Chapter 1 Chapter 6 Chapter 11 Chapter 16
Chapter 2 Chapter 7 Chapter 12
Chapter 3 Chapter 8 Chapter 13
Chapter 4 Chapter 9 Chapter 14
Chapter 5 Chapter 10 Chapter 15

Mark makes no effort to give any account of the birth or the lineage of Jesus, beyond the terse statement in Chapter 1, verse 1, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." He does not record quite so many parables as do some of the other writers, nor does he record many long speeches of our Lord, such as The Sermon On The Mount. He appears to be more impressed with the works of our Lord than with the teachings, which seems to indicate that he was himself a man of action more than of words. Some have said that this gospel record is really the gospel according to the Apostle Paul; and if this Mark is indeed John Mark, the nephew of Barnabas, that could well be so.

Chapter 1

(Verses 1 through 8) "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem , and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan , confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; and preached, saying, There cometh One mightier than I after me, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost."


Thus Mark introduces Jesus as the Christ, the son of God, and John as the messenger of God, prophesied of by Isaiah, (Isaiah 40:3,) and Malachi, (Mal. 3:1,) and sent before Jesus the Christ, to prepare His way before Him. He describes John as to his dress and his diet, both of which were very simple; and as to his activities, which were, he baptized in the Jordan river those who confessed their sins, and he preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. He also delivered a message to the effect that One was shortly to come, Who was so much greater than he that he was not worthy to stoop down and loose the latchet of His shoes. He further declared, "I indeed have baptized you with water: but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost."


(Verses 9 through 12) "And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan . And straightway coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. And immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness."


According to John, the place where John the Baptist was baptizing at this time was a place a little southeast of Jerusalem . Jesus lived at Nazareth of Galilee. He went all the way down to this point to be baptized of John the Baptist, who testified that one reason for his being sent to baptize was that the Son of God might be identified by the descending of the Spirit upon Him at this baptism. When Jesus came up out of the water, the Spirit descended from heaven in the form of a dove, and remained upon Him. Mark's choice of words might make it seem that He only was able to see this, and to hear the voice from heaven declaring Him to be the beloved Son of the Father in heaven, and well pleasing to Him. But the other writers make it clear that it was also manifest to others. Immediately after His baptism the Spirit caused Him to depart into the wilderness. Matthew words it thus, "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil," which clearly indicates that not only would He be tempted of the devil, but that this was the purpose of His being "led up into the wilderness."


(Verse 13) "And He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto Him."


Thus Mark passes over the event with no further comment or details. For a detailed account of this, see Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.


(Verses 14 and 15) "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God , and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."


It is apparent that Mark passes over some more events at this point. One might think, from his account, that John was imprisoned shortly after the baptism of Jesus, and that only then did Jesus return to Galilee. This however is not exactly the sequence of events. According to John's record, Jesus did return to Galilee shortly after His baptism, but He returned to Judaea again before John was imprisoned, and did some baptizing, as witnessed by John 3:22. Then (John 4:1-3) "when therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Jesus baptized not, but His disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee." Mark passes over all of this, and picks up his account after John the Baptist was put into prison. As Jesus went, He preached the good news of the kingdom of God . His message was, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." Some have taken this message to mean that it was God's intention, if the people would just accept it, to establish the glorified, eternal phase of His kingdom on earth immediately, that the time for this was at hand; and all they had to do was to repent, and believe the gospel. Then He would immediately establish it. Had that been His intention, He would be a complete failure, all because puny man would not conform to His will. If it had taken place thus, where would have been the fulfilling of the first prophecy of the Christ, when God said to the serpent, "and thou shalt bruise His heel," not to mention the many other, and far more detailed prophecies of the suffering, death, and resurrection, of our Lord? Rather, the meaning of this message is, "It is time for the beginning of the fulfilling of the promises and prophecies of God concerning the bringing in of the kingdom, all of which are dependent upon the death, resurrection, ascension, and return of the King. So it is time to repent of your sins, and to believe in the good news of this wonderful kingdom."


(Verses 16 through 20) "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. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed Him. And when He had gone a little farther thence, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. And straightway He called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after Him."


This is Mark's version of the calling of Simon, (who is later called Peter,) Andrew, James, and John. Each of the gospel writers gives slightly different details of this event, but one thing shows clearly through every account. In the calling of each one, the call was immediately effective. In not a single case did one refuse to follow Jesus, and not one asked for time to consider the matter. In only one instance given in scripture did one whom Jesus called to follow Him even ask for "an extension," that he might go and bury his father. When Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their dead," there is no more mention of delay. Some will try to say that the rich man, who went away sorrowful, refused to follow Him; but examination of the incident will show that this was all conditional, in the first place: for Jesus said, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me." The man had initiated the matter by asking what he might do to inherit eternal life. He wanted to obtain eternal life by his own works, which is totally impossible. Here Jesus does not say, "If you will follow Me, I will make you to become fishers of men." That would have been conditional. Instead He said, "Come ye after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men." This is a command followed by a promise. No conditions are even implied. The wording of His call to James and John is not given, but it was equally effective.


(Verses 21 and 22) "And they went into Capernaum ; and straightway on the Sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as One having authority, and not as the scribes."


The people were accustomed to listening to the scribes as they taught in the synagogues, say, "Moses says," or "The law says," and, sometimes, "Rabbi ____ has interpreted this to mean _ _ _." On the other hand, Jesus very often said, "Verily I say unto you," which is indeed a show of authority; and it was especially so when what He said was in direct contradiction to some of their traditions. This was very strange to the people, and it is no wonder that they were astonished.


(Verses 23 through 28) "And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 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. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority commandeth He the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him. And immediately His fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee ."


This, though certainly needing no explanation, presents some points, which should be carefully noted. The first in importance is that it shows the power of Jesus, the Son of God. He not only had authority, but also had the power to back it up by working miracles, which no man could do. Next it shows that even the unclean, or evil, spirits recognize His Divinity, and fear Him. As soon as the unclean spirit addressed Him as "the Holy One of God," He rebuked him and ordered him to hold his peace. His purpose in this appears to have been that this should not be published abroad, until after His resurrection, for He even commanded His disciples to tell no man that He was the Christ, until then. The Greek word translated, "had torn," in verse 26, actually means "convulsed." So the sense of the expression is that the unclean spirit brought the man into a convulsion before coming out of him. It is only natural that the report of such s miracle would be spread immediately throughout the region.


(Verses 29 through 31) "And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell Him of her. And He came, and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them."


Apparently Simon and Andrew lived in the same house. Since in all accounts of this the only reference we have to Simon's wife is in the phrase, "Simon's wife's mother," or "Peter's wife's mother," it is not clear whether or not his wife was still living. However, her mother was, and was evidently, for the time at least, staying in Simon's house, and was very sick of a fever. When informed of this Jesus went to her, took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and she was immediately healed, and was able to serve them.


(Verses 32 through 34) "And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered at the door. And He healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered them not to speak because they knew Him."


Again we see that Jesus would not permit the evil spirits to declare to the people Who He is. He did cast out many of them, and healed many people of various diseases. No doubt, since "all the city was gathered at the door," they brought all who needed to be healed, and all who were possessed of devils.


(Verses 35 through 39) "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after Him. And when they had found Him, they said unto Him, All men seek for Thee. And He said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee , and cast out devils."


When Jesus instructed His disciples how to pray, He told them, "When ye pray, enter into your closet, and shut the door." No doubt that was unavailable to Him at this time, so He arose before daybreak, and went out to a solitary place to pray. Thus, as always, His actions were in harmony with His teaching. Some might think it unnecessary that He, being God in the flesh, should engage in prayer, except to demonstrate prayer to His disciples: but, in truth, He was in constant communion with the Father in prayer, even sometimes spending the whole night in prayer. When the disciples arose, they went out to find Him; and when they did find Him, they told Him that everyone was seeking Him. Yet, instead of going back with them to the crowd, He told His disciples that He must continue His mission by going to the next towns to preach there. So they continued their tour throughout Galilee , and He preached in all the synagogues of the area, healed the sick, and cast out devils.


(Verses 40 through 45) "And there came a leper to Him, beseeching Him, and kneeling down to Him, and saying unto Him, If Thou wilt, Thou canst make Me clean. And Jesus moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. And He straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; and saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 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 unto Him from every quarter."


Leprosy is a disease, which, in ancient times was thought to be really something more than a disease. One who was a leper was driven out of society, and considered unclean. We seldom find anything said of healing a leper: rather the common phrase is "cleansing the leper." The law of Moses required a leper, when approaching, or being approached by, someone who was not a leper, to cry, "Unclean, unclean," as a warning. Usually, when a leper approached, the people would warn him to go away, and if he did not, they would take up stones to throw at him until he did. No one would deliberately touch a leper. Yet, though Jesus could have cleansed this leper just as easily by simply speaking the word, He reached out His hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be thou clean." Though nothing is said to that effect, this of itself must have seemed somewhat amazing to the people. As soon as he spoke the leprosy was gone. He then instructed the man to keep the matter quiet, go to the priest, let him pronounce the leprosy cleansed, and make the offering required by the law, "for a testimony unto them." This offering being made to God would be testimony that God had cleansed his leprosy. Whether or not the man went to the priest, we do not know, but instead of saying nothing to any man, as he had been instructed, he, apparently, told everyone he saw. As a result of this, the crowds thronged so about Jesus that He could no longer openly enter into the cities. Even with His staying in desert places, the multitude came to Him from all of the adjoining area.

Chapter 2

The first twelve verses of this chapter tell of a miracle wrought by Jesus in Capernaum . Since the first four verses only give the background of the matter, we refer the reader to them, and begin our comments with the fifth verse.


(Verses 5 through 12) "When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He saith unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up his bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion."


We sometimes give the name, palsy, to a disease, which causes the hands, and sometimes other members of the body, to shake uncontrollably; but the Greek word used here means that the man was a paralytic. The first thing Jesus said to him was, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." This immediately caused consternation in the minds of the scribes. They had been taught rightly that only God has the power to forgive sins. What they did not know, and what Jesus was demonstrating to them, was that He, the Son of man, and the Son of God, has this power, because He is "God with us." As they reasoned these things in their hearts, all the while considering Him as only a man, He was well aware of their thoughts. So He asked them a question, "Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy," (one who is paralyzed,) "Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?" Obviously, His meaning is not, "Which words are easier to say," but, "Which can you more easily accomplish by speaking the words?" Since they could do neither, they had no answer, and He continued, "But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins." This was His purpose in this in the first place, that they might know this. Then to prove that He did have this power, He said to the paralytic, "I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine own house." Since Jesus had, by His question, put both works on the same level, had the man not been healed, someone might also conclude that neither were his sins forgiven. But "immediately he arose, took up his bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion." Apparently, even the scribes were satisfied: for they made no comment.


(Verses 13 through 17) "And He went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto Him, and He taught them. 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. And as He sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and His disciples: for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto His disciples, How is it that He eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, He saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."


This Levi is also called Matthew. He is the writer of The Gospel According To Matthew, and was a publican, or tax collector. Likely, a publican was the most despised person of Jewish society. First, he was considered a traitor to Israel , because he worked for the Roman government as a collector of taxes. Second, he obtained that job by guaranteeing to the Roman government a certain sum of money as the taxes from the area under his control, and his salary, or profit, was what ever above that amount he could squeeze out of the people. It might be that some of the publicans were compassionate persons. But the majority of them were so greedy, that all were hated so much, that although they were Jews, they were not welcome in the synagogues, and were considered so evil that, in speaking of them, the common phrase in which they were included was, "publicans and sinners." The term "sinners," although it also included people who did evil things, was in most instances applied in blanket fashion to all who did not profess to hold to all the "traditions of the elders" as did the Pharisees. As before noted, Levi was a publican; and if he was the kind of man all publicans were perceived to be, it makes his calling all the more remarkable, because a single call, "Follow Me," brought immediate response. He asked no questions concerning where they would go, or when, if ever, they would come back. At the time of the call he was "sitting at the receipt of custom," actually engaged in the very work from which he obtained his wealth. Nevertheless, at a single call of two words from a total stranger, he arose, left the entire operation, and followed Jesus. Yet men tell us today, that Jesus is begging men, and pleading with them to follow Him, but they just will not. There must be some mistake. They must be thinking of a different Jesus. Not only did Levi get up, and follow Jesus, but Luke says, "And Levi made Him a great feast at his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them." This is the same occasion Mark records here. The scribes and Pharisees thought themselves so righteous that they would be defiled if a sinner even touched them. So when Jesus went to eat with a crowd of publicans and sinners, as usual they had to criticize; but they directed their remarks and questions to His disciples instead of to Him. However, Jesus heard their question, and answered them Himself, saying, "They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Had men been righteous, there would have been no cause for Jesus to come into this world, suffer, and die on the cross. At the same time, these self-righteous hypocrites, who are, in reality, as great sinners as any other, are not the ones for whom He came either.


(Verses 18 through 22) "And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto Him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast in those days. No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles."


True fasting has always been indication of sorrow and repentance, although the Pharisees, in particular, had adopted it as a ritual for show, that is to be seen of men; and for that reason they fasted much more than was required by the laws of God. Jesus declared that, while He, the bridegroom, is with His disciples, their happiness is too great for them to fast; but when He shall be taken from them will be days of sorrow, in which they will fast.


Then He sets forth a parable. He says that to sew a piece of new cloth on an old garment will only make the rent worse. An old garment that has become torn has, likely, also been washed so many times that the material will no longer shrink when it is washed. To use a piece of new cloth to patch it might be thought to work with our modern pre-shrunk fabrics, but not with the old fashioned homemade cloth. It would shrink so badly that it would tear out the old cloth around it, and make the tear much worse. Just so, trying to use the gospel to repair the old worship service of the legal traditions and rituals would only make the whole garment worse, because they will not be found compatible.


The parable of the wine and the old bottles has to do not with glass bottles, as we are accustomed to see today, but with the wine bottles of that time, which were goatskins, taken off the animals without splitting them open. After being removed from the carcasses, the skins were cleaned and prepared, and the openings were tied up, leaving one opening untied until the bottle was filled. The chemical action of the wine on the goatskin weakened it so that after being used once for storing wine, it was too much weakened to be used again for new wine. The new wine would burst it. Just so, the gospel cannot be confined under the traditions and rituals of the law service. It must be put into "new bottles."


(Verses 23 through 28) "And it came to pass that He went through the corn fields on the Sabbath day; and His disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto Him, Behold, why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful? And He said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and they that were with him? how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? And He said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath day."


It is to be kept in mind that the law gave anyone the right, as he passed through his neighbor's grain field, to pluck the heads ("ears") with his hand, but he could not use an iron tool to cut them. So the objection here is not against their plucking the grain, but against their doing it on the Sabbath day. Sabbath breaking was the only complaint. Since, as Matthew tells us, the disciples were doing this because they were hungry, and were eating the grain, Jesus reminded the Pharisees of another incident of long ago, about which they had never raised an objection. It was an occasion when David and his men were hungry, the details of which are recorded in 1 Kings, chapter 21. So Jesus declared to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath day." This left the Pharisees with no excuse for further complaint.


Chapter 3

(Verses 1 through 6)"And He entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand, And they watched Him, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath day; that they might accuse Him. And He saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And He saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life? or to kill? But they held their peace. And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, He saith unto the man. Stretch forth thy hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him."


This is another example of the vehement hatred the Pharisees had for Jesus. That hatred was also coupled with fear, fear that the majority of the people, as they listened to the teaching of Jesus, and witnessed the miracles He wrought, would turn away from them, and follow Him. This would cost them their standing with the people. They would be seen for the hypocrites they were, and not viewed as the "righteous servants of God" they professed themselves to be. Jesus knew their evil thoughts, and for that reason He boxed them with His question before healing the man's withered hand. Since they would not answer His question, they had no room for comment after He healed him. So seeing themselves thus put to shame before the people, they immediately had a meeting with the Herodians to plot some way to destroy Jesus. (The Herodians were not another religious sect of the Jews, but a small political party that, for some obscure reason, were followers of Herod.) The reason why they had to plot their scheme so carefully is that they had to find a way of getting Him officially condemned by the council of the priests and elders before the people knew what was being done. Otherwise the people might have turned against them.


Verses 7 through 12 give a simple account of Jesus' activities for a short while without giving any details. He left the city, and went down to the shores of the Sea of Galilee . There not only His disciples, but also great crowds from Galilee, Judaea, Jerusalem , Idumaea, beyond Jordan , Tyre , and Sidon , followed. There was such a multitude that Jesus had His disciples get a small ship (a boat) in which He could sit, and teach the multitude who stood on the shore. During this time He healed many sick people, and cast out many evil spirits, always charging them not to make Him known to the people.


(Verses 13 through 19) "And He goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto Him whom He would: and they came unto Him. And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils. And Simon He surnamed Peter; and James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and He surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed Him: and they went into an house."


