Category Archives: The Gospels

Spiritual Renewal, Spiritual Strength

I’ve struggled to get on my feet this morning. So I did what I some times do, when I don’t have the capacity of mind or physical presence to focus on a few minutes of scripture study: I watched a bible video.

This morning I actually watched three bible videos: The Widow of Nain, Jesus Walking on the Water, and “I Am the Bread of Life”.

I am reminded that Christ has all power of physical elements, power of death itself, but that Spirit can very much exist in a realm invisible or seemingly apart from this world. However it is the Physical world that is controlled and dominated by the Spirit, not the Spirit by the Physical World.

Another interesting side note is found “between the lines” in the account of Matthew where the Savior walks on water. Peter walks out onto the water, he falters as the winds begin to blow, then the Savior reaches out to him and hold him and chastens him for his lack of faith. Then, and this is what’s not written in the text, they continue to walk on water (defying all physical properties to the contrary) until the return to the boat. What’s more, the conditions continue to be turbulent until they return to the boat as well. Then we finally get the next verse, which informs us that when they returned to the boat the winds ceased to blow.

Thus we see, in effect, Christ walking side by side, hand in hand, with Peter until they return to the boat. Exterior conditions don’t improve, just because he’s close to the Savior, not until they return to the safety of the bigger vessel. There is a lot of strength,   compassion, patience, and love, hidden in between the lines of these few simple verses.

Of Mourning and Multitudes

Matthew 14

John the Baptist, through a terrible plot, is beheaded. When the news of his beheading reachs the Savior, Jesus crosses the sea and retires to a (remote) desert place. It appears that he is mourning and is looking for a place of solitude.

However, he is not permitted to do so because immediately upon arrival, a multitude of more than 5000 had followed him! What does Jesus do? He doesn’t turn them away. He administered to them first. Food is miraculously produced. At the end of the day, he compells his disciples to leave by boat, and then he himself “sent the multitude away”. I’m certain there were probably many personal exchanges in that dismissing of the multitude.

All this happened, while looming in the back of his mind was the death of his cousin, closest of kin.

And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to apray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. (vs. 23)

This footnote on prayer simply illustrates how even Christ employed this tool for strength and guidance.

 

Progress of Commandments

Matthew 19:16-26

It is interesting to note the progression of the commandments that the Savior notes here in the conversation with the Rich young ruler.

They are listed here in order of grossest offense to most exalted behavior.

  1. Thou shalt do no murder

  2. Thou shalt not commit adultery

  3. Thou shalt not steal

  4. Thou shalt not bear false witness

  5. Honour thy father and thy mother

  6. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself

Then as the rich man acknowledges his faithfulness in adherence to all the above, the Savior makes this final set of injunctions:

If thou wilt be perfect:

  1. go and sell that thou hast, and
  2. give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:
  3. and come and follow me.

 

“We never saw it on this fashion,” Mark 2:12

Mark 2:12

And immediately 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 it on this fashion.

One thing that accompanied Christ at almost every turn of his ministry was a crowd. Fame was the undesired side effect of his effective ministry.

I’m thinking also of the man healed in the midst of the crowd. He “went forth before them all.” So this thing was not done in a corner, secretly.

However, the manner in which this particular miracle was performed caused everyone present to glorify God. This was an example of Christ’s teaching to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

 

Mark 1

Mark 1 – Mark’s approach to documenting the Savior’s ministry is something of a populace approach. He talks of how Christ performed many miracles in healing the sick. This isn’t a bad thing, because repeatedly he is dealing with issues of logistics throughout this first chapter.

First Christ goes into a synagogue in Capernaum. He there preaches with authority, and then casts out  a devil that declares his divinity. Christ silences the devil’s testimony.  Shortly there after Christ heals Simon’s (Peter’s) mother-in-law in Simon’s home. She, upon being healed, prophecies to the entire house.

It appears that he’s still in Capernaum at this point, but by the time the events at Simon’s house conclude, evening has come and the fame of Christ (because of what had happened in the synagogue) is now spread throughout Galilee and the inhabitants of the city of Capernaum are at the front door of Simon’s house with their sick and diseased. Many lame are healed; many devils are cast out (He continued to silence the testimonies of the devils.)

The following morning, Christ departs into the wilderness for solace and a quiet place to pray. Soon Simon, and his other disciples whom he had called, arrived and inform the Savior of his fame in Capernaum. Jesus then says that they are going elsewhere to preach, explaining that this was their purpose.

Now near the end of the chapter, Mark records that Jesus heals a leper, and then charges the man  to not make it known. The healed man does not follow Christ’s mandate to “say nothing to any man.” The consequence of that man’s disobedience was this (vs. 45):

Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places.

Fame impeded Christ from doing his work, and being able to openly come and go in the cities to heal those who needed him.

So this chapter is a chapter of logistics and how to get the power of Christ to the people. The obstacles that impeded that progress, and the very establishment of the priesthood leadership (the calling of his apostles) that would make it so that he could do his work, are the focus of this first chapter of Mark.

“Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” Mark 4:37-41

Mark 4:37-41

The simple account of Christ calming the tempest reminds me that no matter the storm, with Christ in our ship, we shall not sink. It was hard for his disciples to understand that. It is hard for me to see that sometimes too. But faith and fear don’t reside in the same being at the same time. And with Christ, fear need never come near.