve, he failed to take it away and cast it out from the garden. Instead of dealing with the deadly thing that Eve consumed (that is, the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), Adam rebelled against God and ate some himself. This disobedience led to their expulsion from the garden and a rift between the human race and God. It is only as we operate in the nature of God that we shall lay hands upon the sick, and they shall be healed.

16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven and sat at the right hand of God.

The right hand of God is the position of all power and all authority, and Jesus has been reigning from heaven ever since, mediating the new covenant.

16:20 And they, going forth, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word with the signs which followed them. Amen.

May we, too, go forth in such a way and for such a purpose.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father:

We ask that you will continue to cleanse us and to work in and through us as we look forward to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Meet the Author.

At the age of four, while his family was living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Russell Stendal prayed and asked God to call his parents, Chad and Pat, to be missionaries. God answered that prayer and within just a few years the whole family was on the mission field in Colombia, South America. He became an accomplished jungle pilot and married a beautiful Colombian lady named Marina. They have four children, Lisa, Alethia, Russell Jr., and Dylan, plus six grandchildren.

When Russell was 27 years old, Marxist guerrillas of the FARC kidnapped him for 142 days. The story of his kidnapping is told in the book he wrote titled Rescue the Captors. His reason for the title is because he realized that his captors were more captive than he was. There was a possibility he would be released, but most of his kidnappers were young people who had been taken from their families, given a weapon, and taught to kill. They had little hope of survival.

To reach all the actors of the armed conflict, including his former captors, Russell established a radio ministry to air programs into the dangerous war stricken areas of Colombia with messages of peace and hope. He has also written more than 50 books in English and Spanish.

In 2017, he was awarded the Shahbaz Bhatti Freedom Award, (given to Pope Francis the year before) for his tireless efforts towards spreading peace and reconciliation in Colombia (in the context of promoting religious freedom). Russell travels extensively as a guest speaker in conventions around the world. His speaking is unique in that he is very sensitive to the Lord’s voice and does not hesitate to deliver the message imparted to him, no matter how uncomfortable that may be to him or to others. Most of the books he has published were transcribed directly from the radio messages he has preached in Spanish and beamed into virtually all of the war torn areas of the countryside.Russell is the editor of the Jubilee Bible translation that has been published in English and in Spanish. Well over a million copies of this Bible have been donated and distributed into the most needy areas of Colombia and Venezuela.

Connect with Russell’s Ministry.

Connect with Russell’s Ministry

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Other Titles by Russell M. Stendal

Elijah & Elisha – By Russell M. Stendal

The kings of Israel and Judah were in serious trouble with the Lord. Twelve years of worshiping Baal and golden calves, listening to Jezebel, and killing the prophets was catching up to them. Their earthly kingdoms were coming to an end, and the Lord would move quickly when he moved. What appeared to be harmless details to them was in fact rebellion in the sight of God.

While the kings served the gods of this world, Elijah and Elisha did not. They were dedicated only to the Word of the Lord, and if the Lord didn’t speak directly to them, they didn’t move at all. And when they did move, it was with the authority of the Lord, resulting in dramatic calling down of fire from heaven, a three-year drought, people raised from the dead, and many other miraculous events. But did Elijah and Elisha take any glory? No, Elisha didn’t even accept Naaman’s token of appreciate – so completely was he relying only on the Lord’s provision.

The lives of Elijah and Elisha, as well as the corrupt lives of the kings, serve as important lessons for us today. In addition, there are many prophecies in 1 and 2 Kings that are now being fulfilled. Your own life will be changed forever if you apply even one truth that the Lord reveals to you in this book.

Available where books are sold.

Revelation Unveiled – By Russell M. Stendal

Sadly, many commentaries on Revelation ignore the need to have a clean heart in order to survive what’s coming. In this edition, we dig deep into the signs, the wonders, and the genuine Christian’s role in the soon-to-be-fulfilled book of Revelation. We even go back to the prophets to help clarify what is the most important message to Christians today.

The book of Revelation should be of intense interest to today’s Christian. It describes not only the persecution that originates from Satan, but also announces the day when God will intervene and cleanse the earth. This is definitely something to look forward to if we are right with him. Not so much for those living for themselves.

Available where books are sold.

Rescue The Captors – By Russell M. Stendal

American bush pilot Russell Stendal, on routine business, landed his plane in a remote Colombian village. Gunfire exploded throughout the town, and within minutes Russell’s 142-day ordeal had begun. The Colombian cartel explained that this was a kidnapping for ransom and that he would be held until payment was made.

Held at gunpoint deep in the jungle and with little else to occupy his time, Russell asked for some paper and began to write. He told the story of his life and kept a record of his experience in the guerrilla camp. His “book” became a bridge to the men who held him hostage and now serves as the basis for this incredible true story of how God’s love penetrated a physical and ideological jungle.

How did this incredible true story affect Russell? “At first my mind went wild with thoughts of revenge and violence. Then, after a while, I was able to see through their attempt to break me down and brainwash me. I started making a determined effort to throw all their stories and dramas out of my mind and not to let my thoughts dwell on them at all. I would trust God that He would take care of my wife and I would close my mind to my captors’ input. I decided to think about positive values instead.”

Available where books are sold.



jubilee BIBLE

In the Jubilee Bible, the usage and context tends to define each key word so you don’t need to depend on theological dictionaries or reference materials. Careful attention has been made to properly translate the first usage of each key word and through to the last occurrence. Then, as the word makes its way across the Old Testament and you make the correct match with the corresponding Greek word in the New Testament, an amazing pattern emerges. The Jubilee Bible is the only translation we know of that has each unique Hebrew word matched and mated with a unique English word so that the usage (number of occurrences and number of verses where the word occurs) sets forth a meaningful number pattern and a complete definition of what God means by each word.