Verse 13 is a very simple statement, but one, which we should always keep in mind, "And He goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto Him whom He would: and they came unto Him." We do not know how high, or how steep this mountain was, but it was above the place where He left the multitude, and it did require some effort to get up there. Then after going up this mountain, Jesus did not call and say, "Anyone who wishes may come to Me." Instead He called "whom He would," that is, He called them by name. "And they came unto Him." Whatever effort was necessary to get up to where He was, each, when called, put forth, without any delay, or complaint. Today we sometimes hear it said, "This man was called to preach, but he never would surrender to the call." This statement would be extremely difficult to prove, if not totally impossible. Out of twelve men called at this time, all twelve responded immediately; and that this was a call to preach the gospel is clearly set forth in the next verse. "And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach." The Greek verb here translated "ordained" literally means "created," or "made." And in that sense He ordained them to the office of being with Him, and being sent forth by Him to preach; and in doing this, He made them "to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils." These powers were necessary to them to prove to the people that they were His representatives.


Mark then gives the names of the twelve. Matthew's list of names is identical with Mark's, except that, he lists an additional name, Lebbaeus, for Thaddaeus, saying that Thaddaeus was his surname. Apparently, Lebbaeus had still another name, Judas, since Luke lists neither Lebbaeus nor Thaddaeus, but does list a Judas, who was the brother of James. This gives us a list of, at least, three sets of two brothers each, who were apostles. They are Simon and Andrew, James and John, and James and Judas (or Lebbaeus). Although it is nowhere stated in scripture, from John's account of Nathanael's coming to Jesus, one might wonder if Bartholomew is another name for Nathanael. If so, that would make four sets of brothers among the apostles. Judas Iscariot is said to be the son of Simon; but, since Simon was such a common name among the Jews, we have no idea who that Simon was. After making choice of these twelve apostles, Jesus and they went into a house.


(Verses 20 and 21) "And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when His friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on Him: for they said, He is beside Himself."


Just as before, the crowd came together; some, no doubt, to hear His teaching, others to be healed, others to see the miracles He wrought, and still others out of idle curiosity. As is usual with crowds, they showed no consideration for Him or His disciples, not even giving them opportunity to eat. His friends, that is, those of His home town, and who were well acquainted with Him, hearing how the multitude flocked after Him, decided that He was crazy, and went out to try to catch Him, perhaps intending to bring Him back home.


(Verses 22 through 30) "And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of devils casteth He out devils. And He called them unto Him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. 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. Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. Because they said, He hath an evil spirit."


These scribes from Jerusalem had come for one purpose only, to find fault with Jesus in one way or another. Here they make the most ridiculous accusation possible against Him, "He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of devils casteth He out devils." In order to insure that they hear His answer, Jesus called them to Him, and asked, "How can Satan cast out Satan?" As He continues His address, it becomes clear that His meaning extends beyond the actual words of His question. The full meaning is, "How can Satan cast out Satan without destroying himself?" He reminds them that no kingdom or house divided against itself can stand. Such always ends in the destruction of that house, or kingdom. Therefore, if Satan has begun to cast out Satan, his whole kingdom will soon self destruct, and be no more. Then He tells them how He does cast out devils. He illustrates it by "a strong man," who in this parable represents Satan. No one can enter into his house, and spoil his goods, (which includes the evicting of his servants,) unless he be strong enough to overpower, and bind, or render defenseless, that strong man. Jesus, in casting out devils, has proved Himself stronger than Satan: for He is able to "bind the strong man," and spoil his goods.


The remainder of this address has long been a subject of controversy among men. Jesus declares that all manner of sins and blasphemies "shall be forgiven unto the sons of men," except that of blaspheming the Holy Ghost. He who does this has "never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." It is easy enough to understand what blaspheming the Holy Ghost is. It is the believing and speaking evil against Him. This is obvious from verse 30, "Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit," while it was by the Holy Ghost that Jesus wrought His miracles. They therefore were calling the Holy Ghost an unclean spirit. When they said, "By the prince of devils casteth He out devils," they were saying that the Holy Ghost was the prince of devils. Such is blaspheming the Holy Ghost. What may be more difficult to ascertain is whether He means, that to commit this sin once, forever bars one from forgiveness, or whether He means, that those who continue in this will never be forgiven. His language is, "But whosoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." The first part of this seems to indicate that there is never any forgiveness for this sin, whether it be a one time occurrence, or an ongoing thing, but it is not followed by, "but is eternally damned." Instead, the statement is, "but is in danger of eternal damnation," which seems to indicate that, as long as he maintains that position, there is no hope for him; but that, God might see fit to remove him from such a condition, in which case, he would no longer be "in danger of eternal damnation." This is the point upon which most of the controversy has hinged. Of one thing we can be absolutely sure, There is no pleasant prospect for those who continue to blaspheme the Holy Ghost.


(Verses 31 through 35) "There came then His brethren and His mother, and standing without, sent unto Him, calling Him. And the multitude sat about Him, and they said unto Him, Behold, Thy mother and Thy brethren without seek for Thee. And He answered them, saying, Who is My mother, or My brethren? And He looked round about on them which sat about Him, and said, Behold, My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and My mother."


In verse 21, we saw that Jesus' friends thought Him crazy, and went out to get Him. Now His mother and His brothers, with perhaps the same idea, had come, and though they could not get through the crowd to Him, they sent Him word to come to them. Jesus' answer to them might to some seem strange. It might seem that he was trying to sever all connections to them, but such was not the case. He was only declaring that in the kingdom of God only one family is recognized, the family of God. A total stranger in the flesh who shows that he loves God is to be considered just as close as a brother, a sister, or a mother; and though not here mentioned, he should be as close as a father in the flesh.


Chapter 4

This chapter begins by telling us that Jesus returned to the seaside; and again, because of the great multitude who came to hear Him, He got into a boat, and sat down while He taught them as they stood on the shore. The first thing He taught them was a parable, which is commonly called The Parable Of The Sower. The setting forth of this parable continues through the ninth verse. The disciples did not understand this parable, and in private, asked Him to explain it to them. We shall not quote the parable itself, but take it up at the point where He begins the explanation. First, however, let us consider what He told His disciples before explaining to them the parable.


(Verses 11 and 12) "And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done 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."


This entire statement is exactly counter to the doctrine the religious world is constantly setting forth. They teach that God wants every one to believe His word, and all to accept Jesus, the Christ as their Savior. Yet Jesus says the privilege of knowing the mystery (secret) of the kingdom of God is given to some, and, at the same time, deliberately hidden from others, "lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them." These two doctrines are as directly opposite as are east and west, or north and south.


(Verses 13 through 20) "And He said unto them, Know ye not this parable? And how then will ye know all parables? The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns: such as hear the word, and the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirty fold, some sixty, and some an hundred."


If one looks closely at this, he can readily see that the question about which most preaching and most arguing are done concerning this parable, is never even hinted at in our Lord's explanation of it, the question of Who Is, And Who Is Not, A Child Of God? The ONLY subject in this discussion by our Lord is Under What Conditions The Preached Word Will Be Fruitful. He begins His explanation with the seed that is sown by the way side. He says this seed is like the word preached to those who, before they even have an opinion about it, forget it completely, that is, Satan takes it completely away, just as do the birds that seed which fell by the side of the road. In such cases the word cannot bring forth fruit: "it becometh unfruitful." The emphasis is on the seed, not the ground; or the word, not the person.


The seed which falls on stony ground, that is, ground, which just covers the stones, but does not have enough depth to hold moisture, is like the word preached to someone who is immediately impressed with it, and receives it gladly, but does not have deep enough faith to endure persecutions and afflictions. and so, in time of stress turns away. Under such conditions the word is again rendered unfruitful. Still the item for consideration is the seed, (the word,) not the ground (the person).


The third illustration is the seed, which fell among thorns: the thorns grew up and choked the seed (the sprouts of the seed), and so again it becomes unfruitful. This is the situation with the word when preached to those who, after hearing it, are so involved with worldly things that they turn to them instead of following after the word; and thus the word bears no fruit. We are still discussing the seed, not the field; or the word, not the man.


Finally, we come to seed which falls into good ground, ground which, if it was by the way side, has been broken up and prepared; if it was stony, the stones have been removed; if it had thorns, they have been removed; and now it is ready for the seed. Here the seed springs up, grows, and produces fruit. Even here the amount of fruit varies, but all the seed sown in this ground is fruitful. Still the emphasis is exactly where it has been all the way through, on the seed (the preached word). There is no excuse for men to try to inject into this parable the questions of "Who Is," and "Who Is Not," a child Of God. It is not here, and neither is it any of our business to try to make such judgments. That is for God to judge, and if He had declared to us what His judgment of the matter is, we still would have no need to argue over it.


(Verses 21 through 23) "And He said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear."


Our Lord's question anticipates only one answer, the negative. Everyone should recognize this truth: the purpose of bringing a candle is, that it may be placed on a candlestick, and may thus give light. Surely, then the work of God will be manifested. There are those who would snuff it out if they could; but in spite of all their efforts it will shine forth. On the other hand, those who try to hide their wickedness behind a cloak of self-righteousness, will find it brought to light in spite of all their efforts to the contrary.


(Verses 24 and 25) "And He said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath."


This saying of our Lord is recorded in other places also, twice in Matthew's writing, and twice in Luke's, with slight variations of words. However the meaning is always the same. To those who have been blessed with the gift of life in our Lord Jesus the Christ, will also be given additional blessings of understanding, wisdom, faith, etc. But those who do not have eternal life will have stripped from them all the pretense of righteousness they have tried to present to men. So He cautions His disciples, "Take heed what ye hear," that is. be careful what teachings, or doctrines, you receive and follow. The saying, "with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you," is that same old message He taught from the beginning, "You will reap what you sow," just set in different words; and He says, "And unto you that hear shall more be given." He had, in verse 23, said, "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear." By obeying this command, those who hear shall have more given to them.


(Verses 26 through 29)"And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of itself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come."


In this parable, the man who sows the grain in his field, waits after the sowing, sleeping at night, and rising, and attending his daily activities in the day, not knowing how it is done, but nevertheless knowing that the earth will bring forth the plants. Then will come the formation of the head of grain, which will, in course of time, mature, and finally ripen. Then, and not before, will he take his sickle, and harvest it. He knows that harvest time comes only when the grain is ripe. So is the kingdom of God . God is represented by the man, who plants the seed, and reaps the harvest. Although, surely, God knows exactly how and why it all works, instead of being as the man of whom it is said, "he knoweth not how," He still, as does the man, waits until the whole process of growing and ripening is completed before reaping the harvest. In another parable He tells us that the harvest is the end of the world. So the end will come when the harvest of God is finished. He will not cut it short.


(Verses 30 through 32) "And He said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God ? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: but when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches: so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it."


This is another parable about which men have created great arguments, not about what the parable says, but about what they want to inject into it. The mustard to which our Lord refers is the oriental mustard, which will grow to a height of eight or ten feet, and has a very small seed. The comparison is very simple. Just as from this tiny seed grows a plant large enough to shelter the fowls of the air, so from so small a beginning as the twelve apostles Jesus chose and ordained in Chapter 3, will the kingdom of God grow into such a great kingdom that, in the day of its glory, it will become "a great mountain, and fill all the earth," as did the smiting stone of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. The argument men engage in so much concerning this parable, comes from their wanting to "spiritualize" the "fowls of the air," which are not even mentioned in connection with the kingdom of God, but only with the mustard plant; and their only value there is to emphasize the size of the mustard plant in comparison to the size of the seed from which it came.


(Verses 33 through 35) "And with many such parables spake He the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake He not unto them: and when they were alone, He expounded all things to His disciples. And the same day, when even was come, He saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side."


In keeping with what He told His disciples in verse 12, Jesus spoke to the multitudes only in parables, and when alone with the disciples He explained all these things to them. Having thus spent the day in teaching, He gave orders that they, He and His disciples, should go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee .


(Verses 36 through 41) "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. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish? And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them, Why are ye fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"


This episode should not be surprising to us, although the disciples were very much surprised at it. It really needs no explanation, but a few comments may be in order. We should not be misled by the word, "ship." This was not an ocean going vessel, as we usually think of when using this word, but was only a large open rowboat, suitable for fishing in the Sea of Galilee. The sea of Galilee is only about six miles wide, and about thirteen miles long, but capable of raising some fairly large waves, when whipped by a strong wind, since it is more than eight hundred feet deep in some parts. Jesus, exhausted from the day's activities, was asleep on a pillow in the back part of the boat. The storm evidently arose suddenly, and before the disciples could do anything about the situation, the boat was practically full of water. So they awakened Jesus, saying, "Master, carest Thou not that we perish?" He first said to the storm, "Peace, be still," and the wind and the sea both subsided immediately. Then He questioned His disciples, "Why are ye fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?" This is often our trouble today. Our faith weakens, and we become afraid in a crisis, forgetting that, when He is with us, nothing can harm us. In spite of their having been chosen of Him, and ordained apostles with special powers, they still were not prepared for this. So being greatly afraid, they questioned among themselves, "What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"


Chapter 5

When Jesus and His disciples reached the other side of the sea, they landed in the area of the Gadarenes. As soon as Jesus disembarked, there came to Him a man possessed of an evil spirit. His condition was such that his strength was almost superhuman. He had many times been bound with ropes and chains, but to no avail: he simply broke them, and went his way. He was so deranged that he would not live in a house, but in the tombs; and no one could quiet him down. Night and day he wandered, crying, through the mountain and the tombs. He evidently had suicidal tendencies, for he was often cutting himself with stones. At this point we return to the words of Mark.


(Verses 6 through 10) "But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him, and cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, the Son of the most high God? I adjure Thee by God, that Thou torment me not. For He said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And He asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought Him much that He would not send them away."


When this man saw Jesus at a distance, he ran, and fell prostrate at His feet. The phrase, "worshipped Him," has no reference to worshipping in the sense of rendering praise and adoration, but has to do only with the act of prostrating himself before Him, as did the unfaithful steward in Matthew 18:26, "The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all." That instance is much like the present one, in that both men were under great fear: the servant under fear of having himself, his wife, his children, and all his possessions sold to pay his debt to his master; and this man driven by the unclean spirits who feared that Jesus had come to torment them "before the (appointed) time," as is said in Matthew 8:29. Notice that the conversation here is not between Jesus and the man, per se, but between Jesus and the evil spirit by which the man was possessed. When the man fell down before Jesus, the evil spirit spoke thus, "What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? I adjure Thee by God, that Thou torment me not." As we read other accounts of His casting out devils, we find that this type of declaration from them was typical, when Jesus permitted them to speak, though many times, "He would not suffer them to speak, because they knew Him." The evil spirits, including Satan himself, know Jesus. They know that He is the Son of God, and that He is the great Judge, Who shall, in that final Day of Judgment, cast them all into hell. These were afraid that He had come to torment them "before the time," that is, before the Day of Judgment. He had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man, and He asked the spirit, "What is thy name?" not because He didn't know: for He knew all things, but that His disciples might hear the answer. The evil spirit said, "My name is Legion: for we are many." One individual name would not have sufficed, because it was not one spirit, but many. The evil spirit who was the spokesman for them all, begged Jesus not to "send them away out of the country." Luke's wording of this is, "And they besought Him that He would not command them to go out into the deep," (or the abyss,) which is the same as "outer space."


(Verses 11 through 14) "Now there was nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought Him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done."


When the herd of swine ran down into the sea, and were drowned, their keepers were so frightened that they left the scene. Apparently they told the story to every one they met, thus spreading the news everywhere, both in the city and throughout the country. The people, probably did not believe them, and came out to see for themselves what had taken place.


(Verses 15 through 17) "And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them how it befell him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray Him to depart out of their coasts."


When the people came to Jesus, they found a sight they could not understand. This man who had been so wild that he would neither live in a house, nor wear clothes, and could not even be effectively bound with ropes or chains, was sitting clothed, and in his right mind. Mark has made no mention of it, but when Luke described this man as he came to Jesus, said, "And when He went forth to land, there met Him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs." Now this same man is sitting quietly, instead of running around crying, and cutting himself with stones; he is clothed, instead of going around naked; and he is in his right mind, (he is perfectly sane,) instead of being so wild that no man can tame him. As people are often frightened by what they cannot understand, so were these. When the witnesses told them not only how this came about, but also the story of the swine, it was more than they could take. They began begging Jesus to go away from their entire area. They were afraid of what might take place next, if He remained with them.


(Verses 18 through 20) "And when He was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed Him that he might be with Him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel."


In compliance with the requests of the people, Jesus entered the boat, and the man who had been possessed of the devil begged Him to let him go with Him; but Jesus had a different mission for him. He told him, "Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee." The man may have felt a little disappointment that Jesus would not let him go with Him. But, as in all other cases of Jesus' calling, or sending forth someone to do His bidding, the man "departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel." He must have preached with wonderful power!


The remainder of this chapter is taken up with the account of two miracles wrought by Jesus. We refer the reader to Mark's record of it as written for the actual sequence of events; but since the record of one is broken by the insertion of the other, we shall, in commenting, take out the one inserted, and discuss it first. Then we shall attempt to join the two segments of the other together. This may cause a slight overlap.


(Verses 24 through 29) "And Jesus went with him: and much people followed Him and thronged Him. And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched His garment. For she said, If I may but touch His clothes, I shall be made whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her plague."


If there were no more to this incident than this, it would still be wonderful. For twelve long years this woman had suffered from a disorder for which neither she nor any of the doctors to whom she had gone even knew the cause. As is true in many cases today, all they knew was the major symptom of the disease. She, no doubt, had tried every treatment they suggested. She had spent everything, in the way of finances, she had, and instead of being healed, or even improved, she only got worse. Probably, she had almost given up in despair; but when she heard of Jesus, that is, that He had come to her town, God also gave her faith to believe that if she could just touch the garment of Jesus, she would be healed. Surely, with all the crowd pressing around Him, one little touch would not be noticed. And since her condition was such that it would have been embarrassing to tell the whole story before the multitude, she managed to come close enough in the crowd behind Him to touch His garment; and, glory to God! She was healed, just as she had been made to believe. What joy must have filled her heart at that very moment! But this is not the end of the story.


(Verses 31 through 34) "And Jesus, immediately knowing that virtue had gone out of Him, turned Him about in the press, and said, "Who touched My clothes? And His disciples said unto Him, Thou seest the multitude thronging Thee, and sayest Thou, Who touched Me? And He looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth. And He said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague."


We, no doubt, would have thought just as did His disciples, with all of this multitude bumping into one another, and certainly brushing against His clothing in passing, to ask, "Who touched My clothes?" was somewhat foolish. But He was not concerned about accidental touching by someone who brushed by, but the deliberate touch of one who had been given faith to believe in His healing power. When He asked, "Who touched My clothes?" He was not asking for information, but to call this woman to witness what had been done. Mark does not say, "And He looked round about to see if He could find her that had done this thing," but "And He looked round about to see her _ _ _." He knew who had done it before He looked, and He looked to see her. This woman had suffered much, and was greatly embarrassed that Jesus had known what she had done. Nevertheless, with all her fear and trembling, she came forth and declared the whole matter to Him, not knowing how her testimony would be received. What great comfort it must have been to her, when Jesus said to her, "Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague."


Now we shall take up the other miracle, which was interrupted by this incident.


(Verses 21 through 24) "And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto Him: and He was nigh unto the sea. And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw Him, he fell at His feet, and besought Him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray Thee, come and lay Thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him _ _ _."


This account is, surely, clear enough to be in no need of explanation, but it does present a point worthy of note. This "ruler of the synagogue," being a Jew, and especially being a teacher in the synagogue, would, probably, be thought to have as strong faith as anyone we could find, since, in his plea to Jesus, he says, "Come and lay Thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live." But compare this with a statement made by a Roman centurion not far from this same place. He was at Capernaum ; and when Jesus said to him concerning his servant, "I will come and heal him," the centurion's answer was, "Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed." His faith was such that he believed Jesus could, by speaking the word only, and not even being in the presence of the sick servant, heal him with no difficulty, while this teacher in the synagogue thought that He must come to the child to be effective. So Jesus went with him.


(Verses 35 through 43) "While He yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And He suffered no man to follow Him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And He cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when He was come in, He saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed Him to scorn. But when He had put them all out, He taketh the father and mother of the damsel, and them that were with Him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And He took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi, which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with great astonishment. And He charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat."


"While He yet spake," refers to His dismissing the woman whose healing we have already discussed. While He spoke to her, the message came that Jairus' daughter was already dead. Therefore the messenger thought it futile to have Jesus go any farther. However Jesus' answer to Jairus was, "Be not afraid, only believe;" and they continued on to Jairus' house. Jesus would permit no one except Peter, James, and John, to go with them.


We do not know how far they had to go, but it did take some time to get there. The interval from the girl's death to their arrival had been sufficient for professional mourners to be called, and to make their appearance. For Matthew says, "And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, He said, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth." All testify that the people "laughed Him to scorn." They knew that the girl was dead. However, to Jesus, as He said regarding God and the dead, "_ _ _ all live unto Him." When He had driven out the professional mourners, He took the father and mother of the girl and His three disciples, and entered the room where the girl was lying. With no fanfare, He took her by the hand, and called her to arise, whereupon she immediately arose, and walked. He next gave orders that she be given something to eat; and He also charged all present that they tell no one about what was done. He evidently preferred that the people He had driven out, when they should find out that the girl lived, should just think that they were mistaken in the first place, and that she was only sleeping. He often took precautions to keep His fame from spreading too swiftly.


Chapter 6

(Verses 1 through 6) "And He went out from thence, and came into His own country; and His disciples follow Him. And when the Sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given Him, that even such mighty works are wrought by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and of Simon? and are not His sisters here with us? And they were offended at Him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. And He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief."


If Jesus had been a great politician, a great soldier, or some other great man, in the things of this world, the towns in His home territory might have "given Him the key of the city," had a great parade in His honor, or fostered some other big event to commemorate His achievements; but He was none of these. In our present day society, if He were a great rock and roll artist, a movie star, a comedian, or a great athlete, He would be welcome everywhere; and towns that thought they had any chance of making such a claim stick, would be claiming Him as a "native son." Yet He, the Lord of glory, the only Saviour, the great Prophet, Priest, and King, when He returned to the area where He had grown up, not only was not welcomed with open arms, but the people were offended at Him because of the great wisdom and power that were His. Although we have no ministers that can be compared to Him, we yet see that same attitude of people, and the sad thing is that we see it among those who profess to be Christians. God may bless one He has called to the ministry with great talents for that work. But the usual reaction of the people in his home area is, "He is a very good preacher, but we have known him all his life, so he is surely not so able as Brother ______, who comes from ______." some place three or four hundred miles away. In fact this attitude is so prevalent that it has produced a very common saying, "The difference between a big preacher and a little one is about three hundred miles." Of course, this is really not new at all. Jesus said, "A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." These people were the losers in the matter, because "He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them." The statement, "And He could there do no mighty work," does not mean that His power was in any wise diminished, nor that He had to have their cooperation to accomplish such. But, since His mighty works were for the purpose of confirming faith already given, they would have been out of place where there was no faith. Miracles witnessed by the natural eye do not produce faith: it is produced by the Spirit, Which is given within the heart, and not by outside means. Jesus was neither surprised, nor overwhelmed by their lack of faith, but He did "marvel" at it in the sense that He called their attention to it by His saying. However, in spite of it, He taught in all their villages.


(Verses 7 through 13) "And He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; and commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. And He said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a 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. And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them."


In the tenth chapter of his gospel record, Matthew gives a more detailed account of this matter. Mark covers it, but in a more condensed version; but he sets forth most of the principal items of instruction given to the apostles by our Lord. Jesus did not send the apostles forth singly, but in teams of two each. He had, when He ordained them, given them power to heal the sick and cast out demons. Since that is again mentioned here, we assume that he reaffirmed it to them at this time. He commanded them to take no money and no provisions, and not even an extra coat. They were to be shod with sandals, and to carry a staff. This is all the equipment they were to have. When they entered into a town or village, and found a house in which they were received willingly, they were not to go from house to house, but abide in that house until they were ready to move on to the next destination. If they found no one in a town or village that would receive them, He said, "Shake off the dust from under your feet for a 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." Many will not accept this last statement at face value, because they do not believe that there will be any degrees of punishment in the day of judgment. However that is exactly what Jesus said, and I, for one, find no difficulty in accepting His word as spoken. In obedience to our Lord's commands, the apostles went out, and preached repentance, the very same message that John the Baptist began to preach, and Jesus later preached. They were also successful in healing the sick and casting out demons.


(Verses 14 through 18) "And king Herod heard of Him; (for His name was spread abroad:) and He said that John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in Him. Others said, That it is Elias. And others, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. But when Herod heard thereof, he said It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold on John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife."


Mark refers to Herod as "king Herod," because Herod had adopted the title, and really had an ambition to be king, though he was only a tetrarch under the Roman government. He seems to have been more superstitious than religious. When he heard of the mighty miracles done by our Lord, he was convinced that John the Baptist, whom he had had beheaded in the prison, had risen from the dead, and was doing these miracles. Among the people there were various ideas as to the identity of Jesus, all the way from that held by Herod, through the whole list of the prophets, and even to His being "as one of the prophets." But the superstition of Herod was such, that he held adamantly to his theory that He was John the Baptist, risen from the dead. This, no doubt, caused him some fear, and may in that way have contributed to the vehement hatred he developed against Jesus. The reason for Herod's imprisonment of John is, that John had declared to Herod that it was not lawful for him to have Herodias, who had been the wife of his brother Philip, as his wife. The circumstances of this situation were: Herodias, who was the niece of both Herod Philip and Herod Antipas, was also the wife of Herod Philip. She abandoned Philip, and married Antipas. This, according to the law of God, was an adulterous marriage, and John the Baptist told Herod Antipas so, and declared that it was not lawful. This greatly enraged Herodias. So, for her sake Herod had John cast into prison.


(Verses 19 and 20) "Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him, and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly."


Because John maintained that their marriage was not lawful, Herodias wanted to kill him, but Herod was afraid to do that. He knew that John was a just and righteous man, and he liked to hear him. When he did hear him, he remembered what he said. (The word here translated, "observed," does not mean obeyed, but only "kept in mind.") "He heard him gladly." Nevertheless, he had John put into prison, and the story continues to develop.


(Verses 21 through 23) "And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; and when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, it pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of the kingdom."


This is the second great birthday celebration recorded in scripture; and both of them ended in murder. In the first, Pharaoh had his baker executed, and the present one was the occasion of the murder of John the Baptist. At this great feast, Salome, the daughter of Herodias, put on the floor show. She danced, and her dancing so pleased Herod, that He, in the presence of his guests, promised to give her anything she might ask, even to the half of the kingdom. This was an exceedingly rash promise, not only because of the way in which it turned out; but had she asked for half of the kingdom, he could not have fulfilled the request. Because he was tetrarch only at the pleasure of the Roman emperor, and had no authority to give away any part of his "kingdom," which indeed was not a kingdom at all. He even confirmed this rash promise with an oath.


(Verses 24 and 25) "And she went forth, and said to her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist."


In the past three hundred and eighty years the English language has undergone many changes. One of them shows up very vividly in this quotation. Today, when we use the phrase, "by and by," we mean "sometime in the future," and very often we think of it as the far distant future; but not so here, in verse 25. The Greek word from which this phrase is translated means "on the instant," or "immediately." So the girl went to her mother, and asked what request she should make; and Herodias said, "The head of John the Baptist." Without further delay, Salome returned to Herod, and said, "I want you to give me this instant the head of John the Baptist on a platter." We might be somewhat appalled at such a bloodthirsty request from a young girl, but this seems to be a case of "like mother, like daughter."


(Verses 26 through 29) "And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. And when his disciples heard of it, they came, and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb."


Here we see that regardless of the statement in verse 20, "And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly," Herod's liking for John was not so important to Herod as was saving face. "For his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.” Though Herod may have been glad to hear some things John said, he did not like to hear him condemn the marriage of Herod and Herodias; and now through the cunning of Herodias, and his own weakness, he had eradicated that. When the news of John's murder reached his disciples, they came, and obtained his body for burial.


(Verses 30 through 32) "And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told Him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. 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. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately."


Back in verse 7, Jesus sent forth His apostles by two's to preach, to heal the sick, and to cast out devils. Now they had returned to Him with reports of both what they did, and what they taught. So many people had gathered around them that in the confusion they had no time even to eat. So Jesus said to them, "Come ye apart into a desert place, and rest a while," and they attempted to leave unnoticed by boat to go to a desert place.


From this point through verse 44 is the account of a miracle wrought by our Lord. Instead of quoting every word, we direct the reader to Mark's account of it; and we shall attempt to comment on the incident itself, quoting only what we feel to be essential to the discussion. Instead of Jesus and His disciples getting away unnoticed, they were observed by some, who recognized them, and alerted the crowd. So the multitude, coming out of all the cities in the area, went on foot, and outran Jesus and His disciples to the place to which they were going. The crowd was so much like sheep without a shepherd that Jesus in compassion received them and taught them. As the day wore on, the disciples came to Jesus, and tried to get Him to send the multitude away, that they might get something to eat. He said to them, "Give ye them to eat." This, no doubt, surprised the disciples, who answered Him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?" They knew that they did not have enough food available for so many, and, probably not enough money to buy such; but He asked them, "How many loaves have ye? go and see." After checking on the matter, they reported back to Him, "Five, and two fishes." Certainly, this was an insignificant amount for such a multitude, but Jesus had His disciples seat the multitude in groups of fifty, or a hundred, per group. Then "when He had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, He looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided He among them all. And they did eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men." It would be impossible to write a clearer account than this, which Mark has written, so we shall make no effort to explain any of it; but a comment or two may be in order. First, although feeding five thousand with only five loaves and two fishes is a great miracle, Matthew points out that it was even greater than this. He says, "And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children." How many women and children ate of this feast we do not know. But if there were half as many of them as of men it is all the more remarkable, not that it would pose any difficulty to Jesus, because He is "God with us," and all things are possible to Him. Some draw from this a beautiful picture of our Lord's feeding us on spiritual things, which is worthwhile; but those who say that this is only a spiritual allegory, and not an actual event, are terribly mistaken. There were five thousand men and some women and children in that congregation. The five loaves were real bread made for human consumption, and the fishes were natural fish, such as could be caught in the Sea of Galilee . Any who do not believe this should not profess to be Christians.


As soon as this feast was over, Jesus had His disciples get into the boat, and start toward the other side of the sea, while He dismissed the multitude. After sending the crowd away, Jesus went up into the mountain to pray. At the close of day He was alone on the shore, and the boat was out in the midst of the sea.


(Verses 48 through 52) "And He saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night He cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw Him, walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: for they were troubled. And immediately He talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And He went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were all sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened."


Although this was an actual event showing that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, and thus has power over all things, even the sea, it is also of great value to us, in its assurance that, in our times of toiling and struggling on the sea of life, He can, and will, come to us, no matter how heavy the storm, or how dark the night. Since it was night when He came to His disciples, no doubt, though they could see His form in the darkness, they could not see well enough to recognize Him as their Master, until He spoke to them. Therefore they thought that they were seeing a spirit, or ghost. Being afraid they cried out, and Jesus answered them with a message of comfort, "Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid." How comforting it is even today, in times of trouble, darkness, and fear, to hear in our hearts His gentle words! In such a short time His disciples had forgotten the miracle of the loaves and fishes. We too, often forget, and have to be reminded again.


(Verses 53 through 56) "And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Genessaret , and drew to the shore. And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew Him, and ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard He was. And whithersoever He entered, into villages, or cities, or country, 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 made whole."


As soon as they reached land, and Jesus disembarked, a great stir was created, people running to carry the news all over the region. At this time, it seems that the interest of the people was more to have their sick healed, than in doing anything else. They even placed them in the streets where Jesus was expected to pass by. They wanted to touch Him, or, at least, touch the hem of His garment, "and as many touched Him were made whole." Not a failure could be charged to Him. What a wonderful physician!


Chapter 7

(Verses 1 through 5) "There came together unto Him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem . And when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, and brasen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, Why walk not Thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with unwashen hands?"


This is only a part of an ongoing effort of the Pharisees and some of the scribes from Jerusalem to find fault with Jesus and His disciples. Once it was for Jesus' healing a man on the Sabbath day, then for His disciples' plucking the "ears of corn" on the Sabbath day, and now for their failure to wash their hands before eating. While everyone would, no doubt, agree that if one's hands are dirty, he should wash them before eating, this is only beneficial in the interest of cleanliness. The Jews had adopted it as a ritual, whether one's hands were clean, or dirty. So they took this opportunity to criticize, accusing the disciples of breaking the tradition of the elders. They likely were surprised at the answer they received.


(Verses 6 through 13) "He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye do hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And He said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: but ye say, If any man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do aught for his father or his mother; making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many like things do ye."


First, Jesus declares to these Pharisees and scribes, that their hypocrisy is not hidden from God. On the contrary, His prophet Isaiah spoke of it long ago, calling them a people who only rendered lip service to God, but whose hearts were far from Him. They set aside His commandments that they might substitute their own traditions. They were greatly concerned with outward cleanliness, and pushed that to the extreme; but they made traditions to their own liking, which nullified the commandments of God. He uses only one for illustration, but adds, "and many like things ye do." Everyone knows of the commandment, "Honour thy father and thy mother," but one thing of which they may not be aware is, that the law also provides that anyone who will not obey this commandment shall be put to death. The Jews had developed a tradition to get around this. "If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free." This might for some need a little explanation. The full meaning of the statement, "It is Corban by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me," is "Whatever I had with which I could have helped you, is now devoted as a gift to God." All a man had to do was to make this declaration, before witnesses, to his father or his mother, and he was considered as having no more responsibility for them: he was free. There was not even any provision made to ascertain the truth of the declaration, either before or after it was made. With such a tradition, it is easy to understand why Jesus said, "Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition," Yet they would gripe because some of the disciples ate without washing their hands.


(Verses 14 through 16) "And when He had called all the people unto Him, He said unto them, Hearken unto Me every one of you, and understand: there is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear."


Notice that Jesus not only called the attention of the whole crowd before He said this, but emphasized that He wanted every one to listen carefully to what He was going to say. He did not say that nothing that a man might take into his body could hurt him. His concern was not with a man's physical health, but with spiritual defilement. He declared that man cannot be defiled by outside things; but only by those from within. Then as He often did, He said, "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear."


(Verses 17 through 23) "And when He was entered into the house from the people, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. And He saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out with the draught, purging all meats? And He said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of man, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man."


It would be difficult, if not impossible, to make this any clearer, but it certainly needs to be given daily consideration by each of us. We do not have to worry about things from without defiling us, but we need to be always on guard against those evil things from within which are the defiling agents. Some may try to extend this too far, and by it try to justify drunkenness, getting high on drugs, etc. But closer examination will show that, though the alcohol, drugs, etc., might indeed not of themselves defile us, the evil craving for them comes from within, and unless overcome will defile us. So the defilement still comes from within, Just as our Lord has said.


(Verses 24 through 30) "And from thence He arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon , and entered into a house, and would have no man know it: but He could not be hid. For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of Him, and came and fell at His feet: the woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought Him that He would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto Him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs. And He said unto her, For this saying go thy way: the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed."


The only part of this, which might need some explanation, is in verses 27 and 28. Some have taken the position that Jesus was speaking after the common manner of thinking of the Jews, that is, they considered everyone but a Jew to be a dog. This seems entirely out of character for Jesus. Matthew says that Jesus' disciples tried to get Him to send this woman away, and His answer to them was, "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ." This He maintained until after His crucifixion and resurrection. Here He says to the woman, "Let the children first be fed," referring, of course, to the children of Israel . Until they rejected and crucified Him, and He rose from the dead, His mission was to the Jews. Here He uses a metaphor, which not only that woman, but every one who reads it, or hears it, should understand. It is not proper while the children are still eating, to clear the table, and throw the food out to the dogs; and neither is it proper while His mission to the Jews is ongoing, to abandon it, and turn to the Gentiles. When the children have been fed, and reject what food is on the table, the leftovers are indeed taken and fed to the dogs. Just so when the Jews rejected the gospel, it was sent to the Gentiles. This is the only manner in which He was likening her to a dog. She recognizing His metaphor, answered in kind. "Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs." In the tents, and even in the houses of the people, the dogs sometimes came in and were under the table while the children were eating. In such cases, since the children usually did drop some crumbs, the dogs that were under the table did not have to wait until the children were through, but ate the crumbs dropped by the children. All she wanted was one crumb from their table; it was not her plea that Jesus should abandon His mission to the Jews, and turn to the Gentiles. Seeing that He had come to a city outside of the area of the "children," and she was in His presence, she considered herself in the same position as "a dog under the table," and she was just waiting for a crumb to fall. His answer to her was one of great comfort; "For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter;" and when she returned home, she found it exactly as He had said. This one episode must have been His purpose in coming to this area: for He immediately left, and returned to the Sea of Galilee, going through the region of Decapolis .


(Verses 32 through 37) "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. And He took him aside from the multitude, and He put His finger into his ears, and He spit, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, He sighed, and saith unto him, Ephata, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And He charged them that they should tell no man: but the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: He maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak."


Some may think there is something in the manner in which Our Lord caused this man to hear and to speak, that require comments, but this was simply the manner in which He chose to do it, and that ends the matter. The people were completely astonished, and declared that He had done all things well. We can be reasonably sure that there were no Pharisees present. If there had been, they, surely, would have found fault with some part of it.



Chapter 8

(Verses 1 through 9) "In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. And His disciples answered Him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? And He asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and He took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake and gave to His disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and He blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and He sent them away."


Except for the numbers of loaves, fishes, and persons, this is almost a reproduction of the feeding of the five thousand related in Chapter 6. Concerning this one also, Matthew tells us that there were women and children in addition to the four thousand men noted by Mark. This group had been with Jesus for three days, apparently fasting all the while.


(Verses 10 through 13) "And straightway He entered into a ship with His disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question Him, seeking a sign from heaven, tempting Him. And He sighed deeply in His spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. And He left them, and entering into a ship again departed to the other side."


From the time of His going up to the area of Tyre and Sidon He had, apparently, been free from harassment by the Pharisees, but as soon as He landed in the area of Dalmanutha, they came forth. They thought themselves so righteous that they could accept nothing different from what they had established without a sign from heaven; and, at the same time they could not see that every miracle wrought by our Lord was a sign from heaven. When they began to question Him, He declared that no sign would be given to them; and He left. This was, probably, His shortest confrontation with them.


(Verses 14 through 21) "Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And He charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. And when Jesus knew it, He saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? Perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? And having ears, hear ye not? And do ye not remember? When I brake the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto Him, Twelve. And when the seven among the four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And He said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?"


Jesus' warning to His disciples was not concerning bread, but concerning "the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod." Hypocrisy is the one thing above all others, which permeated everything done by the Pharisees. Jesus rebuked them for their hypocrisy more than for all other sins combined. So it seems obvious that this is what He called their "leaven." It also bids fair to be the leaven of Herod, seeing that he appeared so glad to hear John the Baptist, and yet, just to save himself a little embarrassment, had him beheaded in the prison. His caveat to His disciples is, actually, on two counts. First, beware of the hypocrisy they practice, because it makes them dangerous enemies, and second, beware of it, lest you be tempted to practice it yourselves: for there is a heavy penalty on such. As Jesus spoke to the disciples concerning their lack of understanding of this, there is also a lesson for us. Since He is always able to provide us necessary food, we should be far more concerned about how we shall serve Him than about what we shall eat.


(Verses 22 through 26) "And He cometh to Bethsaida ; and they bring a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him. And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw aught. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that He put His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And He sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town."


Jesus was not at this time desirous that His fame grow any more. So He led this man away from the multitude, restored His sight, and sent him home, with orders to keep the matter quiet. Apparently, when He told this man to tell no one, he obeyed, and we hear no more from him.


(Verses 27 through 33) "And Jesus went out, and His disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philipi: and by the way He asked His disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And He saith unto them, But Whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto Him, Thou art the Christ. And He charged them that they should tell no man of Him. And He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He spake that saying openly. And Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him. But when he had turned about and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind Me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men."


Notice that all of this took place out of earshot of the multitude. First, He questioned His disciples as to what was the opinion of the people concerning Who He was; and the answers varied greatly, because there were many opinions among the people. Then He asked them directly for their opinion. Peter was the only one who answered, but apparently, all agreed with his answer. He said, "Thou art the Christ." Matthew, in recording this, says that he said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." When Peter gave this answer, Jesus charged all His apostles to tell no one this. This was to be kept secret among them until after His resurrection. After thus charging them, Jesus began to tell them what lay ahead of Him at Jerusalem , His suffering, death, and resurrection. He openly told these things to his disciples, not to the multitude. At this point, Peter began to rebuke Jesus, and to tell Him that this was not going to take place. See Matthew 16:22, where it seems that Peter's meaning was that he was not going to permit this to take place. At this point Jesus rebuked Peter, and set him straight on the matter. Some seem to think that Jesus was calling Peter, Satan. However closer inspection of the speech and circumstances will show that such is not the case. Satan was the spirit who at that moment was leading Peter to say the things he said; and therefore was at that moment in Peter. So, though addressing Satan by name, the speech was directed to Peter, but the name was not applied to Peter. Jesus was commanding Satan to come out of Peter, and leave the premises.


(Verses 34 through 38) "And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me. 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. For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of the Father with His holy angels."


Here Jesus was no longer talking just to His disciples, but He had called the people together unto Him also. The first thing He told them was not how easy it is to follow Him, as some today try to tell us, but just the opposite, just how difficult it really is. In short, He not only advises that every man sit down, and count the cost, before starting on the road, but He also presents the cost, so that there should be no mistake about it. He presents two things that are essential for those who "will come after," follow, Him. First, "Let him deny himself." Self-denial may be practiced by many people, in varying degrees, and for different reasons. But the self-denial, of which He spoke, in the simplest wording I can use, is "to deny myself the things I (my natural mind and nature) want in order that I may do that which is pleasing to my Lord." And it is impossible to carry this to too great an extreme. None of us have ever yet reached perfection in this, and those who practice it most are usually considered "religious fanatics." However that should not discourage us, because even Jesus' friends thought Him insane, and "went out to lay hold on Him: for they said, He is beside Himself," and Festus thought Paul to be insane, and said, "Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning hath made thee mad." So, if we are considered fanatics, or worse, because we try to serve our Lord a little better than we have before, consider what club they are putting us in! Isn't it worth it?


The second essential thing is that one "take up his cross." This is said in reference to the Roman practice of having the condemned criminal take up his cross at the place where the sentence of crucifixion is pronounced upon him, and carry it to the place of execution. This testified that he was adjudged dead, and therefore had no more concern with worldly activities, and no more part in worldly pleasures. In like manner he who bears the cross of which Jesus spoke, testifies by his life that he is dead to this world, and has no more part in its pleasures and lusts. Only by denying oneself, and taking up his cross can one truly follow Jesus. May He enable us to approach closer each day to doing that.


His next statement seems a contradiction, but is not. "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." Those who, having not the Spirit of God, and thus not having eternal life, have only one life, that of the present world. They knowing nothing of eternal life "will save" the one they have. That is, their desire is to save that life, at all costs. Yet we, and they, know that they shall lose it. They may be allowed to keep it for a while, but since it is not eternal, sooner or later, they shall lose it. On the other hand, he who has been blessed with the Spirit, and faith, that makes him willing to stand for Jesus and His gospel, even if it costs his life, shall save it. In John 12:25, Jesus says, "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." This has the same meaning as the present text. Such is the contrast, that He asks, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" This is not said to indicate that such a choice is set before every man, and the matter left up to him to accept, or to reject. Rather it is to call the attention of the believer to sober consideration of the matter, and to comfort him in the knowledge that in his self-denial he is still far better off with the promise of our Lord, than he would be if he owned the whole world, but only had a life that, try as he may to save it, he must lose. Verse 38 is a clear declaration that those who are ashamed of Him and of His word in this life, that is, those who despise Him, do not believe in Him, and want nothing to do with Him or His word in this life, will find, that when He returns "in the glory of His Father with the holy angels," He will be ashamed of them, and will say to them, "Depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity."


Chapter 9

(Verses 1 through 8) "And He said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power. And after six days Jesus taketh with Him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and He was transfigured before them. And His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son: hear Him. And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves."


This incident is also recorded by Matthew and Luke. Their wording is slightly different, but the essential elements of the testimony are the same in all records. Luke does tell us the subject of conversation among Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. It was His upcoming crucifixion at Jerusalem . There is little in this account which needs any explanation, since it is so clearly written. Some have tried to tell us that Peter's reason for wanting to build three tabernacles was that He wanted to worship under the law, the prophets, and the Christ; But, since Mark so clearly sets forth his reason, we think it better to hold to that. "For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid." There are many who, when excited, or afraid, will began talking without knowing what to say, or even what they are saying; and, according to Mark, that was the case here. Nevertheless the voice from the cloud set the matter straight for him, and for us. "This is My beloved Son: hear Him." Jesus, the beloved Son of God is our Lord and Master: acknowledge Him, and no other. This brought the event to a close. "When they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. There are those who will say that this did not actually take place, but was only a vision which the three apostles saw. However it is recorded as a factual event by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And it is referred to by the Apostle Peter in His second epistle. If in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established, four are not to be denied. It did take place.


(Verses 9 and 10) "And as they came down from the mountain, He charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean."


These were three of the first apostles Jesus called. These only of the apostles were with Him when He raised Jairus' daughter from the dead. And, earlier, Jesus had told them and the other apostles that He must "be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. Here He charged them to keep secret the things they had seen, "till the Son of Man were risen from the dead;" and they could not understand what the rising from the dead could mean. We might be tempted to judge them a little too harshly concerning this, unless we look a little more closely at the situation. In spite of the rebuke Jesus gave Peter in Chapter 8, all the disciples were so fired up with the idea of the kingdom of God, thinking of it in worldly terms, and believing that it was presently to be ushered in, in all its glory, that they could not even entertain the idea that Jesus, the Son of God, and King of that kingdom could die, even for a little while. So in this frame of mind, they could not understand what rising from the dead had to do with the matter.


(Verses 11 through 13) "And they asked Him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things: and how it is written of the Son of man, that He must suffer many things, and be set at naught. But I say unto you that Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him."


Both Isaiah and Malachi prophesied of the coming of "the messenger," or Elijah, before the Messiah, or the Christ. John the Baptist was indeed the messenger who came in the spirit and power of Elijah, but in Malachi's prophecy it is obvious, that, just as there were to be two comings of the Christ, so there were to be two comings of Elijah. Just as John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah before the first coming of the Christ, so will Elijah come in person before that great day of final judgment. John is the one to whom Jesus refers in this statement. He came, and they (the Jews) did to him what they desired. They imprisoned, and killed him.


Verses 14 through 29 tell of the casting out of a demon by our Lord, which the disciples could not cast out. The account is so clearly written as to need little explanation. We shall not quote the entire account, but refer the reader to the above mentioned verses. When Jesus, Peter, James, and John, returned from the mountain, there was a great multitude gathered around the other disciples, and there seemed to be much confusion. The cause of the confusion was that a man had brought to the disciples his son, who was possessed of a demon, which they could not cast out. The symptoms of the boy were such that today he would, probably, be diagnosed as an epileptic deaf mute. When the man told Jesus his troubles, Jesus said, "O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? bring him to Me." Since this man had brought his son because he did believe in the power of Jesus to heal, this answer may appear a little strange. Yet we should notice that Jesus did not say, "O faithless man," but "O faithless generation." Not this man, but the Jewish nation among whom he was, was addressed as "faithless". The question is, "How long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you?" Jesus knew that His time to be crucified was fast approaching. In fact, Luke makes it quite plain that all of this took place while Jesus was making His last journey from the area of Galilee to Jerusalem . In view of this, the question seems rather to be a statement, saying, "I will not long be with you, to do these things for you." In verse 20, the expression, "the spirit tare him," is slightly mistranslated. It should read, "the spirit convulsed him." That is, it caused him to have a convulsion. When Jesus asked the father how long the son had been thus afflicted, he gave Him a brief history of the case, and finished by saying, "But if Thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." Jesus' answer to him was, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." No doubt, the man had believed, otherwise he would not have brought his son to Jesus' disciples in the first place. Yet their failure had, surely, caused him some doubt, and this was the cause of his saying, "If Thou canst do any thing." The answer Jesus gave him should be considered very carefully; "If thou canst believe," literally, "If you are able to believe." There are those to whom the Spirit has not been given; and since faith is a fruit of the Spirit, and they do not have the Spirit, they are not able to believe: they do not have the power or ability to believe. No man can, by an act of his will, believe any thing; and, certainly, until the Spirit produces faith in his heart, he can not believe in the Christ. However, to those who believe, all things are possible. "And straightway the father cried out, Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief." This is often our condition. We believe, but we are, or have been troubled by doubts, which are unbelief. So, although we believe, we need Him to help our unbelief.


Verses 25 through 27 close out this account so clearly that we quote them with only very little comment. "When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose." Our only comment on this is that the same Greek word is translated, "rent" in verse 26, that is in verse 20 translated "tare," and has the same meaning.


(Verses 28 and 29) "And when He was come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And He said unto them, "This kind can come out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting."


Matthew records Jesus as first telling the disciples that their failure was because of their unbelief, and then adding the answer recorded by Mark. This should remind us that, although our Lord gives gifts and powers according to His will, He makes no man equal to Himself.


(Verses 30 through 32) "And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee ; and He would not that any man should know it. For He taught His disciples, and said to them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him; and after that He is killed, He shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask."


Although they were on the final journey to Jerusalem , they were just now departing from the area of Galilee . As they traveled, Jesus kept their going secret from the multitude in order that He might privately teach His disciples those things He was soon to suffer. He had already told them, at least, twice concerning these things, but they still could not understand his reference to being killed, and rising from the dead. Nevertheless they were afraid to ask Him about these things.


(Verses 33 through 37) "And He came to Capernaum : and being in the house, He asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. And He sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. And He took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when He had taken him in His arms, He said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in My name, receiveth Me: and whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not Me, but Him That sent Me."


We see that the apostles were human and subject to the same temptations of the flesh as are we. As they traveled along they were concerned about who of them would have the highest position of honor in the kingdom of God . The Greek word here translated, "disputed," does not necessarily mean what we usually associate with "dispute." Rather it often means reason, deliberate, or discuss. So this discussion may not have reached quite the level we commonly think of as a "dispute." Nevertheless their interest was in the hierarchy of the kingdom of God , no doubt, thinking of it in political terms, as they usually apply to worldly kingdoms. Jesus first told them the manner of the operation of the kingdom, which is directly opposite from worldly ways, "If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all." Ambition for recognition and honor will only hold one back in the kingdom of God : it will never advance him. Then He illustrates this by taking a child up in His arms, and saying to them, "Whosoever shall receive one of such children in My name, receiveth Me." The lesson here is humility. So, since in the Jewish manner of thinking, as expressed by the Apostle Paul, "The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant," the child is the best representative of humility. Even though he may be "lord of all," heir of the whole estate, he has no more honor or respect than a servant. Yet he that receives even such a child in the name of our Lord, receives Him; and the chain continues, for he that receives Jesus, receives also the Father Who sent Him. Therefore, as we count up the line, we find that the child, who is considered as of no more honor or respect than a servant, is yet the representative of the Father, because he represents the Son, Jesus, and He represents the Father. Why then should we seek honor one of another? Rather let us seek to be servants.


(Verses 38 through 41) "And John answered Him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbade him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly speak evil of Me.  For He that is not against us is on our part.  For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, He shall not lose his reward. And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in Me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea."


Notice how much like us today John was. John said the man was casting out devils in the name of the Christ, Jesus, BUT "he followeth not us: and we forbade him, BECAUSE he followeth not us." The only difference today would be, "BUT he is not a member of our church: and we forbade him, BECAUSE he is not a member of our church," (or worse still, "our splinter of the church"). Human nature has not changed: the apostles had it, and so do we. John probably thought he was doing Jesus a favor, but Jesus gave a quite different answer to the matter. He said, "Forbid him not: for there is no man, which shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly speak evil of Me. For he that is not against us is on our part." Some years ago, while I was doing some construction work on a building for a church, which had just moved into the area, a member of a church that was already established in the community came by, and talked with me. The first thing he wanted to know was of what denomination the church was, for whom I was building the house. When I told him, his first words were, "I don't think it is right for them to be putting a church here in competition with us." Competition seems to be the idea of everyone, but the real need is cooperation instead of competition. One who preaches the gospel of the Son of God, or one who lives a godly life in the name of our Lord, is doing a miracle in His name, and is not to be forbidden to do so, whether he is "a member of our church," or not. (In fact, this raises a great question, "Where did you or I get a church?" If the one with whom I try to worship and serve God, is mine instead of His, we are all in serious trouble.) Jesus says, "He that is not against us is on our part." Therefore such an one is on the part of our Lord. The next question is; "Are we?" If one does nothing more than give one of His servants a cup of water to drink, but does so because that servant belongs to the Christ, He shall not lose his reward. Jesus knew that all do not see everything in the same light, and consequently one may disagree with another about some points of both doctrine and practice, but if both love the Lord, they are on the same team. Then He says, "And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea." The word here translated "offend," means "cause to stumble" or "cause to err." This seems clear enough.


(Verses 43 through 48) "And if thy hand offend thee, 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 never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, 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 never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, 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 fire: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."


In each place where "offend" is used in this text, the Greek word is the same as in verse 42, and has the same meaning. So if one's hand, foot, eye, or any other body part, is the cause of his erring from the way of the Lord, and he cannot control it, he is better served to rid himself of that member that causes him to stray, no matter how valuable he may consider that member. This is, of course, a metaphor; Jesus has earlier taught that the evil things which defile the man come from the defiled heart, not from the hand, foot, or eye. These members, because of the value we place upon them, are used metaphorically to represent any one, or any thing that might lead us astray, be it wealth, fame, friends, or whatever. If it causes us to turn away from the Lord, "cut it off." Some may try to revise what Jesus said about this, because it might not fit their doctrine, in which case their doctrine is what should be changed. He says that it is better for us to enter into life, or into the kingdom of God , without these things, or these persons, than having them, to be cast into hell fire, which will never be quenched. The worst thing anyone can do to this text is to over explain it: it will stand on its own merit.


(Verses 49 through 50) "For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another."


Leviticus 2:13 says, "And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt." It is in reference to this that Jesus said, "And every sacrifice shall be salted with salt." It would be an abomination to God for one to try to make an offering to God, and omit the salt. He also says, For every one shall be salted with fire." This is in reference to what John the Baptist said about Him. "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." (Matthew 3:11) The salting with fire and the baptizing with fire both represent the cleansing and purifying power of the Holy Ghost, with which also He baptizes us. He says, "Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith shall ye season it?" If the taste were lost from the salt, there would be no way to restore the taste. The writer of the Hebrew epistle sets up an hypothesis very similar to this. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame." (Hebrews 6:4-6) He finishes this with the conclusion in verse 9, "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak," thus assuring the ones to whom he wrote, that this was indeed an hypothesis, and not the situation in which they were involved. Here Jesus is saying that if it were possible for that salt with which "every one shall be salted," (and, surely, "every one" means "every one of His,") to lose its taste, that taste could no more be restored than could one of those in Hebrews 6:4-6 be renewed again unto repentance. Apparently the salt under consideration here very closely agrees with those blessings mentioned in the text from Hebrews. Or we might think of it as that faith, which is produced by the Spirit in our hearts, since both the apostles, Peter and Paul speak of our being kept by faith, and salt is well known to be a great preserver. Jesus says, Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another." Since true faith will also cause one to be faithful to our Lord, it is indeed a great promoter of peace among brethren.


Chapter 10

(Verses 1 through 9) "And He arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan : and the people resort unto Him again: and as He was wont, He taught them again. And the Pharisees came to Him, and asked Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting Him. And He answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh: so they are no more twain, but one flesh. What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."


Perhaps, this subject has been more argued, discussed, and disputed, than any other in scripture. These Pharisees, who had hoped to entrap Jesus with it got more than they were looking for. They thought that He would either acknowledge the authority of Moses' commandment, in which case they could say that He was no more than any other teacher, and this would lower Him in the eyes of the people, or else He would, on no foundation other than, "I say unto you," take a position contrary to it, and then they could accuse Him of teaching against the law. In either case, they wanted to discredit Him before the people. When they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?" they were not asking for information: they considered themselves fully knowledgeable of the law. When He answered them, it appeared that He might be showing deference to them concerning the law. However, when He received their answer, He began a speech they did not want to hear, and neither do most people today. "For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept" That was the reason for divorce then, and the same reason applies today. Some one will surely say, "But there are cases where a couple just cannot get along together. So the only thing they can do is to divorce." That by no means changes the foregoing statement. If there were not hardness of heart on one side or the other, and usually on both, there would be no need for divorce. All difficulties that lead to divorce can be traced back to that.


Instead of being without foundation for His position, Jesus went back to a law far older than that of Moses, the law of God when He created man. "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh: so they are no more twain, but one flesh." Obviously the same things hold true for the woman as for the man in this matter. He closes this with, "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." Immediately someone will say, "But I don't believe that all marriages are made by God. I think some are made with total disregard of Him." While there may be some truth in this, there are two things, which must be considered. First Jesus is speaking of the institution of marriage. It was established by God Himself, and Jesus blessed it with His presence at Cana of Galilee, and, second, where do we get the authority to substitute "I think" for the word of God? Marriage is not something to be taken lightly, nor should it be subject to the whims of mankind to be broken at will. More consideration should be given to the sanctity of it before entering into it. This would prevent many break-ups of it.


(Verses 10 through 12) "And in the house His disciples asked Him again of the same matter. And He saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery."


The disciples were just like so many today: they just could not leave that subject alone. Perhaps, they thought that, in private, Jesus might give them a loophole in the matter, but such was not the case. He addressed both sides of the issue in the same manner, and so clearly that no one could misunderstand His meaning.


(Verses 13 through 16) "And they brought young children to Him, that He should touch them: and His disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God . Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them."


The words here translated "child" and "children" do not, necessarily, mean "infants," but the context shows that they were young enough to be held in one's arms; and in another place the word used does mean "infants." People were bringing them to Jesus for His blessing. No one knows why the disciples did not want the children brought to Him. It could have been that they thought Him too busy with other things, which they deemed more important, or for some other reason. Nevertheless, when Jesus saw them turning the children away, He was moved with indignation. He immediately rebuked them, saying, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God . Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." Some attempt to use this passage to prove that all who die in infancy are saved. Although we are not arguing against that doctrine, we must say that, this passage has no reference to such. These were all live children: had there been a dead one among them some mention would have been made of that fact. So it does not refer to those who die as infants. The kingdom of God is made up of those who receive it as do little children. The inference is that they receive the kingdom in the same manner that they receive any thing else. We have already pointed out that these "little children" were either infants, or, at the most, young enough to be carried in the arms like babies. They do not actively go out, and seek for anything, and neither do they have any say in whether or not they will receive it. This is proved by the very next verse, "And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them." He alone was active: the children were totally passive in the entire matter. So it is in their receiving the kingdom of God ; and so also do you receive it, or you shall not enter therein. So let the little children come to Him, and forbid them not: for they have as much right to be in His presence as do you and I.


(Verses 17 through 20) "And when He was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled down to Him, and asked Him, Good master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou Me good?  There is none good but One, that is God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he answered and said unto Him, Master, all these have I kept from my youth."


Before commenting further, it is essential that we call this to mind, and hold to it: nowhere, in all of this episode, does Jesus give the full answer to the matter, till we come to verse 27. Until that point all answers are in keeping with the idea behind the question which has been asked. Let us now consider the question, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" The first noticeable thing about this is his manner of addressing Jesus. He did not address Him as "Thou Son of David," as had so many who came to Him for help, and neither did he say, "Lord," as had others. His address is, "Good Teacher." (The Greek word translated "master," only means "teacher," which is, of course, often called "master," just as the principal of a school is sometimes called the "headmaster.") Jesus counters this with, "Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but One, that is God." Since it was rightly held in Jewish teaching, that God alone is good, this man, in recognizing Jesus only as "teacher," and not as "Lord," should not have called Him good. The answer itself carries the weight of, "Since you do not recognize My divinity, you have no right to call Me good." This was the man's first mistake.


His second mistake was his question, "What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" The poor fellow thought, as do so many today, that eternal life can be obtained by the works of man. Jesus answered the question in the same manner in which it was asked. If eternal life is to be obtained by works, one surely must begin with the commandments of God. So He quoted enough of these commandments to remind him of them. The man answered, "Master, (still the same word,) all these have I observed from my youth." We are not being sarcastic, when we say that, a man like this is hard to find. Nevertheless, if one is to inherit eternal life by his works, he must be perfect; and as we shall see, he still lacked something, and nothing less than perfection is acceptable with God.


(Verses 21 and 22) "Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up thy cross, and follow Me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions."


The first thing in this that causes some to stumble is, that when they read, "Then Jesus beholding him loved him," they forget two things. First, although Jesus was God, He was also man; and as man He could, and did feel emotions that were purely human, and did not involve His deity. Second, the word translated "loved," can also mean "to wish well, or to have regard for one's welfare." So as He looked upon him, He had human compassion for him. Since to obtain eternal life by one's works, one must be perfect, Jesus said, "One thing thou lackest." As we continue reading, we are likely to forget what that one thing is that he lacked. Remember that when questioned as to which is the first and greatest commandment, Jesus answered that, and added, "And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." This is what the man lacked. Had he loved his neighbor as himself, it would have caused him no sorrow to sell his possessions, and give the proceeds to the poor: surely, he would have done as much for himself. This is not to say that he was any worse than we are. We cannot fulfill that commandment perfectly, any more than could he; but to obtain eternal life by our works, we must. That is why we need a Saviour; but this man did not want a Saviour. Instead he wanted "to do it himself." So "he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions."


(Verses 23 through 27) "And Jesus looked round about, and saith to His disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God ! And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard it is for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God ! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God . And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible."


In verse 24, Jesus makes a slight word change from what He said in verse 23. But when we come to the conclusion of the matter, we find that it really makes no difference, because with men the whole thing is an impossibility, and that is the subject all the way. What He said about the rich man, the camel, and the eye of the needle was all said to draw the attention of the disciples to the hopelessness of the matter so far as man is concerned. When they asked in astonishment, "Who then can be saved?" the stage was set for His answer, "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." This is the answer to the whole matter. No man can, by his own works, inherit eternal life. It is the gift of God through Christ Jesus our Lord.


(Verses 28 through 31) "Then Peter began to say unto Him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundred fold 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. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first."


In recording this, Matthew says that Peter added a question to his statement, and even here it seems to be implied. His wording of it is, "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore?" Jesus' answer seems to be prompted by the question. Again we remind you that the apostles were still expecting the immediate establishment of a political kingdom. They really seemed to think that they had been chosen as the nucleus of a new revolutionary government, and as such, since they thought the time was at hand Peter, and, no doubt, the rest, were concerned about what offices, or positions of power would be theirs, in the kingdom, since they had forsaken every thing and every one they held dear, to follow Jesus. There is no difficulty in understanding the answer Jesus gave Peter, but some things should be brought to our attention. In all the list of things Jesus promised "in this time" to those that forsake former acquaintances and possessions to follow Him, one thing to notice is that "wives" are not promised. We do not say this facetiously, but in all seriousness. Even though His servants may sometimes have to forsake their wives for a while to do his will, they are not to try to develop substitute relations with other women. Another point for consideration is that with these things that they shall receive "in this time," they shall also receive persecution. Paul told Timothy, "Yea, and all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." Looking back to verse 29 we see that He did not join all that a man may forsake with "and," but with "or," signifying that whoever forsakes any of these for His sake, and the Gospel's, shall receive the blessings He names, and "in the world to come eternal life." We should understand from all His other teaching, that this is not in payment for one's forsaking these, but, that his forsaking them identifies him as one of those who shall receive it. In keeping with what He said earlier, (Mark 9:35,) He says, "But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first."


(Verses 32 through 34) "And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem ; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And He took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto Him, saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles: and they shall mock Him, and shall scourge Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall kill Him: and the third day He shall rise again."


Back in Chapter 8, Jesus had told His disciples what things He must suffer at Jerusalem . From that point on, from time to time, He had repeated the same things; and though His disciples did not understand all that He told them, when they saw Him take the lead as they were nearing Jerusalem , they became very much afraid and concerned. Jesus knowing their thoughts called the twelve to Himself, and began again to tell them of those things that awaited Him in Jerusalem . In effect, He was saying, "The time is at hand for Me to suffer these things for which I came into the world. I must go through with it; and this is no time for you to be afraid: it is I, Who must suffer."


(Verses 35 through 40) "And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto Him, saying, Master, we would that Thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And He said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? They said unto Him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on Thy right hand, and the other on Thy left in Thy glory. But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can you drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto Him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of, and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized. But to sit on My right hand and on My left hand is not Mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared."


After Jesus gave Peter the answer He did in verses 29 through 31, James and John apparently decided to try a different angle. Instead of asking what they were going to receive, they took the direct approach, asking directly for what they wanted. All of this shows that, in spite of what Jesus had just told them, the disciples still thought of the kingdom of God in political terms applicable to worldly kingdoms. So James and John put in their applications for the two highest positions in the kingdom, other than King. When asked if they were able to drink of His cup and be baptized with His baptism, (both of these terms refer to His upcoming suffering and death,) they said that they were able to do that. Jesus then told them that they indeed would drink of His cup, and be baptized with His baptism, but the positions for which they had asked were not free to be given. Those who would receive them were already appointed, and the positions were prepared for them. He did not say who they are; and it is none of our business to try to guess about the matter.


(Verses 41 through 45) "And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to Him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they, which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority over them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister (servant): and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."


This is exactly the same lesson He taught them in Chapter 9, verses 35 through 37. Here He makes a little longer address to them, but the whole can be summed up thus: as in this world those whose characteristics are most like those of their rulers, receive the highest positions, so in the kingdom of God those who are most like the King will receive the places of highest honors. The difference is in the difference between the King of the kingdom of God and the rulers of worldly kingdoms. The King came into this world not to be served, but to serve, and "to give His life a ransom for many." This is the sign of greatness in the kingdom of God .


The remainder of this chapter deals with a miracle, which Jesus wrought near Jericho . A blind man, Bartimaeus (the son of Timaeus,) sat begging by the way as Jesus and His disciples came out of Jericho going toward Jerusalem . When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he began to call to Him, "Jesus Thou Son of David, have mercy on me." To call upon Jesus for help under the title, "Thou Son of David," was the equivalent of declaring Him to be the Christ, or the Messiah, Which, of course, He is. Many of the people tried to make Bartimaeus be quiet, but the more they tried to quiet him, the more he called. Jesus stopped, and had Bartimaeus called to Him. When told that Jesus had called him, Bartimaeus threw aside his garment and came to Him. Jesus asked what it was that he wanted, and he said, "Lord, that I might receive my sight." This was a very simple request, but it was of major importance to Bartimaeus, and he had continued calling until he got an audience with Jesus. "And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way." The lesson for us in this is, When we feel a real need for something, let us not call upon the Lord once, and not receiving an answer just quit calling. Rather, as did this blind man, let us pray until we get an answer.


Chapter 11

The first eleven verses of this chapter give the account of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zecharia 9:9. In preparation for it, when they reached the mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of His disciples to get the colt of an ass for Him to ride. In verses 2 and 3 He told them exactly where to go, what they would find, and what to say to any who might ask why they loosed the colt. They found every thing exactly as He had said, even to the reaction of the people when told what Jesus had said. Were it not that we know that Jesus was from the province of Galilee, that He was just passing through, and that He did not have time to pre-arrange any of this, one might be tempted to think that He had pre-arranged it all, and even set up a challenge and password agreement with the owners of the colt. It was all because, that He, the Son of God has all wisdom, all knowledge, and all power.


When the disciples returned with the colt, they took off their outer garments, and put them on the colt's back for a makeshift saddle, and Jesus mounted the colt and rode him, while many took their coats and spread them in the way, and others cut down tree branches (palm fronds) and spread them in the road. Here we return to Mark's words, "And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, ‘Hosanna: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.’ And Jesus entered into Jerusalem , and into the temple: and when He had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, He went out into Bethany with the twelve."


Here are two prophecies fulfilled. In Zecharia 9:9 the prophet says, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion : shout, O daughter of Jerusalem : behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." Then Malachi 3:1 says "Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, Whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, Whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts." Down to the first colon, Malachi's prophecy is of John the Baptist, but the remainder concerns Jesus. (From this point Malachi's prophecy leaps forward to our Lord's coming in judgment.)


(Verses 12 through 14) "And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, He was hungry: and seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, He came, if haply He might find any thing thereon: and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat figs of thee hereafter for ever. And His disciples heard it."


This appears to be a somewhat strange incident. Jesus being a native of the general area, surely, knew that it was not yet the season for figs. Yet He came to this tree seeking them. The key may be in the fact that the tree had leaves. Nothing is said about whether these were new leaves, or leaves carried over from the previous season. If the winter had been mild enough for the tree to have kept its old leaves, one might reasonably expect that it might also have fruit. When He found no fruit, He said to it, "No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever."


(Verses 15 through 19) "And they come to Jerusalem : and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves; and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And He taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? But ye have made it a den of thieves. And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy Him: for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His doctrine. And when even was come, He went out of the city."


Those who sold and bought, those who sold doves, and the money changers, might cause some to wonder who they were. We shall attempt to explain. Since there was only one temple for the Jews, that meant only one place at which one could offer sacrifice to God. In the event a Jew living in a far distant place wanted to offer a sacrifice, since the distance was too great to carry an animal for sacrifice, he would sell his animal, take the proceeds, and bring them to the temple. There were in the temple men who kept flocks and herds nearby for the purpose, and would sell him what he required. Of course, their prices were inflated. Even if a man lived close enough to bring his own animal for sacrifice, he had to have the priest inspect it, and declare it fit for sacrifice, before he could offer it. In the event it was rejected as unfit, he could go to "those who bought" in the temple, and sell it to them at a discounted price. Then he could either buy one from "those that sold," or he could go back home, get another animal, and go through the same process again. Those who sold in the temple claimed their animals to be already declared fit for sacrifice. For some sacrifices, doves were specified by the law, and since every one did not raise doves, those who had them for sale had their seats, or booths in the temple. The moneychangers were exactly what the name implies. Since the "shekel of the sanctuary" was the acceptable currency in the temple, if one who living in a foreign country, happened to bring money of that country, he had to have it exchanged for the acceptable currency. This was handled by the moneychangers, at a rate slanted in their favor. All of this amounted to a very lucrative business, with the scribes and chief priests getting their cut from all of it. This is what Jesus meant, when He said, "But ye have made it a den of thieves." This is also one of the chief reasons the scribes and chief priests were so determined to destroy Him.


(Verses 20 through 26) "And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance, saith unto Him, Master, the fig tree which Thou cursedst is withered away.  And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.  For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also Which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."


When Jesus says, "Have faith in God," He is not trying to persuade someone who does not have faith to somehow manufacture it, or get it by some effort of his own. Rather the word He uses means "hold" or "keep." So the message is, "Hold fast to your faith in God." After all, He was speaking to His own apostles. He then tells them what absolute, unwavering, faith will do: it will move mountains; and that is to be taken literally. The reason we cannot move mountains by speaking to them is that in our hearts there is doubt, and therefore our faith is not perfect. Some try to make a loophole for themselves in this by saying that He did not mean a literal mountain, but "a mountain of sin." The problem with such gainsayers is that they can no more move one than the other. Only a faith, which has not even the slightest hint of doubt, can do this. So long as we cannot reach that point of perfection in our faith, we cannot thus move mountains. He then encourages us to believe that God will give us that for which we pray. And finally, He says that when we pray for forgiveness, we must also forgive every one against whom we hold any thing; if not, neither can we expect forgiveness from our Father Who is in heaven.


The remainder of this chapter tells of the chief priests, scribes, and elders, as they demand of Jesus, by what authority He did those things He had done, that is, the casting out of the buyers, sellers, moneychangers, and sellers of doves, in the temple. Jesus answered them thus: "I will also ask you one question, and answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? Answer Me. " This is something they did not expect, and for which they were totally unprepared. They certainly did not believe that it was from heaven; but they were afraid of an uprising of the people if they said what they really thought, because all the people considered John a great prophet. On the other hand, although lying would not have hurt their consciences, they could not, even for the sake of peace with the people, declare that they considered it to be from heaven, because Jesus would then counter with, "Why then did ye not believe him?" They were caught in a trap of their own making, from which there was no escape. "And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things."


Chapter 12

(Verses 1 through 11) "And He began to speak unto them in parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge about it, and digged a place for a winevat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant, and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again He sent another; and him they killed, and many others, beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his well beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. And have ye not read the scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes."


To understand any parable, the first thing that must be done is to identify the characters and elements of it. So this we shall attempt. First, the man who planted the vineyard can only represent our heavenly Father. When, in the parable, it is said that He said, "They will reverence My Son," it is not to be thought that He did not know what the husbandmen would do, but only that He sent His Son as would a man who thought so. The Son, of course, is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. The husbandmen, vine dressers, are the Jewish hierarchy of priests, scribes, elders, etc., and the vineyard is the kingdom of God . From the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai until the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus, it was "let out to those husbandmen." From time to time God sent prophets (the servants) unto them calling upon them to render fruit unto God, and Jesus tells exactly what they did as he looked over Jerusalem, and said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee _ _ _." This was their record, exactly matching that of the husbandmen in the parable. Finally, He has sent His Son, and though they have not yet killed Him, for the purpose of the parable, He speaks of it as already done, which was soon to be the case. Then what will the Lord of this vineyard do? He will destroy those husbandmen. This He literally did in 70 A. D., but for the purpose of the parable, He took the vineyard away from them when He raised Jesus from the dead. Since then the gospel of the kingdom has been preached primarily to the Gentiles, and will be until the days of the Gentiles be fulfilled. So this fulfills the prophecy Jesus quoted in verses 10 and 11.


These to whom He spoke this parable were the same ones who had demanded by what authority He did the things that he did. Now they really wanted to take Him and destroy Him, but they were afraid of the people. So they tried again to entrap Him. To do this, they sent some of the Pharisees and the Herodians to set the trap. First, they began to compliment Him for His unwavering teaching of the way of God without fear or favor of any man. Then they asked, "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or no?" This they thought to be a sure trap. No Jew was in favor of paying tribute to Caesar; so if He said "Yes," He would be in disfavor with the people. If He said, "No," they would report Him to the Roman authorities for teaching against the Roman laws. Either way they could see no room for failure. He knowing their hypocrisy, said, "Why tempt ye Me? Bring Me a penny, that I may see it." When they brought it, He asked another question, "Whose is the image and superscription?" Roman coins were stamped with the image and the name of the emperor in whose reign they were issued. So they could only answer, "Caesar's." By this they trapped themselves; for He said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." They were astonished at such an answer, and had nothing more to say at that time.


(Verses 18 through 23) "Then come unto Him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked Him, saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man's brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying, left no seed. And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all, the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife."


Since the Pharisees and Herodians had been put to silence, the Sadducees had to make another attempt to discredit the teachings of Jesus. They took one of the commandments given by Moses, and made up a story to combine with it in an effort to deny the resurrection of the dead. They felt confident that Jesus could find no way around their "logic," which was only the assumption that a situation such as they had described would make chaos of a resurrection, and therefore there could be none. This is very much akin to the ideas of many today even among those who profess to believe in the resurrection. They are always talking about what they are going to be doing, and whom they are going to see, and what they are going to be talking about, in heaven; and all of it usually follows the pattern of worldly activities. Such should pay more attention to the answer Jesus gave to these Sadducees.


(Verses 24 through 27) "And Jesus answering said unto them, "Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err."


Notice that Jesus' question is not, "Do ye not therefore err?" but "Do ye not therefore err, BECAUSE _ _ _? His conclusion of the whole matter is, "Ye therefore do greatly err." The Greek word, "planao," translated “err,” (in both places) means "lead astray" as well as "go astray." These Sadducees, who were trying to teach their doctrine of denial of the resurrection, were not only going astray themselves, but also leading others astray; and all because they knew neither the scriptures nor the power of God.


First, Jesus explained to them that, by the power of God those who arise from the dead will have no need for, and no part in, marriage. They "neither marry, nor are given in marriage." Many, when speaking of loved ones who have died, talk about how they expect to see those loved ones in heaven; and they give the impression that they expect them to still be, wife, husband, father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter, just as before death. This just simply is not the case. Family relationships, as they are on earth, will be known no more, nor will they be needed or missed. We will be "as the angels which are in heaven." The only family there will be the family of God.


Having enlightened them concerning the power of God, Jesus turned to the scriptures, declaring that the language Moses used in telling of events at the burning bush prove a resurrection of the dead. Moses recorded God as saying, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Now since all three of these men had been dead for centuries, if there were no resurrection of the dead, the proper way of speaking would have been, "I was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." The fact that God used the present tense proves not only that God lives forever, but that those who are dead still live also. "He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err."


(Verses 28 through 34) "And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first commandment is, Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto Him, Well, Master, Thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but He: 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 whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, He said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God . And after that durst no man ask Him any question."


From Mark's account of this incident, we might not understand what this scribe's motive was in this question; but Matthew, in recording this same scene, calls this scribe a lawyer, and says that he asked this question tempting Jesus, that is, making another effort to find some accusation against Him. The question is not in reference to which commandment was the first to be given, but which is first in importance; and this is the basis upon which Jesus answered it. Matthew, in recording this, says that, after Jesus gave both of these commandments, He said, "On these two commandments hang (depend) all the law, and the prophets." They completely cover our relationships with both God and man. If we faithfully followed these two, there would be no need of any others: because they are all embodied in these. Even the scribe agreed that obedience to these two commandments is better, or "more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices;" for which answer Jesus said to him, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God," that is, his understanding was very close to the doctrine of the kingdom of God. After this no one dared to try to trip Him with any more questions.


(Verses 35 through 37) "And Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, How say the scribes that the Christ is the Son of David" For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth Him Lord, and whence is He then his Son? And the common people heard Him gladly."


This question goes to the heart of the reason why the chief priests, scribes, elders, and Pharisees were so adamantly opposed to Jesus and His teachings. They had never considered the Christ as being any more than a descendant of David, who would be blessed of God to restore the glory to Israel , and to reign on the throne of David, keeping Israel as the greatest nation in the world for ever. Even today some of the Jews say that Jesus was a prophet and a great teacher, but not the Son of God. That is, and was, their main bone of contention. Here He proves from the words of David himself that the Christ is more than the son of David: He is also David's Lord. Why then do the scribes insist on calling Him the Son of David? Why not do even as David, and say "The Lord of David?" The common people heard Him gladly, but the scribes, chief priests, and elders, would have no part with Him or His doctrine.


(Verses 38 through 40) "And He said unto them in His doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplace, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: which devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation."


Jesus' caveat against these scribes was not so much a warning that they, per se, were dangerous, though in some respects they were, but a warning to make sure we do not follow their ways. For they "shall receive greater damnation;" and if they, then certainly, also those who follow their ways. They love to be recognized: recognition feeds their ego. I am often amused, and at the same time saddened, by the conduct of men who are called gospel ministers. If one visits a church other than one he is serving, even without a special appointment, and is not called upon to address the congregation, he will go away complaining because he was not recognized. They love to be addressed as "Doctor," Reverend," "Elder," or some other title, when even the Apostle Peter, as he spoke of the Apostle Paul, only said, "Our beloved brother Paul." If a man is accounted worthy to be called, "brother," by the people of God, he should be humbly thankful for that, and never aspire to a higher title; and indeed there is no greater honor, or title for a man, in this world or in that to come. In connection with what Jesus said about long prayers, one should review Luke 18:10-15.


(Verses 41 through 44) "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. And He called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance: but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."


The important lesson here is in what Jesus said about this situation, and will apply not only to money or other things of pecuniary value, but into every facet of our service to God. The example used is that of many, who were rich, and did put much into the treasury, yet gave only of their abundance; (They still had plenty left.) and a poor widow, who put in almost nothing, so far as monetary value is concerned, but it was all she had, "even all her living." Therefore she put in more than all the rest. There may be those who are blessed with great talents and abilities, but in using them for the service of the Lord, they only do so when "they have time," that is, when they do not have something which they want to do. Though even thus they may do many things which men consider of great value, they have done nothing to compare with one who though blessed with far inferior talent or ability, just lays his life and whatever talent he does have on the line, and gives it all. So the real lesson is, that the amount we give is not nearly so important as its relation to what we have.


Chapter 13

(Verses 1 through 4) "And as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples saith unto Him, Master. see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! 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. And as He sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James, and John, and Andrew asked Him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?"


This is the same incident, which Matthew recorded in the twenty-fourth chapter of his gospel record, and throughout the wording is very similar. One difference between the accounts is that Matthew says that the disciples asked more questions than are recorded here; and Luke leaves out much of what is recorded here, putting it in at another time and occasion. Matthew, instead of naming the disciples who asked concerning these things, says, "And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?" The answer Jesus gave them shows of itself that all these questions were under consideration.


(Verses 5 through 8) "And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you; for many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginning of sorrows."


The first statement Jesus makes is a command, which is very important to each of us; "Take heed lest any man deceive you." This tells us two things. First, We can be deceived; and, second, men will put forth every effort to deceive us. Then He tells what will be the subject about which they will so try to deceive. They will try to deceive us about the Christ. They will say, "I am Christ," and in spite of all teachings and warnings, many will be deceived, and follow them. We have recently had a much-publicized instance of this, which ended very tragically. Jesus then takes up the matter of wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, and troubles. The word here translated "troubles," properly means commotions and disturbances, such as sedition. Although in the word order here it might seem that His saying, "For such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet," would apply to only the wars and rumors of wars; but Luke makes it clear that it applies to all the things so far mentioned. They all are things, which, with human nature as it is in the present world, "must needs be," (literally, "are compelled to come"). Therefore they can only be considered "the beginning of sorrows," and of themselves are not a sign of His second coming, the end of the world, or even of the destruction of Jerusalem ; although sedition is what led to the destruction of Jerusalem . That is something the Jews have been noted for.


(Verses 9 through 13) "But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils, and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."


Down to this point it seems obvious that Jesus was dealing in general terms, with things not that pertain so much to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, as with the end of the world, and His return. Every thing mentioned so far is something that continued far beyond the time of the destruction of Jerusalem . In fact, they are even continuing to the present time in some places. What He speaks of in verses 9 through 11 began to be done to the apostles, but have been done to others at much later dates, and will continue, and grow worse in the last days. His instructions to His apostles, and to any other suffering the same things, is that they not worry about trying to plan ahead what they will say, nor how they will answer whatever questions are asked them, but rely upon the Holy Ghost to take care of the situation. He knows every need, and He is able to supply each one. Some have tried to apply these instructions to a man when coming before a congregation to preach the gospel. However that is not the situation to which Jesus addressed it. In verse 13 He says, "And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake." Some try to apply this to the Jews. While it is true that all of those to whom He was speaking were Jews, this hatred is not because of their being Jews, but For the sake of the name of Jesus, the Christ; while, as a people, the Jews are not receiving hatred for His name's sake, but because of the fact that they did not believe in Him, and therefore rejected Him, and persuaded the Romans to crucify Him. Luke tells us that Jesus said of them, "for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people." The context clearly shows that this wrath is the wrath of God, and not the hatred of men. There is less family loyalty today than there has ever been in the world. Should severe persecutions break forth against the Christians today, family members would be more ready to betray other family members to death than they have ever been. Nevertheless those who "endure unto the end, the same shall be saved," that is, delivered, even though that may be by death.


(Verses 14 through 20) "But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: and let him that is on the house top not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take anything out of his house: and let him that is in the field not turn back again to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom He hath chosen, He hath shortened the days."


Some commentators have said that this covers both periods: that of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and that of the time of great tribulation in the reign of the beast; that preceding the destruction of Jerusalem being local, and that of the time of the beast being worldwide. While we do not dispute that, it must be noted that here Jesus tells His disciples that when they are assured that the time is at hand they are to flee to the mountains. This they did before Jerusalem 's fall, and nothing of this sort is indicated during the reign of the beast, unless one considers the flight to the wilderness of the woman in Revelation, Chapter 12, as the reference. The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, does properly belong to the time of the beast: for his cutting off of the oblation and the sacrifice is the abomination of desolation. Luke says, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem , "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh." (Luke 21:20). He follows this with about the same instructions that Mark has recorded here. Jesus says that when the flight is made, there will not be sufficient time for a man who is on the house top, to come down and take anything out of his house, nor for one who has laid aside his robe to work in the field, to go back and get it. Speed of flight is of the essence. Therefore woe to women who are with child, or those who are carrying infants in their arms, because that will slow them down. Further, He says, "Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter," because the daylight hours of the winter day are shorter, and will cut down on the distance one can see to travel


In verse 19, Jesus says, "For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be." One reading Josephus' account of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem would, probably, be convinced that it was a time of the greatest affliction that had ever been, and would hope that it would never be equaled. However, as before mentioned, some outstanding commentators have been convinced, and, perhaps rightly, that even as that was true in a local sense in that time, so it will be worldwide in the last days. In verse 20 there is some language which may not have the limitations that some usually associate with it, especially as it may apply to the destruction of Jerusalem . "And except the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake whom He hath chosen, He hath shortened those days." Certainly, as applied to the siege of Jerusalem, the first part of the sentence should be read, "And except the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be spared," since, as Josephus tells us, there were in Jerusalem more people killed by the murderers and robbers inside the city, than were killed by the Roman soldiers in the entire siege. "But for His elect's sake, whom He hath chosen, He hath shortened the days." Certainly, as regards that siege, had the Lord not caused Titus to receive intelligence of things inside Jerusalem, which angered him so against the Jews, that he ordered his men to go ahead and take the city, his siege against it would have continued somewhat longer: for it was his intent to starve them into surrender in order that he might spare the temple. Had it continued much longer, there would have been so many more deaths by starvation, and by murders committed by the cutthroats among the people in the city, that there would have been few, if any survivors. The reference to "the elect" has no reference to those Whom God has chosen to eternal life: for their living through the siege, or dying in it, would make no difference in that. Jesus has already proved that all live unto God. So their natural death would have no significance in that. In this instance, "the elect's sake, whom He hath chosen," are those whom He Has chosen to deliver from death in that catastrophe. Just as He caused them to be delivered from death, by the shortening of those days, (by bringing the siege to an end more quickly,) and the liberation of the city by Titus and his army, so shall His elect, whom He has chosen to deliver from perishing under the reign of the beast, be saved by our Lord and His army, as He destroys the army and kingdom of the beast, as prophesied in The Revelation, Chapter 19.


(Verses 21 through 23) "And then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, He is there; believe him not: for false christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if (it were) possible, even the elect. But take ye heed, behold, I have foretold you all things."


Inasmuch as the last seven verses have applied to the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus said, "And then," that is, after this has passed, "If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, He is there; believe him not." This holds for all time until He does come. Matthew records Jesus as saying, at this point, that His coming will be instantaneous, as the lightning, when it strikes at one point, it immediately shines to another. So there will be no time for anyone to announce His coming, after the fact. Yet this will not prevent the coming of false christs; and some of them may even have some great signs and wonders that they can show. They will "shew great signs and wonders, to seduce, if possible, even the elect." The "it were" between "if" and "possible" was added by the translators, but was not in the Greek text. Its addition, and the mistranslation of "kai tous eklektous," in Matthew 24:24, as "the very elect," instead of as in the present text, where the same phrase is translated, "even the elect," (literally, "and the elect,") have given to some an erroneous idea of the passage. They think that "the very elect" are somehow different from "the elect," and that "the very elect" cannot be seduced or deceived. Such an idea would be comical, if the matter were not so serious. The whole thrust of this text is to warn that men are going to make every effort to deceive and seduce the elect, and not only so, but that it is surely possible for them to accomplish their objective, unless the elect keep very alert. If this were not true, the next verse would be utter foolishness, "But take ye heed: behold I have foretold you all things." If they cannot be deceived or seduced, they need no warning against it.


(Verses 24 through 27) "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in clouds with power and great glory. And then shall He send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven,"


He continues concerning "those days after that tribulation." Obviously, it leaps forward to the time just before the rapture of the saints. Then the sun shall be darkened, "and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken." There are many who, because of their inability to believe that God is able to do what He says, tell us that this cannot take place as it is literally described, but must be "spiritualized" to mean something other than what is said. I have no difficulty at all in believing that God not only can do whatsoever He says, but that He WILL do it, and He speaks clearly enough that He does not need man's interpretation of it. One caution we should observe in this is, that the Greek word translated, "shaken," just as the English equivalent, does not, necessarily, mean "weakened," but just as properly means "agitated, or stirred up." So when He says "the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken," let none think that He is even hinting that the power of God is weakened. If it refers to the power of God, its only meaning can be "agitated, or stirred up." However, it seems rather to mean heaven, in the same sense as it is used in Genesis 1:8, the firmament, in which are the heavenly bodies, such as the sun, moon, stars, planets, etc. It has long been known that the tides are controlled by the moon, and that the magnetic fields of the planets exert some force upon the earth; while even the study of the weather is called, "meteorology." If these powers are either weakened, or stirred up, no man knows what the result would be. When these things take place, they are the harbingers of our Lord's return. "and then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with power and great glory. This is when I Thessalonians 4:13-17 will be fulfilled. Mark records Jesus as giving a statement of what He will do, but the above mentioned text gives the details. Jesus says, "And then shall He send His angels, and gather together His elect from the uttermost part of earth to the uttermost part of heaven." He will from His position in the clouds, for Paul says," Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."


(Verses 28 through 31) "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: so ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My word shall not pass away."


Just as surely as the budding and putting forth of the fig tree announces that summer will soon be here, the coming to pass of these things will tell us that the coming of our Lord is near at hand. Actually, when all these things have come to pass, He will be here. However the meaning of this is expressed thus, by Luke, "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." So we do not have to wait until all these things are finished to cheer up, lift up our heads, and begin in earnest to look for the coming of our Lord. When they BEGIN to come to pass is the time for that. People sometimes get a distorted view of verse 30, because of a misconception of the word, "generation." The meaning of the Greek word from which it is translated is, "men of similar characteristics, such as a family, race, or nation," although it can sometimes be used as we use "generation," as people of a certain span of time. It seems that most people commonly think of this according to the latter usage, but, in this text, it no doubt, carries the first meaning, and refers to the Jews. Even today they are living proof of this. In spite of the Diaspora, and all its attendant ills, the Jews have not passed away, full proof of the truth of His word. Heaven and earth shall surely pass away, and in their place, according to His promise, we "look for new heavens, and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." His words shall not pass away.


(Verses 32 through 37) "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly, He find you sleeping. And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch."


In spite of Jesus' clear statement in verse 32, men still continue to come forth, and try to tell us exactly when He is coming. They are always proved to be false prophets. Although the time of His coming is unknown to all men, He WILL come. Therefore He warns us to watch and pray. We are to watch for His coming, praying as did John, "Even so. Come, Lord Jesus." We are to be on the alert, just as the servants in His parable. He has assigned to every man his work, and commanded all to watch. Remember He said, "What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch." The command was not just to the apostles.



Chapter 14

(Verses 1 and 2) "After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by craft, and put Him to death. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people."


Although Mark, at this point says nothing about Judas, this little consultation of the priests and scribes is the same as is mentioned in Luke 22:2; and immediately after the supper Mark will describe next, is when Judas did what is said in Luke 22:3-4. Here Mark only mentions the fact that these scribes and chief priests were plotting in earnest to kill Jesus, but they were afraid to openly make any move against Him, lest the people rise up against them.


(Verses 3 through 9) "And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on His head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on Me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but Me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint My body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her."


This Simon the leper was, probably one whom Jesus had cleansed of His leprosy. Otherwise it is hardly likely that he would have been hosting a dinner party. John says that Jesus came to Bethany six days before the Passover, and that there they made Him a supper. But he does not insist that it was immediately upon His arrival; and evidently it was not, for both Matthew and Mark say that it was two days before the Passover. John also gives us more information concerning the occasion. According to John, Jesus' friend Lazarus was one of the guests, and Martha, the sister of Lazarus, was one of those who served; and his other sister, Mary, is the one who brought the ointment, and anointed Jesus. Also Judas Iscariot was the one who complained about the waste of the ointment. John also says that the reason for Judas' complaint was not that he cared for the poor, but that "he was a thief, and carried the bag, and bare what was put therein." Another piece of information he gives, which is omitted by the others, is that Mary anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Both Matthew and Mark say that she poured the ointment on His head. So, no doubt, that is what she did, but there was a pound of it; and that was enough to run down on His body, and even onto His feet. Jesus even says that she anointed His body for the burying. So by putting all three of the witnesses together we get the full picture. Jesus very solemnly declared, "Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her."


(Verses 10 and 11) "And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray Him unto them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray Him."


One might wonder why it took so much planning and plotting to get this wicked work done; and why all this necessity for one to betray Him. They all knew Him, and He was so gentle, they could have taken Him at any time. The answer to it all lies in the fact that they were afraid of the people. These chief priests and scribes occupied a somewhat strange position. If they could get a formal declaration of anything from the council, they could manipulate the people into supporting it; but in order to get a formal declaration of condemnation against Jesus, they had to bring Him before the council, and go through the form of a trial. To do this, they had to arrest Him first, and this is where they feared the people. If they attempted to arrest Him openly, there would surely be an uprising of the multitude. Yet, if they could arrange to arrest Him secretly, bring Him before the council, and formally condemn Him, before the people were aware of it, they could control them. So it took much plotting, and someone who knew His habits, and could therefore lead them to Him at night, in the absence of the multitude. This was the job for Judas.


(Verses 12 through 17) "And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover, His disciples said unto Him, Where wilt Thou that we prepare that Thou mayest eat the Passover? And He sendeth forth two of His disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guest chamber, where I shall eat the Passover with My disciples? And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And His disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as He had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover. And in the evening He came with the twelve."


This is a very simple account of the preparation for the last Passover supper of Jesus and His disciples. The remarkable thing about it is the completeness of the instructions He gave His disciples for finding the right place to prepare for it. This is a prime example of proof that He is God in the flesh, because it shows that He had all knowledge. He described the man they should follow, and the place to which he would lead them: and they found all exactly as He had said. In the evening Jesus came with the other disciples. Mark says, "He cometh with the twelve," which, probably, is a mistake made by some scribe in transcribing manuscripts by hand long before they were ever seen by the translators: for he has already said that Jesus sent two of His disciples ahead to prepare the Passover. Luke tells us that the two were Peter and John, who were definitely of the twelve. This would have left only ten to come with Jesus.


(Verses 18 through 21) "And as they sat down and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with Me shall betray Me. And they began to be very sorrowful, and to say unto Him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? And He answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve that dippeth with Me in the dish. The Son of man indeed goeth, 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."


Both Matthew and John tell us that at this time Jesus clearly identified Judas as the traitor, but Mark records Him as only saying, "It is one of the twelve that dippeth with Me in the dish." Nevertheless Mark does record that part of Jesus' speech which shows clearly that God's sovereignty in bringing about His purposes does not in any manner remove or lessen man's responsibility for the evil he does. "The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of Him." God had already purposed, and declared exactly how it would be, and no variation would be allowed. "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." His responsibility is in no wise diminished because of God's purpose.


(Verses 22 through 25) "And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take: eat: this is My body. And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And He said unto them, This is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. 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 ."


This is Mark's record of the first communion, or Lord's Supper. There are those who believe that, when He said, "This is My body," and "This is My blood," the bread literally became His flesh, and the wine literally became His blood; and they maintain that in the celebration of the communion service today the same thing takes place. This is called the doctrine of transubstantiation. However, we believe that He was speaking symbolically, that is, that these are the symbols of His flesh, and His blood, and by faith we receive spiritual, not physical, nourishment from them. The word in verse 24 translated "testament," properly means "covenant," and the "new covenant" is described very clearly by the writer of the Hebrew Epistle, in Heb. 8:6-13, to which we refer the reader. When Jesus says, "Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it in the kingdom of God," He is actually bidding farewell to His disciples, inasmuch as this will be their last meal together, and last opportunity to enjoy fellowship together until after His resurrection.


(Verses 26 through 31) "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee . But Peter said unto Him, although all shall be offended, yet will not I. And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently, If I shall die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all."


According to Luke 21:37, "And in the day time He was teaching in the temple; and at night He went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives." So their going from this Passover supper to the mount of Olives was only their retiring to their regular sleeping place since coming to Jerusalem . On the way Jesus was telling them of another prophecy which was about to be fulfilled that night, that when He, the Shepherd, should be smitten, they, the sheep, would be scattered, and they all would, by His being taken, be "caused to stumble," and would deny Him. Peter, always outspoken, declared that he would in no wise deny Him, even if it became necessary to forfeit his own life for Him. Mark records Jesus' answer to Peter as slightly different from that recorded by both Matthew and Luke. They speak of the cock's crowing only once, but Mark says, "before the cock crow twice," and the events, as he records them agree with this. Peter and the other disciples vehemently maintained that under no circumstances would they deny Jesus.


(Verses 32 through 42) "And they come to a place which was named Gethsemane : and He saith to His disciples, Sit here, while I shall pray. And He taketh with Him Peter, and James, and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; and saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 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. And He cometh and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. And again He went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. And when He returned, He found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer Him. And He cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go: lo, he that betrayeth Me is at hand."


There certainly is nothing difficult to understand in this text, but as we think upon it, we need to keep in mind that, we would be no more able to stay awake, and watch, than were Peter, James, and John. Otherwise we might be tempted to judge them too harshly, just as many try to judge Peter for his denial of Jesus. In fact, Jesus gives us the answer to this matter in verse 38. He said, "The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak." We may also be tempted to take the wrong view of Jesus' prayer. We might think that His prayer was denied, because the "cup" was not permitted to pass Him by; but we must remember that in these few words there are two separate, and distinct prayers. "Nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt," or as Luke records it, "Not My will, but Thine be done," is often considered as only a statement of resignation to the will of the Father, in the event He does not see fit to do what has been requested. But there is far more than this involved here. Jesus, even before coming into the world, well knew what was the Father's will. In John 6: 38-40 Jesus tells us exactly what the Father's will is. He is praying that that will be done just as established before the world began. So the prayer might be considered in this manner: first, as He says, "Take away this cup from Me," it is the prayer of the man, Jesus. The flesh does indeed cringe from the suffering that will be involved. "Nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt," is the prayer of the Son of God, actually, saying, "Father, let Us finish the work according to Your will." He prayed that, the great work of salvation, for which He had come into the world, might be finished according to the divine covenant. At His first return to Peter, James, and John, He mildly rebuked them for not staying awake to watch. The second time, none of the writers make it absolutely clear whether or not He said anything to them, but the third time, He told them to sleep on, and take their rest, for the time of watching was over, the time was at hand. Then, because Judas and the band of guards and rabble sent by the chief priests, scribes, and elders, were approaching, He said, "Rise up, let us go. Lo, he that betrayeth Me is at hand." He was not calling upon them to get up and flee from those approaching, but to get up to be ready to go with them. He knew exactly for what they had come, and He was ready.


(Verses 43 through 45) "And immediately, while He yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. And He that betrayed Him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He; take Him, and lead Him away safely. And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to Him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed Him."


In his account, Mark leaves out many things that are recorded by other of the gospel writers. In connection with this incident, he does not tell us when Judas left Jesus and the eleven to go and bring the crowd to arrest Jesus. Verses 10 and 11 tell of his first going to the chief priests and scribes, but this was only the preliminary conference with them. He was present at the last supper. John, however, tells of his leaving before Jesus and the others came out of the house: at that time Jesus said to him, "That thou doest, do quickly." Here he returned with the mob, having already told them that he would identify Jesus to them by kissing Him. This he did immediately upon his arrival, at the same time hailing Him, "Master, master." The Greek word here is "rabbi," which was formal manner of greeting, with no indication of any feeling of friendship or closeness in it. It literally and properly means, "my great one," or "my honorable sir."


Here begins the account of the arrest of Jesus, and it continues through a part of the examination of Jesus before the high priest and his council of chief priests, scribes, and elders. It also tells of Peter's denial of Jesus, and of his repentance. We shall not quote the entire account, but try to comment on the substance of it, only quoting where it seems needful. One should study the remainder of this chapter together with Matthew 26:50-75, Luke 22:48-62, and John 18:12-27.  All these accounts complement each other. Some things are told by one that are omitted by another.


Immediately after Judas kissed Him, the mob arrested Jesus, and He said to them, "Are ye come out as against a thief, with swords and staves to take Me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took Me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled." At this all His disciples ran away and left Him. Here we have the fulfilling of two prophecies, "He was numbered among the transgressors" and "I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." The first of these only began to be fulfilled at this point, and continued until He was crucified between two thieves. Here a man is introduced whose name is not given, and so far as we can determine, is never again mentioned. Verses 51 and 52 give his description thus: "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: and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked." John tells us that it was Simon Peter who cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, and that that servant's name was Malchus. The mob took Jesus to the high priest, who had already assembled the council of the chief priests, scribes, and elders. The purpose of this council was not to determine whether or not Jesus was guilty of any unlawful act or teaching, but to find, or make, some excuse for condemning Him to death; and to this end they sought witnesses, but found none. They had plenty of false witnesses, but their testimonies did not agree. Even their two star witnesses could not agree. While all these witnesses were telling conflicting stories, Jesus remained perfectly silent, making neither answer nor comment. Finally the high priest took the floor, and asked Jesus, "Answerest Thou nothing? what is it which these witness against Thee?" Still Jesus made no answer. So the high priest asked Him, "Art Thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" To this question Jesus did reply, "I am, and ye shall see the son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." It is really amazing how people develop ideas to suit themselves about scriptural subjects without paying any attention to what the scriptures say about them. This is, in itself, an insignificant point, but it illustrates the trend. Almost everyone who ever says anything about the second coming of our Lord, if he mentions anything about the day itself, will call it "a cloudless day." But here, and everywhere else in scripture that it is mentioned, we find that He will come "in the clouds of heaven," or "with clouds and great glory," or some other expression involving clouds. He declared to these members of this council that they shall see Him thus; but He did not say that they would rejoice in that sight. Instead they will be among that number, of whom it is said in another place, "And all the tribes of the earth shall mourn." When he heard this answer, the high priest tore his garment in a hypocritical gesture of outrage at what he called blasphemy. He said, "Ye have heard His blasphemy: what think ye?" Then they all did what they had from the beginning intended to do; they declared Him guilty, and worthy of death. This was the signal for the abuse of Jesus to begin, and it continued intermittently until He was dead. Some of them began to spit upon Him. They blindfolded Him, and began to beat Him, and say, "Prophesy, and tell us who it is that smote Thee." Even the servants hit Him with the palms of their hands.


In the meanwhile Peter had followed Jesus to the high priest’s palace, not close enough to be identified as one of His followers, but at a distance. He found a place where he could sit with the servants, watch the procedure, and be close enough to the fire to stay warm. One of the high priest's maids came by, and seeing him said, "And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth." Peter immediately denied it, and said, "I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest." After answering her, he walked out into the porch. At this point the cock crowed, but apparently it had no effect upon Peter: for another maid saw him, and said to those who stood by, "This is one of them," and again he denied. A little later some of those nearby said to him, "Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto." This really disturbed Peter, and he began to curse and swear, and he said, "I know not this man of whom ye speak." He had done exactly what Jesus told him he would, and Mark closes the chapter with, "And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And when he thought thereon he wept."



Chapter 15

(Verses 1 through 5) "And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate. And Pilate asked Him, Art Thou the King of the Jews? And He answering said unto him, Thou sayest it. And the chief priests accused Him of many things: but He answered nothing. And Pilate asked Him again, saying, Answerest Thou nothing? Behold how many things they witness against Thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marveled."


Pilate was the Roman governor of the province, and Rome had taken away from the Jews the authority to execute the death sentence. Therefore they had to go to Pilate and persuade him to do their dirty work for them. So they lost no time setting forth to do this. So as soon as possible in the morning they bound Jesus, and carried Him to Pilate's judgment hall, where they accused Jesus of many things, with evidence of none. It astonished Pilate that Jesus would answer neither the accusations of the Jews, nor any question from him, except when he asked Him, "Art Thou the King of the Jews?" The answer Jesus gave him was very short, and to the point, "Thou sayest it." The meaning of this expression is exactly the same as one in common use today, "You've said it."


(Verses 6 through 14) "Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. But Pilate answered them saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered Him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. 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? And they cried out again, Crucify Him. Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath He done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify Him."


We do not know whether the custom of releasing a prisoner to the Jews at Passover was one instituted by Pilate, or of even longer standing, but it had been in force long enough that the Jews considered it one of their rights. So the people began to demand this on the present occasion. So, as we see from this account, Pilate made a feeble effort to release Jesus; but the Jews, incited by the chief priests, were so insistent that he release Barabbas, and crucify Jesus, that he gave way to their demands.


(Verses 15 through 19) "And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged Him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium; and they called together the whole band. And they clothed Him in purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about His head, and began to salute Him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote Him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon Him, and bowing their knees worshipped Him. 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. 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."


Luke tells us that some time between the first presentation of Jesus to Pilate and the time of His being sentenced, Pilate sent Him to Herod who was also at Jerusalem for the feast. Luke 23:11 says, "And Herod with his men of war set Him at naught, and mocked Him, and arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him again to Pilate." He does not describe their mockery and abuse of Jesus, but we can be certain, from the very nature of Herod Agrippa, that it was no more gentle than that of Pilate's soldiers. So we look back to the beginning of abuse in the palace of the high priest. How long this continued, we are not told, but it probably lasted until the Jews carried Jesus to Pilate. Then when Pilate sent Him to Herod it continued, and finally, after sentencing Him to be crucified, Pilate turned Him over to his soldiers to abuse as they pleased before crucifying Him. Also John tells us that Pilate scourged Him even before condemning. So if this does not constitute a discrepancy with the other writers, Pilate scourged Him twice. With all of this, it is no wonder Isaiah said, "As many were astonied at Thee; His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men." John says, "And He bearing His cross went forth," but all the other three say that the soldiers compelled Simon the Cyrenian to carry His cross. Since the Roman custom was that the condemned bear his own cross, we are left with only one conclusion. Jesus was so physically weakened by the scourgings and beatings He had received, that as He started with His cross, He fell under the weight of it and another had to be found to carry it. The soldiers caught the first stranger they saw, who was Simon the Cyrenian.


(Verses 22 through 28) "And they bring Him unto the place Golgotha , which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. And there they gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh; but He received it not. And when they had crucified Him, they parted His garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. And the superscription of His accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. And with Him they crucify two thieves; the one on His right hand, and the other on His left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And He was numbered with the transgressors."


Mark says, "It was the third hour, and they crucified Him," but John says that it was about the sixth hour when Pilate presented Jesus to the people, and said, "Behold your King." When we consider all that was done that morning, it seems probable that it must have been almost "the sixth hour," that is, noon, when this was done. This makes a slight discrepancy, unless the matter is as some commentators have explained it. Their explanation is, that Mark is using a common Jewish manner of speaking, based upon their practice of dividing the twelve hours of the day into four segments of three hours each, and speaking of things which took place in a segment as if it were done in the first hour of the segment. Thus "the first hour" might refer to any time from six o'clock A M until nine o'clock, and any time from nine o'clock until twelve noon would be referred to as "the third hour." This may indeed be proper. But we are not able to prove it. Another thing to notice is the manner in which Mark says this. He does not say, "They crucified Jesus at the third hour," but "It was the third hour, and they crucified Him." "The third hour" might be concerned with those things leading up to the crucifixion, and "and they crucified Him" may simply mean that after all these things were done, they followed them with the crucifixion, but not necessarily at that immediate time. At any rate, all agree He was crucified between two thieves. The soldiers parted His clothes among themselves casting lots for His cloak, which was woven in one piece. And the title placed over Him proclaimed Him THE KING OF THE JEWS, although there is some variation of wording among the accounts. So He was numbered with the transgressors, as was prophesied of Him.


(Verses 29 through 32) "And they that passed by railed on Him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save Thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see, and believe. And they that were crucified with Him reviled Him."


The people, the chief priests, the scribes, and even those crucified with Him, had no compassion for Him, but as He hung there dying, they cast insults at Him and mocked Him. Luke does tell us that one of the thieves did repent, rebuke his partner, and call upon Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. this seems to have been the only note of sympathy in the whole crowd.


(Verses 33 through 38) "And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?. And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, He calleth for Elias. 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 Elias will come to take Him down. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom."


Matthew, Mark, and Luke say that there was darkness over the whole land from about the sixth hour until the ninth hour, but John says nothing at all about the darkness. At the ninth hour Jesus called out to the Father, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Then after another prophecy was fulfilled, (Psalms 69:21) "And in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink," Jesus cried out again, and died. At this point there was a great earthquake, and the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom. The best way to get a complete mental picture of the details of this event is to compare all four accounts of it at the same time.


(Verses 39 through 41) "And when the centurion, which stood over against Him saw that He so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. There were also women looking on afar off: among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; (who also, when He was in Galilee, followed Him, and ministered unto Him;) and many other women which came up with Him unto Jerusalem ."


The centurion ("captain of a hundred") was the Roman officer who had charge of the execution squad. In order to rise to that position in the Roman army, he, no doubt, had seen many scenes of horror, both on the battlefield and elsewhere; and this likely was not his first crucifixion. Moreover there is no evidence that he was a follower, or that he had ever met Jesus before the present scene. Nevertheless he was so moved by what he saw that he spontaneously declared, "Truly, this man was the Son of God." Such a confession wrung from a pagan soldier such as he, seems to be as strong testimony as one could find among men. There were women who had followed Him from Galilee to Jerusalem . Among them were Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James the less and Joses. James the less, so called because he was shorter in stature than James the brother of John, was the brother not only of Joses, but also of Jesus, therefore this Mary was also the mother of Jesus. These were standing at a distance away to observe all that took place.


(Verses 42 through 45) "And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honorable counselor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marveled if He were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether He had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph."


John tells us that the Jews were very insistent that the bodies of those crucified not be left hanging on the cross, because the next day was not only the Sabbath, but since it was during the Passover season, it was a "high day." So at evening Joseph of Arimathaea, a wealthy man, and a member of the council, but also a disciple of Jesus, though secretly for fear of the Jews, came to Pilate to claim the body of Jesus. John also tells us that Nicodemus came with him. Pilate wondering whether or not Jesus was already dead, inquired of the centurion who assured him that He was, whereupon he gave the body to Joseph.


(Verses 46 and 47) "And he bought 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. And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where He was laid."


To supplement this we again refer to John, who tells us that Nicodemus not only helped Joseph, but He also brought about a hundred-pound mixture of myrrh and aloes, which they wound with the body in the fine linen. Also Matthew says that the tomb was Joseph's own, which he had hewn out in the rock. It was cut into the side of a hill, and they rolled a huge stone to the mouth of the cave as a door. It is remarkable that Mark never says, "Mary the mother of Jesus," when speaking of her. He said, "Mary the mother of James the less and Joses," and here he says, "Mary the mother of Joses." So Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus paid close attention to where He was laid.


Chapter 16

(Verses 1 through 8) "And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices that they might come and anoint Him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed with a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And He said unto them, Be not affrighted: ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, Which was crucified: He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him. But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee : there shall ye see Him as He said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled, and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid."


Again Mark refers to the mother of Jesus as "Mary the mother of James," which, of course, she was. One has to wonder if this is not the Holy Ghost's way of refuting the argument put up by some, that Mary, the mother of Jesus remained a virgin all her life. Some claim that at the time of his marriage to Mary Joseph was a widower with a family by his first wife, and that this accounts for the people's saying that Jesus' brethren were James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas, who according to these gainsayers, were the children of Joseph's first wife, and not of Mary. However Matthew 27:56 says, "among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses." The present text and the latter part of the preceding chapter bear witness to the same thing. Luke says that the women who came bringing the spices were the two Marys and Joanna, but Mark says they were the two Marys and Salome. We cannot be sure whether, as was often the case with men, "Salome" and "Joanna" are two names by which one woman was known, or two different women, both of whom may have been in the group, though one writer omits one, and the other writer omits the other. Be that as it may, they came to complete the embalming process for Jesus' body. As they approached the tomb, they were discussing whom they might get to roll away the stone from its door; but upon arrival, they found the stone already rolled away, and Jesus gone. One would think that this is probably where some get their idea for a "sunrise service" to commemorate the resurrection, since Mark says that they came to the tomb "at the rising of the sun." However Matthew says that it was "as it began to dawn," and John says, "When it was yet dark." Nevertheless, whatever time we may choose of those mentioned, one thing stands out very clearly, IT WAS TOO LATE. In every case, they found the tomb open, and, so far as the body of Jesus was concerned, the tomb was empty. When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man in dazzling white garments, who told them that Jesus was no longer there, but had arisen. Then the messenger instructed them to take a message to the disciples, that Jesus was going before them into Galilee , and would meet them there, as He had instructed them before His crucifixion. They left the tomb, but were so frightened that they told no one any thing about the experience.


(Verses 9 through 13) "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. After that He appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it to the residue: neither believed they them."


Mark seems to be referring to the incident John recorded in John 20:1-18. According to him, Mary Magdalene went first to the sepulchre alone, and finding it empty, she ran and told Peter. Then he and John went to the tomb, and not finding Jesus' body, soon turned away and left; but Mary remained there weeping, and Jesus appeared to her. However, just as Mark says here, when she told the other disciples, they did not believe her.


Mark says that after this Jesus appeared to two of the disciples who were walking in the country. This must be the incident recorded in Luke 24:13-32. When they reported this to the others, their story was not believed. However Luke does tell that even as they gave this report to the others, Jesus Himself appeared to all who were present; but even they were all afraid, thinking that they were seeing a spirit.


(Verses 14 through 18) "Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after he was risen. And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in My name shall they cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."


Verse 14 seems clear enough to need no explanation, but for some reason there has long been much argument about the remainder of this text. Verse 15 says, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." The phrase translated "every creature" literally means "every created thing," but its obvious meaning in the context in which it is used is "people of every race, nation, and condition in the world, and does not include animals, plants, rocks, etc., although in its literal application it would include all such, as well as everything else in the world, for all were created. The command, “Go into all the world,” certainly does not mean that each of the apostles, as well as other ministers who might be sent later, should start out trying to cover the entire world, nor even that he should go anywhere he might decide that he wanted to go. Acts 16:6-10 shows clearly that it is not up to a minister to decide where he shall go, and neither is it up to some man, or group of men to decide such. The Holy Ghost alone can send a man to preach the gospel. Paul was forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the gospel in Asia . Then he wanted to go to Bithynia , "but the Spirit suffered him not." After that he was given a vision of a man of Macedonia , who called him to come over, and help them. The only thing this command, "Go ye into all the world," does is to lift the restrictions placed upon them by our Lord, when He first sent them out to preach. In Matthew 10:5-6, Jesus commanded them, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ," and this is the first time that restriction was ever lifted. So He was simply telling them that, now it is permissible to go to the Gentiles also. Of course, as we follow the record in The Acts Of The Apostles, we find that it was some time before they did go to the Gentiles. And even then most of the apostles remained at Jerusalem, except for short excursions, such as when the Holy Ghost sent Peter to preach to Cornelius, and when he visited Antioch.


"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Before discussing the meaning of this statement, let us take a brief look at those to whom it was addressed. They were His disciples, whom, even now He was commanding to go forth, and preach His word. In II Corinthians 5:20, Paul says, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." All nations maintain embassies and ambassadors in other nations, to represent to that nation their own government, and to look after the welfare of their citizens who are in that country. Since the kingdom of God is a true monarchy, its ambassadors are the representatives of their King, the Christ of God. They are in this world, a kingdom foreign to the kingdom of God ; and their duties as ambassadors are to represent their King, and look after the welfare of the citizens of their King's country. To fulfill their functions, they must be able to identify their charges. In worldly kingdoms, or nations, ambassadors can identify their citizens by their passports. Jesus here tells His ambassadors what is the passport of a citizen of His kingdom, faith. Just as a passport does not make a person a citizen of a country, but is issued to him because he is a citizen; faith does not make a person a citizen of the kingdom of God , but because one is a citizen of the kingdom, the King issues him a passport. And he can be identified thereby, while in this foreign kingdom, the world. When Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," He was considering all the persecutions and suffering Christians would have to bear. So one with sufficient faith to submit to baptism in His name must be judged as having his passport with him: he could be identified. On the other hand, those who do not believe, do not have the passport. Unless God sees fit to issue it to them at a later time, they will never be citizens of the heavenly kingdom. At the present time they have no evidence of salvation. Some might ask, "What about one who believes, but is not baptized?" Such an one cannot be fully identified by the ambassador, but is known only to the King Himself. It is not our function to pass judgment, good or bad on anyone, but simply follow the rules given by the King for identifying His subjects. This whole matter was declared so that the apostles, and other ministers might have some means of identifying their charges, not to set them nor us up as judges. We can only know a tree by its fruit.


So far as the signs that "shall follow them that believe" are concerned, the first thing we should notice is, that He did not say that each of them would do all of these signs. The Holy Ghost is still in command. Paul told the Corinthian church that the Holy Ghost distributes these powers as He will. Some were given the power to cast out devils; some, the power to cure all manner of illnesses; some, power to raise the dead; some, the gift of tongues; others, the gift of prophecy; and on and on. Verse 18 is not said to encourage people to foolishly pick up poisonous serpents, and handle them. To do so is to tempt God, and He has commanded us not to do so. Paul accidentally picked up a serpent, but God used that for His own glory. Paul did not go around hunting that serpent, just to show out. Neither is the reference to deadly poisons made to lead us into tempting God with such as that.


(Verses 19 and 20) "So then after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following."


As he has often done in other parts of his record, Mark, by one expression, "So then after the Lord had spoken to them," skips forward for about forty days, as we find out from the first chapter of The Acts Of the Apostles. Then Jesus ascended back to heaven. The disciples went forth preaching only after Pentecost, which was about fifty days after His crucifixion. Then they began to go forth, but not into all the world: this was reserved for the Apostle Paul to begin, although Peter did preach the first discourse to the Gentiles at the home of the centurion, Cornelius.



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